The barbaric death of George Floyd stirs the United States and social networks. The hashtag TrumpOut2020, which is also a reference to the upcoming election campaign that could confirm or prevent a second term for The Donald, is going crazy on Twitter.
The protests shake the United States, after a young African-American was barbarously killed by a policeman. The historic wound of racist discrimination in the country of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks is reopened.
But Donald Trump doesn’t back down an inch and in two more recent tweets has reiterated that he is the president of the United States who has done more for the black population, after Abraham Lincoln. Phrases that aroused even more indignation, especially after the president himself had said in recent days that he was ready to deploy the army against the people demonstrating. And to have the army shoot at countrymen is tantamount to starting a civil war.
“Trump Out 2020”: The battle on social networks
This scenario also includes social networks. Twitter reported a post by Trump as inciting violence.
On Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was disgusted by the US president’s words but chose not to intervene. According to the rumours, Zuck apparently unleashed the revolt of his own employees who would have preferred a stronger stance.
Trump, for his part, responded with an executive order limiting social censorship.
The unquestionable truth of social networks
What emerges is the discretion of social networks on the posts published by their users. Whether the user is an illustrious stranger or the President of the United States of America, Facebook and Twitter as centralized entities can intervene on every single post.
Victims of this discretion are above all the accounts of politicians who are censored of content in case they “incite hatred”.
In the most serious cases, Facebook goes so far as to obscure pages that are not in line with its values, but often, as said, this happens in a completely arbitrary way and that does not admit replicas.
In Italy, there’s the case of CasaPound, an extreme right-wing party that has seen all the Facebook pages associated with it deleted in one fell swoop. A censorship that has also affected individual exponents, starting with the national leader, whose pages and personal profiles have been deleted.
How did it end? CasaPound took Facebook to court and the judges ruled that Facebook’s decision against CasaPound was illegitimate: in practice, those pages should not have been closed. The party is so well rooted in Italy that it also has representatives (few, to tell the truth) within institutions.
It is clear that Facebook and Twitter are in fact behaving like publishers, they decide what should be online and whatnot. This is the big mistake that many users make, from private individuals to public figures as well as large associations: to believe that the space offered by the social network is their home. But it isn’t, primarily because there is an algorithm that influences the diffusion of every single post (and, incidentally, to have maximum diffusion the solution is one: pay, because social networks are not non-profit). But above all the system has the power to obscure the contents it considers “borderline”.
All this happens in the name of centralization: there is someone who controls the socials. And social networks are nothing but private platforms.
A dream called decentralization
Can decentralized social networks be a solution? The debate opened when Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, announced the creation of the BlueSky team to create a decentralized social network.
But the philosophy is not so much to control content but rather not to appropriate user data. That’s what Facebook and Twitter do and that’s what makes them the giants they are.
Then again, it is always stated that governance, according to the blockchain model, is up to the users, who become “validators” of the content. But there will always be users more powerful than others, and perhaps the way in which those users are called to establish what is good and what is bad can become questionable.
And there will also be users ready to take over, a bit like what happened to Steemit, bought by the CEO of TRON, Justin Sun.
What’s certain, outside of President Trump’s tweets, is that the US is actually a hotbed at the moment. The Coronavirus crisis has caused the unemployment rate to soar. One spark was enough to trigger a popular uprising. And there’s no social network or censorship to stop it.