Social Media Censorship & the Tree House

Social media censorship is so hot right now. The high-horsisms by social media CEO’s Zuckerberg, Dorsey, and others give people a sense of confidence in a self-regulating social media industry. Yet, social media “code of conduct” policies are akin to a five year old’s tree house rules.

Tree house social media rules make perfect sense… to a five year old. And they make perfect sense to our own internal five year old. Dorsey and Zuck are doing the “greater good” by having solid tree house policies to “help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation“. Plus, it’s their tree house, and they are the ones who raised the funds to build it, so they can do whatever they want. Completely valid… to a five year old.

Censorship as a platform doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as “social media”, but that’s really what Twitter, Facebook, et al are. They are Jack and Mark’s platforms. The methods used to derive code of conduct policies for Twitter and Facebook are ostensibly social and give the pretense of “openness and civility of public conversation”. Yet, no matter how much you agree with what is being censored, censorship at a platform level doesn’t truly promote openness. It only forwards the “civility of public conversation” as well as tree house rules do for a five year old. Still, Jack and Mark can sure feel good about themselves because they are handing out social media justice that fits their narrative of openness without being truly open.

Twitter and Facebook could easily build social censorship into their platforms. They already have all the pieces in place. The concept is simple: Allow social media users to join groups that enable users to align their timeline/feeds to the censorship settings of the group. They could even call it “filter settings” instead of censorship settings so that it sounds a bit more palatable.

If a group wants to block Jimmy Dore, they simply put that in the group’s “filter settings” (which must be public, along with reasons: e.g. “Peddles conspiracy theories” and/or “Presents extreme left political positions”) and allow users to “align” their personal filter settings to that group. Boom! Jimmy Dore is blocked. Want to block Alex Jones and all future Alex Joneses? Align your “filter settings” with a group that does all the blocking work for you.

This can be done with any of the existing tree house/social media platforms. Alex Jones and Jimmy Dore continue to have their social media outlets with exposure being limited to those who are members of groups that don’t block them. Exposure isn’t limited by the platform itself but by the actual communities using the platform.

This concept is different than the often heard “if you don’t like something, don’t watch it” argument. Choosing not to view/listen something requires someone to be exposed to something in order to determine that s/he doesn’t want to view it. The exposure has already happened. The Censorship Settings model allows users to avoid the exposure in the first place. While an argument can be made that this creates a “social media bubble”, it’s still a choice being made by the user in the first place; just like scrolling passed undesirable content. The primary difference is the lack of initial exposure.

Jack and Mark et al are then promoting social engagement for people within their social circles and allowing their platforms to build socially created feedback on why content creators and their content is being blocked. That data can be useful in trying to “help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s