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Rules of behaviour on social media: Elites mustn’t be touched

By an „ad hoc“ decision of the owners of the biggest social media platforms, US President Donald Trump was kicked out of the digital playground.

His accounts are blocked or suspended across Big Tech.

Trump thus became the digital convict, and he is threatened to spend the rest of his (political) life in that digital prison.

This is happening in a country that boasts with the greatest freedoms of speech and opinion, which is guaranteed even by the First Amendment of its Constitution.

The fact that Trump has lost his digital rights and freedoms means that this verdict has ushered in a new era.

Such bans and digital imprisonment now hang over all persons whose opinions and actions will be declared unfit by the establishment.

Big Tech is purging undesirable voices in fear of regulation from the incoming government.

„Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites should be held accountable for helping to stoke the divisiveness that led to attack on the Capitol“, according to Dipayan Ghosh, a former Obama adviser who has also worked for Facebook.

Fact is that social networks are full of hate speech.

“I think they should be held responsible. I think they are, in large part culpable for all the harm, all the hate, all the death that we saw,” Ghosh, co-director of the Harvard Kennedy School Digital Platforms & Democracy Project, added in an interview for Yahoo Finance Live.

According to Ghosh, the machine learning algorithms that serve up the content users see on social media platforms to bring in advertising dollars have gone out of control, and need to be reined in.

“To get it back under control, we need to put not the commercial interests of companies like Facebook as the objective for these algorithms, but rather the public interest, what we want to see, what is socially acceptable political speech and content on these kinds of platforms,” he said.

He is one of many calling on social media to silence incendiary voices.

Big Tech is handed the task to judge and punish.

Some have objections and see it as political censorship.  

„For years, I heard it’s invalid to object to political censorship by FB & Twitter because, if you don’t like it, you can just create a competing social media platform. Parler tried. And in 24 hours, Google, Apple & Amazon united to destroy it. That’s what monopoly power means“, commented journalist Glenn Greenwald.

He reffered to a series of bans of conservatives, and a Big tech decision to deny its servers to Parler, an emerging social network that tried to profit advertising itself as a “free speech” and unbiased alternative to mainstream social networks.

The United States has been a beacon of democracy for many people, and we have heard a lot about this absolute right to freedom of expression and opinion.

Hovewer, The Supreme Court said free speech loses First Amendment protection if it calls for and is likely to lead to “imminent lawless action.”

During Barack Obama’s presidency, a small church in Florida announced that it would burn copies of the Koran in protest against radical Islam.

Religious and political leaders around the world opposed the plan, and Obama called it a destructive act, which would only help Al-Qa’ida recruit new members.

But he added that “American law protects such actions.”

In the end, copies of the Koran were not burned, but formal freedom was still defended.

But Trump, although followed by 88 million people on Twitter, has been permanently suspended.

Many other incendiary voices still remain.

One could argue this is because Trump broke rules of the game.

Freedom of expression is guaranteed until it doesn’t threaten those in power.

Trump’s incendiary speech led people to storm the Capitol.

The targets of the mob included the rich and respectable, spokesmen for official ideology, men who are expected to share power, to design social policy, and to mold popular opinion.

Such people are not fair game.

This was very indicative in 2020.

When CHOP activists took over six blocks of Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the illegal occupation as a block party. She enabled the activism by delivering portable toilets, park services, and trash pick-up.

When the very same or similar activists marched to her home, pushed by Socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Durkan wasn’t so accommodating of the block party because she felt endangered.

She immediately demanded the Seattle City Council investigate Sawant and consider expelling her from the dais.

One mustn’t cross the red line – elites mustn’t be touched.