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As has been pointed out many times in recent days, the social networks now appear to have a double standard, allowing some people who spout egregious views, such as Iran’s anti-Semitic leader, to continue using their platforms, while kicking off others.
And herein lies the problem with censorship: no matter what, it is always going to be somewhat arbitrary, and there will always be a few people tasked with determining the limits of acceptable speech. They won’t always get it right, and there will be no room for debate if those on the other side can’t speak their minds.
As to how to make the internet a more civilized place and prevent the spread of conspiracy theories and false claims masquerading as news, there are no easy answers. But I find it hard to believe that censorship will do anything to solve these problems. What it will do is force those who have been abandoned by the mainstream social networks to move to other platforms.
Over the last couple years, many supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump switched to the upstart social network Parler, which saw its user base grow from 100,000 in May 2018, to 15 million before Amazon, whose servers were hosting the website, shut it down on Jan. 10. As a means of evading censorship, they had the right idea, but chose the wrong platform.
In Tuesday’s National Post, columnist Rupa Subramanya suggested that, “Short of creating a new internet, there is not much that excluded voices can do to join the public square of social media, which, regardless of its faults, is now a vital part of modern democracies.”
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