Facebook should experiment with an “opposing viewpoints button” in the newsfeed of the website, said Cass Sunstein, ex-administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. During a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, Sunstein suggested a new button for the social media giant.
What if most Facebook employees have left-leaning political views? : Barone
Sunstein was at the American Enterprise Institute to talk about his new book “#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media”. He said, “You could just click on it and you would get, for a certain amount of stuff that comes on your newsfeed, things that think differently from how you think – and it could make you very unhappy that you clicked the button because ‘why are they sending me this nonsense?”
He further said, “But it could make you think, ‘oh, these people are even sillier than I thought’ and it’s good to know that, or it might make you think, ‘oh, they actually have some ideas that are not unreasonable, I’m glad to hear them.”
Michael Barone, AEI resident fellow, asked Sunstein how the social media giant would be able to curate content fairly if most of the employees of the tech giant have left-leaning political views. The social networking site, said Sunstein, should “almost certainly” not curate content by just focusing on specific public policy positions.
Further, the former Obama administration official told Barone that the word ‘curate’ is ambiguous and if the tech company curated in a way that only focuses on a particular position, then that would be objectionable for several reasons and would probably not be in their economic interests.
Sunstein praises Sen. Orrin Hatch for working with the opposition party
He told Barone that he applauds Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) for willing to work with the opposition party. He also said that the approach is more difficult for a politician to take in the social media age.
He said, “The capacity of people similarly situated to Senator Hatch to work together without endangering their electoral prospects is much worse than it was. And social media is a contributor because they know as soon as they say ‘I am working with that person on that issue,’ Twitter is going to go crazy – and it works for both Democrats and Republicans.”
Sunstein is a Robert Walmsley professor at Harvard University Law School and he was asked for his analysis of political bias among the faculty at universities and colleges. He said, “If any academic identifies himself or herself in a way that is very ideologically describable, they are not doing their job because it would be amazing if, suppose you are a political scientist, if your views on 12 of the leading issues today, on every one, lined up with one of our current political parties. That would be amazing in a bad way.”