Dec. 1, 2020

Social media giants need some controls

It is tiresome to listen to political hacks (who are all we have left) complain about social media giants’ power, along with widespread distribution of dangerous, fake and misleading information and propaganda. Claims that governments have little or nothing to counter this situation are ridiculous.

One approach is to implement a $5 per month tax for each subscriber living in Canada. The charlatans, fakers, public manipulators, social media influencers and others intent on undermining democracy will pay the tax, but their audience will shrink dramatically.

Canadians faced with a monthly tax will evaluate how important these platforms are to them. Most have found that there are many alternate communications platforms to maintain contact with family and friends that don’t include massive amounts of questionable facts and information.

The days of counting popularity by the number of Facebook friends have died, thank goodness. Those people are now busy counting Twitter followers, which is insane, but so is the platform and the incoherent burbling thereon. Brevity that forbids including context and rationale does not enhance content.

A better approach to curbing social media giants from harvesting and misusing members’ personal information, is to put a monthly tax per membership payable by the platform owner. About 23 million Canadian Facebook users at $5 monthly would produce about $115 million in user taxes per month or $1.38 billion per year. That would make user manipulation rather expensive. If they pass the tax on to subscribers, they will see their memberships plummet, and their control over the public diminish in lockstep.

When the media giants start censoring content, they have lost their reason for existence. They are indicating they can employ powers that our governments cannot. We cannot have a real democracy without the right to dissent and the freedom of expression. Part of the liberty of a democratic nation is our right to be wrong.

We can express a contrary or minority opinion and defend it vigorously even if we are later proven wrong. The alternative is groupthink, which is the objective of censorship and propaganda. When we are faced with the argument that everybody knows, we instinctively know that the premise offered is not grounded in logic and reason.

We live in dangerous times and need to be wary of the intrigues of governments and media giants. Whether they are trying to sell us soap or ideologies, we need to view their offerings with a healthy dose of skepticism. That is the only way we can escape the snares of servitude.
To live free requires eternal vigilance and a clear understanding that power corrupts. When governments propose a change, our first question must be ‘who benefits?’ Too often, it is government members or friends rather than the public.

Governments are not taking action to curb influences of the media. If they are not doing so, who stands to gain? Certainly not public victims of disinformation, misinformation and fake news.   

Why don’t we have very stringent ethical regulations at every government level administered by members of the judicial branch? We need impartial judges to preside over charges of corruption. Until we treat corruption as a serious matter, politicians will not take their duties and obligations to the public seriously.