It is a problem - and it really got going when smart phones came into the picture because masses of people were suddenly on the 'Net without having to do or even know very much. Regardless, here we are. Smart regulation by entities that truly understand what it is they are trying to regulate would get us closer to where we should be (compared to having companies maintain their nanny-state control), but it can never fix what I see as a core problem of the mass spread of disinformation: lack of curiosity as to what is and is not true.
However, while it is political suicide for any elected official to assign blame or responsibility to the electorate, the rest of us can do it. Because what can any society do about people who want to believe things that are demonstrably false? If people have the tools to find out and don’t use them, should the rest of us be penalized? And to me it is a penalty to have been in this business for 34 years and see the tech be so much better but the user experience be so much worse when it comes to individual free choice.
My daughter has kids age 7 and 9. Those kids are quite media savvy for sure, and I believe there is greater burden now on a parent helping their kids navigate through this soup of information and disinformation. But it is still their responsibility more than the state or some corporation. At least I hope they see it that way, because the alternative to my view is a doubling down of today’s problems.
I admit that while I have been thinking about this issue for a long time, my thoughts are still not fully baked. I just know that I am capable of handling my own information inflow, just as I was before these titans of tech assigned for themselves the role of gatekeeper. I don’t need someone shutting off my access to 8Chan or anything else. And I find it inappropriate and offensive that any CDN would curtail that access. Same with Nazi stuff. What if I want to see what they are up to directly? Why should I not be able to do that? Again, the problem to me is not so much that one can see it. The problem is that someone doesn’t know enough, or have enough ways to see that such sites spew hateful bile.
Now designing and creating a comprehensive toolkit for a user to more smartly manage the inflow of content, would be difficult and expensive. But ad hoc censoring is no answer. And while a government can mandate ownership of one’s data and privacy, helping people create and develop a good reliable BS detector is a far taller order. But like I said above, I do not see how any vision of a ‘human centered Internet’ can be realized without it.