When social media companies say they can’t do anything about filthy, racist abuse on their platforms, what they mean is: We can’t do anything about that abuse without changing our policies in ways that might inconvenience us. Right now the foulest abuse imaginable is being poured out on a 19-year-old English soccer player because Twitter and Instagram can’t be bothered to deal with it. Dealing with it would require money and resources, and might make people less likely to sign up to be surveilled (for financial purposes only, of course). And that’s why they won’t deal with it.
Around the world legislators are lazily considering laws that might force the social media companies to care. I doubt that many such laws will be passed, and I am sure that any that do get passed will first undergo a very thorough watering-down. But even the strongest proposals now being considered are not strong enough to suit me. It’s time for a Butlerian jihad against the social-media giants. Raze them to the ground and salt the foundations. It’s them or us.
UPDATE 12 July: Barney Ronay this morning:
The idea social media companies can’t police this abuse is laughable. This is their property, their coding. Never mind algorithms. A teenage intern could have policed these players’ accounts on Sunday night with a smartphone and a delete button. All that is required is the genuine will to do it. This is step one.
But given the bottomless moral corruption of the social media companies, can we even imagine step one happening?
I think the only thing that will change the behavior of these malicious, misery-dealing, greed-besotted people is if celebrities — let’s say, as a start, everyone with over a million followers on whatever platform — boycott those platforms. Those celebrities have the power that even governments don’t seem to have. But my suspicion is that they are as addicted as everyone else….