A disturbing censorship trend is manifesting itself in social media in which people attempt to shut down content they don’t like by saying it doesn’t belong on a particular social network.
I myself have advocated that if you share cute puppy videos on Facebook, you don’t want to do the same on LinkedIn (unless you run a veterinary clinic). That’s just good judgment.
But, a reaction to a LinkedIn media post really stuck in my craw. A digital media specialist posted an article entitled The Video Selfie That Changed the World, pegged to the Facebook Live video created by the girlfriend of a man shot by police in the immediate aftermath of the conflict. To me, the headline was brilliant and the exposition in the article well considered and argued.
Well, of course, some commenters were downright caustic in response, contending that the subject matter does not belong on LinkedIn. Which subject matter, exactly? The topic was how real-time video on social media has become a driving force in digital media today and is rapidly changing how society disseminates and receives information, whether from journalists with news outlets or from citizens on the street. I believe those offended disliked that the content’s context is difficult: a dying man, police shootings, law enforcement challenges, the Second Amendment and civil rights, politics and, above all, racial divides in the United States. The video is also all about something central to American civics: the First Amendment.
the Medium is the message
Well, any college-educated person should be up to the challenge of contemplating societal challenges that impact our governance, a free society, education, the economy and the body politic. Still, many commenters were outraged that LinkedIn has become like Facebook and lamented that LinkedIn should only be about business, i.e., professional development and career advancement. To which I say, this video’s reach is of extraordinary interest to people in digital communications.
If you work in social media, communications, etc. and want to understand how impactful content becomes far-reaching, then you know why this examination belongs on LinkedIn. The medium is the message and the medium is now in everyone’s hands.
Eons ago, when I was in journalism school, a professor marveled how in the future we would dispense with newspapers and instead carry around small digital displays to read news stories. What was not predicted at that time (the early 1990s) was that we all would be able to immediately broadcast video to the multitudes via these handheld devices. That is still incredible to me. It is intensely powerful as well, as evidenced by the reaction to this particular video.
Here is the paradox: people want to be able to consume, immediately, whatever information they are looking for online, but they don’t want everyone to be able to post whatever they want. It’s called the free marketplace of ideas. If you’re not buying an idea, you cannot tell the purveyor of that notion that they must can it. If you are offended, you can just move along to subscribe to ideas with which you agree. An informed society – our democracy and the economy – requires such a free marketplace of ideas to make good decisions and action plans. Transparency is vital to business decisions as well. The next time you think a discussion doesn’t belong on a given social network, ask yourself why not? It might be vital to other people’s businesses. If so, let them have that discussion. It is for the betterment of a free market.
For more information about content in the digital age, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.