Beware social media’s push for ‘healthier dialogue’

The world’s two major social media platforms grow more Orwellian by the day.

Twitter is tweaking its format — again — to encourage users to ­engage in more “healthy dialogue.” Whatever that means. The move is CEO Jack Dorsey’s latest step toward his stated goal of “committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness and civility of public conversation.”

Facebook, meanwhile, increasingly insists that it knows what users should see on their news feeds. Most recently, the firm announced a ban on Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan and assorted others it labeled “dangerous” on May 2. Those figures are odious, to be sure, but the ban is part of a broad and largely arbitrary crackdown that lacks transparency.

If Jones and the like violated Facebook rules, why weren’t they banned years ago? If the rules have been updated, will the platform now ban everyone who posts content that Facebook deems to be cranky and “dangerous”?

Twitter’s “healthy dialogue,” meanwhile, increasingly takes the form of erasing the individual user, though Dorsey pushed back last month against complaints that his new agenda is to de-emphasize ­users, saying the company is only “adding the ability to follow topics and interests, not replacing the ability to follow accounts.”
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