The Dominican priest Fray Nelson Medina, doctor in fundamental theology and known for his digital apostolate, made an in-depth analysis of the challenges of power and censorship in social networks after the purchase of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk.
“Social networks have undoubtedly changed the logic and dynamics of communication in our time. I believe that the main changes have to do with agility, immediacy and virality”, Fray Nelson told ACI Prensa.
The agility, indicated the priest, refers to the fact that “now more than ever we are close to events. Whether it is about investments in the stock market, the war in Ukraine or a decision by the Pope, the time between the event and the ability to know about it is very short”.
The immediacyhe specified, has to do with the fact that now “we have access to the opinion of the protagonists, for example presidents, generals, bishops, artists, politicians, who express directly or almost directly what they think.”
“This creates a sense of immediacy between those who originate the news and those who receive it, which is particularly true on Twitter,” he added.
Brother Nelson explained that the virality not only does it have to do with “news spreading at high speed, but also when I receive one from a contact that is significant to me, it automatically has greater credibility and will have a greater impact on me.”
The priest then highlighted that “all these changes give a unique power to social networks and, as we see, this is especially true for Twitter”.
Fray Nelson told ACI Prensa that “at the moment, the legislation on that power, or around that power, is comparatively scarce.”
“Governments, to put it in some way, have not had the time to establish the parameters for disseminating information, in such a way that just as data can be found that is true, useful or pleasant, so can the same social network channels. can be used and have been used to defame, to generate false information, on the basis of which large human groups make their own decisions”, indicated the priest.
In this way, Fray Nelson continued, “this power to inform, but also to misinform, has not yet received a legislative body from the governments. This means that networks have high autonomy, but it also means that managers or owners of the same networks are also the ad hoc legislators, of what is spread there”.
The priest then referred to the censorship on Twitter, in some cases based on abusive decisions.
“An impressive case is that of Twitter because its owners made decisions, in some cases abusive, to censor, block or punish those who they considered, from their own values, who were harming the public,” said Fray Nelson to ACI Press.
This, he stressed, “is the great risk: that the criteria and values of a person or a small group of people have the power to determine what people have the right to hear or not hear”.
The Doctor of Fundamental Theology explained that this is “a complex issue because, if we analyze it, it also means that without the intervention of some, any information, any slander or any lie could spread at any speed.”
However, “the intervention of these people, typically the managers or owners of the social networks, acquires by the mere fact of owning the social networks, an unusual power of influence in society”.
“If the values of these people promote, for example, a certain agenda such as gender ideology or the pro-abortion mentality, that thought will be promoted or favored and at the same time it will be punished, or even censored, what goes in another direction, such as the defense of life and the traditional family”, lamented the priest.
On more than one occasion, various pro-life leaders such as Lila Rose, who directs Live Action in the United States, have denounced censorship by Twitter, for their work in defense of the right to life of the unborn.
In September 2018, Rose denounced that “Planned Parenthood and abortion groups freely display advertising, while pro-life ads are marked as ‘offensive.’ That double standard is something that should concern us all.”
To conclude, Fray Nelson Medina said that the issue of censorship “is a complex issue because removing all restrictions means opening the doors to all kinds of lies, aggression, insults or defamation, but leaving all power in a few people, just means that it will be your values and your own beliefs those that are imposed on the bulk of the population”.