Tech & the American Crisis

by Om Malik

Actions taken by technology platforms in the wake of Capitol Hill’s events have generated intense debate, especially from within the tech community. But many of the loudest voices have shown little understanding of the nuance of the situation or the historical context of actions taken by various platforms…

…Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation helpfully explains that Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and others have previously taken similar actions — they just didn’t involve an outgoing U.S. president…

My own opinion is that this collision of politics, society, and technology has been a long time coming…My argument has been that these social platforms are essentially nation-states and require a higher level of social and civic etiquette established and enforced through official policies. When evaluating the performance of Twitter, Facebook, and others on this particular score, the phrase I have often used is “dereliction of duty.”…Today’s companies are responsible and accountable for recognizing the challenges and impact of scale — not just the pursuit of profit…

…Peter Singer…rightly points out that the recent headline-generating steps taken to foster a safer environment — both online and off — are long overdue. “They are not just tech creators or even the equivalent of news-media editors. After years of dodging it, they get that they are running information warzones,” Singer writes. They being social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Singer’s framing of the social platform as a battlefield is particularly important for thinking about the future. In his assessment of the seriousness of the events of last week for The New York Times, Yale professor Timothy Snyder wrote, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.” Whether we participate on the platforms or not, we will all suffer the ultimate cost of lies.

To read the complete article undamaged by my blogulous editing, click the link at Om’s name up top.

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