I remember learning a long time ago that in places like Germany, places that had recently been ravaged, nearly totally destroyed, with much death and misery, by Nazis and other fascists, it was illegal to do things like display a swastika. This is the kind of thing that makes many Americans throw a conniption.
“You are destroying freedom! I would give my life to protect the free speech of a Nazi”
Well, no, you wouldn’t. Don’t even say that.
And now fascism is starting to rise in America, and make no mistake that the two prongs of fascism are emerging, a fascist would-be dictator and friends, and a two digit percentage of the populous that want it.
Part of the rise of fascism in America comes from social networking. Social networks have become the easy place to advance the rhetoric, confused the opposition, create a movement, nurture the hate, and move a society in this direction. This is now speculation. It is what is currently happening.
Facebook and Twitter and similar venues are like abandoned homes turned into crack houses. I used to live across from one. The neighbors, in coordination with the police and city officials, shut it down using a standard procedure used across the US in many cities. Every time something happens at that house, from littering to loud noise to somebody passed out on the lawn, call 911. Don’t use your own address, only give the address of the house in question. That way the 911 calls all get logged to that address. There is generally a city ordinance that says that if a house has above a certain number or rate of 911 calls, the city or county can condemn the house. The owner has some options at that point, but since the owner is probably a slum lord properly company in Boca Raton, they won’t even know about it. So, the city or county takes the house, cleans it out, and either tears it down and sells the property to a developer, or auctions it off so a developer buy it, fix it up, and sell it.
Facebook is an example of a new sort of entity we have in society, but that serves the function of older forms such as homes or public spaces. If a social network like Facebook gets too many 911 calles (“911, what’s your emergency?” “A foreign dictator and posse of oligarchs, in coordination with a pretender to the US presidency, is trying to destroy civilization?” “OK, please give us the address so we can dispatch a car…”) and the owners of that network refuse to do anything about it, perhaps the social network should be taken down.
Think about a mall’s food court. Facebook is a little like a food court, in that it is a social venue. Imagine a food court where someone was killed about twice a year, someone was raped about once every two weeks, and someone was mugged a few times a day. (Not all the same person!) The pertinent governmental body would shut that place down. When my local school district (before our recent move) became a place where the suicide rate among mainly LGBT students was extraordinarily high, the CDC came in to shut the school district down, if nothing was done. Things were done.
Crack houses, food courts, school systems. This is how we do it in our society. But because of their newness, and possibly because of their tremendous hubris, places like Facebook are so far immune from such actions.
Until now. Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz is the law that says that the spread of fascist propaganda shall be illegal, in Germany, on social media sites. Fines can run up to $60 million dollars.
The government will identify hate speech, inform the network that it must be taken down, then the network has 24 hours to do so. The hate speech will be spotted by anyone who cares to look, who can then fill out a form of some kind. That starts the process.
I know a lot of you will immediately say that this can’t be done, that it should not be done, or that it won’t work because it will be gamed. I disagree. It should be done. It can be gamed, but that can be adapted to. And it is necessary.
Or, if I’m wrong about that, if the people can not be protected against this nefarious aspect of social networking sites, then social networking sites have to cease to exist. We’ll find some other way to socialize. Go to the food court. Sit on a neighbor’s front stoep. Maybe even pay attention to the people in your house. I think they’re around here somewhere ….