Today could be the day that the tide turns for the alternative media.
Shunned for too long, and with far too many livelihoods lost, online conservative news sources have been bequeathed a sad distinction in this day and age; a Scarlet Letter of sorts, or an anti-blue checkmark. People are warned of the content that they’ll find on these sites, likening it to hate speech despite what a disservice that does to victims of true and actual hate.
The problem seems to be, at least at this stage in our digital development, that we have yet to reconcile the “public” digital world with the enormous private companies who just happen to own the hardware.
Remember, social media companies are making billions upon billions of dollars a year, but they don’t create their own content. That’s what we’re doing for them, along with providing them unfettered access to our browsing data that can be used to entice advertisers and marketers.
Facebook and Twitter are only public stages and microphones – they are not the lecturer or standup comic. We are essentially renting space on this public stage for the price of our browsing data, while the social media companies who own the microphones are deciding who gets to say what.
The White House is hoping to turn that around, starting today, with the President’s first social media summit.
President Trump plans to gather Republican lawmakers, campaign strategists and online provocateurs for a “social media summit” at the White House on Thursday, rallying his political allies and escalating his attacks on Facebook, Google and Twitter ahead of the 2020 election.
For Trump, the conference represents his highest profile broadside against Silicon Valley after months of accusing tech companies of censoring conservative users and websites. Facebook, Google and Twitter each has denied the president’s allegations of political bias, though none of them has been invited to the White House for Trump’s summit.
Hours before the event, Trump tweeted that the focus of the conversation “will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,” though he didn’t mention any by name.
Then came Trump’s most vivid language on the subject to date.
“We will not let them get away with it much longer,” he added.
One can only hope that free speech can win out over the corporate monopolies who dominate cyberspace, and that the President’s summit might be that first step toward political equality online.