Instigator / Con
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1587
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Topic
#4222

The rise of social media as a primary source of news distribution does more harm than good.

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Winner
0
3

After 3 votes and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

AustinL0926
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Barney's avatar
Barney
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whiteflame
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oromagi
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AleutianTexan
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Last updated date
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Standard
Number of rounds
3
Time for argument
Three days
Max argument characters
10,500
Voting period
One week
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Contender / Pro
3
1636
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Description

On-balance.

Pro argues that the rise of social media as a primary source of news distribution does more harm than good to society and Con argues that it does more good for society than harm.

The focus of the conversation ultimately comes down to whether or not social media does more overall good for society or bad, as a news outlet. The two standards to measure are the quantity (multiple examples of good or bad) and the quality (overall significance and impact of examples.) Both of these will be crucial to the debate. Whoever maxes out on both of these will ultimately win. If Pro or Con fall short in one of these areas, they can compensate by maxing out in the other. If both sides are even or it falls somewhere in the middle, then it is a tie.

But if the quality or quantity of one side's examples are significant enough to outweigh both the other side's contributions, they can also be declared the winner.

Definitions:
Primary Source- A main or essential lead of information that is relied on by default to stay informed.

News Distribution- An organization which collects, processes, and distributes information.

Social Media- Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Good- Benefit or advantage to someone or something.

Harm- Causes/Causing an unfortunate or distressing result/result(s).

Rules:
1. BOP is shared.
2. Pro and Con are weighed by the quantity and quality of their arguments.
3. One forfeit is the loss of a conduct point. Two forfeits are an auto-loss.

Round 1
Con
#1
l. Counter Terrorism
The role of social media as a news distribution has made it easier for us to monitor terrorism through the following.
  • Identify terrorists by seeing their name.
  • Keep track of their plans by reading through their posts.
  • Receive updates. 
Best cure for terrorism is Prevention, the surveillance that these tech companies have been conducting has given us the means for which to counter and prevent terrorism on a global scale. The more these tech companies progress, the easier it will become.

Civilians can also help fight terrorism by regularly following accounts that post very bizarre content.

Examples:
An American veteran was identified for his shady behavior regarding suspicious posts on Social Media and his support for a terrorist group. This allowed the FBI to trick him into revealing information about a terrorist plot he was going to start. 
  • “In online posts and in conversations with an FBI source, Domingo expressed support for violent jihad, a desire to seek retribution for attacks against Muslims, and a willingness to become a martyr, according to the affidavit.  After considering various attacks – including targeting Jews, churches, and police officers – Domingo decided to detonate an IED at a rally scheduled to take place in Long Beach this past weekend.  As part of the plot, Domingo asked his confederate – who actually was cooperating with the FBI as part of the investigation – to find a bomb-maker, and Domingo last week purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the IED.”
  • “Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.”
The need for Social Media helps authorities cut down on the list of suspects and not waste time when searching for the terrorist. 


ll. Prevent Murder & Crimes
Before the rise of the Digital Age where forensics was underdeveloped, it would be difficult to track most murders and a lot of them would be declared cold cases. However, now all it takes is a report on Facebook to either stop a murder or find someone who has already committed one.
  • “SAN FRANCISCO — On Easter, Steve Stephens drove around downtown Cleveland on what he said was a mission to commit murder — and soon he had an audience of millions for his shooting of Robert Godwin Sr., 74, which he recorded and posted on Facebook, the police in Cleveland said.”
If it weren’t for the existence of Facebook or Social Media, it is impossible to tell whether this guy would have ever been stopped or however long it would take him.

  • Now with features like Facial Recognition Search and other versions of data tracking, it has become much harder to get away with committing a crime. The difficulty of it alone is enough to deter most would-be murderers that premeditate their kills. Social media companies like Facebook have the ability to give this information to the police anytime they decide.

lll. Solve Cold Cases
  • Social media has made it easier for Law Enforcement to reach out to people for tips through creating pages and contact more communities for assistance. 
  • This innovation leads to more updates and details being found. 
  • Civilians are able to help out without necessarily needing to be present through the form of Armchair Detective. 
  • A very effective instrument for raising awareness and usually bringing more solutions to the table. 

IV. Revolutionized Journalism
The digital age is seeking to replace old-school publications with a newer version of journalism that is accessible to everyone by browsing on their laptops. 
  • YouTube and TikTok has made it easier to stay informed by following commentary and journalist channels. 
  • Twitter and Reddit keeps people up to date with current trends and new features, so they don’t get left behind. 
  • E-books now negate the need to spend unnecessary hours driving to the local library and fishing for books. 

V. Created more jobs for journalists
Journalism is a very competitive industry with the majority making little pay. It requires an exceptional percentage to rise to the point that their income is sufficient. The field has a high turnover rate with journalists needing to take a second job just to make ends’ meet. 

But with corporations like YouTube and Twitch, it is possible for wannabe journalists to start a career and get monetization without wasting years chasing an education without a guarantee they will make enough. 

Instagram has also made it easy for journalists to market their brand and build a small following which continuously grows with time. 

Vl. Started E-Therapy
Some people can’t access in-person therapy, so the introduction of E-Therapy has made it easier for them to seek adequate counseling through online services. 


Pro
#2
 (I wrote this whole argument in 30 min because I’m a procrastinator. The next two arguments will be better, I promise) 

I. Preamble 

1. Definitions (from Oxford)

Social media: websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. 

Primary: of chief importance; principal. 

Source: a place, person, or thing from which something comes or can be obtained. 

News: newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events. 

Distribution: the way in which something is shared out among a group or spread over an area. 

2. Interpreted Resolution

The increasing use of social media, as a primary way to receive news, does more harm than good. 

3. Scope

It’s important to note that the resolution clearly refers solely to the use of social media as a way to receive news – not social media in general. Therefore, any evidence or impacts that cite uses of social media other than a way to receive news ought to be considered outside the scope of this debate. 

4. Framework 

If social media as a primary news source currently does more harm than good, than it logically follows that the rise of it also does more harm than good. The converse is also true. 

Consequently, I will evaluate the current impacts of social media as a news source, demonstrating how the harms it causes to society are significant enough to outweigh the benefits. 

5. Inherent Assumptions 

Obviously, it is assumed that the rise of social media as a primary source of news distribution is a real and genuine phenomenon. 

II. Constructives 

1. How does Social Media Differ? 

a. When “News Finds Me” 

Due to social media platforms often recommending news to their users based on their past interests, it leads to the phenomenon of users receiving, rather than searching, for news. In addition, people tend to stay longer, and click more often, on news headlines that parallel with what they already agree with. As a result, social media companies have a compelling interest to develop algorithms that feed users news from the same ideology over and over. This is a crucial distinction from traditional sources of news, and brings me to my next point... 

b. Echo Chambers 

When users are constantly receiving news that they agree with, and never anything that they disagree with, it creates the false reality that their worldview is the consensus, when the opposite may be true. Users have their opinions drift further and further in one direction as a result of this vicious cycle. This can have serious real-world harm.  For example, the family of a man killed in a terrorist attack sued YouTube, arguing that their platform had radicalized the terrorist through the content recommended by the algorithm. [2]

2. News Reliability 

a. Accuracy Problems

News shared on social media is far less likely to be reliable than news shared via traditional news sources. With virtually no regulation for integrity, nor standards for accuracy, fake news can easily spread. After all, a fake headline is far more likely to be shared than a real one. These problems are far worse than on traditional news sites, where articles have to be vetted for accuracy.

b. Bias Problems 

As mentioned earlier, social media algorithms can create echo chambers of biased news. However, the problem of biased news goes further than this. According to a 2020 Pew Poll, of people who used social media as a primary source of news, 26% were exposed to conspiracy theories “a lot”, while 54% were exposed to conspiracy theories “a little.” [2] This shows how biased news is normalized and even promoted on social media platforms.

3. Media Literacy 

a. Lack of Political Knowledge 

Using social media as a primary source of news can also cause serious harms for its users, particularly in terms of media literacy. A stunning 57% of social media news consumers had “low political knowledge” when tested, far higher than consumers of news from traditional sources. [2] Clearly, having a lack of political knowledge about the very society you live in is a serious harm.

b. Entertainment over Reliability 

Furthermore, social media users who consume news are being reinforced the habit of seeking to be entertained by news, rather than gaining information from it – a problem that can act as a barrier to learning more about the world. 

As a clear example of this, 59% of people using social media as a news source expect the news they receive to be “largely inaccurate,” highlighting the harmful habits that social media as a news source causes. [3] 

III. Rebuttals 

Counter Terrorism 

This falls outside the scope of this debate, as individual posts by terrorists are hardly an example of news distribution. Furthermore, social media has actually caused some cases of terrorism, as mentioned earlier, through the radicalization of terrorists through social media algorithms feeding them ideological news. 

Prevent Murder and Crimes 

This also falls outside the scope of this debate, unless my opponent is somehow claiming that facial recognition/data tracking count as a form of news distribution, or that individual posts by particularly dumb murderers are automatically news articles. Also see previous rebuttal. 

Solve Cold Cases 

Again, yet another argument that falls outside the scope of this debate. By definition, cold cases aren’t news, considering how, as stated in the definitions, news is “newly received or noteworthy information.” 

Revolutionized Journalism 

As mentioned earlier, while social media has allowed news stories to spread further, it hasn’t necessarily improved journalism. In fact, it’s quite likely that it has harmed it, through allowing the excessive proliferation of biased, inaccurate, or just plain fake news articles on social media. 

Created More Jobs For Journalists 

Although social media has created jobs for journalists, it has also caused them harm. According to Pew Research, 41% of journalists say that social media has had a “somewhat negative” impact on their work, while 26% say that it has been “very negative”. [4] In addition, it has harmed the standards of journalism as a whole.

Started E-Therapy 

This falls outside the scope of the debate, unless my opponent is somehow claiming that E-Therapy is a form of news distribution. 

IV. Conclusion 

In this round, I have: 
  • Set up definitions, as well as an overarching framework 
  • Shown how social media as a news source leads to echo chambers, as well as extremization of ideologies 
  • Demonstrated how social media as a news source is more prone to reliability and accuracy issues than traditional news sources 
  • Noted how social media as a news source is causes direct harms to users, through decreased media literacy and damaging habits 
  • Refuted many of my opponent’s arguments as outside the scope of the debate 
  • Reversed several contentions by showing how social media actually harms journalism 
Please vote PRO! 

V. Sources

 



Round 2
Con
#3
Pro is attempting to change the established definitions in the description.:

Primary Source- A main or essential lead of information that is relied on by default to stay informed.

News Distribution- An organization which collects, processes, and distributes information.

Social Media- Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

If he wished to contest any of these, the request for submitted changes should have been made before accepting the debate. Pro’s own definition from Oxford.:

News: newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.

This is not the definition in the description, but I want to clarify that none of my contentions deviate from either version of the meaning. So please consider Pro’s claims about my arguments being outside the scope with heavy skepticism. 

  • Counter Terrorism. Terrorists are identified on their social media accounts, blogs, or if certain suspicious groups gain a large following, thereby increasing attention. The example I showed previously demonstrates the terrorist being caught by people seeing his disturbing content, which falls within the definitions in the description. Extend.
  • Murder & Crimes. Since murderers can be identified by their posts on social media, and can be shared, or police can follow a trail, this also falls within the definition of distributing information. Extend.
  • Cold Cases. Utah is constantly broadcasting through the form of advertisements looking for people to help out. This gets certain cases trending by leads and updates being liked/shared through FB and Twitter. Crime documentaries usually get made by this, so yes, it’s very relevant. Extend.
  • Social Media has created more jobs for journalists. Consider this point conceded. Extend. 
Both me and Pro are discussing the proportional harms/benefits of social media as news, but where our conclusions differ is his major impacts are focusing on misinformation and biases, while mine are thinking big picture. 

Pro’s Unreliable Source
Pro’s specific concern with misinformation from unreliable sources is ironic because the article he uses to back up his claim that Social Media causes terrorism is from a website known as Forbes

  • “Forbes scored an average Factual Grade of 51.1%, placing it in the 10th percentile of our dataset.”

As Pro is citing from an unreliable source, I am unsure whether this strengthens or diminishes the credibility of his argument. In-fact, YouTube and Google are incorporating strategies that will effectively cut down on terrorism in the upcoming years.

Pro also cites a study from Pew Research detailing how social media has negatively impacted journalism, but his own source also contradicts him because he left this out.: 
"Among journalists who use social media for their jobs, nearly nine-in-ten (87%) say it has a very or somewhat positive impact on their ability to promote stories, while about eight-in-ten say it helps their ability to connect with their audience and find sources for stories (79% each). "

Echo Chambers and Accuracy Problems

  • Accuracy Problems. Fake news and misleading information is not exclusive to platforms on social media. Vintage and traditional news outlets deal with this problem too. 
  • Bias Problems. The existence of conspiracy theories long pre-date the birth of Social Media. The spread of conspiracy theories is not the fault of social media, as traditional news outlets have done this very thing as well. With social media, users have the right to choose which content they do or don’t engage with. 
  • Entertainment over Reliability. As users are regular consumers of news content, this is actually a positive thing. Entertainment is the main motivator for encouraging people to seek out information and can actually increase knowledge. 
  • Lack of Political Knowledge. Just because consumers of social media content had less overall political knowledge than consumers of news from traditional sources doesn’t mean social media is to blame. There could be a variety of circumstances contributing to this gap that the study left out like their status, accessibility, or education. Correlation is NOT Causation!
The concerns of misinformation and biases being a shortcoming of Social Media is irrational. The heavyweights of the virtual industry.: Namely Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube use fact-checking features to erase harmful or misleading information and hold people accountable for lies. As for the Echo Chambers, consumers of social media news are constantly engaging with people they disagree with through debates, forum discussions, and heated posts. These conversations reinforce the diversity of opinion and expose them to a variety of different perspectives., thus minimizing the said concern of an echo chamber.
  • “Accompanying the increasing amount of fake news and misinformation online, there are numerous platforms on the web for authentication, verification, or fact-checking the truthfulness of news stories. The systems themselves are very useful.”
  • “There are quite a number of reputable news media outlets that offer fact-check reports regularly. They can be used to monitor or verify the content of many news stories, as well as the accuracy of statements made by politicians. Some researchers suggest that simply knowing that such tools exist constrains politicians from making false claims, and pressures them to make statements more cautiously. Most fact-checking news agencies contact politicians to clarify or correct their inaccurate statements (although some politicians never directly respond)”

Ways in which social media helps journalists and journalism.
  1. Created more jobs. Pro agrees with me here. As the profession is hard to get employed, social media has made it easier to get jobs freelancing or finding full time employment with a publication.
  2. Raised the standards for journalism. Contrary to Pro’s view that social media has lowered the standards, I would say it has increased them. While employment is easier, there are more skills and expertise required to reach the top of the hierarchy. The competition alone created the demand for candidates with exceptional skills. And the universal standards for great journalism have always been objectivity, reliability, and factual accuracy.
  3. Made research easier. Search engines have actually enabled journalists to easily access sources and provided them the opportunity/potential to reach a larger audience.
  4. More advantages for disabled people. If a person is crippled or impaired in someway, they don’t have to expend more energy and money walking or finding transportation to travel to work, as social media has provided remote jobs as an alternative source of income.
How Social Media Saves Lives
  1. If a child goes missing, social media uses emergency alerts to reach out to the community. Amber alerts appear as a notification on everyone’s cellular devices and they can potentially save a victim of kidnapping. Similarly, these alerts can be used to warn people of hurricane or tornado predictions and give them time to prepare.
  2. Encouraging healthy behavior by writing facts about vaccines, dieting, or exercise. New magazines and books are a way for people to get involved in the fitness community and prevent illnesses.
  3. People can now solicit the assistance of help or assistance of people online through a process known as Crowdsourcing. This can be used to help solve Cold Cases or find missing people. 
  4. Helping victims of natural disasters like storms or floodings can also be done through asking for donations. 
  5. Originally, I mentioned E-Therapy, so extend. Psychologists are now displaying their services online which makes it more accessible to people suffering from clinical depression, OCD, or eating disorders. So this is entirely relevant.

Mobile Phone Sensor Correlates of Depressive Symptom Severity in Daily-Life Behavior: An Exploratory Study- https://www.jmir.org


Strengthening Activism & Exposing Fraud
  • Victims of racial oppression can get together and start a movement like Black Lives Matter.
  • LGBTQ+ people don’t have to feel persecuted if they live in areas of persecution and can connect with others like themselves and start a movement.
  • Organizing protests also makes it easier when you can find people with the same beliefs, values, and ethics as you.
Recently, a well-known director known as Dhar Mann who pioneered the genre of short films telling basic stories with moral messages at the end is catching scrutiny for his actions. His clout and influence have given his former actors & actresses a platform and the opportunity to band together and protest him, calling him out for exploiting their hard work with minimal pay. 

Enhanced Human Interaction & Relationships
  • The advertisement of dating sites like Tinder or group sites like Meetup have given strangers the ability to plan events, meet in person, and develop bonds based on that. 

                    https://www.fact-checking.com

Pro
#4
I. Housekeeping 

1. Definitions and Scope 

CON has made no effort to challenge the definitions I provided, other than claiming, with no support, that the definitions in the description should take precedence. This is false for several reasons, namely: 
  • Unless there is a specific clause in the description saying that the definitions are fixed, then they are inherently challengeable. 
  • Similarly, any semantics, or arguing over definitions, ought to be considered in the debate proper, rather than hashed out beforehand. As the contender, I have no obligation to help the instigator fix faulty definitions before the debate. 
  • Since I provided a source for my definitions (Oxford, a widely respected English dictionary), while CON provided none, my definitions ought to stand. 
  • Finally, CON has not contended that my definitions deviate from common usage. 
With this in mind, the scope of the debate should also be carefully clarified. As a reminder, this debate is NOT about: 
  • Social media in general 
  • Journalism in general 
  • Information distribution in general 
It is about: 
  • Social media as a primary source of news distribution. 
If any argument falls outside this scope, then it should be discarded entirely in terms of impact weighting – in order to count for either quantity or quality of arguments, it is an inherent assumption that it pertains to the debate in the first place. 

2. Framing and Judging Standards  

I contend that CON is attempting to use an unfairly broad definition of news distribution, to apply it to any information whatsoever shared on social media. Obviously, this would turn the topic into a reverse truism.  

When considering whether something ought to be considered as “news” or not, I implore judges to consider the term in its rational context, and then determine if an argument fits under that rational context.  

This debate’s framework of judging standards are based off the quality and quantity of arguments. However, when judging quantity of arguments in particular, the arguments must be relevant to the debate – otherwise, it would encourage a gish gallop of arguments which barely qualify as being tangentially topical. 

Finally, while it might seem like CON has more constructive arguments than me, it's important to note that many of them are irrelevant - therefore, in terms of actual argument impacts, I have a clear edge.

II. Rebuttals 

Counter Terrorism 

This absolutely does not fall within the definitions (no matter how much CON insists otherwise), whether in the description or the ones I provided. The personal opinions of a violent person certainly do not fall under the scope of “news distribution.” 

Murder & Crime 

See above, CON has still not demonstrated why this counts as news. 

Cold Cases 

Extend R1 rebuttals, since CON has not shown why his definitions take precedent over mine.

Social Media has created more jobs for journalists. 

CON’s case clearly doesn’t hold water, as he is cherry-picking one of the benefits that social media as a news source offers for journalists, and ignoring the harms it creates for them. 

In my R1 constructives, I showed how the rise of social media as a news source has been bad for most journalists. By focusing only on the benefits social media has, CON  ignores evidence from the journalists themselves, who say that overall (that is, on balance, after weighing the benefits and problems), social media has had a negative impact on them. 

Ways in which social media helps journalists and journalism. 

Regarding point 1 (jobs), see above. 

Regarding point 2 (standards), this is refuted by my R1 points, where I showed how social media in fact has much lower standards for accurate and unbiased journalism. 

Regarding point 3 (research), this is irrelevant to the debate, as search engines are not a form of news distribution. 

Regarding point 4 (advantages for the disabled), remote work can be done with traditional forms of journalism as well, so the increasing rise of social media doesn’t change anything. 

How Social Media Saves Lives 

Regarding point 1 (emergency alerts), this is irrelevant. While these notifications may have a positive effect, the continuing rise of social media as a news source neither increases nor decreases their effectiveness. 

Regarding point 2 (healthy behavior), this is refuted by the fact that social media as a news source has also encouraged unhealthy behaviors. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, misleading news articles spread misinformation about the vaccine, leading to many people electing not to receive it. As a result of this misinformation, preventable and premature deaths occurred. [1] 

Regarding point 3 (crowdsourcing), I contend this is also untopical, due to the fact that crowdsourcing fails to fall under the definition of news - “newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.” 

Regarding point 4 (soliciting donations), see above.

Regarding point 5 (advertising E-therapy), ibid.

Strengthening Activism and Exposing Fraud

I'm honestly a little bit confused on CON's first argument here... how exactly does social media as a primary form of news distribution assist with activism?

CON's argument with exposing fraud, while relevant, can also be outweighed by the use of social media as a news source in order to prop up corrupt governments. Undoubtedly, the impacts of corrupt government(s) are far greater than the impacts of a single corrupt person.

For example, according to The Economist, at least 81 governments in the world have used journalistic disinformation campaigns in order to advance their own cause, including such authoritarian governments like Russia, China, and Venezuela.

Enhanced Human Interaction & Relationships

Also untopical, and should be disregarded - it's not about social media in general.

 III. Defense 

“Pro’s specific concern with misinformation...
This is a clear example of a genetic fallacy: CON attacks the source itself, ignoring the fact that the information within is widely supported from a variety of sources regardless. While different sources may differ on their opinions on the issue (e.g. whether Youtube is responsible), the fundamental facts are agreed upon: Youtube’s algorithm recommended radicalizing videos to a terrorist who later committed a heinous crime.


Pew Research left out...
Again, PRO is focusing on one aspect of how social media as a news source impacts journalists, ignoring how overall, journalists say that it harms them. 


Accuracy Problems...
 This is a false comparison, as social media is far more likely to suffer from these problems. News shared from social media has consistently been shown by several peer-reviewed studies to be less credible, accurate, and unbiased than traditional news sources (e.g. television and print). [3]


Bias Problems...
See above - while misinformation has predated social media, social media has facilitated its wider spread. Furthermore, news spread on social media generally has a lower standard of journalistic integrity, as there is no formal requirement for fact-checking in order to share this cool thing you found on Facebook.

In addition, the contention that social media users can choose the content they engage with is false, as in fact most social media users receive content from the algorithm of the platform they're on - as mentioned in R1.


Entertainment Over Reliability...
This is simply a non-sequitur - incentives for people to seek out information are only a positive benefit if the information is accurate and unbiased.


Lack of Political Knowledge....
Actually, correlation is causation in this case. In the methodology of the study linked, it was specifically mentioned that those surveyed were carefully chosen in order to have similar demographics (age, socio-economic status, education, access to technology), in order to ensure that the difference in political knowledge could be mainly and solely attributed to a difference in the main media source used.


"As for the Echo Chambers...
The majority of social media users (about 90-99%) are lurkers, who receive and read content, but do not actively discuss it. [4] Thus, this is irrelevant.

IV. Extension 

I extend my R1 definitions and framing, as they stand uncontested.

I extend my R1 contentions about accuracy problems, bias problems, entertainment over reliability, lack of political knowledge, and echo chambers, as they have been successfully defended.

I extend this round's contentions about dangerous misinformation, governmental disinformation campaigns, and the overall framing and standards of this debate.

V. Conclusion 

In this round, I have:

  • Affirmed why my definitions should stand over those specified in the description
  • Showed why judging standards should only take into account topical arguments
  • Continued to refute CON's R1 contentions, as being either non-sequitur, untopical, or being outweighed/minimal in terms of impacts
  • Refuted CON's R2 contentions, as also standing outside of the debate, or otherwise having few impacts compared to the enormous case against him
  • Defended my R1 contentions, by demonstrating how CON's arguments either miss the point, or are outright false
  • Overall, conclusively affirmed my case, by conveying why my impacts are greater than my opponent's
Please vote PRO!

VI. Sources 

 



Extend all sources from R1.




Round 3
Con
#5
Whenever definitions are listed, they are liable to be changed before the debate has been accepted. Pro denies responsibility by claiming that the label 'Fixed' was unspecified. But to reiterate to voters, ALL definitions are fixed when the debate is accepted. This goes without saying. Pro admits all my arguments fall within the established definitions I set, so for him to dismiss them as irrelevant are an attempt to weasel out of responding to them directly. 

But as I did explain how they fell within my version of the definitions and Pro's, it is Pro's job alone to prove they do not. Since he has not done so, they will remain for now.

Overview
  • Proven that Social Media as a primary source of news distribution is effective at countering terrorism. Extend.
  • Proven that Social Media is effective at preventing crime. Extend.
  • Proven that Social Media can help solve Cold Cases. Extend.
  • Proven that Social Media saves lives through Emergency Alerts, Crowd-Sourcing, E-Therapy, and Fund-Raisers. (All these fall under News Distribution including the contentions before.) Extend.
  • Proven that Social Media strengthens activism through advertising services that allow organizations to meet-up, and that Social Media exposes fraud. Extend.
  • Proven that Social Media helps journalists as a primary source of news distribution through creating jobs and making research easier. (This meets the definition for Good.: Advantage or benefit to someone or something.) Extend.
  • Proven that Pro's source about Social Media harming journalism contradicts himself, as his link doesn't work. When I found the actual article, it spoke about how 80% of journalists claim to have improved. Extend.
  • Refuted Pro's argument of Echo Chambers by pointing out how regular consumers of social media news have the freedom to choose what sources they engage with and are constantly exposed to a diversity of opinions. Extend.
  • Demonstrated that entertainment motivates people to consume more news. Also pointed out that Pro's study of social media news consumers lacking political knowledge could have to do with a variety of factors rather than the source of information. This is dropped completely by Pro. Extend both of these.
  • Proven that Social Media raised the standards of journalism by only allowing those with exceptional skills to rise to the top of the hierarchy. Competition drives success. Extend.
  • Proven that misinformation and biases predates social media and is used constantly by traditional media outlets. Also proven that Social Media uses fact-checkers to limit and cut down on misinformation. Extend. 
  • Extend point about how Social Media has created advantages for disabled people through remote jobs.
Rebuttals:
I contend that CON is attempting to use an unfairly broad definition of news distribution, to apply it to any information whatsoever shared on social media. Obviously, this would turn the topic into a reverse truism.  

When considering whether something ought to be considered as “news” or not, I implore judges to consider the term in its rational context, and then determine if an argument fits under that rational context.  

This debate’s framework of judging standards are based off the quality and quantity of arguments. However, when judging quantity of arguments in particular, the arguments must be relevant to the debate – otherwise, it would encourage a gish gallop of arguments which barely qualify as being tangentially topical. 

Finally, while it might seem like CON has more constructive arguments than me, it's important to note that many of them are irrelevant - therefore, in terms of actual argument impacts, I have a clear edge.
Take this as an admission that Pro agreed to the established definitions in the description and is only changing them now to because he is unable to fairly contend with the arguments and examples I have laid out. 

As everything I stated is well within the topic and wholly relevant, they all stand. 

Counter Terrorism 

This absolutely does not fall within the definitions (no matter how much CON insists otherwise), whether in the description or the ones I provided. The personal opinions of a violent person certainly do not fall under the scope of “news distribution.” 
Pro is willfully ignoring the explanation I gave.

So to quote myself.:

  • “Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.”
  • “SAN FRANCISCO — On Easter, Steve Stephens drove around downtown Cleveland on what he said was a mission to commit murder — and soon he had an audience of millions for his shooting of Robert Godwin Sr., 74, which he recorded and posted on Facebook, the police in Cleveland said.”
So I have to ask, how does this not fall under my definition of news distribution? Even if we are to assume that my definitions in the description no longer stand, they still fall within the parameters that Pro is attempting to set. (The definitions he gave.):
News: newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events. 
Distribution: the way in which something is shared out among a group or spread over an area. 

Next.
It’s important to note that the resolution clearly refers solely to the use of social media as a way to receive news – not social media in general. Therefore, any evidence or impacts that cite uses of social media other than a way to receive news ought to be considered outside the scope of this debate. 
As this is the definition of Social Media.:
  • Social Media- Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
It would therefore stand that anything to do with Social Media falls within the category of news and subject matter of this debate.

For example, according to The Economist, at least 81 governments in the world have used journalistic disinformation campaigns in order to advance their own cause, including such authoritarian governments like Russia, China, and Venezuela.
This has been done long before the existence of Social Media. Germany changed documented history in order to spread lies and propaganda and the Soviet Union also engaged in disinformation campaigns during WW2. But corporate tech giants like Facebook and Twitter are constantly fact-checking extreme lies told by politicians or terrorists. 

Regarding point 2 (healthy behavior), this is refuted by the fact that social media as a news source has also encouraged unhealthy behaviors. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, misleading news articles spread misinformation about the vaccine, leading to many people electing not to receive it. As a result of this misinformation, preventable and premature deaths occurred.
This isn't the fault of social media. Traditional news outlets were the ones mainly responsible for the spread of misinformation during the Covid Pandemic. Like BBC, The New York Times, and CNN when they covered that hydroxychloroquine is an effective cure for COVID-19. 

This is a clear example of a genetic fallacy: CON attacks the source itself, ignoring the fact that the information within is widely supported from a variety of sources regardless. While different sources may differ on their opinions on the issue (e.g. whether Youtube is responsible), the fundamental facts are agreed upon: Youtube’s algorithm recommended radicalizing videos to a terrorist who later committed a heinous crime.
So Pro concedes that his source is unreliable and offers no other source. As none of his other sources touch on this subject, treat this as an unsubstantiated statement.

Extend ALL previous rebuttals, contentions, examples, and sources.

Conclusion
A lot of my arguments remain unchallenged by Pro. Specifically, my contentions about how Social Media fights against terrorism, cold cases, and how it saves lives. As Pro has not offered counter-evidence, I shall consider all of these points dropped. As the weighing factor falls under the quantity and qualitative impact, my side reflected a very big picture which has proven too much for Pro to defend against.

Vote CON!


Pro
#6
I. Preamble 

In this response, I will separate my argument in four sections: 

  • General Rebuttals 
  • Specific Rebuttals 
  • Defense 
  • Overall Framing
I will then conclude with a summary and final focus, showing why I should win this debate. 

II. General Rebuttals 

CON’s main arguments rely on two overarching pillars: 

  • That his definitions are valid 
  • That under these definitions, his arguments fall under the scope of this debate 
If I prove that either one of these statements are false, then any arguments that he claims are topical (but that I have contested are not), should be disregarded. So let’s get to that. 

1. Definitional Kritik Validity 

In order to determine whether my definitional Kritik (proposing counter-definitions to CON’s definitions) are valid, consider the following arguments in support of it: 

  • There is no reason for CON’s definitions to be treated as any more valid than mine. Although he may have put them down first, it doesn’t change their objective truth value. 
  • I sourced my definitions. CON did not. By default, sourced information ought to take priority. 
  • My definitions are closer to the real-life usage of the words, in particular “news”. Under CON’s definition, “news” could refer to any form of communicating information, which is of course not how the term is used. 
  • My definitions are necessary to counter a truism. As they represent a priori assumptions that fundamentally challenge the resolution, they change the entire scope of the debate, from one that’s heavily biased in favor of CON, to one that offers a fair and level playing field. 
2. Why CON’s arguments are irrelevant anyway, rendering this a moot point 

In addition, CON has apparently been so distracted arguing with me over definitions that he’s also missed the point that his arguments are invalid regardless. As his definition of “news distribution” mentions an “organization,” and "distribution [of] information," his definitions contradict his arguments anyway.

3. Why is this so important? 

This fundamentally affects whether over 2/3 of CON’s arguments are relevant. I urge judges to go over CON’s arguments, one by one, and compare them to whichever set of definitions they feel to be more valid. 

Under CON’s definitions, he still loses his 1st, 2nd, and 6th R1 arguments to scope creep, as well as his 2nd and 4th R2 arguments. 

Under my definitions, CON loses his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th R1 arguments to scope creep, as well as his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th R2 arguments. 

Either way, it’s clear that no matter how things are interpreted, many of CON’s arguments end up being discarded (and therefore don’t count for either quantity or quality). 

III. Specific Rebuttals 

“Whenever definitions are listed, they are liable to be changed before the debate has been accepted. Pro denies responsibility by claiming that the label 'Fixed' was unspecified. But to reiterate to voters, ALL definitions are fixed when the debate is accepted. This goes without saying.” 
This is clearly an argument by assertion (“this goes without saying”) – because CON says so, he tries to make it so. In addition, CON is the one in fact arguing in poor faith, as he is trying to broaden the topic beyond its original scope.
 

[long list of bullet points purporting to show how amazing CON’s argument is] 
I’ll respond to these one by one, in numbered order. 

1: False. I proved this is untopical. 

2: False. I proved this is untopical. 

3: False. I proved this is untopical. 

4: False. I proved this is untopical. 

5: Mostly false. It has not strengthened activism (arguably, it has instead weakened it, through the spread of divisive misinformation), Although it has been used to expose fraud, its use has been limited, and it has been used just as often to promote it. 

6: Mostly false. Social media as a source of research does not fall under the scope of this topic. Although it does create jobs, it has also made life harder for journalists as a whole. 

7: Cherry-picked. CON takes one benefit of social media, ignoring how overall, the spread of social media as a form of news distribution has harmed journalists. This shows how social media as a news source has done more harm than good to them, and therefore in fact helps my case. 

8: False. I refuted this in R2, by showing that most users are lurkers, and don’t engage in any content beyond what the algorithm gives them. 

9: Extremely false. I never dropped this. I in fact specifically defended this in my R2, under the “Lack of Political Knowledge” heading. 

10: False. I refuted this in R2, by showing how fake news spreads faster than real news, proving that social media as a news source has lowered the standards of journalism. 

11: False. I refuted this in R2, by showing how social media is far less reliable than traditional news sources. 

12: False. I refuted this in R2, by showing there is no reason why traditional media news sources would not allow remote jobs. 

Please note how CON has dropped my R2 defenses and rebuttals, leaving them uncontested and therefore upheld.

IV. Defense 

“Take this as an admission that Pro agreed to the established definitions in the description and is only changing them now to because he is unable to fairly contend...” 
CON, after managing to drop my entire 2nd round, then apparently accuses me of being “unable to fairly contend.” Additionally, he again asserts that his arguments are within the topic – but unfortunately, repeated assertion does not change objective truth. 


“It would therefore stand that anything to do with Social Media falls within the category of news and subject matter of this debate.” 
I have no idea where CON got this from. 


“This isn't the fault of social media. Traditional news outlets were the ones mainly responsible for the spread of misinformation during the Covid Pandemic.” 
CON fails to source that traditional news outlets were “mainly” responsible for the spread of misinformation. Indeed, as I showed in R2, social media news in fact has been far less reliable. 


“So Pro concedes that his source [regarding the Supreme Court case] is unreliable and offers no other source. As none of his other sources touch on this subject, treat this as an unsubstantiated statement.” 
I didn’t offer any other sources, because as I mentioned earlier, the basic facts of the case are not in contention. However, since CON is skeptical, I offer several corrobating sources.

V. Overall Framing 

In order to make things easier for the judges, I’ll make a summary of every constructive argument offered in this debate, and then evaluate their impacts. These are scaled from None, to Minimal, to Moderate, to High. Judges should obviously decide for themselves, but I think this offers some good framing.

None = outside the scope of the debate, or doesn’t help their side’s case. 
Minimal = technically valid, but having little real consequences. 
Moderate = valid, and having some consequences. 
High = valid and highly topical, and having significant consequences. 

CON’s arguments: 

  • Counter-terrorism. None. (untopical) 
  • Preventing crimes. None. (untopical) 
  • Solve cold cases. None. (untopical) 
  • Revolutionized journalism. Minimal. (true in some ways, but has also damaged journalism) 
  • Created more jobs for journalists. Minimal. (true, but very limited – PRO failed to cite any sources showing any exact numbers for jobs gained) 
  • Started E-therapy. None. (untopical) 
  • Saves lives. None. (untopical) 
  • Strengthening activism and opposing fraud. Minimal. (only the second contention is valid, but even then, it is outweighed for how social media as a news source is more often used to promote corruption, rather than expose it) 
  • Enhanced human interaction and relationships. None. (untopical) 
PRO’s arguments: 

  • When “News Finds Me”. Minimal. (true, but limited in impact) 
  • Echo Chambers. Moderate. (promotes harmful ideologies leading to real-world consequences) 
  • Accuracy Problems. Moderate. (as shown, the spread of fake news has serious impacts) 
  • Bias Problems. Minimal. (although less severe than accuracy problems, it still is a concern that causes some harm to users.) 
  • Lack of Political Knowledge. Moderate. (is a direct consequence of social media use, and damages an informed democracy) 
  • Entertainment over Reliability. Minimal. (not as relevant, I still count it as a technically valid point though) 
  • COVID-19 misinformation. Severe. (as shown in my argument and sources, this spread of misinformation on social media led to many preventable deaths.) 
  • Use by governments to promote fake news. Very severe. (if social media as a news source is used to promote authoritarian governments, then it affects billions of people – clearly having a serious and deeply damaging impact.)
It’s clear that even though CON may have made more arguments overall, they were far weaker, and most of them didn’t even conform to the scope of the topic. In contrast, I made less arguments, but they all had greater impact. In particular, I urge the judges to consider the last two as being high-quality arguments that significantly highlight the great harms of social media as a news source. 

VI. Conclusion/Final Focus 
 
Overall, I urge judges to cast a ballot for PRO for several reasons. 

First:

  • Most of CON’s arguments are untopical, regardless of what set of definitions are used.  
  • Considering that CON made these arguments after setting definitions, they ought to count as irrelevant gish gallop, and not as part of quantity/quality standards. 
  • On the other hand, PRO’s arguments all have at least some impacts. 
  • In particular, the ones regarding COVID-19 misinformation, and use of social media fake news by authoritarian governments, should be heavily weighed. 
Second:

  • I have addressed every single one of CON’s arguments, and defended every single one of my own. 
  • In contrast, CON dropped almost all of my R2 points, and a portion of my R1 arguments. 
Third:
  • I have argued for exactly what this topic covers, and put legitimate constructive arguments.
  • CON has tried to edgecase this topic, and use whataboutisms.
Please vote PRO, and thanks for your consideration! 

VII. Sources 

Extend all sources from previous rounds.