The absurd debate on freedom of expression and the transcendental of the liberation of the algorithm

There is a lot of talk these days about freedom of expression on the networks, with Elon Musk and his intention to change Twitter in the sense of allowing it to a much greater degree than it currently does. It sounds good at first but it soon stops doing it if we consider the tendency of human beings, when we protect ourselves in anonymity, to confuse freedom of expression with freedom of injury, or what is the same, freedom to say any barbarity that comes our way.

In this sense, what Mr. Musk proposes would not mean any progress in terms of the humanity of social networks, but probably quite the opposite. An example of all this was the involvement of Musk himself some time ago in defending the postulates of an ultra-Catholic group that insulted the transsexual group on Twitter and was censored by the platform. To put you in context, all of this is related to the ridicule campaign being carried out by the North American extreme right of the “Woke” movement (derived from the solidarity #metoo against oppression and discrimination), a current that has become aware, has “awakened”, to issues such as racism, inequality, etc.

Freedom ends where that of others begins to not be injured and this is what the aforementioned movement seems to defend and what Twitter has built in recent years, controlling content and hate speech, harassment, bullying and others in recent years. years. All this, a more mature network, more adult, more respectful of the rights of others, is what is now in doubt.

That of freedom of expression is in this case, therefore, as much as it sounds good from an ultra-capitalist perspective of “every man save himself”, an absurd debate.

It is not so much, however, another of the tycoon’s ideas, which Jack Dorsey, founder of twitter, also pointed out some time ago and which I do believe would result in the best and most trustworthy network recovered by the citizen that all that we love twitter and the most progressive visions of reality, we want: to open the algorithm that directs the information that the user consumes to the point of even allowing the creation and application of new, personalized algorithms, adapted to the tastes of each one.

The topic of algorithms is crucial today as it signifies an element of competition between the different networks. Both for the creator, who will look for the brands that give him greater visibility, and for the consumer of information (we are all somewhere between the two today), who no longer trust that the information they receive from the networks is not biased by political, economic interests biasing the networks.

TEPs (empowerment and participation technologies) really should be free

Today we can minimally customize it, following lists or choosing the location of the information flow that we want to consume, but the release of the algorithm would go much further. Imagine that you can choose on the same platform, without leaving the same twitter, the algorithm that transports you to the place of interesting and in-depth conversations on important topics. Or just the opposite, by clicking on the icon of banal topics. Perhaps platforms specialized in one or the other, such as Medium or Tiktok in their most stereotyped and popular uses, would no longer be necessary. The growth of Twitter in this sense, as the main information network, could be infinite.

I would be concerned, in this hypothetical scenario, however, about the important problem of information bubbles. If the very nature of human beings, the confirmation bias that dominates us (the one that makes us tend to consume only the arguments that prove us right), already make healthy diversity complicated, the freedom of choice that we propose could still lock us in to a greater extent, favoring extremism and not dialogue.

For that, we would need to educate human beings who are not only free but critical enough to be aware of the problem and venture (never better said), expose themselves to information that, although they will not provide comfort, will make them more critical and objective.

We’ll keep talking about all of this…

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@dreig - Dolors Reig

Lecturer, University professor, online since 1999. Social media, innovation, education. Social psychologist. Book: Socionomy. Blog: http://www.dreig.eu