It is very hard to define social when we look at social media, when what they allow is often extremely antisocial, while things they block are not infrequently benevolent by their very nature but have very evident left wing connections.

The little Green presence is perhaps the work of algorithms that try to sort out the wheat from the chaff, but since the wheat is not yet harvest ready, is not golden coloured, but green and could be mistaken for weeds. Whether that is just a metaphor that is convenient for me to throw in or the fact of the matter, aka truth, remains to be seen. I shall return to truth later. Recently Facebook has come under increasing pressure with whistleblowers in the USA who are dodging worldly algorithms, that is to say rebuttals by hardcore Republicans, to accuse it of consciously hosting hate speech and illegal activity, at a time when recently leaked documents elucidate how the company failed to take note of internal concerns over election misinformation. The now former president of the USA was barred from Facebook and Twitter platforms after the Capitol riot in January; he was deprived of access to his most favoured routes for spreading untruths and conspiracy theories about being the real winner of the presidential election. Facebook has said that DonaldTrump will not be allowed to use their platform again until at least January 2023. The reason was that he posed a risk to public safety. Inciting a possible revolution could just about be stretched to cover that.

Now claims by a second whistle blower were apparently part of a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US government agency that regulates protection of investors in publicly traded companies. So, capitalism is at war with another bit of capitalism leaving a government agency to deal with the mess. So how does that work? Facebook is accused by whistleblowers who tell all and present documents that prove they are up to no good. They are only credibly concerned about so-called ‘disinformation’ if it is about them. With evidence and accusations still to be dished out, we have no idea what will be revealed next week, but we can more or less predict how they will react to it. Their big bosses will repeat previous strategies of denying whatever they are being accused of until their position becomes unsustainable. Then they will admit that they did it a little bit, until that position becomes indefensible. Eventually, after irrefutable evidence is presented they will concede the degree of doing that was more extensive than at first pointed out, however that will come with the paper thin caveat that that practice has been stopped until it proves to be unsound with more condemning evidence being presented and their next excuses being prepared by a team of extremely expensive lawyers, although the average primary school child could do as well.

Now Twitter has admitted it allows more tweets from rightwing politicians and their supporting media than anything from leftwing sources. They examined tweets from democratically elected people in a sample of seven countries, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK and USA, also examining whether political content in news media was amplified by them with emphasis on news sources such as Fox News, the New York Times and BuzzFeed in the USA. In a self condemnatory report six out of the seven countries, Germany the exception, tweets from rightwing politicians were amplified more by the algorithm than from the leftwingers. News media on the right were also amplified more than those on the left. Now, bearing in mind that algorithms are designed by human developers, there is a human element that cannot be excused, except by social media who then hold up their hands in horror as though their algorithms were mortal and should be punished. Perhaps by being barred, no doubt overpriced lawyers are working on that as I write. Again, I doubt they would be as creative as young children and never as convincing.

Now when irony seems to have been served out in large doses, along comes TRUTH. Trump is launching his own network, TRUTH Social. His choice of name coming from the world’s most dedicated liar seems a bit, how should I put it, rich, to the point of sickening, like eating too much of the junk food he apparently favours. In advance of the launch he made this breathtaking statement “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced … This is unacceptable. I am excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon… Everyone asks me why doesn’t someone stand up to Big Tech? Well, we will be soon!” It is ironic that in his search for ‘truth’ in the terms and conditions it states that ‘As a user, you agree not to: disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the site’. That is asking a bit much of a media platform that will attract flat Earth believers, religious fanatics, anti-vaxxers, anti mask fruitcakes, those who believe Covid-19 does not really exist, people who hate science, loathe experts, racists, misogynists, anti abortion campaigners, fascists, gun ownership and use supporters, Republican Trumpists and his voters. Back to sorting the wheat from the chaff, this time finding the few only possible but probably not provable truths from QAnon and One Nation with their exceedingly fiction inspiring conspiracy theories.

Isn’t social media fun? Unless, that is, you are on the receiving end of misinformation that their algorithms think are not at all unacceptable, although the posts recommend you will be tortured, burned at the stake, dismembered and worse for not believing obligatory conspiracy theories. Democracy at its best, say what you like except the truth and being nice.

Featured image by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.

Brian Milne
A Social anthropologist who specialises in the human rights of children. In practice Brian Milne has worked on the street with 'street children', child labour, young migrants, young people with HIV and AIDS. Brian’s work has taken him to around 40 countries, most of them developing nations; at least four of them have been in a state of conflict or war, thus taking him to the front line in two. Brian’s theoretical work began with migration; working on, written and publishing on citizenship and generally best known as an 'expert' on the human rights of children. Brian has a broad knowledge of human and civil rights for all ages, environmental issues and has been politically active most of his life. An internationalist and supporter of the principle of European federalisation.

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