It’s the 21st century, and we no longer ask ‘Who watches the watchers? (on the city walls)’. What we should ask is ‘Who watches the algorithms? (on Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft).
ProPublica* found that Facebook to this day had perfectly enabled marketers of say, Nazi memorabilia, or recruiters for marchers for a far-right rally, to find ‘Jew haters’ (it was an actual ad category, gleaned from Facebook profiles and posts), and send them ‘promoted posts’. (After the ProPublica report, Facebook removed the anti-semitic categories and promised to improve monitoring).
And just last week, Buzzfeed News reported that Facebook’s vast reach was used in the 2016 elections by a Russian troll operation that set up fake accounts and sent misinformation (presumably about the Clinton campaign), to the tune of $100,000 worth of political ads. The new media/ social media are escaping many regulations and media standards that are far behind the curve, and that have yet to catch up with the digital age.
*ProPublica is an American nonprofit organization based in New York City. It describes itself as a nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.