Sunlight is a disinfectant, but it also makes weeds grow.

I'm finding myself a little excited by the idea that conservatives might all leave legitimate social media platforms for their own, separate, safe space.

And it’s not only the improvement in the overall decency of social media that would result, or relief from the last three months of dealing with an onslaught of Trumpian trolls and bots.

Any history of conservatism is a history of non - credible ideas gaining credibility and then never really losing it. Whether it’s being anti - civil rights, pro - tax cuts for the wealthy, or science denial, the pattern is the same. The fringe becomes the extreme becomes the mainstream, and from there, it can't be dislodged. The “liberal media” myth is no different. So it was only a matter of time before conservatives started accusing user - driven social media sites of “bias” and “censorship” once they tried to get a handle on misleading and dangerous information on their sites. 

The big bonus of this - which will take years to play out - is that once groups have successfully excised themselves from the “mainstream”, their beliefs might become successfully marginalized, which is where they need to be

In case it's not clear, the cross is on fire.

Just take bigfoot. Or ghosts. Or the idea that President Obama is a Muslim. We rightly mock people who believe these things, and the faster and more efficiently we can excise ideas like these from our mainstream discourse, the better.

The initial theory was that by airing misinformation as “free speech” that the best disinfectant was sunlight - the more exposed the ideas of the “alt-right” were to the public scrutiny of Facebook and Twitter, the more they could be laughed off. But that’s not what happened, is it? The sunlight of public scrutiny allowed them to grow to the point where millions of people - including many mainstream Republicans - fully embrace balderdash that ranges from pizza parlor pedophile rings to the socialists on every street corner. What most reasonable people thought of as a goof - “let’s build a really big wall!” - just gained more proponents the more it was presented as a mainstream, reasonable idea.

The only thing people like to get more shouty about than “they’re going to take our guns!” is “freedom of speech!”, but this isn’t that. We have defined laws for slander and libel, and we kinda sorta agree on the legally dubious but still practical “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” concept. But trolls, bots, and random nincompoops all asserting on every political social media post on the planet that the President - elect is a Marxist*, rapist pedophile with dementia requires something more than just a shrug and an eye roll.

This is a joke. Or is it? Teach the controversy.

Since I’m not a constitutional scholar (note the page name), I can only sum this up as the fact that we need a mechanism for dealing with "controversial" ideas beyond “sunlight” and “censorship”. I have no idea what that would look like. But an interesting schism could develop if the insanely unregulated private internet that we all use and “enjoy” were to somehow develop a broader sense of social responsibility. And because they’re not the government, there really isn’t much stopping them from doing that and booting garbage content off of their platforms and onto other, more Nazi - friendly platforms.

I’m honestly for whatever option gets rid of people who post about Marxist Democrats are the real racists and haven't you heard of the Biden crime family on otherwise banal posts about parenting trends. *The Marxist insult is particularly funny at this point - like they actually read the polling that "socialism" is not terribly unpopular and "communism" makes them sound like Joe McCarthy, so they need a new, scary buzzword that they can whine at people to research.


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