The advent of social media on the internet has been met with almost universal praise by those who support our human rights and freedoms. They see these sites as places where everyone has an equal voice, where free speech rules, where the establishment can be challenged and where all points of view are valid. Many see social media as a superior alternative to the mainstream media, being much faster to report and respond and without the bias of state owned or proprietor owned outlets.
But these people are all very deluded indeed. Facebook and Twitter can and do give some chosen content far more prominence, so it reaches more people and has more influence. Conversely both sites suppress some content so that it reaches fewer people and has less influence.
So they can quite easily give socialism a massive boost whilst censoring support for capitalism. They can champion Trump and harm Clinton. They can help Zionism whilst preventing the Palestinians from having their voices heard. Their power is enormous. Facebook has 1.59 billion active monthly users, Twitter 332 million. And all these users spend vastly more time engaged with these online sites than they do with the mainstream news media.
So the social media have immense, global political power from manipulating what people see on these sites. And they definitely use this power. They have more power than the biggest press baron or the most successful politician. Yet nobody knows what their agenda is. What are they trying to achieve politically and socially? We know they are moulding attitudes, but how are they moulding them? What are they doing inside our heads?
Most insidiously of all the users of these social media sites don’t know that they are being manipulated, that some anonymous person in California is deciding what they can and will know and think. This is social conditioning on an epic scale. It is immense, undemocratic power that is not answerable to anyone. The exact opposite if what social media is supposed to be.
So when you use social media do so with cynicism. It is a very long way from being free speech, you are being fed attitude and information by someone with an agenda that you don’t know and which you have no control over. Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful man on earth.