Companies and Governments Suppress and Censor; People Still Find Ways to Express Themselves - Granite Grok

Companies and Governments Suppress and Censor; People Still Find Ways to Express Themselves

woman highway cone bullhorn flag America

It should cause us great trepidation that German-style Internet controls are catching on around the world. The home of National Socialism does not have an Enlightenment perspective.

Social media platforms increasingly are targeting “fake news.” They are allegedly hateful views. How are those on the receiving end of the new age bigotry responding to this newly trendy censorship?

The answer should surprise no one. People find ways to express themselves. Whatever the quality of disfavored speech, it’s continuing to be expressed. Companies and governments can suppress and censor. But more and more, back channels and new platforms are proliferating to meet demand. What you find hate speech I find free speech.

The social media oligarchs, though they try to behave like they have control, are anything but monopolies. The more they act like they can control what people say, the more competition they encourage. Nobody likes to be micro-managed.

Moderation of hateful or radical content on social media has been a central point of recent discussion. This has actually been true since the inception of the internet. But web-based censorship has become a headline topic in 2020. The platforms are under pressure from a growing number of governments and corporate advertisers. The social media companies have restricted “hate speech” as well as “fake news.” No one, however, defines these concepts.

Social media companies have the right to apply any or no restrictions to their own services in America. This comes from their being private companies. The rub is they have government-sanctioned protections to operate their platforms. The current appearance is they are abusing their governmental protections for personal and political gain.

There have also created the appearance of collusion with the government.

The subject of moderation practices, removing hateful tweets, or political pages is opaque. There is no knowledge of why certain content is removed.

The current practices can be galling to many. Moderation seems directed at speech which large numbers of people consider acceptable. This leaves lots of folks looking for alternative communications channels. And we’re finding them. This is because censorship leads to various responses.

Parler, in particular, has gained a following among conservatives. They have felt increasingly unwelcome on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

An increasing number of high-profile figures are opening accounts.

Parler, the platform remains in ninth place among free social media apps in Google’s store. For perspective Facebook is fourth and Twitter is sixth. MeWe, an alternative to Facebook, has also seen rapid growth most especially since the election.

Those flocking to new platforms don’t necessarily abandon the old ones. Often, they maintain a presence on Facebook and Twitter in order to maximize their reach. You won’t actually get their full content in the legacy social media. The subscribers do not just shift their activities. They also change their strategies. Remaining quiet is an example. So is using coded language to make certain speech hidden or less obvious.

Does it sound like censorship is once again proving itself to be a losing proposition? Could it be suppression of speech threatens the free exchange of ideas without making the world a better place? Well… maybe. What we’re seeing is moderators targeting mainstream speakers in their search for forbidden speech. In the process, they’re also driving conspiracy theorists and loons to take refuge in ideological hothouses. Those are places where their ravings go relatively unchallenged. It is the law of unintended consequences.

Think about what’s happening. They are removing radical actors from mainstream platforms. Who knows what radical means? But the broader the definition they use the greater the audience reduction. It also contributes to increased feelings of resentment and victimhood. Those feelings form a breeding ground for even stronger discontent. Just saying.

The muzzling that’s happening beyond “radical” targets is not always an intended consequence. Authoritarian regimes eagerly adopt “hate speech” restrictions. They see them as weapons against political dissidents. For example Reuters did a review of 40+ recent “hate law” arrests. They found in each case, authorities intervened against Venezuelans who had criticized Maduro, other ruling party officials or their allies… What kind of country do we want to be?

Tolerating a range of ideas, good, bad, nutty, and indifferent on diverse new platforms is the price we must pay. If that’s what it takes to deny authoritarians easy means for suppressing their critics, then so be it. People always find ways to speak their minds. There is always a need to express defiance of those who would control conversation. That’s a good thing. Free speech is the best way to debate and disprove the positions that violate common sense.