All too often we forget that true political discourse requires both sides of the argument, it is the very basis of democratic process but does the banning and silencing of those that you do not agree with on Social media harm this?
Over the past few months we have seen social media restricting the voices of those that do not have agreeable political views to the operators of the social media platforms they are using, from Twitter banishing the likes of Milo Yiannopolous to targeting the Alt-Right using an algorithm. Interestingly this resulted in a lot of innocent victims being suspended when they are responded putting down extremist views and even resulted in Jack Dorsey CEO of Twitter being suspended for merely having tweets that happened to have the keywords that flagged him and automatically activated the bot that was being used to weed out alt-right users.
Facebook have been actively banning people for similar reasons, even for postings links to stories or mentioning something that their CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t agree with. In fact Mark Zuckerberg actively biased feeds.
This is just two of the social media sites that have worked tirelessly to eradicate what they see as undesirable users even working in conjunction with others that work to target the ‘undesirables’ using a biased group eradicating those that don’t meet their personal ‘biased views’.
Are we creating thought bubbles?
As a result of these banishments alternative social media sites have popped up, Minds.com and Gab.AI to name just two that cater predominantly for a conservative view and also don’t ban people because of what they think. They are becoming the home for those that have been disenfranchised and banished from other social media networks.
The Trouble is that what is happening is that we are slowly creating echo chambers where all the political thought and opinions agree with each other on the particular platform. Twitter and Facebook are quickly become Liberal and the two smaller rivals that have popped up are, unsurprisingly leaning towards the conservative.
The total point of political discourse and opposing opinions is starting to vanish on social media. I grew up in the UK and the tabloid newspapers we have there are really published in much the same way, people tend to buy the tabloid that publishes opinions and views and slants or biases the stories to meet their own political leanings. We don’t hear both sides of the story. I’m sure this situation exists all over, in fact where I live now the newspapers all have the same issue with the papers being used to spread political biases.
Even on the likes of Youtube we are seeing a bias towards the desired politics of Youtube and Google, with demonetization of conservative leaning pieces that either disagree with the ‘progressive’ views of these organizations or the views of the target audience of these organizations. All done under the ‘guise of “Advertisers don’t want to be associated with the subject matter” and the invoking of rules that basically allow the removal of video’s if they just happen to talk about, not even show, some acts. They’ll even allow ‘progressives’ to abuse the DMCA copyright flagging system to silence critics which results in the censorship of those critical of the progressive politics and agendas.
Again, we are create a bubble where opposing views are quickly being silenced and again, it limits discourse, in fact minds.com has it’s own video Hastings and blogging to remove reliance on youtube because of this very problem.
Politics and Social Media
Literally, within 8 years we have seen social media become the main message transmission system for political candidates, it has no longer become a one on one system but literally how a Presidential campaign was driven. Far less was spent by Donald Trump on Advertising and most of his campaigning came from either in-person campaigning or Twitter and Facebook. Literally Donald Trump and his campaign utilized Social Media.
Social Media has ceased to be one or one and towards small groups but has become a soap box for politics. Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 taught the world how you can use social media to promote your campaign and Donald Trump learned from him and mastered it.
So what can we do to save public discourse and debate in Social Media?
The only way to do this if for the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to start becoming more balanced. It’s maybe not socially correct for them to do it, it is maybe not good for stock price but, as a social platform balance is needed and silencing even the most extreme of views is censorship and it smacks of George Orwell’s 1984.
We cannot, and we should not, allow social media to control what we hear, it is for us, the user to choose what we do and don’t want to hear. If we don’t like what a person is saying then block them, mute them, choose to not hear their voice but we should never try and remove them from the platform because that is no difference from getting a 2am knock at the door by a secret police and whisked off into the night never to be heard of again. It is the silencing of voices and the silencing of voices even if they are extremist and far and away against our views we should never take that voice away.
If we, in western ‘democratic’ countries are to denounce those countries such as China that choose to silence those that dissent from the opinion of the political leadership we cannot be seen as being so willing to silence those that we do not agree with and sadly this is what has been happening over the past several months on Social Media.