(April 3, 2019 / JNS)
The summer of 2011 was the summer of social media. The left, having suddenly discovered the intoxicating power of the masses, began dreaming of toppling the right by rallying voters through the keyboards. Social networks amplified the social-justice demonstrations and ensured that the organizers got their message across so that the mainstream media would help spread it.
The voice of the people is the voice of God, so goes the famous saying. But now, some eight years and two elections later, the left is finally coming to the realization that this love of social-media masses has never been requited. The people were never swayed by its promises and ideas, and the left, like a betrayed partner, decided to shut their mouths.
Yediot Ahronot published its libelous investigative report on Monday, falsely claiming that pro-Likud Twitter users were secretly coordinating campaign using “bots” or fake identities. Then on Tuesday, the actual Excel sheet used to “analyze” the Twitter activity was released.
Every self-respecting Israeli should take a look at this sheet and how grotesque and despicable it is. The report shows the Big Brother that monitoring Twitter users whose only sin was that they expressed their right-wing views and even (how dare they!) voiced their support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Shortly after the Excel sheet was published, Twitter essentially accepted its findings and began to remove the accounts on the list even though they belonged to real flesh-and-blood people.
So now that we know that the Yediot Ahronot “investigative report” was one big lie, the good chaps on the left are focusing on the actual content. They say one of the users regularly posts profanity-laced tweets.
I am sorry, but did someone actually appoint the left to be the Twitter nanny? You know how many online bullying and swearwords I get from left-wing users? What about all those left-wing Twitter users who called Israeli troops “murderers” and “Judeo-Nazis,” and used even worse language against cabinet ministers—and the prime minister himself.
The same people who lash out at right-wing twitter users who use profanity have no qualms embracing left-wing users who use the same language. I guess fine taste only works one way.
Twitter, unlike Facebook, allows people to use fake names and photos. There is nothing wrong with that. I have been attacked countless times by such users, and they have often used profanity in their attacks. My remedy has always been the same: blocking. I have never asked Twitter to delete their accounts because as far as I am concerned, they can say what they want in a parallel universe.
Profanity aside, I believe that having online anonymity is of great value because it expands the discourse. For example, it allow ultra-Orthodox users to take part in online discussions; it lets civil servants, who are legally barred from engaging in politics, to participate in political discussion. The list goes on and on.
I often write about the left’s governing philosophy when it comes to human beings. It believes that humans are not autonomous beings who can shape their own views and make their own decisions. No, as far as they are concerned, humans cannot be trusted if they don’t fall in line with the majority. That is why we need to supervise them, and make sure the discourse and thoughts are proper.
The left wants the courts to decide which views are too insulting for our delicate souls, and it wants to forbid students from being exposed to right-wing and (God forbid!) conservative professors. Likewise, its economic philosophy calls for more government intervention and over-regulation for practically everything. It fears the prospect of a laissez-faire economy that adapts to the people’s pursuit of profit.
The left also made sure the right would be silenced in the media until we created alternative outlets.
Social media, it turns out, present a major obstacle to those who want to regulate and monitor people’s views and conversations. Social media allows too much freedom, they say.
When the “bots” on the right understood the power of the networks, they started taking over. Is that why Yediot Ahronot decided to publish the “bots” report a week before the election?
Did the paper want to “balance” the web by falsely accusing right-wing users of being fake or bots, forcing Twitter to remove them? Wouldn’t it have been simpler and more humane to just call them to see if they are fake users?
Here is some food for thought for the Israeli left: Although this concept might sound foreign to you, perhaps you should try having a free marketplace of ideas without a nanny that monitors people’s words, without Big Brother who publishes fake reports.
Trust the people because what you know, they know, too, if not more. Let people decide for themselves.
Dror Eydar has been appointed Israeli ambassador to Italy.