If you feel like our leaders are too online, you are not alone. Some of the biggest, most important government announcements these days are released via social media; lawmakers who’ve trolled their way to power can’t stop spreading disinformation online even after assuming office; and the art of the politician clapback tends to dominate the headlines above and beyond actual public policy. That’s without even talking about how the former president and his enablers incited an insurrection by steadily cultivating a cult of online disinformation.
Jennifer Grygiel, a social media expert and assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, has a radical idea to combat lawmakers’ online provocations: Just shut them down—all of them. In Grygiel’s view, the current setup has given free rein to propaganda and exploitation. People in power easily skirt the free press without being fact-checked and held accountable for their remarks. The only solution, in their view, is to deplatform government officials and public agencies, from small-town mayors and police departments all the way to the Oval Office. The benefits could be huge — misinformation went down 73% across social media a week after President Trump was barred from Twitter and a number of other platforms.
But what would a world where lawmakers can’t fire off posts actually look like?
GEN: You are a big proponent of banning politicians, government officials, and public agencies from having access to social media. What led you to that conclusion?
Jennifer Grygiel: It started when police departments were sharing mugshots on Facebook. The public was coming in and publicly shaming people. I saw a police department in Fredonia, New York, threaten students because they didn’t want them out partying. They said they were all going to wear body cameras and that their future employers might see them on Facebook.
It becomes a form of social control and manipulation when these entities have power over you. They didn’t have this power before. But now they do because they can livestream and they can do all…