Social Media and Free Speech

One of the unique conundrums of social media business is the weak entry/exit barriers. It is almost impossible for an existing social media firm to prevent a competitor from entering the market. This inability is the reason you have at least three messenger apps. This melee drove Facebook’s purchase of Whatsapp, Instagram, and forty-four other firms to stay king of the hill.

But it is precisely this porousness that makes social media so dangerous to oppressive governments. Below are a few examples of adaptation, I experienced in the dubious insurgency against free speech.

1.When Turkey banned YouTube, an almost identical clone website took the place of YouTube overnight. Also 2nd tier services like Daily motion and Vine where suddenly widespread.

2.To evade the government control points Turkish nerds dressed-up, romanticized, and dumbed down their proxy services to appeal to low-tech users.

3.In Turkey re-routing you DNS (where your computer believes it is on the planet) became common knowledge even for middle schoolers and flirtatious teenagers.

4.In Thailand, when it was revealed that the Junta was reading citizens Whatsapp data, a heavily-encrypted clone of Whatsapp was released instantly and the population moved over to that.

5. In Vietnam where Facebook and my blog are blocked, people in-the-know use an illusive browser that automatically makes traffic undetectable.

Opinion: Most of these services existed before, but mostly black marketers and child pornographers used them. In the struggle for free speech they have been brought into the mainstream. How quickly a population can enter and exit a service once it is compromised, is turning out to be a nightmare for business, a headache for governments, and an unrecognized trump card of free speech.

P.S. Free Speech is an iffy subject

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