Free speech decisions on social networks are guided by an unknown mesh of personal predilections of tech company CEOs and their boards. They are driven by profit motive and the competition of rivals. The algorithms that enforce their censorship are based on rules that we know nothing about; we haven’t participated in their design or voted on their adoption.
Articles by Mark White
As Marguerite commented to Plebity in preparation for this article: “I am really very saddened by what is happening with the left in France, because this is my political family: the universalist, secular and philosophically materialist left. And here [in France], the majority of women who are gender critical are leftist.”
The Stepford Wives was a movie that came out in 1972 and might not be very well remembered today but which nonetheless contributed a useful metaphor for describing certain aspects of our society. Briefly, the Stepford Wives were the possessed and submissive versions of their original human selves, surreptitiously transformed one by one and reappearing as empty husks of what they had once been.
This fake news story begins in Veles, a small city of 40,000 people in Macedonia. Veles became widely known in the Trump election of 2016 as a production center for false information websites. Presumably, there were hundreds of fake news websites developed by some people in Veles that generated income from ads.
Revelations like those from Snowden and the Pegasus Project have this same unexpected and counterintuitive effect. Instead of rejecting the control, we increasingly learn to adapt and self censor. The panopticon effect lies exactly in this acceptance of the new normal. Afraid to say the wrong thing, we self censure our discourse and the allowable range of ideas becomes more and more narrow. Those who fail to ‘check their words’ are cancelled and provide an example for the rest.