Are we being manipulated?
I am really appalled at the new form of government we seem to have established in the United States, truly a new form in the history of civilization. We have had theocracies (religious rule), democracies (ruled by popular vote), oligarchies (ruled by the wealthy), monarchies (ruled by royalty), and other forms with varying successes.
The US seems to now be controlled by the media and big tech companies. Most of the major newspapers censor stories based on how well they fit with a certain viewpoint, and our television news is largely guilty of the same bias. Think about it: how often have important stories been omitted, and inflammatory stories of dubious news value been cultivated like favored weeds?
I no longer expect national-level media to show us the truth. I expect errors, “spins,” omissions and unverified claims that fall apart upon further, more diligent research. Let’s be clear: these are all forms of lies, not journalism. It happens on both sides of the issues all too often.
A friend once told me that journalism is the “watchdog of freedom,” and I think that is an admirable goal. Yet one side of an issue is repeatedly hidden (censored) from us by omission from the media, and censorship in Facebook and Twitter. Big tech social companies can suspend posts and accounts with views opposing their own views, and by doing this they compel readers to believe only one true view exists.
Rising social tech companies that openly allow broad views without bias cannot compete with Facebook and Twitter. A new company named “Parler” has become quite popular because of its attempt to not censor posts based on their own agenda, although Parler draws the line on violent content. This past week Facebook has suspended downloads of Parler from its Play Store because it allows “egregious content.” Apple has now decided to make Parler unavailable in the App Store. What a great way to ensure a monopoly on social posts!
Section 230 is a law that protects our big tech companies from litigation over posts; they can’t be sued for allowing false or irresponsible content, and they can’t be sued for disallowing opposing and responsible opinions. Facebook and Twitter are also huge donors to political campaigns, but only on one side of the aisle, and this helps to protect their monopolies on opinions and content.
Are you feeling manipulated yet?
President Trump’s Twitter account has been permanently suspended. I expect that should seriously handicap his possible 2024 campaign, but it should outrage all of us based on the degree of election influence four years in advance! Clearly, Trump has made many stupid, inflammatory and irresponsible posts, but so have 90 percent of Facebook accounts that remain unsuspended.
Our country is now largely controlled by the media and huge tech companies that control our exposure to the broader set of ideas that should be heard to allow for healthier debates. A debate with only one side is not a debate, it is a monologue.
I wonder if we should call this new form of government a “media-ocracy.”