February 8, 2021

Social Media is Neither

It's true that Twitter and Facebook and the like are powerful ways of getting a message out to a lot of people quickly. As has been shown with the recent example of President Trump and a number of other sufferers of Sudden Pariah Syndrome, however, these companies have to let you send that message. It's not your message, it's not your platform, and the rules are only enforced against people the nomenklatura want punished or shunned.

The cure is not to declare social media platforms "utilities" or common carriers or whatever other well-intentioned but explosively misguided cure various pundits have suggested. Things that are subject to the legal concept of a common carrier are things like roads, or power lines, or railways. There is no other way to get from point A to point B, or get electricity into a home, or deliver a rail-car's worth of goods. We have, thankfully, many ways to get the word out with the internet, and Twitter and Facebook can be dispensed with. You may not remember, but we lived very well without them and will again.

Yes, they are quick and easy. And their customers were actually the product, which is why it was so quick and easy. Why responses and feedback were so quick and affirming. Just like the rat in the skinner-box hitting the lever for a dose of euphoria. Do you think all that coding was done for free? To help you?

So what is the fix? How can people like Trump continue the end-run around the media mafia information blockade? It won't be as effortless, of course. It will take work, but not as much as you might think.

  • Mailing lists: anywhere email works, a mailing list will work. True, you have to let people know the mailing list is available and get them to sign up, but once done the messages go out, get forwarded... It just takes some preparation.
  • RSS aggregators: Pretty much any blog or website base code supports RSS linking. A browser app such as Feedly is free, lets you add or remove page links as needed, notifies you when a site has new content, and lets you see a summary (or even the full article).
  • News aggregator sites: Instapundit is one of the well-known ones, there are others. They will have different foci of interest and different update speeds, but they are out there.

Eventually truly free platforms will emerge, or laws that punish sites like Twitter and Facebook for egregious double standards against their own rules (the Polish government, for example). But even then, they should not feel secure. They should remember we can always route around them again, in true internet fashion.