Social media

Social media reconsiders its relationship with the truth

Illustration of La Verité by Jules Joseph Lefebvre holding a mobile phone with the Facebook logo in place of her mirror
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For years, Facebook and other social media companies have erred on the side of lenience in policing their sites — allowing most posts with false information to stay up, as long as they came from a genuine human and not a bot or a nefarious actor.

The latest: Now, the companies are considering a fundamental shift with profound social and political implications: deciding what is true and what is false.

Autocracies rely on social media as a potent propaganda weapon

illustration of a marionette strings attached to a globe
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twitter and Facebook announced Monday the takedown of coordinated misinformation campaigns from the Chinese government, the latest in a list of global regimes caught using social media to exploit their own people, spread propaganda or retain power.

Why it matters: While mostly Western leaders around the globe push to hold social media companies accountable for large-scale misinformation campaigns, autocratic regimes have become increasingly reliant on social media technologies.