A Look at the State of Social Media
As a writer, musician and independent film director, one of the most frequent criticisms I get is being told that I need to be using social media more to share awareness about my work. For years I was told that if I spent more time on any social media platform that I would ultimately create success and be able to build a business. Growing up in the woods without TV, internet, computers or cell phones through my childhood, using social media was never something that felt natural to me. I spent over a decade searching for the right social media platform that would allow me to be myself, speak freely and connect with others.
Back at the dawn of social media, I was a happy Myspace user. It wasn’t long though before Myspace became irrelevant, being replaced by the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, shifting to the next stage of information control from the wild west like free world of the former platform.
When Twitter first came out I attempted to use that platform to share my music, but no matter how many times I posted I saw zero growth. It was around that time during the Obama administration that I first began to hear about the concept of censorship and shadow banning in America. I had no way of learning if I was personally being censored, but the thought alone made me lose interest in Twitter. I deleted my account and continued to just create artwork without wasting my time attempting to share on a platform that probably didn’t seem to want somebody like me having a voice in the first place. If anything, at least, that is how I felt.
Facebook and Instagram were more of the same. I created and kept an account to keep up with old friends, but hardly ever used it. After The Social Network movie came out, I saw Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of what is now Meta, including both Instagram and Facebook together, as a cool character. He seemed like a misunderstood, lonely, workaholic loser who ultimately built a successful company that would change the future of human interaction. In many ways, minus the success (for now), I found that I could relate to the guy. Facebook replaced Myspace as the central hub of social media for me for a while, as Zuckerberg increased his control over social media by purchasing Instagram in 2012.
I continued using Facebook and created an Instagram account, still not using the platforms as properly often as others would have liked me to, but I maintained a spot within the realm of social media here for a time regardless. I assumed shadow banning and censorship was happening here as well, but I had some slow growth so I just accepted it all as normal.
Then the 2016 election happened, resulting in Donald Trump defeating Hilary Clinton. Those who hated Trump couldn’t stand to witness his victory and tried to turn the tides of blame towards social media with new drama around what was Cambridge Analytica using voters’ personal data to manipulate individual user experiences during the election to potentially manipulate their vote. Edward Snowden showed us that data is being collected and controlled on the entire American population, so why the newfound illusion of care directed here? Would anyone have cared about Cambridge Analytica if Hilary won? No. The government and intelligence agencies are collecting data on everyone, buying, selling, controlling, manipulating and distributing the data according to their whims, so what difference does it make if a company is using the data to understand voters? Was Cambridge Analytica an enemy, a distraction, a front or an op? Or was it just another data broker like Facebook itself, the government, corporations or the intelligence agencies?
Regardless of opinions on that, Trump won, Hilary Clinton lost and the entire media machine went stupid. Next we got the onslaught of televised “Russia, Russia, Russia” lies, Hilary Clinton and intelligence agencies illegally spying on a sitting President, failed impeachment trial showcases, 4 years of distractions, divisions and destruction and ultimately the covid pandemic, which unleashed the greatest censorship campaign of American history. Social media companies seemingly all began violating basic human rights by censoring citizens, and anyone who spoke of covid in the “wrong” way was accused of spreading dis and misinformation and was removed from the conversation, including doctors, scientists and politicians.
In the next step in the evolution of the censorship regime in America, just before the 2020 election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, social media companies began censoring the facts from the Hunter Biden “laptop from hell” that revealed the hidden corruption of the Biden family and its connection to profiting from relationships with the communist party of China. Studies have shown that if this information was not censored, Trump would have won the 2020 election. This past election and past censorship resulted in blatant election interference. We’re currently approaching the 2024 election now and still to this day no accountability or justice for these actions have been served to those who stole the election, but Democrats will say the same about the 2016 election, so we’ve entirely fallen to the realms of double speak and orchestrated division on both sides.
After the 2020 election and the events of January 6th, Donald Trump was removed from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A President of the United States, who would be running in the next election to come, wasn’t allowed to freely speak in America. This alone is the apex of absurdity through recent history and cannot ever be allowed to happen here again. No matter what anyone’s opinions or views are, every American citizen should have a voice to speak freely in America. When I saw Trump censored, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram and removed the apps from my phone. For a time, I completely disappeared from social media.
Tik Tok was suddenly booming in popularity and every young person around me was telling me that I needed to be on their platform. I saw Tik Tok as a weapon for Chinese communism and an easy way for China to directly infiltrate the minds of our youth years before that was the somewhat common narrative. Thinking this, I can happily say that I never once used the platform and never will. It should be banned across the entire United States and it frankly blows my mind that this still exists here. To me, this is a blatantly obvious example of how the forces of communism have captured American leadership. It is a disappointment of mine from the Trump administration that he wasn’t capable of getting that done.
Another alternative popped up after Trump’s censorship as he created his own social media platform called Truth Social. At first, I was excited about the potential for a social media platform run by Trump. When it was released though, I began using the platform to instantly see that it was yet another thought bubble. I was getting more into politics and being a guy that grew up in a democratic family and who was a storyteller and creator, I figured I would best serve the people of America by standing in a middle ground space, listening to all and trying to find my own sense of common sense through the narratives and events. My goal was to to be a populist voice in the center that could convince Democrats to see the failures of their current leadership and inspire them to convert to the America first ideology. I couldn’t properly do that in either a space of censorship or a space of bubble thought, so I sat back and waited for another opportunity to arise.
As I waited, rumors were going around that Elon Musk might potentially be buying Twitter and turning it into a free speech platform. I made the decision early on that if he did purchase Twitter, that would be the social media space that I would choose to use for speaking out again. Despite my many questions and hesitations around Elon Musk and his own connection with China, I decided to keep an open mind and see what happened.
After many months of talks, he ended up purchasing Twitter for 44 billion dollars. Hell of a price tag to pay for free speech, if he was actually being serious, but the action alone inspired my mind to sign on. I didn’t immediately start sharing my own thoughts, instead choosing to sit back and see what he did with the company. From the jump, internal Twitter files were released proving illegal collaboration between the government, intelligence and tech companies towards the mass censorship of American citizens. With their given histories, I still do not trust Musk 100%, but I know I trust Zuckerberg 0% and that was enough for me to choose to use Twitter, which quickly became X, as the place to share my new daily show speaking freely on social media. 67 episodes in and I have seen no censorship, and rather have seen the first actual growth from any of my consistent work in over a decade. All and all I am thankful for the space and am looking forward to seeing what it becomes. I still question if I can speak about the Uyghurs, Hong Kong, Tibet or Taiwan there without being suppressed.
I have said all of this long winded social media history here as an introduction to the story at hand, that this week Facebook has decided to censor and remove thousands of fake accounts from China in the name of strengthening election security for 2024. Not only the United States, but a plethora of other nations are preparing to hold some major elections next year, including Mexico, India, Ukraine and Taiwan. With the future of the world on the line, these elections are essential in defining what the days ahead will look like for people around the world. So are the recent actions by Mark Zuckerberg and Meta a good thing or yet another distraction from the truth? Let’s take a look at what actually happened here.
Facebook removed 4,789 fake accounts from China that have been associated with causing division. While they did not directly accuse the Chinese communist government here, the accounts were removed as a sign of trust and support for additional security surrounding the upcoming global elections next year. It is one thing for every American citizen to have the freedom of speech on an American platform within our American country, it is entirely another thing to have foreign agents use American platforms to divide our American country. Here is a case where the censorship is understandable and potentially justified.
The concern here is that fake accounts were created with the intention of dividing users politically across the world, stoking any division lines with content coming from both sides with the aim of increasing that divide by feeding the fire of opposition on all sides but China. While Facebook removed these accounts, it is important to note that these same accounts are said to still exist on the X platform. As a voter, I can honestly say that I don’t care either way. Take the accounts down or keep them on, I’m not sure that any fake account sharing content would be capable of truly manipulating my vote or anyone else’s for that matter. Still, looking more at the Tik Tok question and how it does influence our youth, I can understand and support anyone removing any capability, strength or advantage that communism has within the United States or any of our ally nations. I support Facebook taking action here and would support X doing the same.
A lead investigator for “inauthentic behavior” for Meta Ben Nimmo said of the actions that, “These networks still struggle to build audiences, but they’re a warning… foreign threat actors are attempting to reach people across the internet ahead of next year’s elections, and we need to remain alert”.
Looking at how Mark Zuckerberg handled Trump, covid, Hunter Biden and the last election, I cannot find in my heart a space to believe that anyone at his company actually cares about election security. Rather, I still believe that they only care about election control.
Executive director of the Tech Oversight Project Kyle Morse said Meta’s actions are “a horrible preview of what we can expect in 2024… Congress and the administration need to act now to ensure that Meta, Tik Tok, Google, X, Rumble and other social media platforms are not actively aiding and abetting foreign and domestic actors who are openly undermining our democracy”.
Again, is this about defending democracy or election control? I can’t help but think Mark Zuckerberg talking about removing Chinese accounts for election security is a distraction from his own track record of election interference, not to mention his past record of working with China, praising Xi and even marrying a woman from China. There’s nothing wrong with that by any means, but there’s nothing wrong with thinking that that all is suspicious either.
Last year I read a book by Peter Schweizer called Red Handed about how the American elite have been getting rich by helping China take over the world. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are both in this book, both having meetings with the communist leadership of China and both building business ties. Both have many past quotes sharing praise of China, but Zuckerberg allegedly took it far enough to even ask Chinese President Xi to give his newborn child a Chinese name. Xi declined this request, calling it “too great a responsibility”. Sounds like the two enjoy each other, to say the least.
Looking at all of this, should we trust Mark Zuckerberg’s intentions here on supposedly taking action to defend election security? For me, that’s a hard no.
I do believe people can change. I believe everyone holds opportunities for redemption and truth at all moments of life. I’ve watched interviews with Mark Zuckerberg and still see that guy from The Social Network movie that I long ago related to. But looking at the past actions of his company and how it has directly changed my own and the American way of life, I cannot bring myself to have any trust in the man or his company. No matter what they try to do or try to say at this point. I cannot even honestly say what it would take to regain that trust here as a user, a voter and an American citizen, but I have spent time thinking about that possibility and am open to all every day. I felt the same way about Elon Musk and, as of right now today, his actions have caused me to have trust in him. So far, so good there. Still doing my daily show & still going to be questioning everything I see there on X as well, but I am there. I cannot say the same about Facebook or Instagram and the choice to remove fake Chinese accounts, while I do agree with the action, doesn’t inspire me to want to come back to the platform whatsoever.
I will never use Tik Tok. There is still a slight possibility that one day I come back to use Facebook or Instagram, but I kinda doubt it. I am using X right now, happily, but if Elon Musk turns his back on the American people, the American constitution or the aspiration of having free speech globally, I will gladly stop using that platform as well and be reduced to using only Truth Social where minds on all or both sides would not be. Honestly, if X changes now I may drop out of social media entirely. If that happens, I’ll go from being an American citizen on the internet in modern times to just another successfully silenced human on the world stage.