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Communications of the ACM

Economic and business dimensions

Proposal: A Market for Truth to Address False Ads on Social Media

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Credit: Shutterstock / Andrij Borys Associates

When it comes to political ads on Facebook, anything goes. On Twitter, nothing does. In a speech at Georgetown University last October, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, defended the company's decision not to fact-check political ads on the site. Shortly after, Jack Dorsey, Twitter's chief executive, tweeted that his company had decided to reject all political advertising. In January of this year, Facebook doubled down on its original decision to accept all political ads no matter how egregious the lies an ad buyer wishes us to believe.

They are both wrong. Facebook pollutes our political discourse. Twitter impoverishes it. Between promoting false ads and rejecting truthful ones, here's a better way: create a "market for truth." It requires neither machine algorithms to discern truth nor judgments by a potentially self-interested company. Instead, it discourages liars from lying.


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