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Public Policy and Regulative Change to Combat Media Corruption

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Part of the Library of Public Policy and Public Administration book series (LPPP,volume 15)

Abstract

This chapter will examine the systemic changes in policy and legislation as well as issues of self-regulation and government regulation needed in combating corruption and media corruption and specifically in the Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Google, as well as explore anti-corruption solutions needed in effectively responding to the challenge of media corruption in the Age of Information. The role of investigative journalists in the exposure of corruption examined in Chap. 6 will be revisited in this chapter to illustrate the ongoing significance of investigative journalism in the regulation of corruption and media corruption specifically. The chapter will then argue for a clear public articulation of public ethical principles and values through an examination of their historical justification and motivation on the basis of several contemporary ethical theories. The chapter will then examine the necessary normative alignment of public ethical principles and values with government regulation comprising both retrospective regulation through penalties such as fines as well as prospective regulation through external and independent audits of the Big Tech companies by the government and its associated agencies. As well, the chapter will argue for the inculcation of public ethical principles and values within the corporate structures of the Big Tech companies through education training programs.

People need to feel that global technology platforms answer to someone, so regulation should hold companies accountable when they make mistakes.

Mark Zuckerberg (2020). Big Tech Needs More Regulation, Financial Times.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Interestingly, and perhaps not unexpectedly, having perhaps learned their ethical lesson from their role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook, following Twitter’s example of censoring some of President Trump’s tweets on the basis that they constituted misinformation, Facebook has also recently (June 2020) removed certain of Trump’s political ads on the basis that they contained symbols used by the Nazis and as such constituted organized hate that violated Facebook’s policies (Tucker and Ortutay 2020).

  2. 2.

    For a more extensive discussion of information asymmetry and its causes and contexts see Pasquale (2015), Zuboff (2019) and Foroohar (2019).

  3. 3.

    The idea of a State of Nature that features in the Social Contract theories, should be understood not in terms of a historical or anthropological account of the origins of society in terms of some pre-social existence of human beings, nor in terms of actual historical agreements concerning the obligations of governments and individuals but as an abstract theoretical model of explaining and articulating the moral equality of individuals (Kymlicka 1990, p.60).

  4. 4.

    Some of the well-known proponents of Utilitarianism are the English philosophers, Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) and R.M. Hare (1919–2002), and the Australian philosopher Peter Singer (1946-present). Peter Singer is also known, somewhat controversially, for extending his Utilitarian theory to include the rights of animals; on the basis that as sentient entities animals can also suffer pain and should, therefore, be included into the Utilitarian calculation of maximizing wellbeing and reducing suffering.

  5. 5.

    Immanuel Kant’s celebrated argument referred to as the Categorical Imperative counsels us to “Act only on the maxim through which you can at the same time will that it be a universal law.” This is the keystone of Kant’s ethics. “Promising falsely” for example, could not be a universalizable maxim for no one would ever take promises seriously. Another formulation of the Categorical Imperative known evocatively as the “Kingdom of Ends” states that we should “Treat humanity in your own person or in the person of any other never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end”. So, for example, when someone says to you disapprovingly, “I feel as if you are using me”, they are in effect invoking Kant’s categorical imperative.

  6. 6.

    For a comparative analysis of those ethical theories see Will Kymlicka (1990), Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 9–94; as well as Michael Boylan (2000), Basic Ethics: Basic Ethics in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

  7. 7.

    For a further detailed discussion of the conflict of interest between the Market Good V. The Public Good, see Spence et al. (2011), Chap. 3. For how Big Tech promotes ‘consumer welfare over citizen welfare’, which ultimately promotes and favors not the common good of society but that of the financial good of Big Tech, and consequently results in the “corruption of the political process”, see Foroohar (2019:183–190).

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Spence, E.H. (2021). Public Policy and Regulative Change to Combat Media Corruption. In: Media Corruption in the Age of Information. Library of Public Policy and Public Administration, vol 15. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61612-0_7

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