How easy it was for a Russian company to manipulate Americans through social media during the last US presidential election. People are furious about it.

For a $200 spend, they got opposing sides to protest each other in a small Texas town. Their ads reached 146 million people on Facebook. Twitter drooled to sell them a 15% reach of their users.

Everybody’s Pet Theory

Everybody has a pet theory for how to control other people’s speech so this can’t happen again.

But, for me, it all comes down to education.

Human beings are capable of more intelligence than this.

It makes me think of La Violencia in Colombia, a gruesome civil conflict that lasted at least a decade, during which time people on the political left and right were so polarized that they made literal war on each other.

It reminds me of that Stalin quote about the capitalists selling the communists the rope the latter will use to hang the former.

Realize the Dream

We are better than this. We have to be if we want to realize the dream of colonizing other planets, of growing into an interstellar society.

The bottom line is that we people are inherently flawed and power disparities exist. People are going to lie. People are going to manipulate, trick and deceive. Fake news will exist.

Facebook, Google and Twitter can’t stop any of that, and for them to try risks abrogating everyone’s free speech and exacerbating the existing power disparities.

The Only Check that Matters

The only real check we have against Bad Things is our own minds. Educated minds. Minds that think critically. Minds that are not dominated and controlled by ego. Minds that react not from animal emotion but from dispassionate reason.

The way forward is education. There is nothing else.

(And by education, I don’t mean schools, homework or even necessarily universities.)

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

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