The Solution to Social Media Censorship Is Simple

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22-05-19 03:29:00,

Op-Ed by Atilla Sulker

Individuals from all corners of the political spectrum have been stirred up by the recent bans of various figures including Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan. Some have praised these bans for providing good constraints on what they deem “fake news” or “hate speech.” Others have attacked these bans for being influenced by nefarious motives that are contra free speech. The debate regarding the extent to which social media sites may regulate speech has been going on for years now. Perhaps it is time for a reassessment.

The Fallacy of “Social Media Homogenization”

One of the biggest fallacies people fail to avoid in these debates is that all social media sites are homogenous goods. The successful entrepreneur understands the importance of differentiation in marketing their product, for it is differentiation that allows the entrepreneur to narrow down his market and attract consumers.

Just as in any other market, the social media titans, Facebook and Twitter, have developed very differently from each other, and each has its own distinctive features. Facebook has developed best for allowing like-minded people to connect with each other, while Twitter has become a bully pulpit for various figures in the political and pop culture world.

It would thus be wrong to compare all social media sites as if they were the same. The various consumer ends each social media site serves to satisfy determines its overall development. Many different factors will influence these ends. Among one of these factors is the extent to which speech is regulated.

If a given social media site aims to assist individuals and firms in networking with each other, they will likely not have any role in the market of sharing controversial opinions. Conversely, the social media platform that aims at giving a voice to those on the fringes of society will likely have no interest in entering the market of business networking. If we step back and look at the bigger picture, it is a fallacy to paint all social media sites with a broad brush stroke. Each one of them serves a unique purpose, and this purpose has a huge impact on how the site will develop in the longer run.

So perhaps the solution does not lie in calling for state interventions and boldly proclaiming that social media sites are ruthless monopolies trampling on free speech.

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Okinawa Base: The Art of “No Solution” and Symbolic Referendum | New Eastern Outlook

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13-03-19 10:36:00,

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On February 24th the residents of Okinawa voted in a “symbolic referendum”, i.e. one which is purely an expression of opinion, with no obligation on anyone to take any notice of its outcome. In this, they voted heavily against the relocation of the Futenma base, despite the fact this had been agreed twenty years ago.

There are many stories which are rarely covered in the media because they can’t be compressed into easy soundbites. The whole world was told about the Afghan mujahideen kicking out the Soviet-backed government in 1989, as this was the culmination of a narrative everyone understood and most wanted to hear. When those same mujahideen pursued a prolonged civil war against each other Afghanistan quickly slipped from the front pages, as few had the time or the inclination to understand who was who or why they should be interested..

The relocation of the US military base at Futenma on the Japanese island of Okinawa has once again made the news. This is not because something newsworthy has suddenly happened, but because something specific enough has happened to enable the media to put a spin on this controversial issue.

Futenma has been described as the most dangerous military base in the world, and it would be even if it were located in a relatively open space. Instead it is right in the middle of a built-up area, surrounded by homes and businesses. All US airbases are obliged to have clear zones at the end of runways, and Futenma doesn’t, and couldn’t create them if it wanted to without knocking down an unfeasible number of buildings and rehousing their inhabitants.

There should therefore be no question that Okinawans would want to be rid of the base for this reason, quite apart from the other factors in play, such as the ongoing incidents of military personnel misconduct

Nevertheless, the 1996 agreement to move the base has not been implemented, largely because Okinawans themselves have seen the need for the base. Additionally, it’s been noted that its presence supports many local businesses.

There have also been many other factors complicating the picture. The objective has never been to close the base down but to relocate it to another site on Okinawa.

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