Social Media as Public Utility

Donald Trump, playing to his hordes as usual — the demagogue’s trap — is out on social media attacking social media for “censoring” “Republican/Conservative voices.” (Clever slash there, since the Republicans as a party are in no way connected to anything remotely like conservatism, but they always use these conjunctive forms to hide that fact, thereby sucking naïve conservatives into the establishment vortex.)

This is Trump’s defense of the “RIGHT,” as he unfathomably puts it, against the evil of leftist-Democrat businesses not wanting to provide their platform to “Republicans/Conservatives,” a business decision he regards as “censorship” — probably the second most misunderstood concept in contemporary political discussion, after “discrimination.”

If we are still talking about “free speech” on social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, then if these companies are still technically private businesses, there is no leg to stand on in demanding that they give “fair representation” to any views they don’t like, regardless of their reasons. The New York Times has no moral or legal obligation to give equal time to constitutionalists, just as conservative websites and forums have no obligation to give equal time to communists. 

Trump’s own analogy with CNN and MSNBC actually makes the point quite well, while contradicting the point Trump himself is trying to make with the analogy. As he says, if he doesn’t like what they are saying, he has the choice to ignore them and deprive them of his viewership. But he does not “ask that their sick behavior be removed.” Exactly. Likewise with social media. Let them do what they want, and promote the views they prefer. If you don’t like it, just don’t give them your business.

The argument that somehow social media platforms are different because Facebook and Twitter are almost vaguely sorta like public utilities is just a sad commentary on how low and how quickly modern conservative thinking has descended.

Facebook and Twitter (neither of which even existed fifteen years ago) are operating on the level of drug pushers. They draw people into addiction to a meaningless, fake reality of “being someone” and “participating” and “being liked” and “having friends.” Read up on the psychological research the developers used to calculate the best way to draw more clicks and swipes, i.e., more advertising revenue for themselves. Their explicit model was gambling addiction.

These are entities arguably without a shred of redeeming social value, and on the contrary measurably harm families, distract young people from intellectual and moral education, alienate individuals from their real communities, drown out thoughtful political discourse with uninformed soundbites and screaming, and foster vain fantasies of “belonging” and “acceptance” which run directly counter to the development of the rational, independent souls a free society requires to survive.

Dump them. Let them become an echo chamber for leftists, which is exactly what they are trying to be anyway. Most importantly, keep young people within your influence away from them.

Final thought: Don’t be surprised if this “silencing” of right-wing voices turns out to be designed precisely to draw out the dumbest arguments from the right demanding “fair representation.” Isn’t this the argument the progressives have been making for years, and that they use to justify the so-called Fairness Doctrine?

You may also like...