US President Donald Trump wanted to ban the country’s Chinese TikTok app in 2020 because of an alleged risk of a national security threat. Ironically, he was banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch in early 2021 for the same reason after puffing up a bunch of vandals to break into the Washington Congress building on Wednesday (6).
The most recent – and historic – decision came on Friday evening (8) from Twitter, which permanently banned him from the social network for inciting violence. Mark Zuckerberg had announced a milder measure, the blockade at least until the end of the mandate.
Trump felt at home on Twitter. Since the campaign in 2016 and during his tenure, the President used the social network as the official diary for 2010. It was there that important government guidelines were announced for the first time, MANY IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
The rise of populist and extremist leaders like Trump has been catapulted by social media. His speeches and ideas no longer passed through the press filter and directly reached voters who were dissatisfied with the direction of his life and his country.
Network algorithms favor content with more interactions, and posts like Trumps go viral by encouraging and sharing comments. Fake news works by the same logic and was critical to events like Brexit and Jair Bolsonaro’s victory.
Big tech – Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon – came under pressure to tackle misinformation in their domains. The climax came after the Cambridge Analytica scandal was exposed in 2018. Trump’s allies used the data collected by the company to target content in the 2016 election campaign.
The US elections in 2020 saw the first turning point. Trump posts with false allegations of election fraud immediately brought badges with questionable content and lost relevance on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Trump’s current ban on social media raises a number of doubts and accelerates some trends. Therefore, Friday January 8th will go down in history.
The first most obvious step is a mass exodus of supporters against what they consider censorship. Calls to the Parler social network, for example, can already be seen from Bolsonarists, the Brazilian Trumpists. This platform is known for the fact that it has no content moderation and is fertile ground for conspirators of all kinds. However, Google has already suspended the Play Store app until Parler sets criteria for excluding publications. On Saturday evening (9), Apple also suspended the App Store application.
After Twitter was banned, Trump tried to use official accounts or advisor accounts. They also blocked or deleted posts. The best definition for what happened comes from an expression immortalized by Ney Matogrosso: “If the error occurs, the error persists!”.
In other words, extremists are trapped for one simple reason: social networks are made up of monopolies. If three or four presidents choose one path, it leads to a dead end.
This does not mean that the actions of great technicians are not followed with concern, even by non-Trump supporters. Facebook has been under heavy pressure between American officials and politicians – and in this case, Democrats and Republicans are in the same boat – to get rid of Instagram and WhatsApp, acquisitions that “crushed rivals”. Regulation of the giants must be resumed at the beginning of the Biden government.
If the most powerful man in the world, with nearly 90 million followers, even if he’s half a dead dog at the end of his tenure, can be banned, then what about the other 7 billion people on earth? Who are the judges of these social networks? Which criteria are used?
This strength of technology companies is similar to European absolutism from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Even if driven for good reasons – defending democracy or avoiding civil wars – the leaders look like the kings who held power over the nation and decided alone the future of all.
The argument that it’s private companies that do what they want doesn’t work when they’re fed by our data and personal information. You have become part of civil society and that has consequences.
Just sticking on social media for those who think alike will greatly increase the blistering and the risk of dark motions getting too big without anyone knowing. As if new and bigger QAnons appear every day.
At the same time, it is not interesting for the extremists to leave all common social networks – until this Parler has never really started. A post by Eduardo Bolsonaro in an undisclosed forum will have no impact on the mass media, and despite the hate speech against this media, the radicals feed on this resonance.
The new decade is only just beginning.