Democracy is under attack in the Western world, but it’s not always so easy to tell who is doing the attacking and who supports them.
It’s happening on social media sites that have open forums for reader comments. During the so-called trucker convoy protests in Canada, the Trudeau government was under constant attack in myriad forums by people calling him “a Nazi” and “a dictator,” among other things.
Those two words were a tipoff: When I looked at the profiles of those posting that sort of comment on Facebook, for example, I came away pretty convinced they were fake.
I suppose it is no secret that Russian hackers and disruptors, a.k.a. bloggers, allegedly have been targeting the infrastructure of Western nations, attacking the sites of Western companies and holding them for ransom, and sowing seeds of discontent in every possible reader forum they can.
The far right is doing a lot of that, as well, though it is questionable whether they are trying to bring down power grids and the like. It’s not entirely out of the question, given that they put up barricades at key border crossings into the United States and occupied several blocks of downtown Ottawa for weeks. The border blockades were meant to do serious harm to the Canadian economy — and it begs the question of whether the Russians were behind that as well.
But it can be difficult to tell who’s a Russian disruptor posting comments in social media and who’s a member of the far right from Canada, the U.S., France, the U.K.or any number of other countries. OK, or who is just an ill-informed and uneducated person who doesn’t know the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship.
In short, the far right in the West and the Russians might as well be working together because their goals are similar if not the same: undermine and/or disrupt democracy, and bring down governments that support it.
The troubling question for me is, why do Western companies with social media sites open to reader comments allow the far right and the Russian disruptors to flourish there? Are they not aware of what’s going on? Or do they not see it as a problem, perhaps feeling that most readers there are intelligent enough not to be influenced by them?
Or do they welcome comments from the far right and even the Russian disruptors because it fits with their own agendas? And worse, are they involved in an actual plot with the Russian disruptors and/or far right extremists?
I don’t believe in censorship, but I also don’t believe in giving free rein to people who mean to do our country harm. And I know that the Canadian government is currently looking at this situation.
But it’s happening throughout the Western world and I think as the Cold War progresses, we are going to see a lot of finger-pointing as our intelligence agencies seek to root out the spies and disruptors among us along with their allies.
And I think we will see company leaders and their underlings who have allowed this sort of thing to proliferate on their social media pages being led away in handcuffs.
Click, click . . .
Elon Musk, he is a free speech absolutist. I rather agree with him. If you suppress the words of people you disagree with, you validate those words. Nothing promotes an ideology quite like being actively suppressed. The correct response is to actively disagree with those ideas in an intellectually honest manner. If we don’t, that’s just laziness on our parts.
The tools that might be used to silence, say neoNazis, will also be used against anything else that feels unpopular at the time. Censorship devolves into an ongoing argument about who gets censored and not whether censorship itself is good or evil. That is a very dangerous position to be in. Revolutionary ideas always get censored by people wanting to maintain the status quo.
Now, if there were a way to discriminate against mass distributed opinions as opposed to genuine opinions of individuals I could go for that as long as it were content neutral. Bots don’t have constitutional rights. I’m not sure such would be possible.
I wish I could expand on this, but I can’t for professional reasons. Another time,perhaps.
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>And I think we will see company leaders and their underlings who have allowed this sort of thing to proliferate on their social media pages being led away in handcuffs.<
You are such a romantic. But keep at it! 🙂
lol. I am a romantic. I have to keep at it, though, and being in the media business has allowed me to work with highly ethical people who believe in social justice. But I am not under any illusions. I write a lot about climate change, pleading for people to wake up and do something about it — even though I know deep down it is too late and the world will be mostly unlivable in the not-so-distant future. But my conscience won’t let me stay quiet about it.
Ditto for what I am seeing going down in social media. I can see how it is being manipulated by bad actors out to destroy us and turn our countries into Russian satellites. I have to speak up. That’s my nature.
When I finally retire — perhaps not all that long from now — I’ll probably join Extinction Rebellion. I’m pretty sure I could contribute a lot.
With a lot of these companies, media an ‘social’ media, it probably is advertising revenue. These stories are perfect click-bait for way too many, so it means a lot of visitors.
Yup. Ultimately, it comes to clicks, Angela.