Ms. Marvel: stopping misinformation


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Editor-in-Chief

In the days following the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol building, we saw multiple social media companies finally step up to the mantle and ban users and politicians who were spreading dangerous misinformation about election fraud and tampering. 

It only took four years, but hey, better late than never, right? No, not quite. 

It took an attempted coup of the U.S. government for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and all the other social media companies to finally take an active position on misinformation, but it should never have gotten to this point. The rampant lies and misinformation on social media played an active role in emboldening the insurrectionists in January and the time for stricter regulations on misinformation on social media has been a long time coming. 

Technology companies need to implement stronger restrictions on what types of information can be spread on social media, and they need to hold everyone accountable- including politicians and public figures. 

The current fact checks that were implemented by Twitter and Instagram at the beginning of the pandemic are great, and there needs to be more for various topics. Instagram has COVID-19 information banners for every single post that even has an elliptical reference to the pandemic, and that should be implemented on posts that have content relating to elections and other prominent current events. If a user reaches a certain number of falsely fact-checked posts, then they should have their account suspended or removed entirely. 

Users shouldn’t be allowed to retweet something without having clicked on the link mentioned first. Posts that have been fact-checked should be more transparent. Repeat offenders should be held accountable. 

The argument has been made that this could potentially set a dangerous precedent- do we really want to censor politicians? 

However, this isn’t censorship. If these social media companies started taking down posts that they simply did not agree with then yes, we would be facing an ethical issue. Still not legislative or constitutional, as social media companies are private non-governmental organizations that don’t have an obligation to uphold the First Amendment, but yes there would be an ethical dilemma. Still, we aren’t talking about opinions here-we’re talking about facts. 

Misinformation is a black and white subject, either a post is accurate or it contains falsified information. It’s not censorship to take down inaccurate information or statements. 

The Capitol insurrection was one severe example of what misinformation can result in. The insurrectionists were led on by false conspiracy theories that were allowed to exist on Facebook, Qanon, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s not a stretch to say that our very democracy depends on voters having access to correct information, and it’s time that social media companies started doing their part in stopping the spread of misinformation.