Social media companies exist to provide platforms for public discourse. The platform itself has presumably been neutral. They are now being used to influence politics.
Social media has brought about a revolution in personal communication, where the people become the media and report and share on whatever they choose. On its face, this sure seems like a great idea because it allows us to direct the conversation rather than be subject to the editorial policies of mass media.
It’s no secret that mass media have their own agendas beyond just seeking to inform the public or even to just entertain them, as what we call journalism is really just another form of entertainment. Apart from just seeking to provide content that will attract public interest, they also use these platforms to promote their political goals and ideals, which has been going on pretty openly for a very long time to some degree.
The political views of the electorate are derived from processing relevant information that people use to guide their choices, information that is gathered from various sources. In addition to the posturing and campaigning that the candidates do on their own, which are course biased, we also rely on media reporting to provide this information, and even may see mass media outlets as being an unbiased source, providing a neutral view based more on the facts than on partisanship.
People are waking up more and more to the reality of mass media being anything but unbiased though, and the polarizing nature of the Trump presidency has really made this more transparent. We’ve reached a point now where mass media has become so partisan with one party or the other that they now have become as partisan as the parties themselves, becoming mouthpieces for the party and the political ideologies, and coming down four square or against issues based upon political ideology alone.
There isn’t even any attempt to disguise these biases, and all we have to do is to compare the political posturing of the three major news channels in the U.S., CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. It’s not that CNN and MSNBC are just decidedly biased towards Democrats, and that Fox favors the Republicans, they sit with their respective parties completely, every time. Political parties themselves often have to prod their people to maintain a common front, but there is no need for party whips with mass media, as they never waiver from the path of standing together with their preferred ideologies.
The media has mostly come down firmly against Donald Trump this time around, and the media bias has gotten so out of control that social media’s attempts at censoring negative views of the COVID-19 lockdown have even spilled over to Amazon when they refused to offer for sale Alex Berenson’s Unreported Truths About COVID-19.
It seems that it’s perfectly acceptable to sell books on how to make homemade bombs while widespread rioting is going on, but trying to share scientific information on such an important topic goes too far. It took Elon Musk calling this “insane” and calling for the breakup of Amazon to have them reconsider. They are now saying that the book was banned in error, and although there was no mistake in their not allowing this content, it ended up being in error due to the negative publicity it generated.
It’s not even easy to reconcile this “insanity,” as Amazon isn’t known to do much censoring, and in this case, it can’t be about offending advertisers like some think is driving the censorship of this issue with other media. This has to be politically motivated because there’s really no other explanation for any of this. This book makes Donald Trump look good, intentionally or not, and these outlets are out to stop these things, by hook or crook.
The people are supposed to decide these things, and although that may be a naïve view, media oligarchs should not be able to wield such great power. It is not even the opinionizing that is the biggest danger, as when we stoop to censorship, we no longer get to decide based on the facts when they get hidden. We are looking more like China every day.
This should alarm us a lot more than it does when we put this together with the sheer power that the media has to influence, especially when this influencing is given such a high priority. People may come to one of these channels to get the news, but when what they get instead is a highly colored view of the issues where the intent is to shamelessly promote your party and portray the other party in a negative light, like political ads do. When the media allows their personal political ideals to guide the discussion, this takes political power, which is supposed to reside in the people, and places a disturbing amount of it in the hands of a very few media moguls.
There’s not even much we can do about this, apart from making people more aware of what is going on here. You can’t regulate this stuff, telling these media companies to be more politically neutral, or even compel them to cover presidential press briefings when the left leaning ones decide to pull back because they don’t agree with the president.
We might think that, in this new day and age, we can at least communicate with one another through social media, and with the direct means that social media transmits communication with users, but a lot of content on social media is far from politically neutral and this is used as just another tool to shape political opinion.
At least the social media companies aren’t preferring one view over another and we get to see whatever discourse that is going on in its raw state, or at least we would think given that this is what these social media companies are supposed to be doing, to merely facilitate discussion and not direct it toward their own political goals, like the mass media so blatantly does.
Social Media Really Starting to Flex Their Biased Muscles Now
We have had censorship in social media for a while, it’s just that it’s been confined to issues more on the periphery, such as censoring things like the vaccine awareness movement. Trump has polarized people so much though that social media has now thrown their hat into the political arena now, and done so with a real flourish, such as Twitter removing and censoring tweets from President Trump because they don’t like him.
The Twitter incidents were conducted at the editorial level, where one of their political censors who has made no secret of his hatred of Trump stepping in and daring to try to silence their most famous user. Trump likes to tweet so much that Joe Biden, in a lame attempt to insult him, called him “Tweety.” Trump certainly drives a lot of traffic to them, but Twitter’s political views have become so strong now that they have chosen to bite one of the hands that feed them.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was certainly on board though even though he may not have had any direct involvement, as an event like this, censoring the President, likely doesn’t happen without a buy in from the upper echelons. Dorsey doesn’t hide his contempt of Trump though, and doesn’t mind that his platform is being used to make political statements like this, seeing their editorial policy be so colored that merely a call for law and order in the midst of widespread rioting and looting can be seen as glorifying violence, rather than an attempt to curtail it, as it would be sensible to see it as.
Dorsey is too young to have been around during the 1960’s though, back when the authorities did shoot people for a lot less than this, where we would fire live ammunition against college kids just protesting against the Vietnam war, and if a few of them died at our hands, at least this would serve to have them think twice about daring to question our government like this.
Plenty spoke out about these things in the media, although back then they came down more on Richard Nixon’s side than the protestors. If you spoke out about this though, you could at least do so by relying on appeals to reason and not just lash out at your political opponents without cause, as a case could at least be made for the use of force to quell these rebellions being on the excessive side at times.
Today’s response is a much kinder and gentler one, perhaps too kind and gentle to serve its purpose well enough. Some Republicans like Trump believe so, and given that we live in a world where preserving law and order is an essential matter, we should be neither surprised nor appalled when a president and others call for a more effective response.
Dorsey has come down squarely on the side of the protesters, even donating $3 million of his own money to this cause, although the real issue here is not disallowing people to speak out, it concerns the manner in which we choose to express our anger, and rioting and looting is just not an acceptable way to do it unless you are an anarchist.
Ironically, if the goal was to suppress this discussion by removing some tweets, the opposite goal was achieved as this just served to blow up the issue even more. We’re talking about this more now than if this censorship did not occur, leaving us to wonder what the point of this was other than to just let their anger with Trump guide them aimlessly.
Fellow social media company Snap has also stepped up to join this battle, where they now tell us that they will be withdrawing promotion of Trump’s views now. A company spokesperson now tells us that “we will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice.”
The voice that is allegedly inciting racial violence and injustice is that of Donald Trump’s, and Snap’s view isn’t just politically biased, it is to a degree that even shocks those who are already well aware of the degree of bias that these people have. Snap has become so engrossed in their bias against Trump that the limitation of looking stupid no longer constrains them. This may take political bias to a whole new level, where our political views serve to blind us completely to the ridiculousness of our assertions.
Snap, like Twitter, has come down firmly on the side of the protestors, which is fine, as this isn’t at all about the issue of police brutality or the racial biases some of them may have. People are angry, they have a right to express it, but this should never include seeking to protect rioters and looters to the extent that seeking to preserve the law is seen as racist, and so racist that we need to limit its propagation by trying to silence it.
The problem of racism is clearly near and dear to the heart of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, and given the extent of the problem we have with this, we should welcome this sort of discussion. However, Spiegel has a right to be angry, but when his anger overwhelms him to the degree that he isn’t even aware he has become a fool, that’s another matter entirely.
Their Hatred of Trump Runs So Deep That They See Anarchy as Preferable
Spiegel’s official statement on the incident is that the restrictions on Trump’s views are necessary because “we simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform.”
It might even be the case that some of these perpetrators will burn down more things and steal more merchandise because the President wishes them to stop, but this takes coddling criminals to a whole new level of ridiculousness, like someone might step lightly while another is robbing their house as to not alarm them and interfere with their looting and burning down of their house.
It seems that there is a conspiracy among law enforcement to actually try to enforce the law. There is even a view in the left-wing camp that we should just leave these rioters and looters to do their worst, as this is held to only involve property, which they claim can be replaced. The law serves to guard property as well as persons, which is necessary to avoid a state of anarchy, where might makes right and chaos rules the day.
While there may be some who would prefer anarchy and chaos, the fact that people are upset enough about the killing of George Floyd by a police officer that pillaging our cities becomes acceptable and justified goes completely off the deep end. How dare we incite racial injustice by calling for more control of our streets, something that is an essential component of preserving law and order?
Up until 1985, when the Supreme Court weighed in on this, the police used to have the legal right to shoot looters on sight, a practice used throughout history. This is surely an excessive use of force though, which the Supreme Court recognized, but this does portray how odious looting has been viewed, and how far we have been willing to go to stop it.
Burning down businesses is also not tolerated, and while thankfully these people aren’t being shot on sight anymore, we still do need to control these things. The response of law authorities to this current rebellion has been extremely well measured, taking great care not to step on too many people’s toes, and even allowing them to block streets without legal right.
The First Amendment does prevent Congress from passing any law that abridges the freedom of speech, but this does not include the making of laws or the enforcement of laws that clearly serve other purposes. While the Bill of Rights does allow us to speak out, it only does so provided that we do not break the law while doing so, which of course includes not stealing or destroying property, or blocking streets that are designed for automobiles when this runs afoul of the law.
Traffic laws are designed to both protect pedestrians and drivers, which is why we have sidewalks for people to walk on and streets for cars to drive on. In the absence of a sidewalk, people are required to keep to the right while walking down the street and certainly not walk down the middle of them, their rights to speak notwithstanding.
We tend to look the other way with these more minor violations, although we at least need to be clear that the First Amendment does not convey the right for you to join a mob and take over streets the way people are doing, and this is done at the pleasure of local authorities. Rights to free speech certainly do not include the burning and looting that we are seeing, nor does it give us the right to interfere and oppose police action that involves the proper execution of their duties, including maintaining crowd control.
There is nothing racial about wanting to enforce the law, especially when all you wish to do is to prevent the more heinous violations of the law that has been so openly practiced. You only get to do this in the absence of law enforcement, and when seeking to gain more control over our streets is seen as racist, we have simply gone crazy.
It is the mob that is doing the inciting here, with their battle cries promoting hatred and violence toward police officers, but that sort of inciting is somehow OK, where if a president calls for an end to this violence, that promotes both violence and racism. Welcome to the twisted world of Snap, which turned out to be a better company name than they thought, given that their leader and his minions have clearly snapped.
Perhaps if you are committed enough to the left-wing cause, you can actually delude yourself into thinking that these views somehow can make sense, but when it comes to opposing President Trump, you can become so overwhelmed that even the most foolish of views are seen as sensible and justifiable.
Even the social media barons have now taken to shape the political landscape by using their platforms to promote their own political views, joining their bigger brothers in the mass media. Social media has really grown up though and now carries a much bigger stick, and they are now using it without shame or reason to beat back those they disagree with, with no limitation on pettiness.
The degree of red that they see when Trump is involved extends well beyond just looking to take care of their businesses, to pursue the goal of profit that businesses are supposed to be pursuing, even choosing to bash the candidate that is actually on their side and do whatever it takes to dash his chances.
There is more in life than money though, and for these folks, the power of being able to influence elections by promoting those who align better with their personal ideologies, including being opposed to curtailing rioting, can be a goal in itself, and it certainly appears to be for Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Evan Spiegel of Snap, among others.
They may instead be working this hard to plant the seeds of their own demise, as their man Biden is much less friendly toward them. Biden beating Trump would be unfriendly enough to stocks in general, but particularly so with this sort of company, and the Democrats would love to beat a few billion out of each of these people, or at least wouldn’t be troubled at all with doing so.
While both Twitter and Snap stock have done pretty good lately, these are not among the high flyers that the good technology stocks have been. In spite of Twitter’s recent rally, the stock remains down 26% over the last 2 years. Snap, at this point, has to be considered as a failed IPO, and even after over three years of their stock trading publicly, are still down 17% from their opening price.
These are not stocks that we really should have wanted to be in or want to be in now, but the fact that these companies are run by men who are so prone to allowing anger to override reason, to the detriment of their businesses, should serve to give us even more pause for thought.
We might even want to step back and rebel against them the way that ESG investing does, where this time we’re not opposing physical pollution like the green investors do, we are instead against the mental pollution that is coming out of the heads of these CEOs and their companies.
We might also want to avoid them for decidedly coming down on the side of criminality and against even the basic principles of law and order and prefer criminals have free reign to burn and take what they wish, to essentially defend anarchy, and seek to silence anyone who does not agree, even if it is the president. This ideological pollution is even more dangerous than physical pollution.
Political influence aside, we need to be concerned with the anarchist movement that is quickly gaining traction out of these riots, which much of the media is at least open to. “Defund the police” has been the new battle cry of the protestors, and there is enough sympathy among left-wing mayors of major cities to make this idea a reality.
We’ve already seen the mayor of Los Angeles open the bidding with his new plan of defunding by cutting $150 million from the police budget. If we’re going to solve the problem of racial bias among police officers, this will require more spending, not less. If we instead want more criminality, and wish to incite racial hatred even more as a result, something that these protests have well served to do already, defunding is an excellent choice.
Defunding the police sends a message to criminals that the police are prepared to tolerate more crime, but the gap in policing that this will create will need to be filled. Turning over policing more to vigilante groups, who will also be less opposed with less policing, where racism may not only be more at the forefront but the primary motive, is a dangerous idea indeed and the risk of people getting killed without cause goes way up in this scenario.
If we are hoping that political bias in the media be made more transparent, we actually may want to thank Twitter and Snap for making this as blatantly obvious as they just have, so we can at least have our grain of salt in hand to use, and these require much more than just a grain. As far as the stocks go, if we can see just how mad the captains of these stocks have now become, we’re at least left more informed. Just like with stocks, more transparency is always better, as ugly as truth may be.