Masterclassing Connect

Stephen Fry calls for social networks to be classed as publishers, warns of dystopia

Tyrone Stewart
Stephen Fry Phillipe Sands Hay Festival
Hay Festival

Stephen Fry has called for the likes of Facebook and Twitter to be classified as publishers to stop the spread of ‘fake news’, while branding politicians as ‘technophobes’ for being too slow to react to technological advancements.

Speaking at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, Brecknockshire, Wales, the actor, comedian and writer accused social media platforms of failing to take responsibility for the fake news items posted on their sites, and believes they should be held to the same standards as traditional printed or broadcast media.

“One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers,” said Fry, The Guardian reports. “At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly.

“If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”

In addition, Fry warned that the stories written by science fiction writers and dystopians may become a reality unless ‘technophobes’, like politicians, are more prepared for the AI and robotics developments of tech entrepreneurs.

"While it's hard to calculate the cascade upon cascade of new developments and their positive effects, we already know the dire consequences and frightening scenarios that threaten to engulf us," he said, reports the BBC.

Fry went on to say that the current technological revolution is greater than both the printing press and industrial revolutions – comparing it to our move “from hunting and gathering to settling down in farms, villages and sea ports”.

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