Global Social Media In The Era Of Great Power Conflict, by J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson

Social media is flying too close to the sun. From J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson at southfront.org:

While on the one hand Twitter flexed its muscles when it permanently de-platformed a sitting US president and deactivated tens of thousands of other accounts, with Facebook closely following suit against accounts the two social media giants claimed were “disinformation” concerning the 2020 election results, in practice it was a pyrrhic victory at best. The real power of Facebook, Twitter, other social media lay in their reputation as essentially neutral, impartial platforms where free speech was triumphant and the invisible hand of the marketplace of ideas dictated which accounts would get millions of followers and which would languish in obscurity.

That, of course, was never really true. Twitter and Facebook were no strangers to muting, banning, or at least stealth-banning accounts that promoted ideas inconsistent with whatever dogma, social or political, prevailed in Washington D.C. at the moment. However, this tended to be done in dribs and drabs, not in avalanches which moreover explicitly targeted specific political candidates or parties. Twitter’s knee-jerk panic-induced purge of Trump and Trump-supporting accounts that followed the events of January 6, 2020 on the flimsy pretense that there was a “risk of violence” created by the mere existence of these accounts, showed that @Jack and indeed the entire @TwitterSupport team are not impartial at all, for all the world to see. Naturally, as Twitter and Biden apologists were quick to point out, the First Amendment does not extent to private entities, which means that, legally, US social media giants were in the clear. Unironically defending a mega-corporation’s inherent right to censor speech in a way that US government institutions are prohibited from doing was not exactly a very good position to be in. That is a blow to the foundations of Twitter’s free-speech reputation from which it can never recover. That toothpaste can never be put back in the tube again. Banning accounts, rather than suspending until “offending” material is deleted, is a form of “prior restraint” of free speech that is explicitly prohibited by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Even such Donald Trump non-fans as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron found themselves decrying Twitter’s decision to muzzle the US president, on the basis of it being a corporate abuse of power that should be reserved only to national governments.

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