Opinion Central is the only right-wing opinion and media portal in India. We are no-holds-barred. In January 2019, our social media accounts were locked, with a warning, for 24 hours, for posting pro-gun ownership articles. But because we are not socialist clowns, and because we respect private property rights, we did not wail for the nanny state to come and save us. We decided to play by the rules of social media platforms. While we believe in absolute freedom of speech, some social media platforms do not and just like we make the content guidelines on our app and website, social media platforms also have every right to do so on their platforms. And this is how it should be, in a free market.
If you read the above paragraph, nodding your head, and without screeching with the uneasiness of internal contradiction, Congratulations! you understand the basic concept of free markets and liberty.
Recently, after some abusive troll accounts were blocked by Twitter for posting spam and abusive content, some reactionary supporters of India’s biggest socialist party – Bhartiya Janta Party took to the streets to protest against it. They held placards calling for more regulations on “Twitler” (equating Twitter with “Hitler”).
As one can expect, socialist reactionary jokers do not understand the concept of private property and private ownership. Their incessant kvetching and wailing for the nanny state to come and save them from one thing or the another knows no end. They always demand more regulations, more control, and more government intervention.
BJP and Congress both are socialist parties and have done India much harm with their socialist policies which we have written and discussed in detail in other posts.
Taking cognizance of this outrage of their footsoldiers of Social Media, the Indian Government hurriedly summoned Twitter India and its “Top Officials” to appear before its Parliamentary IT Committee.
The Parliamentary Commitee on Information Technology will examine the issue:
SAFEGUARDING CITIZENS RIGHTS ON SOCIAL/ONLINE NEWS MEDIA PLATFORMS
MEITY & TWITTER will present their views.
You can tweet/email your views:
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) February 5, 2019
Ironically titled “Safeguarding citizens rights on Social/Online News Media Platforms”, this diktat was nothing but a manifestation of a panic attack before upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The notification exclusively summons Twitter in an attempt to intimidate and threaten it. A diktat for them to “get in the line or suffer”. The Narendra Modi government wants to punish you for your “Thought-Crimes” if you happen to publish or post anything contrary to “acceptable views”.
These reactionary elements have for long wanted to control and regulate social media because the concept of free market and private property is alien to them.
One should note, that Indian government and Bhartiya Janta Party, in particular, were at the front seats cheering “the power of social media” when social media tools including Twitter and Facebook were instrumental in getting them elected. It’s always when the wind starts blowing in the other direction that tinpot socialists yearn for “government intervention”.
Look, we are sympathetic. Free markets can be hard and brutal and may not always give you the outcome that you want. But contrary to popular opinion, government intervention is not the solution.
One might think or even believe that Twitter and Facebook are politically biased, and they well might be! But that does not make the case for government intervention. Indian government and most governments around the world want to regulate Social Media. Social media is powerful because it is not regulated by any government. If the Indian government proceeds with its diktat, what is stopping governments around the world from regulating it citing the Indian example?
Social media is privately owned and privately funded. It gets nothing from the government, not even ad-revenue by the way of government ads, which are a political tool used by governments to strong-arm print media when they get “too free”.
The beauty of social media is that it’s the outcome of entrepreneurship and individual efforts.
One argument commonly advanced by socialist reactionary elements of BJP and Congress is that because Twitter is “earning” in India, it should work according to the diktats of the Indian government. This argument is ridiculous from the outset and it completely disregards the fact that it’s “individuals” who “voluntarily” join social media. Further, if these clowns are so upset that Twitter is earning in India, they should, well, stop giving it revenue by deleting the app. Nothing hurts capitalists more than losing revenue! And contrary to popular opinion, social media is not a human necessity, nor is it listed in UN charter of human rights. But these socialist clowns will never do that, as any normal consumer, unsatisfied by any product ought to do. This also lays bare the facade of “Safeguarding citizens rights”. Socialists want to control every media, every device, every activity of your life. In this attempt, Narendra Modi’s government also issued new IT rules in January 2019 making it mandatory for every computer to be unlocked and its data be made accessible to the government at its will, notwithstanding anything. The Narendra Modi government have also asked WhatsApp and other popular instant messaging apps to break their encryption so that the government can further read and monitor every bit of private information of your life, making thought-patrol easier. WhatsApp, thankfully, has not paid any heed to the government’s diktats so far.
Further, many people think that because few companies “monopolize” social media, they ought to be regulated. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Social media is an increasingly competitive space. Twitter is not a monopoly, nor it will be in a long time to come. In fact, its active user base is way lower than other popular social media applications.
In 2007, similar arguments of “monopoly” were raised against MySpace – who in that time and age had no competition. But that’s the beauty of free markets. Monopolies are impossible.
It is always better to put the power of developing content policies in hands of the private actors rather than the government regulators. Social media censorship is now largely automated via algorithms. And algorithms can make mistakes like it did in our case mentioned above. An algorithm flagged our post for “violence” and it was taken down with an account lockout. Government regulations or government interventions will not make these AI-based algorithms learn faster, it will only make the problem worse. Social media companies will have to hire more humans to enforce their content guidelines in case the government tries to make social media “fairer”. It will increase the cost of operations. And unlike governments which lives a parasitic existence, private companies do have to make a profit to survive.
Anurag Thakur, Chairman of Parliamentary IT Committee, could have saved himself the trouble (and taxpayer, some money) of forming a “Committee” if he just spent some time to apprise himself of Twitter’s Content Policy and asked his political party’s social media apparatchiks to read the Twitter’s Hateful Conduct Policy.
Social media companies deserve our gratitude for making the world a better place. We may not always like the decisions private actors make, but if you are willing to regulate and suppress the private sector because it is not as per your liking, then you do not support the free market at all.
Let’s fight to keep the dirty talons of government away from social media.