Opinion

If We Don’t Get A Handle On Internet Censorship, It Will Handle Us

It isn’t who the masters of the internet and social media are that is the problem, meaning whether they’re liberal or conservative. It is what social media is that is the problem.

People on social media tend to stay with like-minded others, and that reinforces their individual confirmation bias.

It sets up an echo chamber, if you will. But it also goes deeper than that.

READ: Barack Obama: Internet And Social Media “Biggest Threat To Democracy”

We now live in a 24-hour news cycle, and people are literally bombarded with information, some good, some bad, some crazy, etc.

In this avalanche of information overload, it is difficult for some to take the time to do the added research necessary to really make an informed decision on any single element or event in the news.

You can see this effect even before ubiquitous social media, when we started getting 24-hour cable news channels.

One of the reasons why most news is no longer the news, but just some opinion piece, is they needed something to fill in the gaps when the news wasn’t sensational enough to keep people tuning in.

Before then, it was typical that people got the news from a newspaper, or from the nightly news at 5, 6, and 10…sometimes 11 depending on where they lived.

That time has come and gone, and now we have a never-ending stream of news with opinions, commentary, etc., so it is little wonder we are where we are.

Serious Damage Is Already Done

It’s great that Dorsey apologized during his grilling yesterday before the Senate, which is more than I can say for the other two.

But we are talking about serious damage here, not just from Twitter.

We’re talking about affecting the outcome of an election by suppressing information.

I really think that due to all the suppression, censoring, problems with Dominion, and mail-in ballots, and the list goes on and on, the election results should be null and void, and we should have a new election.

This is way too messy. Also, it’s not just big tech; the media was also involved in suppression too.

Freedom of speech is about people being able to speak openly and honestly about the truth; it does not give people the right to tell and spread lies.

READ: Promises Kept: Trump To Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan And Iraq

Freedom of the Press is about the press being allowed to print the truth; it does not give them the right to be biased and spread lies and misinformation to deceive or influence people.

Did We Do This To Ourselves?

We need to ask ourselves why we depend on private advertising companies, which is what Twitter and Facebook are, to be the guarantors of free speech.

The irony is that our free market guarantees that social media sites will never be places of free speech.

We will find with some of these ostensibly “free speech” smaller social media outlets like Gab and Parler because they eventually become what Twitter and Facebook have: moderated spaces safe for advertisers.

These companies report to shareholders, and shareholders want to see growing audiences and even faster-growing revenue.

Echo chambers of divisive disinformation, either on the left or the right, have minimal growth potential.

Advertisers want the largest possible audiences, and social media channels are pressured to deliver those.

READ: Officials Warn ‘Vast Number’ Of Democrats Planning To Move To Georgia To Vote In Senate Runoff Races – Don’t Do It

Even if these smaller “free speech” (largely right-wing) social channels remain in the private ownership of individuals who make it a point to cultivate “free speech,” they will remain echo chambers of right-wing politics.

That is a horrible recipe for audience growth.

While people prefer their news in echo chambers, study after study has shown they prefer controversy, division, and challenges in their social media discussions.

We live for the comments section, and nobody wants to read page after page of the same comment.

The Bottom Line Is This

Maybe Twitter and Facebook can afford to lose half of their users, and they truly believe in promoting propaganda.

Maybe some of the other half who believe in free speech will also do without Twitter and Facebook.

I applaud Facebook and Twitter for putting their money where their mouths are. They are taking a stand and drawing a line.

So am I, and I vote with my wallet and conscience.

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Wayne Dupree

Wayne is a freelance writer who was named the 2015 American Conservative Union Blogger of the Year and awarded the 2014 Podcast Of the Year; Best in Show. He has over 160K followers on Twitter (@WayneDupreeShow) and over 300K followers on Facebook (@WayneDupreeShow). In 2016, he was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential African-American Republicans by Newsmax.

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