Prominent digital journalist Tim Pool published a video Wednesday in which he explained why the recent crackdown on fake news and banning of alt-right Twitter accounts has him worried for the future of media.
“I am terrified of a future where people will not share their opinions because people are being banned or ostracized,” Pool said.
Pool explained at the outset of the 13-minute video that prior to the golden age of the internet, the media “was basically just this big top-down approach.”
“You had the broadcast tower and it determined what the story was going to be for the masses,” he said.
“When the internet started, we slowly saw that tower start splitting and it started becoming more of a pyramid with different tiers,” Pool said. “Now we are at this really interesting point where there is no top of the pyramid anymore.”
The journalist noted that the current landscape has given way to new opinion outlets. More importantly, however, the landscape has allowed websites that propagate fake news, or stories that only contain a sliver of truth, to flourish.
Members of the media have suggested fake news was partially responsible for the unforeseen election of President-elect Donald Trump. As a result, there have been calls for Facebook and Google to crackdown on outlets that publish such stories. But Pool said in his video that it wasn’t perhaps a good idea.
“This really scares me, because are we going to have Google decide what news is real and what isn’t? Are we going to have Facebook?” he asked. “Why are these tech companies going to be the ones who determine the news you put out is legitimate?”
Pool said this week’s banning of alt-right Twitter accounts, which the social-media company said was done because the effected users had violated its terms-of-service agreement, was equally concerning. He called it “shocking” and said while he doesn’t like their opinions, it “scares” him to think the social-media company would ban someone for their political viewpoints.
“It gets kind of scary because now we are going to have tech companies deciding who is allowed to speak, what news is real and what news isn’t, and we are reverting back to a state where only those in power determine what we are allowed to say,” he said.
The journalist added: “We are reverting back to the state of the controlled narrative.”
Pool said he’s heard many individuals have switched their accounts to private or chosen not to express their views out of fear of “being banned or ostracized.”
“And I think that may be another contributing factor to why we couldn’t predict this election. How many people did not want to say they were voting for Trump, but were planning on doing so?” he asked. “I’m sure it was a lot. And it is scary now because a lot of people who supported him are banned from Twitter.”
Pool gained fame for his on-the-ground coverage of the protests in Ferguson and the larger civil unrest across the country. In August, he landed in national headlines for pulling out of Milwaukee, where he was covering Black Lives Matter demonstrations, saying it was “just not safe” to be in the field for individuals who were “perceivably white.”
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