Is Social Media Accountable?

No matter what system of government or ideology, to some extent, every country in the world yearns for tools to control Internet content, especially social media content.

Except for extreme cases, such as China, social media has for now managed to dodge censorship. In the exercise of freedom of speech and under the protection of regulations such as Section 230 of U.S. telecommunication law, Google, Twitter and Facebook generally are not liable for content that users upload.

Ten years ago with the Arab Spring, a libertarian and romantic myth grew up around social media. This is a myth that fades more and more. Until the violent insurrection at the Capitol in Washington in January, it was not known how far Big Tech could go in handling social media. It is now clear that they are ready to “disconnect” anyone whose messages are undesirable, including the president himself, in spite of former President Donald Trump’s accusations that they are “crazy left-wing radicals that are afraid of the truth.”*

In the case of Facebook, the decision to censor the president recently received support from its “Supreme Court,” with the warning that the same should be done against other world leaders and that, for this reason, Facebook must create objective parameters. Legitimizing this censorship could have enormous legal significance. Social media would be forced to suppress content that violates a determined legal statute or constitutional standard and not simply be at their discretion.

It’s a reality: companies whose principal business is the exploitation of personal data ended up being, in practice, arbiters of truth and free speech. In spite of all the well-deserved criticism, social media is the only platform that hundreds of millions of people have to make themselves heard.

The French Revolution happened without firing a single tweet. In the modern world, with neither God nor laws, social and political change, for better or worse, will happen through social media.

*Editor’s Note: This quote, though correctly translated, could not be sourced

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