Sure, the social media companies already append warning labels on posts containing misinformation and limit users’ ability to share certain tweets. They’ve given some accounts a timeout and changed their rules to account for emerging social norms, and they frequently, if less publicly, delete content or accounts that don’t align with their business interests. But these aren’t fundamentally corrective measures — they are Band-Aids.
The beating heart of social media companies is their vaunted algorithms, which surveil users and shuffle them into categories that dictate what content they see most prominently and often. The companies’ incentive is the higher price marketers will pay for advertising that preys on users’ interests. That’s why Facebook moved to make it easier for the like-minded to form groups on its site — even the like-minded who would plan the storming of the Capitol or the kidnapping of Michigan’s governor.
These companies have consistently ignored warnings about how their very structure foments misinformation and division.