Has Social Media Lost It?

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For me that question is simultaneously complex and simple; simultaneously self-evident and yet invalid. Such is the heterogeneity of social media – and I guess the nebulosity of the meaning of “it”.

In the case of a world like Twitter it’s pretty much impossible to identify a plot to be lost, so it would probably be wrong to include Twitter in any such critique. But examples of social media blog sites who fancy themselves as not merely journalistic but regard themselves as the moral guardians of journalism itself, are not hard to find.

Regardless of the legitimate criticisms that might be leveled at contemporary political journalism, and they are manifold and will be written about by Left in Limbo as befits, it’s amusing to see people who seemingly have little to no idea what journalism really is seeing fit to criticise it.

Mind you, such criticism hardly ever gets beyond the partisan complaint that the “MSM” doesn’t give the Left a fair go (this is true for News Corp but they are currently a special case with which we will deal in our next entry). The complaint usually amounts to little more than certain people of the Left desiring that the MSM basically be a conduit for their political agenda. Objectivity, what’s that?

So, it was with some measure of amusement and ken of the typicality of it when I came across this at the progressive blog site AIMN – The Australian Independent Media Network:

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This immediately struck me as a dubious claim, given that I’d only just been browsing news sites and saw the story everywhere I went.  That equivocation found a voice:

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Indeed, I couldn’t find a single news site, including Sky and Fox that didn’t have the story somewhere on their front page or in their “National News” section [as at 11:30pm August 6].

But it seems my problem is that I wasn’t scanning the news using the proper news-scanning equipment, as Michael Taylor – owner of AIMN – went on to clarify:

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Clearly, browsing news and media sites on my desktop is the wrong way to go about not seeing news.  I guess I’m in grave danger of suffering Post Traumatic Infoxication Syndrome which will prevent me from seeing the true nature of things – that the mainstream media hides stories from view if they’re about “terror” but don’t involve any Muslims.

I’m sorry, but “It’s not even on my iPhone” is hardly an evidentiary basis for a claim of media bias.  Now, it’s not difficult to show that the media tends to fall over itself to turn stories that do involve Muslims into items of salacious political dross, but this habit of certain social media and pseudo-news blog sites have of basically inventing stuff so as to point an accusing finger at the mainstream media is just lazy.  It’s ethically and intellectually sloppy.

But it’s easy to impugn, and as always a largely uncritical and sycophantic audience will lap it up without even spending two minutes checking a claim’s veracity.  Mind you, in the interest of fairness the author of that claim probably didn’t spend those two minutes checking its veracity either and therefore likely thinks what he said is valid.

Doing journalism, they are, apparently (yes, that’s best read in Yoda voice).

It’s worth noting in passing, I think, that at least our police and security agencies are including “home grown” non-Islamic organisations in their scope of interest.  That can only be a good thing, surely, and worthy of note, even if merely in passing.

And while we’re on the subject of social media web blogs losing the plot about themselves, and while we have this example in our sites[sic] and minds, it was only a few days previous that the other owner of AIMN, Carol Taylor, indulged in her own version of evidence-absent allegation adagio:

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I’d like to be able to show you a certain response to this allegation – which did no more than ask for evidence for it – but it got deleted.  It’s sadly typical of the administrative philosophy there to delete material but leave responses to it behind, leaving one with only an impression of what the person may have said but no knowledge of what they  actually said.  It makes it impossible for an observer to judge whether a site is enforcing its posting guidelines justly. However, the response to that request survives:

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Yeah, “just google it” is always a reasonable and meaningful response to someone who has requested evidence for an allegation of intellectual property theft by the “MSM”.   And this person has studied law.  Perhaps they should have studied ethics instead, though, to her credit, Carol Taylor does acknowledge the ethical dimension of intellectual property theft:

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Whilst blissfully ignoring the “poor form” of her own site: The plan boss, the plan

Now, let me be clear, I’m not challenging the broad idea that the MSM has pilfered ideas from social media sites.  I’m aware of at least a couple of instances of that. But I’ve been following AIMN since its inception and even wrote a few pieces for it in its first year of operation and I have no memory of any occasion where an author or commenter has claimed that “slabs of text” of their writers have appeared on MSM sites.  I could, however, and will if need be, offer dozens of examples of the opposite.

I’m more than happy to be shown to be mistaken, and will heartily acknowledge that I am if I’m shown to be, but I shall not be holding my proverbial – breath, I mean. What did you think I meant?

It’s disturbingly typical, sadly, of social media to not merely ignore intellectual property rights, to the extent that it’s even mindful of them,  but to quite literally flick the concept the proverbial bird.  Indeed, this sort of thing has become so bad there are companies out there now dedicated to the problem of copyright infringement and intellectual property theft by social media outlets.

There are, of course, philosophical debates to be had regarding the whole realm of intellectual property, and those debates are quite important, but surely social media sites that promote themselves as “media” and claim to be doing “journalism” must be held to, and indeed hold themselves to, a higher standard than most, lest they make a complete mockery of such self-identifications.

Now, at this juncture it’s important for me to note that the issues I’m speaking about here are neither unique nor peculiar to the AIM Network. I’m merely using them as an exemplar on the basis of familiarity.  In truth, these issues span the entirety of social media and the Australian political spectrum. Indeed they involve certain frailties of human nature itself.

But if we do not at least authentically attempt to hold to a standard we demand of others, we have no argument, we have no complaint, we have no high ground, we have nothing save self-aggrandising bullshit.

I’m sure Left in Limbo will have its moments of failure also, but we will welcome them being exposed and will always correct them and will never censor on the basis of that exposure.

As will tend to be my wont in this type of article, I’ll leave the last word to someone else, in this case, one of AIMN’s more prolific and ardent supporters.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

jms

About Dan Rowden

Dan Rowden is a freelance writer and philosopher who has been active in philosophical and political discourse since Malcolm Turnbull invented the Internet in Australia. For the last 15 years he has contributed to and administered Internet philosophy forums. Politics is a secondary interest, but he recognises moments of significance in Australia's political history.
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3 Responses to Has Social Media Lost It?

  1. johnlord2013 says:

    Your credibility might be enhanced if one, you admitted that you once wrote for THE AIMN and that you use the alias ”Clive of India” and many others.

  2. Dan Rowden says:

    Hello John,
    I wasn’t intending to bring up AIMN’s administrative attitude to its privacy policy at any point, but I will if you give me cause. And you might want to read the article again. Cheers.

  3. Dan Rowden says:

    Actually, John, you know what? I’m feeling a tad intemperate, so how about this – I’m not going to accept hints on credibility from a guy who posts articles impugning the character of persons but can’t be arsed spelling their names correctly:

    “Both Pauline Hansen and Darren Hinch seem determined to raise the spectre of changing 18c.”

    Take your credibility advice elsewhere.

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