Democracy, social media, and ideology

The overwhelming public opinion of “Twitter is doing the right thing by labeling Trump’s tweet and facebook is obviously wrong by not doing anything about Trump’s post” irks me.

There is a group of people who can quickly accuse others being fascism if their ideas are not fully agreed upon, without realizing they are exercising fascism. Well in the first place, if you are completely right about something, by definition you are not diverse. Because there are many/diverse ways to be wrong.

For Jack Dorsey, I am not sure if it is that Twitter’s been under the pressure for so many years or that he’s feeling guilty of not yet dealing with consequences caused by Trump. But he was not a fan of echo chamber – he mentioned that during the 2016 election year there’s an internal dashboard showing how silos people can be in consuming partisan information –

“(In Twitter) the amount of journalists on the left who were following folks on the right end of spectrum was very very small; the amount of journalists on the right end of the spectrum following folks on the left was extremely high”

#148 – JACK DORSEY (19:05) in Making Sense with Sam Harris

It’s easy to overlook how technology helps enable the march of the democracy and protests happening now – anyone is able to take a video using their phones and publish directly to the world on Facebook or Twitter. And the video as a media is so powerful that it gives color to what’s happening vividly. Imagine in the old world where none of these technologies existed – only newspapers have the means to publish something and they might only be able to describe as “a police was about to arrest a black suspect and the latter was sent to hospital after a chaos”… Instead, a video can depict so much more. And without these technology enablers (smart devices and videos, social networks, and no censorship by authoritarian), none of social awareness and fights for BLM today would have happened.

If you are a platform, the last thing you want to do is to decide what is acceptable to be said and what is not. Because once you do by exercising that power, you as an entity immediately becomes an authoritarian. This is not what we want for democracy.

Democracy, just like a social media platform, makes it easier for people to elevate their own voices, and it also makes it easier to spread misinformation. If you embrace democracy, you have to embrace both good and bad. But the latter shouldn’t be the reason why you need the platform but not people to state what’s right or wrong.

It’d a much easier situation for Mark Zuckerberg to simply do something with Trump’s posts but much harder to insist that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of what is truth. For this, hats off to Mark.

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