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Twitter's Ban on Trump Will Deepen the US Tribal Divide

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/01/12/twitters-ban-trump-will-deepen-us-tribal-divide

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Although I concur that the only way to repair “the system” is bigger than the first amendment, when the most successful propaganda machine the world has ever seen dispenses thousands of documented lies during a single President’s term, resulting in tens of thousands of injuries and deaths, with the carnage growing, banning the propagandists responsible for those injuries and deaths from Twitter is the least we should expect in a functioning democracy.

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This is a very important issue - which underlines the very complex roots and forces that have shaped this historical political/economic/cultural moment, which easy scapegoat is called Trump.

The question is not should or should it now Trump be barred, but rather why is it that the US tech feudals comfortably merged with the empire’s intelligence agencies control speech and shape behavior not just in the US but in the entire planet. This is a new era that is hardly discussed in the public conversation.

The algorithms that these companies use to promote extremism is driven by profit making motives, and 88 million users have brought a ton of profit to them for the past 4 years (street valuation is at 1.6 billion twitter alone), so it’s not that they are driven by any ideology other than profit. But then again is it just the tech feudals? how about the other old corporate media? how about…this and that other…power???

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About the ‘calling fire in a theater’ concept - it seems that there is a broad misuse of the concept, which is explained in a recent article by Trevor Timm of the EFF.

I am a fan of Jonathan Cook (edit: sorry for misspell initially!) and value his insights.

What is missing from this piece is how technology and the use of social media is literally re-wiring brains.

That genie I’m very sad to say has left the bottle—I do not see any way of going back . . . the use of social media/tech devices is joining forces with deep seated racism, misogyny, white supremacy, greed and science denial.

It is very depressing to me that most intelligent minds seem to be OK with the fact that the use of social media is causing changes in the brain and in my opinion, these changes are not positive.

I say they are “ok with this” because there is no mention of this in this piece which focuses on the harmful aspects of censorship and corporate control.

When there is no mention of what social media is doing to the brains of our children, our young people and hell, even older people like me that says to me we are ok with it and it is now normalized.

~https://www.huffpost.com/entry/shocking-ways-internet-rewires-brain_n_4136942

~https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-20/neuroscientist-warns-young-brains-being-reshaped-by-technology/5906140

The use of digital technologies is reshaping human brains and the impact on young people must be considered by their parents and educators, a neuroscientist warns.

Susan Greenfield of Oxford University said technology was re-wiring brains, particularly for young people who were growing up knowing nothing else.

“As a neuroscientist I am very aware that the brain adapts to its environment - if you’re placed in an environment that encourages, say, a short attention span, which doesn’t encourage empathy or interpersonal communication, which is partially addictive or compulsive … all these things will inevitably shape who you are,” she said.

“The digital world is an unprecedented one and it could be leaving an unprecedented mark on the brain.”

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The true nature of the problem is that people respond to tweets in the first place. The occasional witticism as espoused by someone like Samuel Clemens is gold, but for one whose butt sits one a throne of gold and has an IQ of 45, not so much. Especially in ALL CAPS! Until this country matures, it is doomed to the unreality of “reality TV” mentality. The sixth of January 2021 should be a major wake up call to reality sans TV.

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… I see the glass as half full where you see it as half empty. Now that 88 million followers have few options to turn to -save the U.S. Postal Service- here is an entity that the GOP has been undermining for years (long before Trump), and in one fell swoop, the U.S. Postal Service will now be ‘set for life’ thanks to this previously unimaginable bank of 88 million new subscribers! Plus -it will be like ‘going back in time,’ in so many old-fashioned ways. And what conservative revisionist won’t love that?!

Win/win right?!

Nor will the “tribal divide” be narrowed by going after Trump right now. Barring war with Iran – let this disgraceful racist con-man slink out of office without making him into a martyr.

I suspect that Trump would like nothing better than new impeachment proceedings. Firstly it would keep the spotlight on him – he would relish that attention, being the victim and all. He is slippery as an eel, minimize his appeal and wiggle room.
Impeachment would also serve to unite the currently splintering Republican Party, and re-involve those who are moving away in disgust with his lawlessness. Keep the pressure on – sure, let him stew on the threats mounting against him but beware of martyring a cult leader.

Do that and you will have an overt, competent fascist in power within five years. Fascists must be held accountable.

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Start with the DNC maybe - then on to Trump

Jonathan Cook:

Please write about the realities of what social media and technology are doing to young people today-----those addicted to their devices and social media struggling with their mental health.

There is more to this than just a ban on twitter.

Here are heartbreaking words from someone who expresses what many young people (and old) are feeling (can’t give attribution unfortunately):

"The smartphone as a tool is no longer used by us, instead we are used by the tool. It steals our attention, our effort, our creativity, we produce ‘content’ which provides ‘bait’ for more subscribers, advertisers pay, more subscribers more clicks more revenue etc etc. It’s genuinely making people more stupid. If the tech fails, a lot of people are totally stuck. They can’t do anything without a smartphone. How many people could find their way around a new city with the aid of a paper map? Most of them wouldn’t even know what Northbound or Southbound meant.

How many people reliant on dating apps would have the social skills or confidence to open a conversation with a stranger?

The over increasing complexity and the way every experience is now mediated, nothing is experienced directly now, everything is filtered through screens, everything is done with one mind to ‘sharing’ it with everyone else. The narcissism of this to me is the sure sign of a degenerate and degenerating civilization."

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It’s interesting that some of the most outspoken supporters of Trump dividing the nation for years with his thousands of lies now want to ‘unite and heal’ the nation by having no repercussions for him (and therefore for themselves). A twitter ban is now considered too divisive but incitement to riot is O.K. They say this will just cause more violent backlash. This was not the response to any other attack on our nation such as 911, Pearl Harbor etc. It certainly was NOT the response to BLM protests. One can only imagine the Republican response if a Dem presidential candidate like Gore in 2000 had pulled this stunt. Unfortunately if you could reason with a Trump supporter they wouldn’t be a Trump supporter in the first place. I certainly don’t have the answer as to how to make things better. I do know that religious Jews that forgave the Nazis did nothing to stop them. “Forgive them for they know not what they do” doesn’t apply here. These people especially the higher tier Fourth Reich govt. people know exactly what they are up to. They’ve been telegraphing their plans for decades.

I see this with my sons. I tried to give them maps of the US when they left home but they weren’t interested. They had Google maps until they are out of range and then they are totally lost. Which way is North? Everyone glued to their phone all the time,especially with the earpieces reminds me of the Borg on Star Trek. Hive mind is here.

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The complicated reality here is that there is no black and white solution though people are looking for one. Banning should be undertaken for real cause, such as promoting violence, on a case by case basis and there should be some kind of appeals process. Some kind of care needs to be taken with any appeals body, though, since as we saw in the UK it can be weaponized to smear people, in that case the Labour Party and Corbyn, by rubber stamping state censorship.

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Totally agree.

I would place the true nature of the problem slightly deeper, at the level of a piece of hardware which needs to be turned (the hell) off. The splendor of our magnificent Point Isabel – the most glorious off-leash dog park in the known universe, with views of three bridges, and Mount Tam presiding like Fuji – is a rare privilege to walk through. Not a scene you look at, but a picture you’re part of, right now, right here…

But Life on Earth isn’t good enough for many of us, stumbling through Valhalla with necks cramped to keep the chain to 'lectronic massa connected at all times. Who convinced everyone they have to live like this? Steve Jobs?

I cannot usefully intrude on their absence, but if I could, I’d try to tell them that Life on Earth is a one-card deal. We get one go-round. Could be playing solitaire together 'till we die, or else we could be here, amongst and amidst each other, in the actual physical world. What a world.

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jonathan, i must respectfully disagree. this is not censorship, or curbs on political speech. if not addressed, it’s license to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, and the supreme court already ruled that speech like this is not protected by the constitution. blatant lying to attempt to overturn the results of a fair election, and to incite uneducated mobs to violence should NEVER be granted constitutional protection. EVER.

if this “deepens the us tribal divide”, all the better. the ignorant need to be divided completely from civil society. and the fact is it’s not really such a large percentage of the population on the “other side” of this “tribal divide”. it’s just that those who know should better turned the other way, because they thought it to be in their political interest. and it’s THESE ENABLERS that ESPECIAALY need to be punished, and SEVERELY - all the members of congress, the press, the corporate elites - that not only stood by quietly, but also ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED lawless behavior, based on BASELESS LIES!

each and every congressperson who voiced support for protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election should be expelled. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM knew there was no fraud in the election, and it was only because they thought it expedient politically to support contesting the election results. they all should be expelled for TREASON. and those who knowingly repeated the lies should be prosecuted for sedition.

doug s.

This isn’t an all things being equal argument on censorship of political speech, it is, where does political speech become criminal incitement. It is a bit delusional to think beyond the actual dimensions of social media. I’m willing to look at this in a social context, but when it is an elected official that chooses social media as a preferred method to address the national interests then that is by-passing a normative standard. In this case, it is outside of established standards for political representatives. Mr. Trump will have plenty of time to sort this out as a private citizen. What he thinks or says as a private citizen is one thing, what he thinks and says as a politician is another.

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There’s a functioning democracy somewhere? : )

I agree, Ray, that the right wing propaganda machine has been spewing lies and wrecking death and destruction throughout the worlds. And, yes, to a large extent Twitter, and other social media / corporate media, have acted to amplify this propaganda. But I still find it unsettling that an unelected elite group of billionaires, has the power to determine who can speak and who is silenced.

Twitter’s Ban on Trump Will Deepen the US Tribal Divide

Absolutely.

74 million people, nearly half of the US, voted for Trump. They are not disappearing. However, leaders on the right will use the Twitter ban as ‘evidence’ of the “War” on White America.

The Twitter ban will get the more extremist elements to use other means of communication to spread their messages of hate. My concern is that there are now future Oklahoma City type bombings being planned and, since extremists have been forced off social media, it is more likely that they their plans will be undetected and carried out.

Instead of focusing on corporate - State backed censorship and repression, and dehumanization of the 74 million Trump supporters, we should strive to engage with them. I have profound disagreements with folk who took over the Capitol. But, I share their sense that US governmental structures are fundamentally flawed. Working to build common ground is difficult, fraught with challenges, time consuming, and as hard as hell. But there are right wing fascist ideologues working to build for a fascist take over in 4 years, and, if we don’t work hard to engage with the 74 million, the fascist ideologues will.