Sasha Baron Cohen & Free Speech In The Panopticon

As y’all know, I am a free speech absolutist by nature and I am more than a bit uneasy with “de-platforming” because it is not only applied unevenly, but it is easily weaponized to shut down all kinds of speech … not just hate speech or “yelling fire in a crowded theater.”

The rub with social media and what Sasha Baron Cohen calls “The Silicon Valley Six” is that these issues are intersecting with privately-held mega-corporations who have monetized speech (paging Citizens United) with little regard for the consequences … because there seem to be few, if any consequences at all .. while, at the same time, there are many highly remunerative rewards.

In particular, I am obsessed with the pernicious use of “behavioral surplus data” to “mircotarget” users with intentionally-designed algorithms that reinforce biases and create conditioned responses. We are not talking about competition in “the marketplace of ideas” … we are talking about engineered manipulation to reinforce your behavior patterns to create predictable behavioral outcomes that make you a WAY more bankable commodity to the Silicon Six gatekeepers.

That is why I think this well-crafted speech is worth your time. Although you may or may not agree with him on every point or, perhaps, agree with his fundamental premise regarding regulations on speech … it is a rich banquet of food for thought regarding one of the most vexing freedom of speech issues human beings have ever faced at a time when we are becoming ever more entangled in a panopticon of manipulation that would’ve made Orwell shudder.

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