As all my readers will know, (okay, both of you) 😊 I left Twitter and Facebook some time ago. I’d grown tired of their lies, amoral behaviour and the damage they have done to our world, our heritage, our common humanity. Both monetise information they are given for nothing by those who use their publications, (remember, they’re not platforms), and allow people who don’t have the courage to say things to your face to spew out their vitriol. Without penalty.
(Oh, by the way, can we stop using the term ‘social media’. Social media seems so much more legitimate don’t you think? Let’s call them what they really are, ‘instant media’.)
One of instant media’s most informed critics is Carole Cadwalladr. In her article she writes about her TED talk and ‘how I took on the tech titans in their lair.’ Excellent article, well written and researched. As it says at the top of the article, ‘For more than a year, the Observer writer has been probing a darkness at the heart of Silicon Valley.’ And, oh, what a dark heart it has.
(A summary on YouTube of what she said can be seen here: ‘Your technology is a crime scene’)
This particularly resonated, ‘I did tell them that they had facilitated multiple crimes in the EU referendum. That as things stood, I didn’t think it was possible to have free and fair elections ever again. That liberal democracy was broken. And they had broke it.’ They were called to account for the first time in their lives in the Temple of TED. As one attendee put it, ‘you came into their temple and shat on their altar.’ Quite so.
Cadwalladr also named the people enabling this vitriol. She named them, these Gods of Silicon Valley: Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jack Dorsey. Look ‘em up. They and their instant media organisations remain what they really are – amoral and irresponsible. All were offered the right of reply – none took it up. One can only wonder why…
If you want to read more about her work and the likes of Facebook and Twitter, have a look at her report on Cambridge Analytica. Sublime.
Cadwalladr also spoke about Parliament’s comments on Facebook during an LBC interview. Again, insightful. Talking of Government, Parliament is discussing sanctions against these publishers as is the EU.
Pushback is also coming from directions you wouldn’t necessarily expect. In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, one of the co-founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes, argues that Facebook should be broken up. It is a ‘monopoly without oversight.’ ‘Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can…’
(Btw, Zuckerberg owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Think about it, all that power in the hands of one individual. Without responsibility. Hmmm.)
That pushback is happening is not before time. That instant media is now a danger to our democracy is becoming manifest. That something needs to be done is clear. That we need to treat these publishers like every other publisher, i.e. make them responsible for the content posted, is beyond doubt.
If you think I’m being melodramatic about the dangers of instant media, read ‘The dangers of digital politics.’ ’Twitter usage is positively correlated to narcissism and Machiavelliansim. This is not where the commons should live.’
‘This is not where the commons should live.’ What a lovely phrase, I couldn’t have put it better myself. The commons in which we live should reflect our social values, our common humanity, not the ‘world’ these ‘Gods of Silicon Valley’ have created – all in the name of making profit. No matter what the cost to the rest of us.
No matter what the cost. To the rest of us…
J J Mitchell
‘No one left behind’