2017 presented increasingly difficult challenges for digital platforms such as social media and search engines. Consider the most high profile among them, Facebook. The year of challenges began in 2016 just as Donald Trump was elected president of the
United States, after which public outrage – among Democrats and “Never Trump” Republicans at least – focused on the spread of “fake news” on platforms like Facebook. A New York Magazine headline proclaimed, “Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook,”1 while The New York Times, in an editorial entitled, “Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News,”2 asserted that CEO Mark Zuckerberg “let liars and con artists hijack his platform.” In fact, 2017 may well be remembered as the year when platform harms, and the demands to address them, became widely understood in the mainstream as a leading problem of public policy in digital space.
The challenges did not end with demands of platform responsibility for disinformation and propaganda.