These platforms were started to give people who could access them a place to voice their views.
Twitter was a big deal for those in the middle of the Arab Spring in 2011.
Hong Kong citizens turned to YouTube and Twitter and Discord during the national crackdown on the ability to speak against their government.
Cuban citizens used Twitter and blogs and forums to talk about the reality of living there.
Then – the users decided that they needed protection from offensive views and asked the platforms to step in and restrict …
rather than add features to make it easier for the person to see only what they wanted to see.
The users asked for easy ways to report a profile, to declare a group as “bad”, to follow conversations with hashtags so they could gang up on a company, to have usernames of their choosing so they could hide behind the keyboard and wreak havoc on people’s lives.
The platforms insisted, for many years, that the users were responsible enough to manage their own engagement on their platform. They can’t be held responsible for a user’s content.
You see, these platforms were started so that you, the user, could have a place to freely express your views and to find like-minded people to connect with. A side effect was connecting with people who are different than you, from a different culture, learning about how others live.
It has been an incredible social experiment. The users are the messy humans they are and cause social disruption, participate in bullying, resort to childish tactics, be emboldened by perceived anonymity, and become organized groups that want change.
The result? We’ve been given an open forum and we showed up as the messy humans we are.
Many will be banned from Facebook because of their connection or association with those who participated in activities against the US Capitol.
Many will be investigated by DOJ and FBI because of their connection or association with those who participated in activities against the US Capitol.
Most of you won’t care – because you don’t know those people and will assume they deserve the disruption in their lives. That’s okay. That’s part of being a messy human. It isn’t happening to someone “close to home”. You’ll feel safe because the platform, the search engine, the gov’t shut down the groups that you disagree with.
It will be interesting to see the reaction when the next group is targeted to be shut down.