New efforts by social media platforms to crack down on some of the looniest ideas being bandied about on the Internet raises questions of the limits of free speech and what these platforms can do to protect truth from “truthiness.”
Reports today show that TikTok, the Chinese visual social media platform, is taking down two hashtags related to the Qanon movement, in which a fringe ideology asserts that the deep state arrayed against the extremist American right is secretly doing all kinds of evil things. Some experts associate Qanon with 4chan, an eminently libertarian corner of the Internet where dark web free speech is often seen as objectionable.
The news on TikTok comes after Twitter has already taken down thousands of Qanon-related accounts, and Facebook is considering doing the same.
Oddly, though, that’s not where it starts – in the case of TikTok, tech media report that America and other countries are considering banning the banner: making the TikTok platform inaccessible to users.
India has already taken this step, and some of those analyzing the American White House suggest that Trump will not be far behind.
There are even rumors that to try to head off this ban, TikTok will be sold to American investors, so that it won’t be seen as Chinese-owned.
It’s strange times in the global economy when companies have to shift their ostensible ownership to appeal to nationalist and protectionist feelings in business. To a large extent, business experts agree that there shouldn’t be any feelings in business, generally. However, the ongoing drama between China and the United States is only one example of how time-tested relationships between nations are being put under pressure these days.
As for Qanon, it remains to be seen whether all of the crackdowns will disrupt the movement or make it even more virulent and feverish in its self-perceived martyrdom. Investors can also pay attention to what individual platforms are doing and how this may influence related markets.