Barack Obama, the former president of the United States, attacked social media sites for publishing disinformation. Obama stressed that democracy is at risk if this trend continues.
This speech was covered by Washington Post and other media with the expected praise unquestioning worship. It outlined a vision for increased government supervision of social networking companies.
Some companies are now trying to manage toxic content by creating new products that add friction and slow down the spread of harmful content. That kind of innovation is great. It should be applauded, but I also think decisions like this shouldn’t be left solely to private interests. This decision affects all of us. Just like any other major industry, it should be under some form of regulation and oversight.
All political parties should be concerned by the idea of government oversight of social media companies, such as monitoring and censorship. A government incapable of knowing a US Army skydiving team exhibition at a Washington Nationals game was not a possible attack on the US Capitol somehow having the wherewithal to correctly and without bias monitor social media sites for potentially damaging falsehoods … um, yeah.
Ironically, Obama, while he advocated government surveillance of social media, pointed out what could and did happen in such an environment.
China and Russia, for example, have attempted to make democracy seem unworkable and to claim that only authoritarianism can bring order. China’s built a great firewall around the Internet, turning it into a vehicle for domestic indoctrination and surveillance. And now, they’re exporting some of those same technologies, those same with similar product designs to other countries.
Putin, in Russia, has developed ethnonationalism by disinformation and waging hatred campaigns against his domestic enemies, thus delegitimizing democracy. And of course, he’s escalated such efforts as part of his war in Ukraine.
Ironically, Obama also praised the best disinformation counterattack and pointed out its effectiveness, while contradicting himself.
I’m pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist. Good speech will always be the solution to most bad speech. My belief is that a free, open, and sometimes adversarial exchange of ideas leads to healthier outcomes.
The Chinese example is a good example of what a Democratic government cannot or should do. They are telling the people what information they can publish and what they must not say, while also trying to influence what other countries say about China. And I don’t have a lot of confidence that any single individual or organization, private or public, should be charged or do a good job at determining who gets to hear what.
We could, however. CompletelyValerie Jarrett can make such decisions.
While it’s easy to dissect the flaws in Obama’s position and how his proposals would directly lead to even greater censorship of conservative thought than is presently the case, he also said something quite remarkable in that he was 100 percent correct.
Now it’s true, tech companies and social media platforms are not the only distributors of toxic information. It’s true, I do spend quite a bit of time in Washington.
Traditional media is the source of some of the most bizarre content on the Web.
So he’s the one subscriber to CNN+.
But hey — democracy is at stake! No, really.
Each of us, whether we work at a tech company or consume social media, whether we are a parent, a legislator, an advertiser on one of these platforms, now’s the time to pick a side. Right now, we have the option to choose. Are we allowing our democracy to die or are we making it stronger? That’s the choice we face, and it is a choice worth embracing.
Tell us more, big guy.
It is essential that a regulatory framework, one that is smart, be put in place. This should have been developed in collaboration with experts, tech companies and the communities affected. Although industry standards might be able to replace regulation or even substitute, regulations must remain part of the solution.
Obama was able to recognize a harsh truth. Social media algorithms are a mystery. Well, we do, but whether censorship affecting the right 99.44 percent of the time stems from automated data sifting or deliberate acts by purple-haired whackadoodles at Facebook and Twitter … okay, we know that as well.
Additionally, it is important that tech companies are more open about their business practices. Much of the discussion around disinformation centers on how people publish information. What these platforms are promoting is the bigger problem. Algorithms have evolved to the point where nobody on the outside of these companies can accurately predict what they’ll do, unless they’re really sophisticated and spend a lot of time tracking it. And sometimes, even the people who build them aren’t sure. That’s a problem.
We can expect that companies will be open to scrutiny regarding the design and construction of their services or products in a democratic society. They should at least share this information with regulators and researchers who have the responsibility of keeping the rest safe.
Those in or close to power believing that increased government oversight — or oversight period — of social media content is a preferred action plan should be chilling. Facebook and Twitter are known for being hard-left and will make any excuse to prevent free speech. Also, we know that the majority of people can discern truth and falsehood with their intelligence and common sense. RedState exists to inform the truth and oppose the propaganda perpetrators in MSM, government and those in control of the most popular social media platforms.
Remember that Twitter and Facebook are not the only options. Remember when MySpace and AOL, CompuServe and CompuServe ruled the internet? Free marketplaces do a great job sorting wheat from chaff. It and we don’t have to look for self-appointed saviors who will rule over the poor peasants. Thank goodness we already have a Savior.