Should social media cut politicians’ accounts and if yes, when?

By Peter Bajomi-Lazar, Budapest Business School. When Facebook and some other social media outlets ‘de-platformed’ Donald Trump after his infamous speech which may have contributed to the attack launched on the Capitol, conservative and liberal opinion leaders protested alike—but for very different reasons. Conservatives voiced concerns about political censorship and the hegemony of ‘politically correct’ views, while liberals argued that a dangerous precedence had been created, as the line between hate speech and incitement on the one hand and free speech on the other is often diffuse and blurred, and hence nothing in the future will stop social media banning other forms of disturbing content. Well, I think both of these arguments are mistaken. It was right to de-platform President Trump. The conservative argument on censorship is gravely mistaken, because freedom of speech was not invented to defend the government; it was created as a defense against government. Historically, the free press was established to counter the powers of the government. As Edmund Burke put it in 1790, “There are three estates in Parliament, but in the Reporters’…

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How the net has de-stabilized knowledge

Peter Bajomi-Lazar, Budapest Business School The world wide web has eased access to information for all, and yet it has de- stabilised knowledge. How is this possible? A very brief overview of the history of knowledge tells us that the rise in the number of information sources has been coupled with a growth in the unreliability of information. Users of the net may rightly feel they live in an era of misinformation and disinformation, online propaganda and fake news, conspiracy theories and urban legends.  It was 75 years ago, in July 1945, that Vannevar Bush published his now famous paper in the Atlantic magazine, presenting the idea of the ‘memex.’ The inventor sug- gested to link distant computers in order to create a huge network where “wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear.” The new technology would make information accessible for all and serve the whole of society, he argued. The intelligence thus gathered and catalogued would stabilise human knowledge. The world wide web, created in 1990, is based on the principles outlined by Bush. But users of…

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