Politics, Tech

Why Liberals Are Turning Against the Internet

Following the news of late might lead one to conclude that Mark Zuckerberg is America’s Public Enemy Number One, and that the World Wide Web is destroying the foundations of the country’s democratic system.

“Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend,” cried a recent headline in The New York Times. Perhaps surprisingly, the long article below called for federal regulation of the destructive and arrogant information high-tech companies now being blamed for the election of President Donald Trump and much else besides. Having spent years telling its readership that Zuckerberg was a revolutionary innovator and boy genius, The New York Times has had second thoughts. If you believe that the most pressing danger facing the American Republic is sitting in the White House, the author explained, then think again. Apparently, it’s hidden in Silicon Valley.

So, let us go back to the early days of the 21st century, when celebrating the promise of the Internet was just another way of asserting your commitment to liberal principles, democratic ideals, human rights, and political and cultural freedom. Innumerable opinion pieces were penned, studies conducted, and speeches delivered explaining that this new technology would empower the powerless, allowing them finally to influence the public debate and the policy process, and thereby confront the mighty.

“Connecting” the people to the Internet, supplying personal computers to each and every American, and ensuring that every community had access to Wi-Fi, would accelerate political change. It would encourage more Americans to vote and create the foundations of a participatory electronic democracy energized by social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The political, social, and economic implications of the Internet Revolution also promised success for the post-Cold War drive towards global political and economic reform. It would link markets, join societies together and interweave the world’s cultures.

The Internet would challenge the concept of the archaic nation-state and lead to the creation of supra-national institutions and the evolution of a new Global Village. The bonds of nationalism, ethnicity, and religion would either wither away or perhaps allow numerous tribes to co-exist in and open and tolerant multicultural setting. And it would help strengthen the hands of minority groups, feminists, and gay activists here, there, and everywhere – including on social media, of course – allowing them greater freedom to communicate, co-ordinate, and organise.

Not everyone, of course, was carried away by this utopian vision, but the political bottom line was clear: any infringement on Internet freedom amounted to an assault on liberal principles, and constituted an unacceptable obstacle to the March of Progress.

Starting with President Bill Clinton, the titans of Silicon Valley would become natural allies of liberal Democratic politicians who were committed to protecting the interests of the owners of Microsoft and Apple, Facebook and Twitter. The oratory employed by leading Democrats like President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, sometimes created the impression that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin, weren’t just ordinary business entrepreneurs hoping to make a lot of money. They were the prophets of a new Enlightenment, and only culturally backward types repulsed by pornography, or authoritarian personalities citing national security concerns, would attempt to stand on the way of these agents of global change.

It is the Clinton Administration and its Telecommunications Act of 1996 that should be credited (or blamed, depending on your point of view) for deciding not to treat the Internet as a public utility requiring regulation. This decision allowed free market forces and technological innovation to shape the so-called “information superhighway” with minimal government intervention. And so, a political alliance between the liberal elites in Washington and the tech billionaires in Silicon Valley and Seattle was forged.

As it happens, seventeen years ago, it was also President Clinton who suggested that attempting to control the internet in China would be like trying to “nail Jell-O to the wall.” Echoing the views of political and economic liberals, Clinton asserted that, by opening up the world to its users in China and in other closed societies, the Internet would weaken the power of authoritarian regimes everywhere. In concert with the liberalizing influence of globalization, and led by the rising educated and professional middle classes in China, Russia, and Iran, citizens would be newly empowered to demand political change. The revolution would be tweeted not televised. Or as John Perry Barlow enunciated in his 1996 “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” no government would be able to crush the Internet’s libertarian spirit.

It wasn’t surprising, therefore, that Democratic administrations placed the concerns of Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Google at the top of their agenda when they negotiated trade deals with China and other authoritarian regimes. Their opposition to government restrictions on these companies wasn’t framed as a part of a campaign to promote the business interests of Gates and Zuckerberg, but as way of advancing freedom of information in China and elsewhere. It all sounded so intellectually neat, especially if you were philosophically inclined to embrace the idealists’ mantra. The shadows in Plato’s cave were not those of greedy corporations, but the forms of the inheritors of the political legacy of the 1960s.

Unfortunately, things have not gone according to plan. To trace the beginning of the end of the love affair between liberalism and the Internet, recall that these utopian expectations were, as The Economist’Gadi Epstein observed, confounded in China:

Not only has Chinese authoritarian rule survived the Internet, but the state has shown great skill in bending the technology to its own purposes, enabling it to exercise better control of its own society and setting an example for other repressive regimes. China’s party-state has deployed an army of cyber-police, hardware engineers, software developers, web monitors and paid online propagandists to watch, filter, censor and guide Chinese internet users.

“The internet,” Epstein concluded, “was expected to help democratize China. Instead, it has enabled the authoritarian state to get a firmer grip.”

The love affair between Washington, DC and Washington State lasted as long as it did because many liberals embraced a technological deterministic approach, which postulated that the inherent nature of media technology would drive political change. Marshall McLuhan’s meaningless slogan, “The Medium is the Massage” [sic] was transformed into a grand political theory. Which was odd, since the Canadian publicity seeker was a literary and cultural critic, not a social scientist. The Internet, contended the neo-McLuhanists, would provide citizens with increased access to information and facilitate easy communication with others at home and abroad who shared their views. That, in turn, would erode the power of governments while strengthening the hands of those confronting them.

In The Net Delusion, Belarus-born American scholar Evgeny Morozov challenged this received wisdom and, in particular, the notion that social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were becoming agents of political change capable of toppling authoritarian regimes in countries like Egypt. Not so, argued Morozov. He was skeptical that cyberspace is conducive to democracy and liberty, and he strongly criticized the belief that free access to information, combined with new tools of mobilization afforded by blogs and social networks, would lead to the opening of authoritarian societies and their eventual democratization. For that matter, he disputed that it would serve as much of a progressive force in the liberal-democratic societies of the West.

But the McLuhan narrative was the narrative The New York Times and other media outlets embraced when they covered the 2011 demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo and the ensuing resignation of the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak. They created the impression that a bunch of young, hip, Internet-savvy Egyptians had succeeded in using social media to mobilize hundreds of thousands of their countrymen. They had protested against Mubarak by blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, You Tubing, and Googling their way to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and from there they would go on to win liberty and democracy.

But, as in China, these dreams were illusory. The political upheaval unleashed by the demonstrations allowed two anti-democratic forces to come to power: first, the powerful Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, and then a military clique which, like the Communist regime in China, is now using the Internet to track down dissidents and to dispense propaganda. In short, the Egyptian regime is using the Internet to strengthen its hold on power. The medium was not the massage and the revolution was not tweeted, after all.

Each new information technology, from papyrus through the printing press to the telegraph and, yes, the Internet, provides new tools for empowering political actors, including revolutionary movements and other opponents of the status quo. But each new technology can play a role only in the context of wider political, economic, and cultural development. Technology by itself cannot transform the existing balance of power. It can only assist those players who are already confronting the status quo or those attempting to preserve the old order. The people, not the media, design and demand political change or try to contain it.

Materialists and those with a conservative view of history questioned the idealists’ optimistic faith in the power of inexorable progress – whether embodied by new information technologies or international institutions and legal mechanisms – to remake our political and economic realities. As Morozov crisply put it, “Technology changes all the time; human nature hardly ever.”

There is really nothing either “good” or “bad” about any media technology. The printing press published both Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the American Declaration of Independence, and a lot of silly romance novels. The radio was employed by both Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt to advance their very different political agendas. Television beams performances at the New York Met straight into our living rooms as well as mind-numbing soap operas and reality shows, while movie theatres introduced us to Citizen Kane as well as to Deep Throat (and who is to say which of the two films had the greater impact on our culture?).

The problem, in case you haven’t noticed, is that political players tend to blame the media for their losses. After the loss of an election, or any other political battle, the tendency is to blame someone or something else for the defeat: negative press coverage or lousy television commercials or poor media advisors or what-have-you. After all, why else would a great candidate with a noble message be rejected by the electorate? At the same time, when analyzing politics and political campaigns, journalists and pundits are more inclined to focus on the micro (including media stories) at the expense of the macro (like economic and social changes) in an attempt to explain political events.

To put it in more concrete terms: why blame former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s election loss on her failure to reach out to white blue collar voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio when you can blame Facebook and Google for disseminating Russian propaganda and fake news? Google and Facebook once enjoyed the ear of Barack Obama and the close attention of Hillary Clinton, and served as a revolving door for Democratic White House and Congressional staff. All concerned pledged to advance their mutual interests and embrace shared values of openness and freedom. But now both companies are playing the role of the villains in a liberal narrative that seeks to evade liberal responsibility for Clinton’s electoral defeat.

Of course, a totally different Democratic and liberal narrative held sway when Obama’s presidential campaigns employed the tools of the Internet, including social media, to help get him elected twice. Back then, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube, like the Obama Administration, still represented progress and the spirit of the youth; the urban and cosmopolitan centers of the country; the future. But now that the Democratic candidate had lost the presidential race, Zuckerberg and the other chiefs of social media are held responsible for empowering racists, homophobes, and misogynists, and for allowing the leader of Reactionary International, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to “interfere” in the presidential campaign and get his preferred choice, Donald Trump, elected.

Never mind that the loser in the 2016 presidential race and her allies spent about $1.4 billion on her campaign, including ads, compared with the roughly $1 billion spent by the winner. Or that some of the best media strategists on the planet were working on Clinton’s campaign. Or that the entire elite media concluded that Hillary had “won” all the presidential debates. Or that every fresh news cycle seemed to bring a new New York Times or Washington Post exposé expected to destroy Trump and his campaign. According to the new narrative, the election was won by accounts associated with Russia placing $100,000 of ads on Facebook and trolls posting disinformation and fake news online.

These inept and amateurish propaganda efforts may sound ominous. But as Democratic campaign consultant Mark Penn explained in The Wall Street Journal, there is no evidence that these Facebook ads and fake news had any effect on the election outcome. Penn calculated that only half of the allegedly Russian ads went to swing states, and further noted that, in the last week of the campaign alone, Clinton’s Super PAC dumped $6 million on ads into Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “Even a full US$100,000 of Russian ads,” he wrote, “would have erased just 0.025 percent of Hillary financial advantage in the campaign.”

Nevertheless, Democratic lawmakers, who until recently fawned over Zuckerberg and other captains of the information high-tech industry, are suddenly discovering that Facebook and Google are “too big”; that they exert too much political and economic power; that they may not have the interests of the American public at the top of their agenda; and that the government has to get in and regulate the Internet, even if that means curtailing some of the freedoms liberals like to celebrate. Democrats and liberals are shocked to discover that Facebook and other Internet companies are not forces advancing political progress, but businesses seeking to make a buck, including selling ads to Russian customers.

Sensibly, a decision about whether and how to regulate these companies should be based first and foremost on weighing the need to allow the market to operate freely, on the one hand, against the interests of the public on the other. Unfortunately, the political backlash against the Internet from the Democrats is occurring at a time when some conservative Republicans are also arguing that the information high-tech industry is getting too powerful and should be regulated like a public utility. The irony is that these traditionally pro-free market conservatives are turning against Facebook and Google because they regard them as political allies of the Democrats and as promoters of liberal social policies on immigration, transgender rights, and so on.

After Google dismissed James Damore, an engineer who wrote about gender differences and said the company had a “left bias,” Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, tweeted that:

Fox News television host, Tucker Carlson, has argued Damore’s dismissal showed that Google can’t be trusted to design algorithms determining where to rank fake news when returning search results. “Google should be regulated like the public utility it is,” he said, “to make sure it doesn’t further distort the free flow of information to the rest of us.” Meanwhile, Representative Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who leads the House communications subcommittee, has recently introduced a bill to bring web companies and broadband providers alike under one privacy regulator.

So after years of championing an open and free World Wide Web in the public interest, it seems that Democrats may now be joining forces with Republicans to argue that the information highway operates against the public interest and therefore requires government regulation. This is a depressing political reality for those of us who have never considered the Internet a revolutionary or utopian force, but who hoped that under the right political and economic conditions, it could help fortify liberal principles in a free and open society.

Filed under: Politics, Tech

by

Dr. Leon Hadar is a Washington-based global affairs analyst, who writes regularly for the National Interest (Online), The American Conservative, Huffington Post, Asia Times, and Haaretz (Israel). A former research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, New York bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post, and Washington Correspondent for Business Times (Singapore), he is currently a senior analyst with Wikistrat, a geo-strategic consulting firm. He is the author of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

21 Comments

  1. Joe Halstead says

    On a serious note, there is a point to be made about the accumulation of great power by non-government entities like Google, Apple, Facebook and, believe it or not, AMAZON.

    Absent some new legislative approach to not only cyberspace but also e-commerce, I believe that Google and Amazon will wield more power over the people than the government.

    • To extend your point, look at what happened after the Charlottesville riot. These same non-governmental entities “flexed” their power by shutting down and banishing sites they did not agree with. One would rightfully point out that it isn’t a Freedom of Speech issue, because it isn’t the government doing it — or is it? When the government is now in the business of picking winners & losers in Corporate world, is it illogical to believe that Corporate world will take draconian actions if they feel it will benefit them with the government (ala, prevent legislation/regulation which inhibits profit?). Is it unrealistic to think that the DNS registrars blocked the domain names, and DDoS prevention services shun clients because they want to avoid having Big Brother impose regulations which would then cost them money to implement (like everytime China wants something banned or now the EU?)

      • well said. it’s like our anti trust policies are gone because coperations are in bed with the government.

        more and more control will be instituted under the guise of “stopping hate speech”.

  2. Dear Mr Hadar,

    Great article! Who here is old enough to remember the USSR and Cold War? Soviet propaganda was pretty comical and we had it easy broadcasting Voice of America which was kinda like BBC today, with jazz and rock and roll mixed in, and football (thanks, VOA!). Now Putin just shows CNN and laughs at the Pokemon hack while POTUS realizes that he’s a nothing dissembler compared to what has come before him. How is that Afghanistan working out for you, Mr President? Yeah, great, you’re beautiful.

    Mr Hadar, again, wonderful writing, well written and informed. May God bless you and yours.

    With regards,

    Bill

    • MIke, how so? They’ve already begun silencing opposition voices but “not under guise of government” so they are accountable to no one. While I believe in minimalist government and free market controls, the truth is that the Big Government controls have allowed a handful of these companies to attain near-monopolistic positions. Are there alternatives to Google for searching? Yes, there are — but when a vast majority of smart phones either run Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS with their app-stores, how can it be denied? They are ripe for a breakup ala the Bells a few decades ago which were only able to reconsolidate after the introduction of c-lec and competing technology (VOIP). Had that break up not occurred would those technologies still have progressed? Likely at a slower pace since, as we’ve seen countless times, the big companies often buy-up the competing tech developers to either amalgamate the innovation or squash it.

      Recent examples are accounts of right-wing politicians and non profits being censored or “lost” by social media companies (aka, deleted but they won’t admit it) Apps being pulled from app stores because they promote views against the politically-correct-party-line under the guise of being non-compliant with standards even when demonstrated to be above-the-minimum.

    • funny because that same attitude was what Bill Clinton had with China and regulating the internet. he said it was impossible for China to do it but lo and be hold one company owns all social media sites and will now rate citizens.

  3. yandoodan says

    I think it’s worthwhile to look into the impact that 4Chan is having here. 4Chanistas are not conservative in any meaningful sense of the word, and share much (even most) of the world view of Progressives — skepticism about religion, the corporate state, and the hypocrisy of moderates to name three. But 4Channers are attacking Progressives and Liberals alike — and we’re talking vile, personal attacks against individuals. See http://bit.ly/2yKp9Yv for a very recent example.

    The Internet made 4Chan possible. This goes beyond the obvious, that the technology didn’t exist earlier. Without the Internet these snotty Nihilists would have no way of finding each other; for one thing, they’d have to leave their parents’ basement. With the Internet they have become a potent force in society, in very rare occasions for the good, but usually to attack democratic and progressive values from a vantage point of superiority (while not getting their bed too close to the furnace).

    As a Conservative I am watching from the sidelines; 4Chanistas are certainly disgusting, but so is licorice. For Progressives, it’s different. This is what democracy looks like when people like them aren’t around to control it. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. No wonder they need to stuff this genie back in the bottle.

    • Anonymous says

      @Yandoodad I recommend reading Kazerad’s essays on Anon Culture, they’re excellent for understanding 4chan. They’re not icky nihilists, they understand that people will be dishonest when there’s a cost to being honest.

      They’re not attacking democratic values, they’re free speech extremists.

    • ga gamba says

      Kind of confused why you’d link Sargon’s Myth Con appearance to 4chan. He’s a classical liberal youtuber who to my knowledge is not part of 4chan; in fact he’s often smeared on that site as Sargoy of Mossad because he rejects right-wing (and left-wing) identitarianism. Thomas Smith is also a youtuber, and he embraces left-wing identitariansim.

  4. alex dennison says

    This was a well-written article and made some good points. I agree that most of the US msm are going along with the assertion by Crazy Hillary that Russian ads lost her the election despite the fact that the $ figures involved were so small and some of the ads supported her and BLM!! Cognitive dissonance. Of course these CEO’s are awful people and this was illustrated when Zuckerberg was seen to agree with Merkel to censor views that went against Merkel. I think you will find that the Left needs the internet to help them with their narrative so this blaming may be a way of getting Facebook etc. to bend to bend over even further.

  5. An Iconoclast says

    “The Internet … would provide citizens with increased access to information and facilitate easy communication with others at home and abroad who shared their views.”

    It has done that. From climate change to the election of President Trump, he so-called mainstream media has lost control of the narrative, largely due to the Internet. Gone are the days of three television networks, local newspapers and the weekly magazines providing almost the entirety of most peoples’ information, with a healthy dose of pro-government, government-fed propaganda included for good measure. I believe it is this sense of having lost control, and worse, of being disregarded, that animates their animus toward Facebook and, ultimately, the Internet.

    We have innumerably more sources of information today and our media literacy is much higher. Nowadays I read from across the world, from the New York Times to the Sydney Morning Herald to Russia Today to the New Republic to Reason to Xinhua and attempt to interpolate amongst the propaganda to some kind of truth, or, at least, a working conclusion.

    I also sympathize with conservatives’ concerns when I read about Google demonetizing conservatives’ YouTube videos and “tweaking” their algorithms to bury conservative viewpoints.

    On the whole, though, I still think, and I think most people think, the Internet is terrific. Our ability to create new communities at basically zero expense that cross geographic and socioeconomic boundaries, is unparalleled. Whether I am developing software, doing my own car repairs, exploring new music, managing my money, just a few among many things, the Internet has changed my life, almost entirely for the better, and to go back to a pre-Internet life is almost inconceivable.

  6. Carl Sageman says

    The author’s commentary was mostly excellent and echoed many of my own observations. I would never substitute sexism with “misogyny” (I consider that one of the most devious forms of sexism).

    I would also add the topic of fake news and the media. This was essential to an article like this and I am certain the author knew exactly what he was doing when he excluded this.

    The mainstream media has been shown (collectively) to be pathological liars. In the James Damore incident, the media collectively (at about 70 mainstream outlets) called the memo “screed”, a “manifesto”, cited fake quotes that weren’t even in the memo, ignored all expert opinion, etc. How can an entire industry get this wrong?

    Where the internet is failing is that ideologists are repeating lies, in collusion, repeatedly. When confronted with the truth, these ideologists resort to ad homonem attacks (eg. White supremacist, Neo nazi).

    The Internet then becomes a shouting match of who can maintain a lie loudest and longest. The truth and integrity are railroaded by an angry mob.

    I used to believe the Internet should not be regulated. Now I’ve seen how it’s devolved into fake news without accountability coming from the mainstream media. However, the war on truth changed my mind. In defence of the mainstream media, this may have been required to compete with ideologists on Facebook who were rallying for social justice causes as the expense of the truth. If you can’t beat them, join them? I disrespect that approach they took.

    I no longer trust the media. The James Damore incident was one of a long series of outright lies. Who do you turn to for truth when the government and media hold the truth with such contempt? Between the cracks, like Quillette.

  7. Randy says

    Back when the internet was new, most users were still tech nerds, and nobody foresaw that the internet was going to be tightly controlled by government, or that it was going to be used primarily to control shopping (including politics).

    You didn’t have to look to China for the example of tight control over content. The USA (through states and public institutions) was already doing that (yes, in the ’90s) with hate speech, copyright, and other illegal speech.

    By approving the private tools to enable public censorship and punish people for content, it’s a trivial step toward shaping any and all discussions more to your liking.

    The problem is that the internet was designed to survive physical attack, but was never designed to survive an attack on its uses, or users. Some ambitious folks are working on a fix, by adding yet another layer on top of the internet, to provide security, persistence, and anonymity. But I think any long term solution has to include at least the top several layers, fundamentally changing browsers, HTTP and other protocols at that level, and TCP/IP itself.

    While free speech isn’t a left-right issue, the people most targeted today in the West are conservatives. Yet it surprises me not to have seen a significant rise in interest among vocal conservatives for joining the efforts to bring forth the uncensorable internet. They seem content to trade one master for another, hopping from platform to platform.

    By the way, tip of the hat to the Czech Pirate Party for coming in third, out of 30 parties, in the recent election.

  8. sestamibi says

    “To put it in more concrete terms: why blame former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s election loss on her failure to reach out to white blue collar voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio when you can blame Facebook and Google for disseminating Russian propaganda and fake news?”

    No, no, no! It was Macedonian content farms that did her in.

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  10. Teller says

    If Bell had cut off phone calls it didn’t agree with and blocked specific phone numbers from making connections, it would have been within the province of the government to intervene since phone lines were placed in and traversed public lands. Is that still not the case with the internet?

    • Careful, that’s the “net neutrality” argument that the carefully limit only to ISPs so that their (Google et al.’s) competitors are bound by strict regulations while they continue to operate unimpeded. I find that interesting since Google Fiber should mean that under N.N. that Google becomes regulated as a Phone Company/Utility.

  11. Its amazing that the Democrats are turning against their own most reliable allies: Tech companies that routinely censor and discriminate against right-wingers to advance a left-wing agenda. The Russian hacking story is complete BS and the Mueller probe is now revealing that Hillary was the one who actually collaborated with Russia to spread fake news about President Trump (the infamous “golden shower” dossier that started the probe in the first place). In the event that they are not dealt with by our elected officials, they will be dealt with by right-leaning computer scientists who launch superior replacements.

    The Democrats are imploding at the same time that the GOP base is united behind the President and prepared to systematically remove his enemies within the party from office. Democrats ought to look at reality, realize that taking people’s guns, forcing people to buy health insurance, asserting a constitutional right to violate federal immigration laws and frivolously calling people racist and sexist are not policies that win elections. A sane and arguably more genuinely left-wing Democratic Party would be difficult to beat. The current Democratic Party will only continue losing because its platform is every bit as repugnant, tyrannical and hateful as many of its members are delusional about the reasons for its repeated defeats in recent elections.

  12. ga gamba says

    I think much of the MSM’s ire comes down to money, i.e. the loss of advert revenue to Gulag, Wastebook, etc. For example the Guardian is bleeding money and blames social media for it and others still profitable see revenue decline quarter after quarter. The Wall St Journal resorted to a distorted hit piece decontextualised from reality on a youtuber named PewDiePie that resulted in the video site demonitising many creators. Further, aspiring members of the chattering class find themselves in the position of writing for free at news sites like the Huffington Post. Journalists and pundits are long accustomed to highly valuing themselves, their opinions, and their calling, so the writing on the wall must be distressing. The result is hyperactive reporting about social media’s ills (real or not) as well as linking bad news about Uber (heavens, so much news about taxis!) and AirBnb to these sites.

  13. Leenan Hayden says

    Wow — I’m not an intellectual. Just a simple citizen. Very interesting article Leon. Social media needs to be free – dom of speech. Duh. My brain is in overload with all the above smart people. Journalists write because they can. It’s their right. As readers we have the freedom to read or not to read.

    I find the article interesting that the founders of Google, Facebook et al are as modern day prophets. That had me thinking — about Jesus. So I’m probably off on a tangent. Wasn’t he like them? I believe the man existed but how can “we” prove all of the miracles. There are no pictures like today. No sketches even. We did not live back then. What was the social media back then. Storytelling. Word of mouth. And stories were regulated by the religious leaders and kings. Our novels, movies, news publications, Internet — Storytelling. The difference is we have an internet that gives us proof – immediate (fake or not). Jesus was like a rock star. A free thinker. A hippie type.

    Like Bob Dylan. We buy his records and cling to his words. Look at what the Beatles did with their words and music. Influenced a whole generation. Then how does one explain all of the miracles? Great storytelling. That’s all they had back then and Jesus had a dramatic flair for telling stories. He would probably get a Pulitzer or Academy Award today. Probably the best storytelling ever – the Bible. A collection of novels. He was punished because back then you couldn’t be free to express yourself — especially if you were a Jew. He was a Jew and a radical. That scared the rulers. The apostles were the writers – years after the death of Jesus. I wonder how they got paid?

    I wonder what the world would have been like had he internet existed during Hitler’s insanity. One man hypnotized a German nation with his drama. He was evil but a great storyteller. And even today his legacy lives through the white supremacists.

    Thank goodness, today, our storytellers are not nailed to the cross. They get nailed by words of social media. Freedom of speech — It’s a human right. And a human right to react to what one reads. Even if I don’t understand such smart people — It did cause me to think about a screenplay I’ve been working on. Thanks Leon and all comments,

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