Among the Left, you may have witnessed a bit of rueful response:
Even the White House is worried. During Monday’s briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki waxed on the potential damage a more permissive platform could do:
“[N]o matter who owns or runs Twitter, the President has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms — the power they have over our every day lives. (He) has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause. … We’ve long talked about — and the President has long talked about — his concerns about the power of social platforms including Twitter and others to spread misinformation, disinformation, the need for these platforms to be held accountable.”
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Of course, a fundamental question continues to loom: Are social media apps publishers or open arenas?
They certainly present themselves as the latter, so assuming that’s the intent: Jen’s comments highlight a profound change in American discourse and the idea of America itself.
When it comes to “concern,” we seem perpetually surrounded by warnings of “harm.” Of “hate speech.” Of “misinformation” and “disinformation.” Of even “malinformation” — information which is true but might cause “harm.”
All of this is diametric to a nation established upon liberty. The founding fathers didn’t intend us to be free from the “harm” of ideas — whether or not they be correct. The “harm” toward which the country’s inception was aimed was that of restriction.
In other words, our societal values are reversing.
As we invert what was an increasingly colorblind culture to create one that’s again segregated, we’re pulling the plug on the notion that free speech itself is a virtue. Such an idea was once taught in schools; now they learn the opposite.
Strange though it may sound, regarding private citizens and their discussions, “misinformation” is one of the pillars of the United States — not false data itself, but Americans’ freedom to say what they believe, whether accurate or not.
If social media is the new realm in which we converse, should it then be left to each individual what he or she says? Not according to many leading the nation.
And not according to many who are following them.
On the smallest of scales, if you enter a room filled with others, you should all be able to freely speak. That isn’t to suggest your words will be consequence-free; but you should be the one selecting every syllable. If you’re unable to utter your own thoughts, that strikes me as great reason for concern.
That simple principle doesn’t appear so appreciated anymore. An entire generation has been taught to flat-out fear it.
Thus, we end up with masses mortified over Twitter being less moderated. And their fear is being stoked by talk of “harm” at the national level.
In the past, leaders may have expressed concern over a shutdown of private expression in order to support a preferred political narrative — even if that narrative happened to be right.
Years ago, people were going around saying horse shampoo cured baldness. So went the daily discourse of America. These days, those misinformation peddlers would be banned.
It’s a new world; whether it’s less harmful is debatable. Whether it’s less free isn’t as much.
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