When it comes to the exchange of information throughout our lives, four things are certain: We will be told truths. We will be told lies. We will find clarity and we will also be met with confusion. But the Big Tech Giants have yet to come to terms with these facts of life.
On Wednesday, the heads of Facebook, Twitter and Google gave virtual testimony before an Republican controlled Senate committee to discuss allegations of conservative censorship in the in the midst of the 2020 election season.
During the hearing, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — who appeared as if he has been homeless or strict vegan for far too long — made this statement: “The goal of our labeling is to provide more context, to connect the dots, so people can make decisions for themselves.”
Any red-blooded American with two braincells to rub together should take issue with this sort of compassionate condescension. To those of us who know better, this translates as, “You users aren’t capable of knowing right from wrong, so we — your Internet Nannies — will chew your food for thought for you so that you get the appropriate understanding of the information you’re about to read.”
Conveniently, these same platforms also decided that we weren’t allowed to read a certain news article from the New York Post because Big Tech questioned the media’s reporting of said story. In a mad frenzy, all links were censored — including those from the newspaper itself. (This has since been reversed, says Dorsey during his testimony.)
In a glorious representation of pissed off social media users, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), laid Dorsey flat, responding to Twitter’s censorship policy involving the controversial article. Sen. Cruz grilled the Twitter CEO in defense of the NY Post, which is the fourth largest newspaper in the United States by circulation. (This publication didn’t get that kind of reputation overnight and that probably has something to do with a thing called consumer trust? But I digress…)
Dorsey testified that the censorship policy, founded in 2018, applies to the spread of materials that are “hacked,” and that the original source of materials contained in the NY Post’s article weren’t clear, subjecting it to the policy.
Maybe Twitter didn’t believe its users were smart enough to analyze the story themselves. Maybe we don’t know a hacked source when we come across one?
Continuing his firestorm of facts, Cruz called out Twitter’s lack of oversight as President Trump’s tax returns were illegally leaked and disseminated across the platform without his knowledge, yet nothing was done to slow its spread. The inconsistency in Twitter’s policy enforcement is clear, calling to question whether the “misinformation” they seek to control is actually misinformation at all.
And should we come across so-called “misinformation,” we humans come equipped with a rationalizing device that sits between our two ears. It’s called a brain and it helps us decide whether something is true or false. However, it seems as if these social media giants don’t think we should be allowed to use that God-given gift. In their eyes, we should just take this fact-checked, chewed up and regurgitated content willingly because Momma Bird Twitter feeds it to us.
Sadly, this tactic always works against those who try it. For example, children are naturally curious. So if you, the adult, is holding something in front of a kid and then attempt to hide it, the child will try to pry and chase you until you show them what you’re holding. As social media platforms play “keep away” with user-generated content, they are only emboldening our efforts to discover this information in its unadulterated form.
The people have put up with this digital parenting for far too long, and for what? For users to completely lose faith in social media altogether? For users to leave these networks for Parler and others? Besides, who is the true benefactor of these platforms anyway? Is it the advertisers and stakeholders, and if so, are we the users or are we the used?
Ultimately, we the people are tired of hearings and weary of half-baked responses to censorship. If nothing is done to protect and promote our freedom of speech, many of us will be forced to decide if we should linger around or log off.