Social media platform companies are reeling from an onslaught of regulatory efforts by all the major governments in the world.
In the United States, the Supreme Court heard arguments this term, in a case that will decide the responsibility of social media companies for the content shown and recommended to users on their platforms.
Platforms are protected from legal liability for that content that users post. So, one cannot sue Facebook for a defamatory article that their rival posted on the platform. The outcome of this case will be crucial in deciding the legal responsibilities of companies.
There are several cases pending in Indian courts on similar issues but with no fixed schedule on hearing dates nor any final decisions.
Current market realities are also hurting the advertising businesses, the real source of the wealth of social media platforms.
Social media giants have laid off tens of thousands of workers, including – at #Twitter – entire departments responsible for interacting with the take down requests of national governments.
If these behaviour-collection behemoths were ever willing to challenge overreach by govts, that time has passed, probably for good.
“We obey local law wherever we do business” is a position so obviously sufficient that even Twitter’s chaotic new owner, Elon Musk has not found it necessary to depart from.
No matter how the cases are decided, there will be a lot more laws to obey around the world.
As the European Union’s Data Services Act – aiming to protect the fundamental rights of users – comes into force, national legislatures and perhaps even the United States Congress, are all entertaining new regulatory regimes.
Concerned as they are with “misinformation”, lawmakers are favouring requirements for faster takedowns, with greater legal and damage liabilities for failure to do so.
These are, on their face, regimes designed to make platforms efficient sub-contractors for the suppression of “#misinformation”. This, surely, always tends to include all information a government wants to suppress.
As previously noted, collisions between national governments and platforms have always been settled at the expense of user rights.
We are not leaving behind a golden age by any means. But instantaneous surrender of #Twitter #YouTube to govt demands to remove all links to “objectionable” journalism proves tht we can no longer anticipate even symbolic opposition, let alone serious effective policy engagement.
Platforms used to test the censorship resolve of governments to maintain their credibility with users as defenders of free expression, just as they built systems of content moderation to maintain brand safety credibility with advertisers.
But user trust has long since vanished and such gestures are now mostly too expensive for their straitened means.
In recent days, social media platforms have folded instantly over posts, articles, coverage, documentaries, films not for exceptional reasons, but for the reasons that will largely govern their conduct from now on.
They will not raise any issues, because they can no longer afford to raise these issues. Their silence means that user rights have ceased to be even an aspiration.
A concept fundamental to democratic liberty, that the people have a right to learn from what their government derides as propaganda, is not merely dishonoured but it ceases – for all practical purposes – to exist.
As the sober second thoughts of humanity turned against platforms over the last few years, they continued to assert that their good effect – bringing people together, including to organise for social change – offset their increasingly evident drawbacks.
Social media in their new role as the active implementers of every govt’s preferred censorship policies, these cos have given up the one shred of argument in their favour.
“Making the world more connected” while scrupulously approving all the censorship requests of aspiring despots is complicity in spreading despotism.
Opponents of social media platforms have been pointing out this problem with centralised social sharing services for more than a decade. Now, we may be about to witness the platforms directly proclaiming the doctrine themselves.
This, then, is the new social contract: govts will allow social media platforms to capture all behavior data of their citizens (movement, commn patterns, reading, watching, listening preferences, desires, searches) in return for suppressing all infon the govt wishes disappeared
What the users get in return involves undermining of all privacy and integrity rights, by private entities with government licence
We, the users will now be served content that is in the joint interests of the government and the platform companies, with no one to assert our rights.
This is how we begin to lose our democratic rights because we do not know how to release ourselves from social media platform companies. We do not have credible alternatives to exercise our rights, yet.
Governments have bought into platforms and will prefer humanity using technology in this freedom-defeating way. The Saudi Arabian monarchy, which in January sentenced an academic to death for statements made on Twitter, is reputed to be the largest investor in Twitter.
Not all countries are quite so flagrant. But if we have reached the point at which people should, for the sake of their freedoms individually and collectively, move their daily lives away from social media platforms, they cannot count on their governments to help them do so.
Users need to take power in their own hands and demand pro-humanity technology from all players. This must be kept in mind as the world, upon this turning point, decides what next.

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More from @MishiChoudhary

Jan 9
Nobody told me but the hardest part of adulting is watching your parents grow old.
It's a blessing to have them but caring needs more. Lessons:

- Keep them intellectually engaged
no matter what. Engaged mind is the best medicine.

- Loneliness is real after they lose friends/peers their age even if they r surrounded by people.

- Get good insurance early on.
-Support staff is crucial.

-Family ain't the best caretaker as we r so deeply emotionally invested. Keep them home with you but get professionals to help.

-Don't try to change them but manage your own behavior.

- Spend leisurely time with them doing nothing.
Read 5 tweets
Jun 9, 2021
Listening to some tech bros it wud appear as if other organizations weren't in existence or weren't doing any work before they started to pay any attention with their Midas touch. Yes it mostly happens with men. Plz stop this immaturity. Too many issues to fight #strongertogether
Women and men who work in such orgns, call this out. Don't learn this kind of existence or leadership. Collaboration makes us better. Disingenuous socially acceptable statements of belief in values and doing the exact opposite isn't lost on anyone. #StrongerTogether
Please don't DM me looking for gossip. There isn't any. Open your eyes and listen to the the younger ppl who r doing the real work. What to they think? This is serious stuff that perpetuates toxic structures. Support others. Don't be scared to retweet ;)
Read 4 tweets
May 29, 2021
If the version of the law as presented on TV was accurate, there won't be any fight over #ITRULES. Compelled to do this thread.

Platforms don't want to police content if they lose safe harbor.

They are happy for any content to float through their medium.

Intermediaries are entities that provide services enabling the delivery of online content to the end user. This includes internet service providers, search engines, DNS providers, social media platforms, cyber cafes.
The intermediaries play an important role in the dissemination of information but do not have any editorial control over their content.
Read 20 tweets
May 26, 2021
Just as the govt completed the Content Monitoring System, thus gaining access in real-time to the phone calls and SMS messages of the entire Indian population, the implementation of open-source e2e encryption by #Whatsapp restored strong secrecy to the general citizenry's reach.
In the new rules lies concealed a chilling policy declaration: strong privacy is to be put beyond the reach of the common people, all of whose communications are to be seen by the governments of the future, all the time
For the rich and the few only, the technological possibilities of secure communication will be reserved. The rich can have an invitation-only privacy-respecting application without thinking about these burdensome rules.
Read 21 tweets
May 26, 2021
Why are engineers and technologists running vaccination in #india @drharshvardhan @PMOIndia ? The #cowin portal leads to exclusion of those who don't have smart phones, aren't tech savvy, are women, have data packs. Don't you see ground realities before coming out with policies?
Also please refer us to the official document which is not an FAQ that mandates #cowin for vaccination
Until recently #cowin was only available in English. India isn't Bangalore.
Read 6 tweets
May 25, 2021
"Asking @BillGates to fix inequality is like asking an arsonist to hose down your house after he just set it on fire. Philanthropists might have the deep pockets to fund the fire engine and water hose, but the money is coming from making our houses unlivable in the first place."
This from an essay by Linsey McGoey
when the foundation pours nonrepayable, tax-privileged grants on the world’s wealthiest pharmaceutical companies, or when it defends a global patent system that makes lifesaving medicines needlessly expensive in both poor and rich nations, the buck doesn’t just stop with Bill...
Read 8 tweets

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