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Facebook, Google, Twitter are the shady bouncers of the web. They should be fired

You can't come in... oh, $20? Right this way, Vlad

Russian racism

And it's not just fake news either. This week, two lawmakers threatened to push legislation against Twitter unless it got a handle on its users. The tech upstart's service is "an avenue to spread racism and bigotry" US House representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) wrote in a letter [PDF] to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

They referenced evidence that some of the Russian propaganda efforts had specifically targeted America's long and difficult history of race relations to stir up political unrest.

"As a result of the far-reaching nature of Twitter's technology, we have seen an effort to undermine our democracy, create or fan flames of racial divisions, and spread hate speech that can ultimately cumulate into violence," the letter read.

For Facebook, ignorance is the business model: Social net is shocked – SHOCKED – that people behave badly


Meanwhile, Twitter's recent decision to double its character limit to 280 was met repeatedly by users who suggested that maybe kicking actual self-professed Nazis off its service would be a better use of resources.

When criticized, tech executives continue to wrap themselves in the same comfort blanket: I'm a good person, so don't blame me for the terrible people out there. But the reality, as every powerful publisher in history has learned, is that with power comes responsibility. It doesn't matter how many times you tweet or retweet "woke" messages if your company allows white supremacists to organize and hound others. It doesn't matter how many "live" interviews you give to yourself expressing upset if your company takes money from groups that seek to undermine the values your society holds most dear.

The social media companies for some time have been like a shady bouncer taking money, no questions asked, to let people in the door. No one gets hurt. You all get inside the club eventually. Except it's no longer a club we're talking about; it's the world. Sure, there has always been fake and wrong information on the internet – but never before has it been promoted so heavily and thrust into people's online feeds as if it was legit.

The truth is that as much as people instinctively don't like the authorities deciding what can and cannot be shared online, when it gets to a point where society is damaged by a lack of controls, it is time to introduce them.

And we are at that point. ®

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