The sanctimoniousness of Social Media - and how it came to be


While I'm glad Joe Biden won the last US presidential elections, being probably the least bad yet credible choice, I still have this lingering fear that Donald Trump may retain the US presidency somehow, using both legal and not-so-legal means. And to be frank, the Karen-in-chief's flurry of lawsuits to arrest the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden, reminds me a lot of the McStalking case which seems to have been intended to halt production of Total Rendition. Yesterday, Trump's supporters rioted on the steps of the Capitol building in an effort to stop the votes certification by US Congress, causing it to be suspended entirely. (I made a small mistake here: Biden eventually was confirmed winner during the small hours, today, thankfully.)

Of course, social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter immediately decisively stepped in and moved on to deplatform Donald Trump. Or so the story goes...

While I'm not disputing that this probably did occur (although you can no longer be sure in the Post-Truth era), the social media companies' too-little-too-late response does seem a bit too sanctimonious now. Both Facebook and Twitter helped Donald Trump to ascend to the presidency in 2016 and helped him to deal a lot of the damage he had caused during his presidency. The idea that they can now completely disown responsibility for enabling the Trump administration is both laughable and hypocritical. Now, before you call me a luddite who simply fears new technology: Social media is not a stand-alone technology. Social media is a way to use technology, in this case, computers (and yes, smartphones are computers, just very small ones with cell connectivity so these can be used like phones as well). Compare to rockets: You can use rockets to launch people into space yet you can also use rockets to deliver nuclear weapons. Game plays are a benign usage of computers, like using rockets for space exploration. (Anti-)social media are in this sense, much more like nuclear weapons, as "social" media stunts our mental well-being and creates a cult-like environment. This video will make you angry, btw.

Don't let Trump's support for repealing section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (a silver-lining in regards to his policies if there ever was any) and the EFF's support for section 230 fool you into supporting the big tech monopolies: Section 230 and the Communications Decency Act more generally, is single-handedly responsible for Facebook and Twitter. Full stop. The irony is that Donald Trump supports repealing legislation which actually helped him come to power, while the EFF in spite of their purported goals for some reason decided to side on big tech's side against the useds. The Communications Decency Act has allowed Facebook and Twitter to disown all liability for all the Neo-Nazis and Fascists that have gathered on these networks. By the time they were kicked out from the platforms after mounting public pressure, as a cheap marketing gimmick, they already were able to set up their own social media networks such as Gab (again courtesy of section 230 of the CDA), which would have never been possible if they weren't encouraged by Facebook and Twitter in the first place.

The EFF argues that section 230 is what allows platforms such as Itch.io and YouTube to emerge. Baloney. Eff the EFF! Section 230 doesn't remove my legal responsibility for placing Total Rendition on Itch.io, or in the future, on Steam, for instance. It therefore doesn't truly protect freedom of speech of users, although it does allow big tech to disown responsibility for providing the Ultra-Right the infrastructure they need to plan and co-ordinate their attacks. Conversely, DailyMotion, which is hosted in the EU and therefore is not covered by section 230, allows the same degree of freedom in uploading videos as YouTube does, although it simply isn't as widely adopted. Perhaps because DailyMotion doesn't allow angry eight-year-olds to rant in the comments sections, as without section 230, DailyMotion couldn't evade responsibility if it allowed these.

Itch.io could still resort to hold-legally-harmless-clauses to ensure game devs can upload their games without forcing Itch.io to curate stuff. What Itch.io wouldn't be able to do without Section 230 is allowing angry eight-year-olds or E-Sturmabteilungsmänner flood the comments' sections, which is probably good riddance. Indeed, to prevent this scenario from occurring with Total Rendition, this is why Total Rendition's entry on does not have one and we have recently axed its Discord channel.

The recent antitrust action the US government has undertaken to break up Facebook is an attempt to drain with the taps still wide open. They are effectively trying to solve a problem they had inadvertently created in the first place. If COVID-19 is Al-Qaeda 2.0, Facebook and Twitter are Taliban 2.0.

It's time to put an end to Web 2.0 a.k.a. the section 230 internet, before it ruins our mental health and ends our liberties and rights.

-Mordechai Gabai

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