Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How humans may be losing Freedom of Speech, Time and Money on Some Social Media



Text on The Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Tempera on canvas

Information and news is what humans base many of their actions on. The worst possible human atrocities may be taking place in your town not very far from where you live but if you do not hear of it at all then nothing can be done. In authoritarian countries, flow of information and freedom of speech is carefully controlled by the ruler. However modern democracies pride themselves on freedom of speech. It is necessary in democracies so that people may express their opinions to frame policies that influence their lives as also make to the best possible choices in selecting representatives at time of elections. However even in some of leading democracies media is not totally free, it may have corporate owners who have their own interests to maintain and grow their fortunes.

Against this backdrop, the internet has offered a valuable place to seven billion humans on earth to share information and services like google have made a great contribution to this. A prominent place where humans share news and opinions is social media of which perhaps facebook and twitter are the most popular ones at the present time.

However, the powers that wish to control and exploit humanity have not given up. They too are ever devising new ways to conquer this threat and some of these new ways are not honorable. One of them is stealth banning. You can read about it on Wikipedia here.


Through stealth banning or shadow banning method, if you post something on some social media, it will appear on your wall and timeline but not on homepages of followers. Few will see it and you may as well shout in the wilderness. The associated software may let a little slip through so that you remain blissfully unawares for long, even years. In case the odd post of yours is shared, the software would ensure that shared posts become similarly invisible to other users.

Social media companies are private companies and they have a full right to what is posted on web pages they host. However when this is done through an open and transparent policy it may be fully legal and ethical even though you may disagree with their policy. On the other hand, when it is done through stealth it is unethical, deception and may even amount to illegal fraud through which users waste their time and money because of the deception.

Recently in the US elections, during the primaries to select their nominee, the Democratic Party used methods in favor of one of the two candidates in the race. Many millions have objected to that. Some have gone to court feeling cheated. The Party on the other hand says that they are within their rights to choose any candidate they want by most any method. They may be right. It is an internal party process and anyone can make a political party with a different agenda or method if they like. However, what is wrong is that they kept millions under the illusion that a fair contest was taking place. Many donated money to the candidate of their choice and spent valuable hours in his support (Bernie Sanders) while if the outcome had already been pre-decided by the party they got fraudulently cheated out of their time and money.

The same sort of logic may apply to social media that carries out stealth banning of users.

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