Editorial: Free and open in the USA continues to fade away | #socialmedia

Years on the calendar flip past, and our world as free and open in these United States continues to fade away.

We can only imagine there to be a difference if true journalistic and media efforts were put forth to the assault on free speech. The mainstream — and yes, that can be translated to the definitely liberal media among us, like this state’s largest newspapers, its top TV “newsroom” in Raleigh, your over-the-air networks’ nightly news at 6:30 — are well-liked by the two 21st century forces that are greater than all others combined.

Facebook and Twitter have the power. They are private corporations, and they have rolled forward smashing what used to be trusted and respected media companies while said media companies tried to make use of their “product.” Here on Broad Street, we’re guilty for trying to make use of them, too.

The Silicon Valley giants have algorithmic censorship capability. What that means is companies can take information posted and try to bring it within reach of everyone, or try to intervene and moderate those communications.

Most of us know far more about their censorship bans of individuals or stories that have come up in news cycles.

In some ways, we harken back 20 years ago to Major Leaguer Jose Canseco saying for the first time he used steroids and he helped other players do so as well. Four years later, he had penned a book pulling no punches. Today, many of us view the late Henry Aaron as our true career home run king and some players with what seemed like incredible careers aren’t getting into the Hall of Fame.

His free speech wasn’t muted. There are skeptics for what he’s told, but it’s up to us to judge. No colluding by big tech giants.

Everyone does have a megaphone, as we’ve said here before. But if your megaphone and its opinion isn’t favored by Facebook and Twitter, don’t be surprised to get censored.

A writer two years ago, Matt Pearce at the Los Angeles Times, penned this example. “Facebook limiting distribution is a bit like if a company that owned newspaper delivery trucks decided not to drive because it didn’t like a story. Does a truck company edit the newspaper? It does now, apparently.”

Our direct recourse is to limit the power of the social media giants. Good luck with that, as the kids say. Too many advertisers are on board with them for their broad reach. Their power is enormous, far more than any single media company such as a TV network or a big city newspaper. Perhaps their only rival could be the product that garners the largest audience — pro football.

Staggering, isn’t it?

We wrote here once before, “We may have opinion on their tactics in addition to the agenda they push, but rest assured they believe they’re trying to make a difference.

“Passion isn’t measured in volume or destruction. And a better situation won’t come from censorship.

“We have to be better than who we are today.”

Calendar years are flipping past, and we still have the same need — to be better. A solution for two Silicon Valley giants remains elusive, and our world as free and open in these United States continues to fade away.

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