Friday, March 30, 2018

Social Media Censorship in 2018

In case you haven't noticed, social media has become frighteningly Orwellian in the past few months.  Some blame it on Trump, others on bad press from recent tragedies like the Parkland shooting while others claim it's linked to bills like FOSTA, which is being passed under the guise of ridding the internet of sex & gun trafficking.  But the reasons aren't as important as the fact that dramatic and coordinated changes are definitely taking place at Youtube, Reddit, Twitter & probably other popular sites I don't use.

Let's start with Reddit, which banned not only the sale and trade of CBD and kratom (both of which are completely legal on a federal level), but also the very discussion of vendors who sell these items on the clearnet.  Let that sink in for a minute.  I can understand banning the sale of Schedule I drugs, guns or stolen IDs, but we're talking about something else here.  A ban on free speech.  To not be able to mention the name of a vendor who sells legal items is akin to not being able to reference the name Coors or McDonald's in your post.  Who are they protecting here?  Not only is this a rule going forward, but the moderators have been forced to scrub the entire sub of past posts mentioning sales, deals, vendors & related topics so this information will no longer be searchable on the internet at all.  Years of intelligent discussion & info down the toilet.  Sounds like we're competing with China, Tunisia, North Korea & other countries that forbid their citizens from accessing information freely. 

Kim Jong salutes you, Reddit!

Worse, this ban actually makes harm reduction more difficult to implement by stifling the discussion of things like contaminated batches of CBD, which is a common & terrifying phenomenon.  Synethetic cannabinoids sold as CBD are killing people, and this is how Reddit chooses to behave?  By forcing subs to remove the list of trusted vendors from its sidebar? 

And of course Youtube has also engaged in a recent crackdown against channels that contain content they deem suddenly inappropriate...mostly anything with weed or guns.  Content providers with a clean record and tons of views are reporting big problems such as "strikes," loss of revenue & even closure of their accounts for reasons that are unclear to them.

No matter where you fall on the issues of drug & gun control, it's hard to argue that censorship helps the situation.  It only creates more enraged radicals convinced there really is a conspiracy against them (because censorship kinda IS a conspiracy in a country where free speech & peaceful assembly are the law of the land).  While Facebook struggles with its Cambridge Analytica drama, other social media sites will have to grapple with whether it's better to risk ending up in the news for inadvertently hosting a mass shooter/other maniac or punishing all its users with broad censorship measures...and still potentially ending up in the news when a crazed person uses their site anyway.  Censorship doesn't prevent bad press or stop bad people from using your site.  It only creates a sense of disenfranchisement that often leads to bigger problems. 

As someone who's used Reddit daily since about 2012, I'd like to see it go the way of Digg.  They've strayed so far from their original intent that they're no longer recognizable.  But that's what happens when things get too popular.  The government engulfs corporations, compelling CEOs to do the government's bidding, such as limiting discussion of harmless plants that are stealing money out of Big Pharma's pockets by competing with their painkillers, antidepressants, statins, sleep aids & other prescription meds.  Actually there's no separation between government & corporation anymore.  It's a revolving door.  Or as Mussolini described it, "Fascism". 

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