Social Media as the Commons

I would like to encourage a conversation because there are a number of opinions that collide on the subject of Social Media as the Commons, and I felt that a conversation might help distill the important ideas.

As an example of this controversy, Twitter, Tik Tok, and others have created a social media platform that enjoys global use and draws billions of people into daily views of its content.

Therefore, it can be said that they have empowered individuals to reach a global audience in a way not previously possible.

This has been challenged recently as the platforms have ‘de-platformed’ specific content creators for their own reasons.

Questions about this:

  1. Some jurisdictions, like the USA, have within their governmental rights the concept of free speech.
    However, this right is usually structured as the government’s responsibility to not infringe upon speech, not private corporations.
    At the same time, corporations have their own prejudices as to what content they allow on their platform that may be self-serving or exogenous to the laws of those being censored.
    This is complicated because the reach of corporations has exceeded that of governments.
    In the United States, it is a common belief that violations of the 1st amendment by the government are a violation of our rights, but when a corporation does it, there is little standing to complain.
    They are not subject to such laws and can act with wild abandon of any such concept outside of their EULA, TOS, or another document which they can change at will.

    In a world of governments where corporations have surpassed their reach, is there a missing component of how we hold corporations responsible?
    Specifically, is there a duty that we should hold corporations to that mimics how we hold governments in defending our rights?

  2. If you believe the answer to #1 is yes, then this asks a further question.
    If you believe that corporations are responsible for upholding the rights of citizens, then how should this be structured in a transparent manner such that corporations are held accountable for their actions?
    Moreover, what is the bootstrapping mechanism to bring corporations to heed their new governance model?
  1. With these questions in mind, there are situations in which self-governance by corporations has been controversial.
    a. Donald Trump losing his Twitter account for hateful or malicious political views.
    b. Non-Chinese citizens being shadow banned for talking about the genocide against Uighurs in China on Tik Tok.
    Is question #1 / #2 sufficient and necessary to resolve this question?

  2. In our local consideration of Citizens United, does this question play?
    Specifically, it could be said that the belief that corporations are people is asymmetric to the power they individually yield within our society.
    Question #1/#2 posits that they have extraordinary responsibilities to that the individual to be transparent and accountable to society.
    What does pursuing this line of thinking do to change the view on how corporations financially, legally and morally contribute to the societies in which they exist?

About the Author

Bill Weber is a Virtual CISO and Entrepreneur located in the United States. He works with clients wanting to better understand risk and create meaningful advantages for their organizations by tackling them creating real long term stability.

You can find his company at

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