Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

With all the excitement about an alleged new era of “free speech” coming with Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, it would be wise to pump the brakes for those believing we are readily speeding towards some fantasyland First Amendment Twitter utopia. This is a classic Rorschach test where everyone sees this development the way they want to see it, the way they hope to see it. But let’s not pretend this is a $44 billion gift to the cause of free speech. This has the feel of a Trojan horse, and to paraphrase an old saying, we should beware of geeks bearing gifts. Free speech is indeed a right in this country, one originally granted in the Bill of Rights. But, contrary to popular perception, Facebook, Twitter et al are places where free speech is neither guaranteed nor protected. And to date, the laws of the land are still lagging in relation to social media. That has given these platforms a distinct advantage in a wild marketplace of ideas. There are few, if any, limits on the ability to pass even the most outrageous lies, conspiracies and ideology. If a newspaper, news outlet or magazine published a lot of what is put out on social media, their companies would face lawsuits. Social media platforms, however, have been given mostly free rein to allow anyone to publish anything, with the platforms bearing little or no accountability. Lies about election cheating or claims against lawmakers alleging everything from treason to pedophilia […]

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