I just read the Jan. 24, 2021 New York Post op-ed from Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. Hawley titled it, “It’s Time to Stand Up Against the Muzzling of America.” Here is his opening paragraph.
Have you checked your social credit score lately? You might want to. Mine seems to have taken a nosedive this month. You might want to see how yours is doing.GOP Senator Josh Hawley, NY Post, Jan. 24, 2021, https://nypost.com/2021/01/24/its-time-to-stand-up-against-the-muzzling-of-america/
Hawley’s argument starts badly and then gets worse. First is a straw man problem with social credit scores. China proposed a social credit system a long time ago and some of the Chinese regional and local pilot programs are alarming, but the United States has no such concept and neither do any American social media platforms. Here is an article from Wired Magazine that goes deep into the Chinese social credit initiatives. When Hawley complains about Americans needing to nurture our social credit scores, it’s like my daughter complaining about monsters under her bed when she was a toddler.
The next problem is irony with Hawley’s main point – that left-leaning corporate monopolies stifle conservative free speech. The fourth largest newspaper in the United States, with a 2016 paid circulation of more than 400,000, printed Hawley’s claim. The NY Post website reaches millions of people, including me. I found it because it was trending on Twitter. And Hawley has 573,000 Twitter followers. Not bad for stifling an opinion.
And then, a fundamental problem. Hawley is just plain wrong.
If somebody were to stand on the public sidewalk in front of where you live and shout to everyone passing by that a group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media, would you ask that person to go somewhere else? Or would you offer them a soapbox to stand on because you support free speech?
Social medial companies do have too much power, but that’s a different topic for a different day. For this day, blasting them for suppressing free speech is hogwash. President Trump spent two months lying to 88 million Twitter followers that the 2020 election was rigged. Millions of QAnon believers used social media to tell each other that Satan-worshiping communist child sex traffickers are plotting to take over the world. And COVID conspiracy theories were everywhere on the internet through 2020.
Where were the so-called truth squads while lies flew around the world over the internet and back again? It wasn’t until after a mob tried to stop the US Congress from doing its job on Jan, 6, 2021 and real people died that social media companies finally stopped amplifying election lies. And they didn’t do it because of a liberal bias. They made business decisions. It’s bad for business when somebody uses your social media network to plot insurrection.
It’s basic business 101. The stuff business leaders talk about every day in boardrooms around the world. The traditional audience for conservatives who like limited government and low taxes.
If Trump diehards, QAnon believers, or anyone else wants to present their views over the internet, and social media companies don’t want to cooperate, nothing stops them from building their own websites and launching marketing campaigns to drive traffic to them.
As an author trying to build a platform, that’s what I do.
Maybe I should cry foul because social media companies don’t amplify what I post to millions of people. If I stand in front of your house and complain, would you loan me a soapbox to stand on?