When you go to the store, do you buy a box of chocolates for its nutritional value? Probably not.
Likewise, why in the world would you go to the marketplace of ideas and turn to Facebook, TikTok or Twitter for serious discussions about public policy? The answer, you shouldn’t.
Now let’s be clear: there is nothing inherently dishonest with any of the social media sites. They are merely conduits for content.
But just like some food companies overload their boxes and cans with sugar and unpronounceable ingredients, social media companies can be overloaded with fake news, unethically edited videos and distorted sound bytes.
So I guess my question is, why would anyone use a social media site for legitimate public policy debate and discussion?
And a follow-up question, why would you have a debate with anyone about public policy when you know they are relying on these sites for their talking points?
Admittedly, as the technology becomes more and more sophisticated, recognizing problem sites can be more and more challenging.
But here’s an easy solution: Programmers, educators and critics seem to be most concerned about the impact of Facebook, Tiktok and Twitter. So perhaps the opinion leaders need to start a campaign: If it’s Facebook it’s fake. If it’s TikTok it’s tainted. If it’s Twitter it’s twisted.
Notice what I haven’t done is make any kind of suggestion that we ban or prohibit any kind of discussion.
In fact, my campaign doesn’t involve controlling or regulating any of the major platforms. I’m just suggesting we find a way to show the public we can’t trust any of the sites.
Of course, none of this is going to happen, because all sides, left and right, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat tell us their side is telling the truth and the other side is lying to us.
So, just like you shouldn’t fill your body with non-nutritional food, you shouldn’t fill your mind with false, deceptive and unfair information.
I’m Larry Burriss.