A generation ago, social media did not exist. Our parents could not have warned us of its pitfalls and we did not study it in school. We all walked blindly into the arena with no knowledge or fear. Basic communication between people seemed so innocent.
But hucksters always find a way to exploit a new fad. And social media has few, if any, guardrails. For political hucksters, it’s a dream come true. With no fact checking, and little or no learned experience from previous election cycles, it’s a political powder keg. Political parties have their own private echo chamber and facts and lies are easily blurred. And media outlets representing those factional interests have a ready-made audience. This gives candidates the golden opportunity to become cult leaders.
The riot at our nation’s capital on January 6th, 2021 did not happen spontaneously. If you listen carefully to the comments made by the rioters you find that their main source of information was social media. Factional leaders and factional media interests only contributed to the problem that already existed because of online misinformation.
Freedom of speech, as defined by our First Amendment, may need to be reviewed. We need to examine and define the point where repeated lies become seditious. And we need guardrails for politicians who use incendiary tactics in this powder keg. In some ways it may seem blasphemous to restrict our First Amendment rights by putting guardrails on social media. That’s a very slippery slope. But if we do not attempt to stop on that slope, we will end up at the bottom of that slope. That’s what happened on January 6th.
We also must consider that Congressmen who vote to gain favor with the echo-chamber driven faction that caused the January 6th problem must also be accountable for their actions. If a faction is truly seditious, then climbing on that bandwagon, as opposed to deliberate reasoning in an attempt to protect and defend the Constitution, is a tort against our nation.
Social media platforms have recent provided minimal guidelines. They fear legal repercussions. January 6th was a wake-up call. It is time for government to meet with the leaders of social media platforms in an effort to manage content in a way that keeps our country safe. It is noted that the concept of ‘people’s safety’ occurs in the Declaration of Independence which preceded the First Amendment.