The concepts of “free speech” and “social good” are not mutually exclusive, so why treat them that way? As a society, we must protect, with every fiber of our being, freedom of speech and expression in all its forms, while creating and fostering an environment of social good.
In the United States, we have already done this in all media: print and digital media, broadcasting, radio, etc.
Now we need to accomplish the same with online social media platforms.
Call it the next generation social media ecosystem – a more advanced version of social media for all people, businesses and nonprofits, with an emphasis on freedom of speech and expression, as well than on civil discourse; respectful and thoughtful engagement; and honest, open and inclusive interaction. This is the societal imperative of our time.
It should be an easy task, but with the country still so divided, it seems unattainable.
We are at a crossroads in our society, a crossroads that impacts the freedoms and well-being of billions of social media users around the world. It impacts billions of us due to the very nature, scope, reach and power of social media.
Is the answer to develop a social media platform based on the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and expression, with appropriate content moderation policies and legal limitations, including constitutional protections , which apply to other forms of communication?
Or, should speech and expression on social media platforms in the first place be restricted and inhibited based on the edicts of one or a few who have no vested interest in preserving freedom? of speech and expression? By those who prefer to ‘allow’ only voices and content consistent with their thinking – by canceling, labeling, harassing, constraining, distorting, banning and stifling diverse opinions and viewpoints. By those who would be the sole arbiters of truth, misinformation and disinformation. And, if they don’t get you in the first place, rest assured that the online community of bots, haters and haters will.
This is the current state of social media.
It seems quite clear that the first approach is optimal, while the second approach can cause major divisions in our society. Unfortunately, the latter also puts us on a negative trajectory – an unsustainable slippery slope, with a crippling effect that undermines the freedoms we all have. No one, regardless of their political or philosophical orientation, should want that. It is against first principles of the United States and can be easily manipulated by whoever or few who have the ability to dictate and control speech and expression against the rest of us.
Who knows who will occupy these positions tomorrow?
As Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily noted in a recent article “Platform Power, Online Speech, and the Search for New Constitutional Categories,” because entities such as Twitter are private organizations, “they don’t ‘don’t have to abide by the First Amendment’ and ‘the community standards of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube would be unconstitutional if enacted by a government’.
The public debate on social media platforms has become one that pits more freedom of speech and expression against less.
Unfortunately, more restrictions and limitations make social media more unconstitutional.
It’s been a few weeks since Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, announced his plan to acquire Twitter. During this time, the sharp knives came out in many different circles.
The essential? Twitter and other social media platforms should be less free, with speech and expression controlled, monitored and censored.
People apparently quite unhappy with the deal include: Twitter employees, government officials, social media in general, and some nonprofits.
In a recent letter signed by a number of prominent nonprofits, it was noted that the takeover of Twitter will “further toxify our information ecosystem and pose a direct threat to public safety.” . The letter, which was made public and shared across many traditional and social media outlets, went on to state that “under Musk’s leadership, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation…polluting our information ecosystem.” Speaking specifically to businesses and advertisers on Twitter, the letter also warned that “your brand risks being associated with a platform amplifying hate, extremism, misinformation and conspiracy theories.”
These statements made in response to the stated intention to infuse more freedom of speech and expression into Twitter are mystifying and represent the irony of ironies. The people and organizations calling for a crackdown on freedom of speech and expression on social media are the people and organizations who take advantage of these freedoms every day.
Most can agree that we have a social media problem that needs leadership and invention to solve, as another industry titan recently put it. Solutions and alternatives exist.
Any effort to transform Twitter will be an uphill battle – there are enemies inside and outside the company who don’t want it their way, or the highway. Is this diversity? Is it fairness? Is this an inclusion? I do not think so. They don’t appreciate the gifts of freedom they enjoy and they don’t understand that these gifts apply to everyone.
We should all wish Elon Musk great success in his business. Can it be done? With all of his ability, wealth and success, and his goal to reinvent Twitter as a freer public square, we’re confident he can. But, it can be done better.
In addition to what may be planned for Twitter, as an alternative there is a better way – a healthier and more meaningful social media platform with a higher purpose, integrating free speech and social good into a positive environment for all users.
Social media should have a broader purpose, to provide an objective platform for free, inclusive, honest, open, diverse and substantial engagement and interaction between all users – people, businesses and non-profit organizations – in the world. Such a social media platform exists.
ImpactWayv recently launched a disruptive and transformational social [impact] media and technology platform designed for this exact moment. ImpactWayv unites people, businesses, and nonprofits for social good in an environment that prioritizes free speech and freedom of expression.
We have developed a social media platform that is crucial in today’s society – based on freedom, civil debate and engagement, and social impact. Yes, a freer, healthier and more meaningful social media platform.
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