Considering the obsession the media has had over the last six months investigating Russia’s apparent meddling in the last election, it’s helpful to understand it in context. The reports are that 135 million Americans were exposed to Russia-sponsored Facebook messages over a 32 month period. There’s no question that we don’t want other governments feeding propaganda to digital or broadcast platforms in the United States. And as a result, some leaders have called for a censorship program to try and weed out those messages in the future. But the problem is most people think of “media exposure” in terms of propaganda from a generation ago.
But in today’s world where each of us are bombarded with an average of 5,000 media messages every day, what most pundits consider “meddling” would hardly make a dent. As Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. put it recently in the Wall Street Journal:
“Facebook delivers 517 million ad impressions per hour. User posts, messages, photos and shared links pile up at a rate of three million-plus per minute. The average American, from all sources, is estimated to see upward of 5,000 ads or branding messages each day.”
In a digital age, like it or not, we’re being shaped by false or undesirable information on a daily basis. But censorship isn’t going to make a dent in that flood. A better way would be for our educational system to teach critical thinking, instead of the “safe space” victim thinking they’re teaching today.
Freedom of speech is precious. And even in the face of outside governments, political parties, marketers of all kinds, and corporate messaging, censorship isn’t the answer.
More critical thinking is…