This is really a critical question and this piece in the New York Times goes right to the heart of it. I’ve seen this through the prism of my work at the Overseas Press Club where I try to sell tables to the annual dinner. In my contacts with Google and Facebook, they argue that they are not really news organizations. Twitter has said much the same even though it has become central to the national debate because of how Donald Trump uses it, among others.
All three have argued that they don’t generate “content,” a word that most journalists find irritating. We produce “news,” not “content.”
These new platforms argue that they don’t need editors or gate-keepers involved in their operations because all the “content” is generated by users. This has allowed them to make a great deal of money through advertising and they haven’t had to spend money monitoring and culling the content.
Now it seems increasingly obvious that these organizations need to hire monitors or gatekeepers or call them what you will. Essentially, they must be journalists who can make nuanced judgments and ask the right questions. No number of algorithms can adequately police the torrent of bad stuff that is pouring onto the Internet. The Russians have proven it. The quality of our democracy is at stake. The new Internet-based platforms must take some measure of responsibility for what they are publishing.