Media

Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation

Former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned that America and the world need to come to terms with what she characterized as a global problem of disinformation online and in the mainstream press. 

"They've got to rid themselves of both-sidesism," Clinton told The Guardian this week. "It is not the same to say something critical of somebody on the other side of the aisle and to instigate an attack on the Capitol and to vote against certifying the election. Those are not comparable, and it goes back to the problem of the press actually coming to grips with how out of bounds and dangerous the new political philosophy on the right happens to be."

Clinton placed blame on major social media companies for the growing amount of false or misleading information online, saying they have not done enough to slow the spread of harmful content by their users. 

"The technology platforms are so much more powerful than any organ of the so-called mainstream press, and I do think that there has to be not just an American reckoning but a global reckoning with the disinformation, with the monopolistic power and control, with the lack of accountability that the platforms currently enjoy," she said.

Facebook, in particular, Clinton noted, has "the worst track record for enabling mistruths, misinformation, extremism, conspiracy, for goodness' sake, even genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya." 

"So governments are going to have to decide right now that the platforms have to be held to some kind of standard, and it's tricky," she added. 

Facebook on Wednesday upheld a ban on the account of former President Trump, which was instated earlier this year based on the false statements made on his feed about the integrity of the 2020 election and his continued insistence that widespread voter fraud led to a rigged election against him, an assertion that is false. 

Critics of the former president say his false claims about a stolen election directly led to the Jan. 6 rioting at the U.S. Capitol which left several people injured or killed. 

Clinton has found herself the focus of several conspiracy theories or disinformation campaigns by members of the far-right during her political career, including the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy and "Clinton body count" allegations. 

Trump often attacked the mainstream press during his time as a candidate and in the White House, going so far as to dub them "the enemy of the people." 

"Once an American president said that the press was the enemy of the people, that gave permission to all kinds of autocrats to make the same claim," Clinton said of Trump. "I don't know any American president who's ever thought he got fair press; they always believe that they are not understood, or they're being held to impossible standards or whatever their complaints might be."

Those statements, Clinton told The Guardian, did irreparable harm to the public's view of the media and America's largest institutions as a whole. 

"It did do damage inside our own country, because it fed paranoia, conspiracy theories, partisan differences in our own political system that led many people to claim that the press was the enemy of the people, or at least the enemy of what they believed in," she said. "The fact is that certain media really became mouthpieces for Trump's view of reality and fed the kind of disbelief and very negative view about anything that 'the mainstream press' had to say."

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