Social Media and the Public Square
The facts have already been settled.
Social Media has become a platform that most of us around the world have come to rely on for everyday news, and communication. The good news is it is effective at that goal. The bad news is, it is effective at that goal. I'll explain, there was once a time when we had to communicate at least over the phone, so we could hear what the other person was saying, or even better, face to face. Now, we can have conversations all over the world, and never have to physically know who we are talking to. Great right!? Wrong! People have become overly bold and they have no idea how to interact with real people anymore.
It gets worse though. People have developed a tough online persona, while having no toughness at all in real life. Take a conversation via Twitter. People cuss each other out and insult others, but have no real intention of ever seeing this person and interacting with them in real-time. The problem with this is, we have three whole generations that have no social skills. They think social skills are social media and being able to interact through it! The politics of social media are a serious issue also. There was a time early in social media's beginning that it was a tool that all could use. Now it has become a creation of divisiveness and greed.
The original social media was snail mail and the printed word. The papers and letters to friends and loved ones were the only acceptable way to communicate en masse and across the globe. But papers were easy to manipulate and they a harbinger for political propaganda across the globe. Then we got phones, and communication and spreading gossip and news were easier still. Sure there was the radio or the TV, but the phone made it possible to talk to family and friends around the country without having to wait to tell them what you thought. Then the advent of the internet revolutionized the way we communicated and got and shared news and gossip. Facebook came along and the line between gossip and news became blurred and slowly started to merge with propaganda, until it became the monster it is today.
There was a time when the public square was deemed to be untouchable because it is where news was spread and people could get together to discuss things in large numbers and share their views. The supreme court actually stated a town, which was purchased by a corporation, had no right to close the town square because it infringed on the 1st amendment rights of Americans. Jump ahead and that is exactly what is happening to the new modern-day public square, social media. When politicians and major media companies are able to influence an entire company to silence other Americans, because they don't happen to agree with them, or don't like hearing what is said, it is, in fact, infringing on the 1st amendment.
You see Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms have been very heavily influenced by certain aspects of our political system. While they are private companies, they also accept money from the government, which makes them partially owned by the people of this nation. Therefore by limiting the ability to say anything is against the 1st amendment. It has already been established that the public square can not be manipulated or closed down. People can not be kept from sharing their views, even if they are not popular. When Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and many other lesser-known companies started to outright ban people they don't like, they opened a pandora's box. Now people know if they are offended or triggered, they can rally to have someone banned from a service that is technically part of the free communications of this country. If we continue to let this happen, we will very shortly see the erosion of other rights, and we will not be able to stop it because we as a population have set the precedent.