And how social media crackdowns inadvertently help fuel it.
I respect Greg a lot but he may be missing the point of these social media bans. I would never imagine that they would “change minds”. I always assumed the intent was to contain the message, to quarantine these views a bit. A friend of mine noted to me once, “Fifty years ago you might hear about extreme right wing views from a mimeographed sheet handed to you on the street by a guy with a really bad haircut. You’d glance at it and throw it in the trash.” These digital platforms now allow that guy to reach millions, with a carefully tailored images to obscure the guy’s peculiarities. In addition, of course, these platforms are not the government and not subject to free-speech law. Polarization is an issue, but allowing every crank to spout absurd ideas to millions of people, by removing a private company’s power to regulate this, doesn’t seem like a solution.
The Proud Boys are twaddle of concern compared to the murderous antisemites spewing their hate on the college campuses. The radial left is the danger from social media. Extreme right groups are only in response to the radical left. However, we conservatives support absolute freedom of speech because only they can we identify the radical rats.
I understand the general point being made in the article, but I wonder about the amplification capability of on-line venues. If the posts by someone were directly from them, their views were heard without interference, I agree with the authors. Censorship will simply confirm their point of view. The post will appear as a single event in the midst of everything else on the topic.
On the other hand, when certain posts are artificially amplified using fictitious individuals, then the apparent level of support for the ideas is distorted to the general population. So it seems to me that one might want to allow anything to be posted, as long as it was by a demonstrably single individual, not a bot. I have no idea if that is technically possible.
One comment: surely nobody believes the internet is on net harmful. And yet all the calls to regulate it say nothing about balancing the good that regulations might achieve against the harm they may cause.