Ross: Is the Wild West of social media over after Senate hearing?

Feb 1, 2024, 9:59 AM | Updated: 10:11 am

social media...

In this photo illustration, a teenager uses her mobile phone to access social media on January 31, 2024. (Photo illustration: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Photo illustration: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Is the party finally over?

The message of yesterday’s Senate hearing was clear: Social media is well past its incubation period and needs to be regulated the way broadcasters are.

The original social media business model was genius — get ordinary people to create content for free, sell ads and give the content creators a cut.

More on social media: Instagram’s ‘nightly nudge’ may be a step toward healthy social media habits

But as YouTube discovered early on, what people wanted to post AND wanted to see included a lot of porn and violence. And nasty gossip. And dangerous stupid human tricks. Yes, uplifting and charming Cat videos too, but way too much of the other stuff.

And the algorithms, which were designed to feed viewers more of whatever they clicked on, amplified the garbage as well as the gold.

With so many “contributors” there was no way to do what regular broadcasters do — which is vet the people who supply your content, preview what’s broadcast, and exercise that control in real-time.

And that’s how the trouble started.

Our show – Seattle’s Morning News — is controlled by a company with people you can contact and complain to — our employers know who we are, Colleen, Chris and I are bound to standards set out in our employment contracts, our organization is regulated by the FCC, and even with all that — we ALSO operate with a delay just in case.

Social media platforms, however, can just sit back as people they don’t know post stuff they don’t preview and are not legally responsible for.

Because they’re not considered broadcasters. Like gun manufacturers, they can’t be sued for the consequences of their products — even though their audiences, which are in the billions, far surpass traditional broadcasters — except maybe on Super Bowl Sunday.

More from Dave Ross: Initiatives will be the stars of November ballot

But yesterday it was clear that a critical mass of senators has come to the conclusion that the cost of this hands-off approach has been far too high.

Republican Senator Joe Kennedy:

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave Ross

biden farenthold...

Dave Ross

Ross: Biden is out of the presidential race, just as Farenthold predicted. What can he predict next?

I found Joe Biden had removed himself from the race and thought of Farenthold, my favorite NYT reporter who predicted that very thing three weeks ago.

7 hours ago

trump shooter motive...

Dave Ross

Ross: Motive of Trump shooter not important, how he got an AR-15 is

As much as we would all like to understand the motive of the Trump shooter, I don’t see us doing much with that information.

7 days ago

kamala harris...

KIRO Newsradio staff

From the audience: Kamala Harris needs to lead next generation of Democrats

Joe Biden merely needs to hand over the reins of power to his second in command, Vice President Kamala Harris, and sooner rather than later.

13 days ago


KIRO Newsradio staff

From the audience: How my father’s age makes me scared for Joe Biden

A KIRO Newsradio listener shared his views: As I watch my dad, sometimes what I see in me – I feel it's time for Joe Biden to "let it go."

14 days ago

Image: A driver used a fake "dummy" passenger so he could drive in the HOV lane on I-405 in June 20...

Dave Ross

Dave Ross dedicates one of his hits to the commuter caught with a dummy

It happened again last month: A commuter was caught in the carpool lane with a very lifelike dummy. Although, it did not fool the police.

17 days ago

biden trump presidential debate...

Dave Ross

Ross: Now I get my say on Biden, Trump during the presidential debate

The real catastrophe was that Biden’s terrible performance seems to have caused everyone to forget this little exchange with Trump during the debate.

21 days ago

Ross: Is the Wild West of social media over after Senate hearing?