The push to make a public-utility Internet
Future. As the information wars are fought between private platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, policy experts are calling for a non-profit, down-the-middle, publicly funded internet to act as the baseline. A “PBS for the internet” could help fight against disinformation, cool tempers between government officials and private social platforms, and get people out of their echo chambers… if people decide to use those resources instead of the popular ones that already take so much of their time.
“PBS of the internet”
What would a non-profit internet look like?
- The German Marshall Fund released a new paper calling for an overhaul of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (the agency behind PBS and NPR) to fund digital platforms, independent journalism, and informational content.
- The hope is to increase “local civic information,” create open APIs so that people can tailor their internet experience (read: no biased algorithms), and adopt strong data ethics.
Ellen Goodman, who co-authored the report and is a professor at Rutgers Law School, said the proposal is “about power. We don’t want government to tell the platforms what to do, but we don’t want the platforms to have the power to deplatform.”
The ultimate goal of this PBS internet is to take away the tension that characterizes a “government versus platforms” mentality. Instead, citizens of all types would feel comfortable checking the public platform for such important information as “public health updates and local election news” — topics that are rife with misinformation.
In a perfect world, the ability to curate a personal online experience on the public platform (a concept that Twitter is also working on) would lead to fewer people being stuck in echo chambers… but the opposite could just as easily happen. What the PBS version gives users is the ability to break out of that cycle if they choose to.