OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Guest Author, S. Christopher Michaels, wrote the article below. Look for more of his material here at WayneDupree.com.
A strange awakening occurs across Big Tech platforms as governments and organizations are pushing back on the latest wave of censorship. Yesterday, BizPac Review offered a public declaration “ending its reliance on Big Tech and switching to an audience-supported model.”
The whiplash continues as Reuters reported on a draft copy of regulations from India’s government for social media companies to follow the new guidelines or lose market access to the world’s second-most populous country.
Not all of the news from India is promising, though. Some of the proposed regulations would give the government oversight to remove unwanted content. While it’s encouraging to see governmental bodies taking a stand against social media censorship—such as the Oklahoma Senate—we are left with entangling alliances eerily reminiscent of the nation-States before the Great War.
I want to be precise. I’m not suggesting we are headed for another world war at the hands of Big Tech. I suggest these alliances might trigger a chain reaction that would unfold quickly, causing an abrupt shift in our media landscape. The danger presented is that we cannot know what seemingly small event will unlock this chain.
Think back to your American history class. When you learned about World War I, you were probably taught the series of treaties in place that pulled country after country into a larger conflict. You may have even stood in a circle where a ball of yarn was tossed back and forth to represent the web being interwoven ever-tighter. On second thought, maybe that’s just how my history teacher illustrated the causes of the war. Regardless, the entanglement of Big Tech and government is something that concerns me.
We have apparent involvement from elected officials. AOC and Nancy Pelosi have pushed their agendas on social media platforms. They have also called for other content providers or elected officials to be censored, demonetized, or outright removed. With state, national, and international governments weighing in on the role Big Tech should play in society, we are moving closer to whichever small event will become the antecedent to an all-out media conflict.
Trying to determine which piece of straw broke the camel’s back is an academic pursuit, at best. Instead, we should step back and consider whether we do or do not want governmental oversight of our social media platforms.
I present this rhetorical question because governments are notorious for becoming mired in anything they attempt to ‘fix.’ The arguments for and against oversight have been part of our national conversation for years. Nothing has changed in terms of the value each side believes their claim provides.
For my thinking, we have three questions to answer:
- Do we believe social media platforms should be able to censor content?
- Do we believe Big Tech platforms should maintain their status as private companies?
- Do we believe more governmental oversight will provide more freedom?
How we answer these questions determines which side of the briar patch we are on. On one side are government and Big Tech. On the other are government and emerging Tech. From where I sit, it looks like we’re already entangled.
As always, this has been the World, According to Chris.
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