It’s me again, climate denier Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), checking in with my loyal followers. If you’re new here, you can read my intro.
So the ice floes have started to crack and buckle. By that I mean Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the Big Three social media networks, are finally shouldering more responsibility for feeding demonstrably toxic ideas to audiences [UPDATE 02/2020: Though Facebook has, more recently, taken a big turn for the worse by allowing political leaders to lie without consequence.]. With the recent spate of high-profile accounts that have been deplatformed, they essentially concede the notion that exposing people to false, nonsensical and manipulative information can have negative, real-world effects and undermines the foundational currency of advanced civilizations: trust.
It was a responsibility they shirked for as long as possible. Who can blame them? Policing content written by all the kooks, crooks, and other malignant forces on the internet is a huge task. Unlike bundling detailed psychographic and biographic data about all the world’s citizens for the benefit of influence peddlers, making sure the content you deliver doesn’t destabilize society is neither fun or profitable. It’s much easier and cheaper to pretend you’re doing the world a favor with fairly tales about how an invisible, all-knowing force called the “Wisdom of the Crowd”–coupled with mystical, rudderless algorithms–exist to make us all OK.
But the recent high-profile blow back from their self-justified aloofness was too much to bear as it became a real threat to their reputations. And so their insulting charade that it was impossible for them to thwart harmful content is coming to a merciful close. The Big Three have all taken reactive and some minimal proactive measures to assuage advertisers and a concerned public. One of the more promising developments was Facebook’s announcement that they would crack down on anti-vaccination content. A more tepid response by Twitter was to integrate links to reputable information sources about vaccines into search results. YouTube did something similar and also demonetized anti-vaccination accounts (which probably doesn’t amount to much).
Of course, executives overseeing these platforms know the buck hasn’t been completely stopped. Now that the floodgates have been opened a crack, it’s only a matter of time before public pressure forces them wide open. But for now, they will take a wait and see approach, hoping against all hope that it blows over.
This is financially smart but again, ethically speaking, it’s another dick move in a very long string of them. Through continued inaction, the privileged few calling the shots at these companies essentially tell us: “The public be damned, our profits and headache-free operation matter more.”
But these companies are only hurting themselves with this approach.
That’s because they have a vested business interest in ensuring a strong economy for their market of seven billion plus inhabitants looking to buy goods and services. A healthy global economy requires a relatively peaceful, stable community of nations. Wars, disasters, depressions and disruptions that slow the consumption of goods are bad for business.
Given this, I have a simple question for them:
WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU ALLOWING CLIMATE DENYING ASSHOLES LIKE ME TO SPEW BULLSHIT ON YOUR OWN PLATFORMS? ARE YOU REALLY THAT FUCKING SHORT-SIGHTED AND STUPID?
For their own good, it’s past high time for social media platforms to cut off the oxygen fueling my efforts to stop or delay action on climate change. The debate over climate change is over. Uncredentialed jack offs like me sitting in my one bedroom apartment contribute absolutely zero to the public conversation and we directly undermine society’s ability to have a reasonable debate about the most urgent matter facing the entire planet. In addition to limiting the number of minds I can poison, the Big Three could also send an extremely strong message to political and business leaders across the planet that climate change is an urgent issue that deserves more than lip service; that supplying the communication infrastructure to help crackpots undermining well-established scientific facts on climate change is morally and ethically wrong.
If banning climate deniers sounds like a crazy idea to you, it shouldn’t. It’s actually the only sane reaction to the urgent need for action on climate change.
Let’s give this idea a little perspective by comparing the threat of climate change to threat posed by some of the recently de-platformed cretins. Alex Jones will traumatize far fewer parents than climate change. And climate change will annoy far more people than Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson combined. Climate change will cause far more lost work time than Laura Loomer chaining herself to the entrances of corporate headquarters. And unlike Louis Farrakhan, uncontrolled climate change will result in millions of deaths and catastrophic financial collapse. All these kooks got the boot for spreading messages with far less social consequence than mine. So by this measure, I easily qualify for deplatforming.
No sane person misses these deplatformed crackpots and most people are happy they’re gone. Similarly, nobody is going to miss a handful of mentally unstable climate cranks like me. There would be little, if any, backlash from the public with the added incentive it would be a huge public relations score for the Big Three looking to demonstrate a commitment to the public’s welfare. Banning me will be good for the Big Three’s public image, their long-term financial health, and, most importantly, for all of humankind (which I hope they give some shred of a shit about).
And let’s again remind everyone for the umpteenth time that these are private platform run by private companies. They have no more obligations to put climate deniers on their platforms than they do al-Qaeda.
So if it’s in their own best interest to get rid of us and there’s nothing stopping them, why do social media platforms give tacit approval for us to continue?
The answer, of course, is it’s less risky for them to do nothing. They won’t see any perceptible impact to their profits from climate change for at least a decade. Meanwhile, their quarterly reports are always just around the corner. It’s the same old story of corporate short-sightedness.
Hand-in-hand with that is they haven’t felt any public pressure to shut climate deniers down. And so that’s gotta change. It must start here. It must start now. We must start making a very public demand that any account with a significantly large audience that doesn’t have the adequate scientific credentials to weigh in intelligently or that purposefully distorts the body of scientific evidence on climate change should be deplatformed.
I’m sure the smart executives at these social media companies would welcome a public pressure campaign to give them cover for pulling the plug on us. I’m also sure a few die-hard libertarians among their ranks will wring their hands about disrupting the “free marketplace of ideas” and how this will set us down a slippery slope of bad precedents. Yeah, well, fuck those ideologues. The world has practical shit to take care of and that’s removing hindrances to genuine debate over measures that will reduce CO2 emissions. Science has told us what the truth is. The world needs me like you need shit on your shoe. Climate deniers aren’t helping us have constructive debates, they are destroying out ability to have them. The libertarians can get back to worrying about theoretical slippery slopes after we’ve safely kept emissions below 450 ppm and have saved the planet from catastrophe. Until then, they can just shut the fuck up and get out of the way of progress. Finally, if they’re worried about Congress’ reaction, they shouldn’t be. They’ll get some blow back from phonies like Ted Cruz who like to grandstand, but no retaliatory legislation can get past the House.
If you think it would be a great service to human kind to deplatform deniers and help improve the odds of combating climate change, spread this message. Urge Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and whoever the titular head of Google is (or Alphabet, or whatever you’re calling yourself these days) and tell them to modify their policies to disallow people like me from spreading blatant climate disinformation.
Time is running short. Get hot!