Where is the beef in the T&T (Twitter&Trump) outrage?

Some newspapers are outraged about the closure of the former US president’s account. Instead, they should re-think their role and contents they deliver by Andrea Monti – Originally published in Italian by Infosec.News

Frankly, it is hard to understand the outrage about Twitter & Trump and, in general, about the “power” of social networks to silence anyone.

Unlike newspapers, Twitter, Facebook and Google are private companies. They provide services against the acceptance of a contract. The contract gives them the power to accept as a customer whomever they want, to do what they want with the published content and to close accounts at will. Not unlike proprietary software producers who reserve the right to withdraw – at their discretion – the licence they have paid for, which is often very expensive.

Twitter & C. do nothing different from newspapers and ‘traditional’ media. Indeed, one could even say that the latter do worse, in the name of adherence to the ‘editorial line’. We witness political factionalism, superficial and coarse information, or ‘free inspirations’ from foreign newspapers passed off as original articles every day. Just as, daily, we witness the ‘usual celebrities’ talking about everything and anything on any television programme, even beyond their sectoral expertise.

However, private companies are, indeed, private. They have no duty to guarantee anything to anyone, except what they contractually agreed. By contrast, newspapers and media have – and claim – a public role: the duty to inform. Therefore, they should avoid turning their columns or the frequencies that broadcast their speeches into pulpits from which they convey opinions (sometimes ill-informed) but presented as meditated reasoning.

Rather than calling for public intervention ‘against’ technological platforms, it would make more sense to concern ourselves with why the contents they convey have become more effective than those that ‘pass through’ the traditional media.

Before sparkling outrage for the closure of former US President Trump’s accounts, we should ask the traditional media (and the many talking heads that crowd screens and monitors) to openly declare their cultural-political affiliation and the actual knowledge of the subject they are talking. It would allow their audience to assess with greater awareness about the positions they support. However, the risk is to find out that they are not too different from the ‘rednecks of the web’, those who are snobbishly accused of ignorance and stupidity.

Therefore, not only for the latter, should the saying ne supra crepidam, sutor apply, and, at the end of the day, better an account closure for breach of contract than preventive censorship made up in the dark.

In the first case, at least, it is possible to file a legal action, hoping that there will be a judge in Berlin.

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