“He who controls the information, controls the world.” This quote becomes much more relevant with the explosion of social media, and the democratization of the dissemination of information.
Back in January, Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of congress about controlling information posted on Facebook. There was a question by a congresswoman about taking down political posts that were disseminating false stories and misinformation. Has anyone ever seen one political ad that was honest, that wasn’t biased or slanted, that didn’t present misinformation or half-truths, that couldn’t be characterized as propaganda? Is there one example of that? I cannot think of one. That’s what politics is, the continual process of slanting, spinning, obfuscating under the guise of forthright honesty and integrity. If we shut down all people who lie and disseminate political misinformation, there would be at least 535 mutes in Washington, DC.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."
Do we really want one person or a cabal of people to act as the final arbiter of the truth? Do we feel comfortable with that much power over the information centralized in just a few people? Do we feel good about Mark Zuckerberg making those decisions for us? Anyone choosing to have that haircut all the time, shouldn’t chose anything for anyone else.
Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey have turned their social media platforms into worldwide echo chambers reverberating the pre-approved thoughts formed from the prism of their own political perspective. Who makes these people the arbiters of the truth? Who elected them? You might ask. The answer, we did. Every time we click on their site, we are voting for them. They own their sites, and they have that power. But they should not take that power lightly. This is dangerous. Beware of people wanting to limit your speech especially when they claim they are doing it for your own good. They’re not. Remember, power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. These people are gaining more and more power every day.
Does any free thinking, honest, objective person believe this is a good idea? Most of the news and the information that we consume is slanted or biased or pushing an agenda. Isn’t it then better to have all sides of an issue represented even the most absurd sides, or should we only present one side that the all-knowing, all powerful, omniscient social media CEOs approve of? We will no longer have a democracy if this is the case. We will all be deciding who to vote for based solely on the information that comes to us through Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk. That doesn’t even pass the smell test. Are we claiming that these people are uncorruptible? That their judgment will not be swayed by public pressure, money, public scrutiny, shaming, the threat of canceling, bribes. Have we forgotten that Facebook and other social media outlets were caught mining our private information for their own personal enrichment and these are the people we feel good about being the arbiters of the information we receive?
“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.” Adolf Hitler
Do we know what the truth is? Does anyone? When people living a hundred years from now look back on the year 2020, are they going to be amazed at how much we know, or how little we know? So, to think that somebody living today can behave like they have all the answers, and can censor other’s speech because they alone have the wisdom to determine truth is preposterous. 2020 human race knows only a fraction of a percent of what there is to know.
We, the people, need to be treated like adults, and need to start acting like adults. In the end, isn’t up to us to decide for ourselves what we believe and what we don’t? Isn’t this our life? Our mind? Our belief system? Shouldn’t we control what we think, not some social media CEO? And we can best do this only when we have all the perspectives. Why are we so easily ceding our autonomy, our personal sovereignty to these people?
The negative effects of one person or a handful of people determining what we see, what we read, the information we consume is so much more devastating than the misinformation that is put out there in the marketplace of ideas.
"Don't join the book burners... Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book." –Dwight D. Eisenhower
Censorship is far more detrimental to democracy and a free society than misinformation. The free flow of ideas is vital to a thriving democracy. The best way to combat speech you don’t like or misinformation is more speech not less speech.
“Information is the currency of democracy.” –Thomas Jefferson
The controlling few will always be tempted and thus corrupted to manipulate what we see and hear for their own purposes. If we centralize the dissemination of information to a few people, a few sources, there will be a continuous battle from many entities to wrest control of that power to be used for their own purposes. I thought speaking truth to power is a good thing? It depends on whose truth and who’s in power. Skepticism, being the contrarian is important for exposing the truth.
Why would it bother us if some people believe and say that the earth is flat? We believe that the truth will always win out in the end. But it is usually when freedom of speech is denied where truth is denied.
"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." –Heinrich Heine
Don’t let anyone try to convince you this isn’t modern day book burning. Burning of books wasn’t wrong only because of which books were being burned. The act of burning books, any books was the crime. Mein Kampf is still being published, but questioning Dr. Fauci will get you banned on Facebook? I don’t know if Dr. Fauci is the greatest epidemiologist in the world or if he’s a charlatan, or somewhere in between, but neither do you, neither do the social media thought police. And if we are not sure. Shouldn’t it be debated rigorously? Shouldn’t we hear all sides. So, when the forced denial of human rights is at stake, vigorous debate is vital, authority must be questioned. We should never be told to shut up and do as we’re told. Never.