Soon after Tucker Carlson left Fox News, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, more commonly known by her initials AOC, celebrated on social media, telling her followers that “deplatforming works.”
— Donna, Independent 🌺🗽🇺🇸⏳ (@TruthFreedomPe1) April 25, 2023
Deplatforming, the practice of preventing an individual with specific views from voicing those views, might work for her, but it’s a disaster for broader society, according to a new peer-reviewed study (pdf).
The research, carried out by four esteemed cyber experts, warns that deplatforming regularly backfires, because it creates a sense of deep-seated resentment, driving the disenchanted and disillusioned to seek out “alternative platforms where these discussions are less regulated and often more extreme.”
In this particular study, the researchers analyzed changes in social media usage following the “Great Deplatforming” of 2021. For the uninitiated, the “Great Deplatforming” occurred shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Following the event, a number of major platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, banned thousands of accounts. Ostensibly, as the researchers note, this was done to “limit misinformation about voter fraud and suppress calls for violence.” However, other less regulated platforms like Parler and BitChute were quick to give the homeless a home. In this age of maximum choice, with no shortage of alternative social media platforms, deplatforming is an ineffective tool. It’s the equivalent of taking a soup spoon to a knife fight. You simply can’t make people with alternative points of view disappear. These people will almost always find new homes.
One of the authors of the study, Martin Innes, a professor of crime, intelligence, and security at Cardiff University, told me that “deplatforming can have complex effects and not always those that are intended, including boosting the popularity of the target.”
Furthermore, “deplatforming can actually increase the toxicity of discourse and make the problems worse on the platform that people migrate to.”
In truth, he added, deplatforming tends to just displace the problem, not actually solve it.
As Innes and his colleagues note in the paper, contrary to popular belief, deplatforming is not “an effective tool for reducing the impact of malign actors on the public.” In fact, they contend, “deplatforming is ineffective at improving the information space,” simply because “banned actors can migrate to less regulated platforms, potentially promoting even more radical ideas.”
These findings echo the findings of other research papers. In 2021, Innes was part of another study that examined the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of deplatforming. Innes and his co-author coined the term “minion accounts” to describe how, following a “de-platforming intervention,” a number of secondary accounts are established to “continue the mission.”
When it comes to the creation of “minion accounts,” Andrew Tate, a man I have discussed in great detail elsewhere, is a shining example of the ineffectiveness of deplatforming. When he was unceremoniously booted off the Holy Quadrinity—YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok—last year, a whole host of fake accounts, powered by real people and tireless bots, quickly popped up, helping to keep the Tate-fueled fire burning.
Those in charge would have us believe that deplatforming is for our own good, that it’s a tool designed to curb the spread of disinformation. However, one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Deplatforming is, first and foremost, a form of social control. It’s designed to amplify certain narratives and silence others, perhaps explaining why AOC, a controversial individual with a very strict set of beliefs, appears to be such a fan of the practice.
All of this brings us back to Tucker Carlson, a man who won’t (and can’t) be silenced. Carlson is, in many ways, bigger than Fox News. He’s a brand, a celebrity, a highly bankable star. One needn’t possess more than a few functioning neurons to know that Carlson is going to be OK. In fact, because of his ouster, he has never been in a stronger position. Carlson is more marketable now than ever before.
Where will he go next? Rumble, perhaps. The remarkably popular online video platform service gives content makers a great degree of freedom. Russell Brand, one of the most popular public intellectuals in existence, is Rumble’s biggest asset. He currently boasts more than 1 million followers. Adding Carlson to its ever-expanding family would boost Rumble’s profile. It would also give Carlson a platform to continue preaching his rather unique gospel. The provocateur extraordinaire will be back. Watch this space.
Sat, 04/29/2023 – 22:00