A Blog about Democracy, Social Media and Technology

This is a follow up article to the one called: What if they closed Social Media today?

The moment has arrived. Donald Trump, the president of the United States, has censored major social media platforms. Giants like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have to follow a new guideline set out by the Trump Administration.

The whole process seems to be complicated, but it actually isn't. The administration released an Executive Order, in which they explain how they'll prevent online censorship by the social media platforms. Trump especially seems to seek some form of vengeance, as he was often censored by Twitter.

The new order is built upon three layers. The first one is quite obvious. It's the first amendment, Freedom of Speech. The administration repeats multiple times, that they set out to honour that amendment. They know that many families, friends and partners use these social media platforms on a daily basis. Either to stay in touch or to read the news, share their opinions or use it as a marketing tool for their businesses. Therefore, these platforms are pillars of the modern society.

They present some evidence, through surveys and messages by citizens who pointed out how much censorship was going on, and used it to come up with a restriction for these companies. In the administrations view, they appeal the misconduct of the Communications Decency Act (Section 230©). This is the description of that act, given in the official executive order by the White House: “It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”

For most of us, this is a lot of gibber gabber. They simplified the whole description to this: “Section 230© was designed to address early court decisions holding that, if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it would thereby become a “publisher” of all the content posted on its site for purposes of torts such as defamation.”

Meaning, these platforms are no longer an open place on the internet – which let's be honest, they never were! – they are editorial publishers, which can represent multiple opinions. However, there is never place for multiple opinions, especially in the media world. There are biases!

The White House , or President Trump, even went as far as calling out multiple platforms at once. His enemy number one at the moment must be Twitter, as they have blocked and deleted multiple tweets of his and continue to block him in every way possible. Others such as Google and Online Papers are trying their hardest to get out of everything. Especially YouTube is trying to cut corners.

Currently the only platform, which seems to be playing along the threads of the White House is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg appears to be disgusted by the decision of Trump's Administration, but he caved and allowed them to keep posts of the POTUS up. This obviously had some backlash as well. As the whole thing was released through an internal leak. In which you can hear Zuckerberg clearly say it during a meeting. The second backlash was internal with Facebook.

Many employees were angry about Mark. However, we have to divide two cases here. One was about the lack of integrity from Zuckerberg. Many employees thought that Trump lied about the ballot-by-mail. He mentioned, that it would be very easy to manipulate a vote with such a tool. Which is true, as we have more than enough evidence to support this statement... And on the other hand the events with George Floyd and his tragic death came into the mix as well. With that event, many employees thought that there its a racism problem within Facebook as well. I can't comment about the second issue.

I wonder if these employees think so bad of their employees when they spy on us users. Selling our data to the highest bidder. Or is this different? After all, if they blame something but decide to look away on the other hand, aren't they as much “guilty” of a bad decision as their CEO?

Anyway, I don't to start a discussion here, but this is a thought to think about. All these platform, it doesn't matter which one it is, are data hoarders. They want to gather as much data as possible and profit of our consumption.

I believe that it is the right way forward. There has to be an end to the total dominance of the online platforms. Time to put the power back into the hands of us people. Not algorithms!

But what would be the worst case scenario, if they really pull the plug and close all these platforms? Don't look any further! I have already written an article about this. Simply follow this link and read everything about it!

A small disclaimer before I start. This is a hypothetical scenario I'm quoting here! Please don't take everything 100% serious!

Have you ever thought about this scenario? What if there would be no more social media platform around. No Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. All gone within a couple of minutes.

One thing would funny for sure. A lot of these digital marketing gurus put there, would be super scared and don't know what to do! Most of them count heavily on these platforms. Especially Facebook and their Ads Market would be a massive lost for most of them.

But for the majority of us, this split or deletion would be a pleasant surprise. As you might know – expect if you were born after 2005 you would have no idea about it – there was a time before, when you would actually meet up in person. There was no WhatsApp or DM to reach someone.

This article shouldn't be a retrospective of life before social media. It's a What If scenario! One which could very much come true, as President Donald Trump is threatening Twitter and Facebook at the very moment I draft this article.

I believe – once everyone realised that they can't check Instagram anymore – most people would immediately be looking for an outlet. Social media is such a part of our everyday life, people would need to find a distraction fast! My bet would be on libraries, book shops and meet-ups. Most of us would start to read again and therefore find a filler for the big social media hole. For the younger audience reading this article, you would find an alternative too. Maybe you would finally start picking up a book! From a private aspect, we would know what to do within a couple of days.

But if you take a closer look at this from a business standpoint, you will start biting your nails. Let's analyse a few specific fields of operations:

Marketing and Sales:

This is the one department a tone of business would suffer from. So companies use social media as a powerful communication tool. Not only to interact with their audience or community, but to also feature new products or releases within seconds.

If you add the whole advertising aspect into the mix as well, you would end up seeing a lot of missed ad space. I would even go as far and say, that the regular paper, magazine and TV ad would take over again. Meaning only the richest or biggest companies would afford to advertise again.

However the most brutal place businesses would miss out, is in their sales department. Not only would sales reps loose the possibility to double check their leads, they would also have to get back to annoying sales methods, like cold calling over the phone. Most importantly, they would loos the ability to close deals fast. As they would rely on regular communication systems again.

HR and Recruiting:

For these departments this situation could be very dangerous. Not that they would not be able to their job anymore. Recruiting was very active before the emerge of social media, but there is one platform a tone of them use: LinkedIn! Heck, they even set out pricing plans for HR and Recruiters.

The standard workflow for recruiters these days is to look for the profiles of candidates and save their profiles for further questioning. If they would get rid of this essential tool, I believe most of the recruiting would take longer and therefore more projects in the end could be postponed.

Especially if there is a big hiring spree in a cooperate environment. These delays could end up costing big companies more in the long run...

For now, these departments would be the one suffering the most from the direct loos of social media outreach. However, I believe that a lot of work colleagues would suffer as well. As most of the after hour gatherings or lunch events are planned with Messenger or WhatsApp Chats.

However, I believe the most interesting question we can throw out there is, if the companies associated with these giants would be taken down as well? In theory Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Vine could be bought back, if they have enough money. That however is proper guess work, as we have no idea what the legal arrangements are with said companies.

All in all, life would be less hectic. We would stop compare us and actually focus on proper relationships again. A lot of cyberbullying would stop and teenagers as a whole would stop being so fake. On the other hand, the business world could suffer immensely and would be taken back a couple of decades again. I'm not saying that it wouldn't work, but a lot of industries would have to adapt again.

Let's see what the future holds. I just saw the announcement of President Trump. Maybe he already pushed the law into action. Time to catch up and see what will follow in the next couple of hours. I will definitely write a follow up for this article!

It’s funny isn’t it? There are so many different things happening right now in this COVID-19 crisis. A lot of countries are being bombarded with problems they never imagined having.

Some of these problems are because of broken healthcare systems or questionable laws. I won’t go into details about this, but there are a lot of things happening right now which question the functionality of a democracy.

So instead of writing one of those pro/con articles, I thought it would be interesting to ask 10 questions about Democracy in a Pandemic. I’ll add my thoughts to why I choose that question below each one.

Do we really have a vote in this?

I don't want to go into specifics. I know there are people with all kinds of theories. From blaming bats to swearing that the virus was created in a lab.

But what I really want to go into is, if we as citizens still have the democratic right most of our nations are build on? We see leaders and presidents deciding without asking the nation what they truly want!

You can't argue to question if we still have a vote in this! Let's see what the future holds in store...

How much freedom does the press really have?

Freedom of the Press is a fundamental right every media company and therefore journalist has. Whatever topic or event you cover, you write about with your best intentions. We're not in a Cold War and don't have to worry about censorship or control. (Well, in theory..)

But you see more and more Media Outlets who change their voice and tone of reporting. Is this because of a sudden strategy change or did someone tell them to do so? We'll probably never know.

Is democracy the same everywhere in the world?

You might read this sentence and ask yourself if I lost my mind! Before you judge me, think about it for a while. Most politicians do what they do because of the democracy. After all, in most political systems the people choose their represantives. I personally live in Switzerland and over here we have a half direct democracy, meaning we vote a politician into parliament.

Therefore they should represent the values and inquiries the people ask for. The represent the nations will. Now this is only a half direct democracy because we don't vote for every political office. Our Federal Council for example are not chosen by the people. They are chosen within each party. Those 7 people are mostly also the ones who decide what will happen in the near future.

Now, does the UK have the same democracy like Switzerland? Of course not! But in theory the democratic foundation should be the same everywhere. There is a nation, represented by people who choose individuals into office or parliament.

With all these changes and adaptations, you see each country solve their problems differently. Some of them try to stick to the democratic schedule, while others turn their power into dictatorship!

It's hard for a regular citizen if their rights are still taken seriously if a group of people decide over their heads. And don't give me that, “We can't vote” bullshit! We live in the 21. century! There a numbers of ways to vote digitally. Over the phone or camera for example!

This begs the question: If there are states who stick to the fundamental rights of democracy and others who turn into dictators, can we really count on it?

How long will this dilemma last?

I feel this article wouldn't be done, if I hadn't mentioned this question. Please remember, that I wrote this article in the first week of May 2020. So if this whole thing is over and you read it after the pandemic, treat this question like those annoying Facebook Moments Reminders.

This question is one many nations and leaders are trying to solve on a daily basis. For most businesses and individuals out there, the time can't come soon enough. Which I feel is the right strategy as well. And if you're on the other side, hear me out for a minute.

If we can achieve a herd immunity and fight this virus naturally, we can open more of these businesses. Not because we value money over lives, but we can actually support many of these local shops to come out positive of this crisis.

To conclude this article, I wanted to make sure that I didn't offend anyone. I know that these questions are very specific. Some of them are very open and provocative. But these are mostly the questions which result in interesting dialogs. Which I hope some of you will start. This at least is one more way to get through this together.