After the riots that occurred on Capitol Hill, the aftershock that occurred as as result of that was spread through social media like wildfire. Across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people from the left combatting those of the right on who is right and who is wrong and the fire being fueled by Donald Trump which in the days prior made very clear his intentions of what he wanted from his supporters and how he urged them to march up to the capitol to protest the official counting of the electoral vote in congress to certify the president-elect Joe Biden. Like the many months prior leading up to the 6th of January, Donald Trump has continuously denied the legitimacy of the election trying to challenge the results.
Whether the election was rigged or not, twitter and other social media outlets were always extremely quick to act flagging over 200 of the President’s posts as Disputed or containing false / misleading information. With that being said, we started to see this intervention of the platform since Election day and only recently has it become extremely clear the intentions of these companies. On Friday, January 8th, 2021, both Facebook and Twitter took action against President Trump, removing his tweets and locking him out of his accounts. Action News Now asked a professor at San Francisco State University if this violates free speech. “Companies like Facebook and Twitter have terms of services that people agree to,” said Professor Melissa Camacho, an associate professor at San Francisco State University.
But some people say they think this violates the first amendment.
“Well [President Trump] should have freedom speech and they’re telling him what they can say,” said Connie Wuann of Redding.
“I don’t think they should be able to decide,” said Paula Miller of Redding.
The problem is that these platforms now essentially have the ability to do whatever they want when the it’s convenient within the political landscape and how it relates to government regulation within these business and social media constructs as a whole. What should be tolerable and what should be allowed on these platforms is all decided among executives that are held to their own biases and political stances in which they make decisions for the greater population.
Trump being banned off of these platforms is an indicator of what is to come in the future for social media moderation and how these companies now completely control the flow of data and information that is utilized by majority of the population and how users have to be in agreement with the terms and conditions before even using these proprietary apps to hand over their privacy and personal opinions which is adding to the argument daily that data from users is the oil of the 21st century and this data ultimately lies within the hands of these major tech corporations whose best interest is looking less favorable for that of the user. In support of this claim, Google has removed Parler off of their platform and Apple has suspended Parler from the app store now as well. These actions were chosen by Google to “protect user safety” but the app in itself was a platform where people who were not accepted within the space of Twitter usually being described as a far-right alternate to Twitter’s dominantly liberal crowd were able to freely expressive themselves among each other without being penalized.
This is not supporting the content within the platform, rather justifying that the reason it was created in the first place was to occupy those who were unable to use other platforms due to terms of service within them. These opinions may have not been favorable among most, but banning these platforms altogether takes away from the idea of a truly free market in which ideas can be freely and openly expressed without companies in which 99% of the market share resides stepping in and shutting them down. With all of this considered, it’s important to look at other options when it comes to user privacy and the exchange of information and data among the internet.
As blockchain technology continues to grow and emerge, more specialized use-cases for blockchain are being implemented to allow for real world utility and application rather than just basic smart contracts, and stores of value such as Bitcoin. with more general, abstract protocols being structured, the creation of social media in which a decentralized consensus is leveraged would be a solution to free and expressive use of social media among the users which could have the ability to change and develop overtime in accordance to what the user base wants as a collective to coexist with centralized entities like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but instead, giving users the option to full privacy, and moderation of how their data is being viewed and controlled on the internet.
A self-governing system where every individual user is in charge of what they want to see and what they don’t want to see without any regulatory tyrant controlling the flow of that information has been a topic on the rise lately, and within this rapidly changing environment, it starts to create the demand for services like this more and more especially when users are beginning to see the real implications of how a centralized network, and networks have the capacity to simply remove someone off of their platform. Not to mention that these companies control your data and what they do with it, and how it’s redistributed to generate massive profits for them and their potential partnerships.
Arguments like these are necessary in creating a shift within the paradigm of what is considered normal and to bring power, privacy and control back into the palms of the user as it’s the users who ultimately decide the fate of the services that they utilize in the first place.