Social Media: Masters of the World?

Photo: AFP
  • Cambodianess
  • January 25, 2021 3:55 AM

Even if we don’t think much of Donald Trump and are glad that he was driven out of the White House through a democratic election, his Twitter account being permanently suspended and his accounts on other platforms such as Facebook and YouTube having been temporarily locked raise questions.

Many have said that he was elected four years ago in part due to those same social media that his campaign had invaded while denouncing traditional media—except for those on his side—as lie mongers. While president, the multimillionaire ruled by way of tweets with little concern for truth and often while his most extremist supporters were flooding the internet with conspiracy-theory untruths charged with hatred.     

Following the Nov. 3, 2020, US elections that led to the beaten president clamoring they had been rigged even though all his claims to that effect were rejected by US courts, social media have been the melting pot that led to the Capitol Building being invaded by Trump’s most extremist supporters in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as US president by the Congress.   

Accused of inciting his supporters to conduct this antidemocratic coup attempt, Donald J. Trump as well as a number of his accomplices were banned from social media.   

The social media bosses did this in order to, they said, “save US democracy.” Censorship serving democracy. Here is a paradox laden with questions. The more so that these decisions were taken by private parties who, in the name of freedom of expression, which is the pillar of democracy, had previously let, without hesitation, their networks carry without any restraint all manner of insanities and lies meant to destroy democracy.  

In the same way, they decide what is against morality—which morality? their?—what is art and what is not, and so on.

Those social media, which belong to a handful of multimillionaires with no democratic mandate whatsoever, now are the powerful controllers of our lives. 

Of course, it is too late to return to the world prior to these monsters generated by brilliant kids. They wanted to enable free speech. Now we are trapped by them.   

In view of the important role that social media play in public life, the issue of putting them under the control of public authorities must be addressed.  But which ones? Governments? Definitely not. So why not by independent regulation bodies reflecting society’s broad cultural diversity?

Impossible, one may say. Complex to put in place: definitely. But what is impossible is to let promises of liberty turn into a nightmare.









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