Tuesday, August 20, 2019 -
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A publisher’s responsibility

Social media must start taking responsibility. Mark Zuckerberg boasts about being the publisher of the world’s largest media organization. If that is the case, then he and other CEOs of social media companies must start acting like publishers.

The Pittsburgh perpetrator behind the horrifying mass murder of Jews at prayer posted actively on Gab, a social media platform popular with right-wing extremists and those who advocate for freedom of speech.

His posts are deeply racist and anti-Semitic. I am not a lawyer, but it seems that they at least border on incitement.

Cesar Sayoc, the individual who last week sent pipe bombs to former and current Democratic leadership, posted widely on more mainstream social media, again his posts promoting extremism and violence.

Why were these posts not reported? Why were these two individuals free to continue spewing their hate publicly? Why were they not on a watch list? I am dumbfounded.

As a newspaper publisher, I take responsibility for what is published in our pages and online. Believe me, neo-Nazis have tried to post comments on our website. That’s why we moderate. And if I received a letter or note that I believed posed a threat, you bet I would report it to the police.

Some might call it censorship. I call it responsibility. Freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to say anything one wants — that has been adjudicated in the highest court of the land. Freedom of speech as defined in the Constitution also does not pertain to private organizations, including private media companies. Anyone who publishes or republishes information has a responsibility to its readers and indeed to society at large to make sure it is publishing responsibly.

Will the terrorist murder of 11 innocent people force Facebook, Twitter and indeed Gab to learn this lesson?

Shana Goldberg may be reached at shana@ijn.com

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher | shana@ijn.com

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