It’s long been my own personal lament that news online seems to only pass a wandering eye over an issue before moving onto the more important aspect. I am, of course, talking about How Social Media Reacted.
In the face of something even remotely controversial, or something which happens to challenge current popular convention, news stories (at least in this country) mention the issue in passing before opening another paragraph with “Users on Twitter…”, followed by descriptors of how they lost their collective shit.
I’ve long held the view that Twitter posts are not news, however it seems that news organisations largely disagree. Something odd happens, or Trump utters a sentence, and news stories emerge with celebrity comments, sharp barbs and randomly picked nonsense that seems funny to those whom lean a certain direction.
Okay, so I am clearly on the outer with regards to Twitter comments being non-news. Fine. Sure. Let’s run with that. If people want to have their voices heard, then Twitter is often where you go to have people listen.
Except, Twitter now controls who and what is said. They control what is trending. Same as Facebook, who will bury something which could have grown completely organically. Youtube (ie the premier platform for viral videos, political punditry, peanut galleries and cooking shows) is also rigging their system to shaft those who publish “controversial” content, or as others would suggest, “Views That Are Problematic”.
So, on one side you have people complaining about censorship. On the other, people claim that Youtube, Twitter et al can do whatever they like. It’s their platform. They don’t have to host it.
I’m firmly in the middle of most issues, but I can’t help but lean toward the former than the latter. Are Facebook, Twitter and Youtube private companies? Yes. But they also have in their possession a place that multiple news sources lift news from, and are the go-to for most people to obtain their information. At some point, the dominance of a platform (or in this case, platforms) requires a certain level of responsibility.
Sure, Youtubers can go to other platforms such as Dailymotion or Vid.me, but with that they lose a lot of eyes. Those disillusioned with Twitter can go somewhere else as well, but I cannot recall any time when something went viral from Gab.
Many people would surely disagree with me on this, however my immediate response (as always) would be “What if it was stuff that you were saying being demonetised?” At this point the silencing is happening to those who disagree with a lot of what The Left says, but what if these platforms were built by those from The Other Side? Would the gimping of revenue streams for Leftist creators be accepted with a shrug and a forlorn trudge to an alternative network?
I sincerely doubt it.
My other response would be, “What about deplatforming?” A number of conservative speakers have attempted to talk at college campuses, or on television shows, and the reaction from social media has been to pressure the venues for hosting such hateful figures. When Milo Yiannopoulos was booked to appear on Real Time with Bill Maher, there was much gnashing of teeth, insults at Maher and a panelist dropped out.
But Maher can book whoever he wants, right?