I am asking you to reject all actions that seek to damage the information infrastructure of humanity. Do not support any acts of Facebook or Twitter or the media to “cancel misinformation”. Keep the networks of communication alive. They are the nervous system for human progress. Declaring “war” against misinformation is the most irresponsible thing a society can do. This has nothing to do with democracy and is nothing a democrat could be proud of.
There is no problem with raising public awareness about incorrect speech. But it is shortsighted and counterproductive to allow companies to damage networks and critical voices in free societies, or anywhere else. There’s a difference between she who shouts in the street and he that is locked in the asylum; that difference is corporate power, and what’s the point of civilization one might ask?
One cannot legitimately hope to improve a people’s free access to information by working to disable its voices.
You may even agree with the media and technology companies that the atrocities they see have got to stop. I do not agree with the methods they are advocating, using, and imposing.
I’m convinced that an open society can only thrive when it has access to open communication. I’m convinced that the access layers need to be as open and as inclusive as possible. It keeps bugging me that when we are establishing open access, people still gravitate towards using non-open systems like centralized systems.
The question is what our future online political and social discourse looks like. Currently, I meet people who say such-and-such private corporation regulates it and maybe offers a safer way to have an online discourse. Although now it’s all very unsafe. There’s a lot of amplification of misinformation, of violent information, of bullying. This all arose in the last ten years.
It isn’t inevitable.
Do a thought experiment. What does it look like ten years from now? What happens when global attention truly moves to these platforms? What is in your head? How do you think you’re going to do this then?
I think when we all think about it, we arrive at the same question: how is all this going to be funded? What’s the underlying business model?
Shoshana Zuboff’s book The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, lucidly sets out the business model the current platforms are following. What kind of societal consequences that has. A short summary: if it is driven by the advertising logic, it amplifies all the things we don’t really want to have amplified in an open society. It polarizes. It destroys common infrastructure. The institutions we have built.
Luckily, we can make a choice. For a more seriously interesting future.
We haven’t seen that potential yet. We don’t know what kind of innovations decentralized systems will bring to life. What we do know is what an advertising-based network does.
It is inevitable that we will do something different in the future. I hope to see you around. I like doing that. So, join the movement.