I can't quite decide which has been more impressive in these past 24 hours regarding the media - Mark Z's abstract on Building Global Community, or the President's war on the media played out in 140 characters on Twitter, followed by a second more rigorous round at his campaign rally speech in Florida.

Zuckerberg is thoughtful and concerned in his writing, and cares that the company he leads is doing all it can to connect the world in the areas that matter the most, "for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all". In a very high level abstract abstract way, he writes that he is focused on the important question: are we building the world we all want?

The truth is, as its development continues, more and more people get their news on Facebook each day. And with more than 8 billion dollars in advertising revenue quarterly, it is directly contributing to the shrinkage of news organizations worldwide - except those owned by governments of dictatorial regimes, where Facebook isn't available anyway, of course. So, if Z has a good angel on one shoulder, telling him to help people to get their dopamine fix through one stop shopping at his global comm center without a subscription fee, on the other shoulder is an evil twin cutting into a free and independent press that helps keep democratic governments as honest as humanly possible.

Is that the world we want?

The President has a historical dislike of the media for correcting his sensationalist misstatements (like the largest inaugural crowd ever, largest electoral win ever, millions of illegal voters, and the list goes on), and keeping tabs on Secret Service expenses for his various households and family members. He has hatched a hate campaign to delegitimize, deflect, and call them the enemy of the American people. He and his team have gone so far as to create the Mainstream Media Accountability Survey, chock full of leading questions to reinforce resentment of the press.

Are we willing to give up a free and independent fact checking press?

In spite of the crucial role the press plays in a functional democracy, both Z and T are working to limit it - though they surely believe in their respective motives. While it would certainly be convenient to have all our digital needs met in one place, and Z would  to be the one to do it, we learned as children why it's not wise to put all our eggs in one basket. When we allow T to call the media the 'enemy' we need to create some checks and balance, to ensure he knows that journalists have time and time again become workplace casualties while doing their job, typically covering wars that governments create. They are not the enemy.

The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure. --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.

 


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