“Here was a merry world, my masters!” (Thomas Middleton)
The status of the social media is not what it was. Free speech has been threatened in its last bastion. Social media has changed how we access information from the news. This is one of the reasons why social media has been adopted by increasingly larger percentages of the public in recent years. This is good for our society, since the free flow of information and ideas is one of the keys to democracy. The access to a broad range of information enables the citizenry to participate fully in public life. Without access to information, individuals cannot understand the role of government and the decisions being made on their behalf.
The internet facilitated the exchange of views about everything. This led to a great deal of attention to the way political bias and the journalist’s behavior affects our public life. News and information are no longer mediated by news editor and TV producers. As a result, traditional news platforms got absolutely smoked by social media users with smartphones.
So, it’s no surprise that big news companies and politicians are worried and want the government to regulate social media. They want to subject social media to political control. The reason for this is that they know that the public of today will not cooperate as it was doing.
In fact, beginning in the early 1990s, the internet emerged as a real possibility of free access to information. But it was a “short summer”. By the mid-nineties, those of us who believed in the “utopian promises” of the internet, understood that virtual environments were increasing becoming a threat to corporations and governments.
Almost inevitably a massification of the Net was set in and public newsgroups’ opinions began to be filtered out. Why? Both ill-informed individuals and arrogant companies have begun to send spam messages and advertisement to public forums. Communication has become private concern. The effect of this, as noted by many experts, was a lack of confidence in the public sphere of cyberspace.
We can bring this nearer home. Social media started in the early 2000s and have changed the world. Fast changes like these always spark fears on those seeking to protect the status quo. Social media platforms have become themselves into titans controlling essential avenues for public discourse. Inevitably, they began to “fact check” opinions. On average millions of messages are posted each day. Do you believe they can review each of these posts to fact-check and determine which ones are accurate (don’t laugh)? That’s surely an impossible task. They should be promoting open forums for debate, but it seems they’re using their power to censor viewpoints that they dislike. They are not neutral. Recent academic studies show that online space is divided into left-leaning and right-leaning clusters.
It is a sad fact about our culture that it is repeated again and again. Think of the old line: “When will they ever learn?” Democracy is an ideal that needs to be pursued day after day. Social media today are biased against conservative politics and Christian values. I do not support new efforts by the government to regulate social media. But I do not support either these behemoths to “fact check” opinions at their pleasure. Surely, social media can be abused. But we got the constitutional law to restrain the abuse.