Relax, a Free Social Media Is the Quickest Way to Correct Censorship
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Relax, a Free Social Media Is the Quickest Way to Correct Censorship
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
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I marveled to a friend recently about how my Facebook feed has lit-up since the incident at the U.S. Capitol.  I think I stoked a bit of it myself when I declared that freedom of speech isn’t anymore suppressed today than it was before the internet came along.

If anything, we now have innumerably more ways to express, not to mention expose ourselves.

For these reasons, I agree with some of the San Antonio Express-News’ (EN) “Consequence of free speech, not trampling” editorial.  I don’t have the absolute right to say whatever I want on Facebook any more than I do after climbing atop a bar in a restaurant. 

Of course, there might not be much of an audience there for me anyway given the shutdown whims of various levels of government.  This exposes somewhat of a double-standard by the EN.

On the one hand, they’re fine with social media companies policing “fake claims” and “disinformation.”  But on the other, they believe Governor Greg Abbott has “rightly established rules that trigger business shutdowns” as a way to combat the coronavirus.

Apparently it’s OK for the former to regulate their customers’ “free speech” on their platforms, but not OK for the latter control their patrons ability to “peaceably assemble.”

Got it.  Fortunately, we have myriad news options to balance the information we consume.  This brings Parler to mind.

The social media company was swept up in the Capitol aftermath when Apple and Google tossed its app, and Amazon severed its web-hosting relationship with the fledgling Twitter rival.  Parler has had difficulty enforcing their user agreement amongst a deluge of new users since the election.

They have the right idea though.  Aside from disallowing “threats and criminal activity,” most all other communications are free to proceed.  That’s how it should be. 

When one of my daughters expressed a desire last summer for the Ku Klux Klan to be banned, I pointed back to that college golfing buddy mine. 

Not only was he too comfortable with the n-word, but he once expressed outright animus toward the mere presence of a gay friend at one of my parties. 

If my soon-to-be-former-friend hadn’t been free to express himself around my friends, I might eventually have found myself in an uncomfortable situation surrounded by his. 

The best remedy for such baseless hostility and alleged “misinformation” is a bright light.  Insecure brutes can be marginalized and we can fact-check on our own.  The discredited will shrink naturally. 

Ironically enough, as RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny points out, the success of the current titans of technology will hasten a leveling of the field, as has already started with the mere existence of Parler and MeWe, for example. 

Investors and enterprising entrepreneur(s), to whom very few of us can relate, can see the price signals (i.e. profit motive) being emitted from the sector.  They’re likely on Facebook or Twitter right now, and they see disillusioned users who feel like they’re being muffled. 

When you gag the biggest champion of liberty in my generation, as Facebook did to Ron Paul, competition will smell blood.  A market opportunity arises.

It’s really no wonder the current tech oligopoly has, to one degree or another, clamored for more government regulation of the industry.  Such actions would serve to entrench the current participants at the expense of new entrants.  It’s textbook regulatory capture.

That would be a shame.  Absent that, this clampdown won’t last.

I completely understand my friends’ frustration on this issue.  I’ve become spoiled in recent years by the good fortune of having a variety of takers for my own rantings.  It’s surely disappointing when one stops nibbling, particularly when it appears they’re veering away from balanced offerings. 

Invariably however, I find another outlet with an affinity for letting people be and taking responsibility for themselves.  The same will happen in social media.  Those that continue to unduly restrict, much like their counterparts in the fourth estate, will also vanish.

Christopher E. Baecker manages fixed assets at Pioneer Energy Services, teaches economics at Northwest Vista College, is a board member of the Institute of Objective Policy Assessment, and is a member of the San Antonio Business & Economics Society.  He can be reached via email or Facebook

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