Yes, Elon, There is a Better Way.
‘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, free speech and expression in all of its forms, while creating and fostering an environment of social good.
In the U.S., we have done it before across all media: print and digital media, broadcast, radio, and the like.
Now, we must 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 a focus on free speech and expression, as well as 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 ever so divided, it is seemingly unattainable.
We are at a crossroads in our society, one which impacts the freedoms and well-being of billions of users of social media worldwide. It impacts billions of us because of the very nature, breadth, reach, and power of social media.
Is the answer to develop a social media platform based upon fundamental principles of free speech and free expression, with appropriate content moderation policies and legal limitations, including constitutional protections, that apply to other forms of communication?
Or, should speech and expression on social media platforms, in the first instance, be limited and inhibited based on the edicts of one or the few who have no particular interest in preserving freedom of speech and expression? By those who would rather “allow” only those voices and content that conform to their thinking – by canceling, labeling, harassing, coercing, deplatforming, banning, and stifling diverse opinions and points of view. By those who would be the sole arbiters of truth, misinformation, and disinformation. And, if they don’t get you in the first instance, rest assured that the online community of bots, haters and naysayers will.
This is the current state of social media.
It seems quite clear that the former approach is optimal, while the latter approach may be causing significant division in our society. Unfortunately, the latter also puts us on a negative trajectory – an unsustainable slippery slope, with a chilling effect that is undermining the freedoms that we all have. No one, regardless of political or philosophical leaning, should want this. It is contrary to the first principles of the U.S. and can be easily manipulated by the one or the few who have the ability to dictate and control speech and expression against the rest of us.
Who knows who will be in those positions tomorrow?
As noted by Stanford Law Professor, Nathaniel Persily, 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 have to respect the First Amendment” and “the community standards of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube would be unconstitutional if they were enacted by a government.”
The public debate about social media platforms has become one that pits more freedom of speech and expression vs less.
Unfortunately, more restriction and limitation makes social media more unconstitutional.
It’s been a few weeks since Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, announced his planned acquisition of Twitter. During that time the sharp knives have come out in many different circles.
The gist? Twitter and other social media platforms should be less free, with speech and expression monitored, surveilled, and censored.
Those apparently quite unhappy over the transaction include: Twitter employees, government officials, social media generally, and certain nonprofit organizations.
In a recent letter signed by a number of prominent nonprofit organizations, it was noted that the takeover of Twitter “will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety.” The letter, which was made public and disseminated across many traditional and social media outlets, went on to state that “under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation…polluting our information ecosystem.” Specifically addressing businesses and advertisers on Twitter, the letter also warned that “your brand risks association 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 very people and organizations who are clamoring for a clamp down on free speech and expression on social media are the very people and organizations who enjoy those freedoms every day.
Most can agree that we have a social media problem that requires leadership and invention to solve, as another industry titan has recently stated. Solutions and alternatives exist.
Any effort to transform Twitter will be an uphill battle – there are enemies within and without the company who want it only their way, or the highway. Is this diversity? Is this equity? Is this inclusion? I think not. They do not appreciate the gifts of liberty and freedom that they enjoy and they do not understand that those gifts apply to all.
We should all wish Elon Musk great success in his endeavor. Can it be done? With all of his ability, wealth, and success, together with his objective of reinventing Twitter as a freer public town square, we are confident that it 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 in a positive environment for all users.
Social media should have a greater purpose, providing an objective platform for free, inclusive, honest, open, diverse, and substantive engagement and interaction among all users – people, businesses, and nonprofits – globally. Such a social media platform exists.
ImpactWayv has recently launched a disruptive and transformational social [impact] media and technology platform that was designed for this very moment. ImpactWayv unites people, businesses, and nonprofits for social good in an environment that prioritizes free speech and free expression.
We have developed a social media platform that is crucial in today’s society – built on freedom, civil debate and engagement, and social impact. Yes, a freer, healthier, and more meaningful social media platform.