Posted on  UTC 2022-05-01 02:01

02.05.2022 – Gentian

Gentian, Switzerland, 2022-04-28.

Late April in Graubünden: A small, solitary gentian has emerged to take in the spring sunshine on a south-facing hillside clearing at 1600 metres. Some things just make you want to stop and stare for a while. Some things are affirmative beyond words. Image: FoS

02.05.2022 – The social media censors

If the twitterati are looking forward to 'free speech' or, more accurately 'ever so slightly freer speech' from the new owner of Twitter, they should forget it. It will never happen.

The suspicion that the social media companies are staffed by easily triggered, woke children may be justified, but they are only doing the work of censorship that Western governments – and particularly those of Britain and the EU – have told them to do.

Everything else being equal, no social media site wants to ban their customers; no social media site wants to incur the considerable costs of monitoring what its users say on its platform. If there is outrage, there is controversy; where there is controversy there are clicks – lots of them – and lots of advertising views and thus lots of money. The theory was that, since social media companies provide a platform but not the content, they have a built-in separation from their users, whether the good, the bad or the downright ugly ones. That theory was invalidated years ago.

But for the last couple of decades, ever since governments introduced 'hate-speech' laws to keep their unruly citizens' hurtful mouths closed in the face of all the provocations of the new world order that were being imposed on them whether they liked it or not – the migration, the diversity, the gender fluidity etc. – governments have needed to find a way to shut up not just the pub loudmouth but the social media loudmouth.

Police forces have taken to patrolling social media and using their digital truncheons on dissenting and refractory users. At the same time governments have taken their financial and legal truncheons to the companies running these platforms. Usually, a brief grace period of an hour or so is allowed for the company to take down posts which the powers that be define as offensive or harmful. Should they remain on view any longer the company can receive, no questions asked, an enormous fine, incontestable and so big that even the richest social media company cannot ignore it.

Social media companies, at great cost to themselves, have wisely decided to do whatever they can to block any content that a government might consider offensive or harmful by using content filters and, where necessary humans, to stop such stuff appearing in the first place. The recent plague years have shown that simply disagreeing with the government can be considered 'harmful'. Best stick to videos of puppies and cats.

Elon Musk, however much he presents himself as a free-speech warrior, cannot get round these limitations. Remember, it is your governments who are really censoring you, not your social media platform.

If you object to this, since we live in democracies, you can always vote to change it… Can't you? If you feel really upset about this you could always try to organize an uprising – just don't do it using social media.

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