11 October 2021

double standards

Facebook has been criticised for not censoring content described as "divisive". I have not seen any of the material to which this refers; some it may well be unpleasant. But is the current attack on Facebook partly an excuse for attempting a more general suppression of the kind of material the il-liberal elite do not like — in other words, anything that deviates too much from their preferred philosophy?
   If censorship is to be applied against viewpoints that are divisive, perhaps we should start with the material disseminated by contemporary humanities departments. The social theories currently à la mode in academia encourage women to resent men, the poor to resent the rich, blacks to resent whites, blue-collar workers to resent the bourgeoisie, and so on. Inequality is said to be due to "oppression", and some of the theorists openly try to galvanise people from certain categories to feel angry and bitter.
   These theories have about as much empirical support as creationism, but are treated as akin to gospel truth, presumably because academics find them enormously appealing (for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious).
   We can see the consequences of this be-angry-because-inequality-is-oppression ideology for freedom of speech. People who dare to express the 'wrong' opinions are physically attacked, or subjected to cancel culture or other forms of psychological abuse.
   Unsurprisingly — considering how many students are exposed to them — the popularity of these theories has spread beyond academia into the media, the arts, and the teaching profession. Have relations between the sexes, classes or races improved as a result? It's doubtful.

If US legislators are considering applying regulatory restrictions to internet companies, let us hope they'll bear in mind that it's not only US citizens that are affected. In theory, an entrepreneur in another Western country could build a rival social media company, but we know that in practice the network effect, and the resulting global near-monopoly gained by Facebook, make that improbable. If another business were to gain significant market share from Facebook, that business would most likely be based in California.
   In other words, the 7.5 billion people on the planet who are not Americans may end up being passive recipients of the censorship decisions made by the USA’s political class.

No doubt the left-leaning staff of social media corporations already apply algorithms to de-emphasise views they regard as too stridently right-wing. Perhaps they could also develop algorithms to de-emphasise Marxist claptrap.