The January 6th insurgency was a wake-up call. It effected us in a variety of different ways but in all cases powerfully. For those of us who use social media a lot it was a gut-punch.
America’s unchanged, 230-year old 1st Amendment is the source of much misery. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act are two of the more obvious cancers it fostered. There’s little can be done with Citizen’s United until the country gets its act together and actually amends the constitution to stipulate clearly that business entities can’t be treated as breathing individuals.
But Section 230 is another matter. No other democracy allows such unfettered control of social media by its owners as Section 230.
The repeated gargantuan fines levied against companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are evidence enough of Europe’s dislike of these companies. But short of China’s threat to close them down entirely less they abide by censorship rules (which they did), only America has the ability to actually control them. They are American companies, American creations.
And they are out of control.
The notion that 1st Amendment free speech cannot be out of control was long ago proved wrong: yelling “fire” in a closed theater is against the law. Hate speech laws remain in their infancy in America, rarely enforced. But both these evils, propagating knowingly false emergencies and hate, have now been superseded by something worse: disreality.
At its most generous disreality is lying, because lying often spreads innocently enough by persons of legitimate concern. But it’s more often intentional, and always when it starts. But whether intentional or not disreality has become the manifest core of social media like Facebook.
We all knew this was true, but Zignal Labs’ careful study that showed following Trump’s removal from social media disreality on all the platforms decreased by 73%, is all the evidence we need. It’s critical that at this particular moment as we try to make a sharp turn in our troubled society that we do everything conceivable that we can to assist the effort.
If there had not been Facebook and Twitter there would not have been an insurgency. There would not have been a lot of horrible things, and I’ll leave it to poets and rap stars to string them out palpably. In sum there would be three-quarters fewer lies and a lot less people living in horrid, dangerous fantasies, if there weren’t Facebook and Twitter.
If you have any doubt about this, or harbor some suspicion that the “good might outweigh the bad,” listen to the most recent podcast of OnTheMedia. Facebook and Twitter were the yet-to-be-known instruments of 1984.
Until America has the guts to regulate social media those of us who have used it for so long so successfully have to abandon it, now. It’s the most powerful act we have. Not doing so affirms the increasingly immoral and dangerous paths that led America into this unforgivable nightmare.
Facebook and Twitter have been exceptionally useful to AfricaAnswerMan and EWT, and I know that many of my colleagues and competitors will disparage my intentions by referring to my imminent retirement and old age. Can’t do anything about that: they’re both true. But I certainly couldn’t pursue either proudly if I didn’t do this, first.
See you at africaanswerman.com and ewtravel.com.
[For the many important links in this post see the original blog at africaanswerman.com.]