It seems to us that the POTUS (the President of the United States) should be dealing with the affairs of the state rather than lobbing bombs of various sizes at social media, especially these days. Twitter was historically benefitted because Trump used it so frequently and thus publicized it. But social media is now lobbing their own bombs. Starting on Memorial Day (May 25), instead of inspiring unity, Twitter applied a fact-checking notice to Trump’s tweets on the subject of voter fraud, non-usage of masks, and other issues. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to take Trump to task, causing a bunch of Facebook employees to use Twitter to voice their objection. Some of Facebook’s larger advertisers, North Face and Patagonia in particular hit him where it hurts.
We have never had a Facebook account, because we perceived it as a time-waster, fun for people who didn’t have day jobs and accepted the occasional scandals and the fact that their memberships had made Mark Zuckerberg outrageously wealthy. But more recently people have realized not only how much time they had wasted but also how depressed they were and how many impulse purchases it had caused. Although some people want to make sure they don’t miss out of what’s happening, and others actually use Facebook as part of their job, on balance people agree that Facebook does reduce their productivity. And a 2015 survey of people who have to make decisions found that 86% of them believe that social media are not useful. Social media companies like Facebook are a poor substitute for personal meetings. Zoom and similar alternatives are better for taking care of people that are not present.
Mark Twain’s 1897 quote had it right: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” One possible Truth in the current fracas involving Russians, Trump’s campaign team for the 2016 presidential election, and social network companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter is that this is an early example of wars that are fought by hackers and the Internet rather than soldiers and guns. Numerous semi-fiction books could be written or movies created about this craziness. One possible plot is that the Russians knew how unusual (AKA weird) Donald Trump is, and preferred him to Hillary Clinton as president because they could exploit that unusualness (AKA weirdness). A bunch of congresspeople are calling for regulation of these giant Internet-based companies. So are the media, who are far more regulated than Facebook, Google, and Twitter. These are crazy times, and the Russians and other enemy nations must be enjoying all the gyrations that the US is going through.