There’s a lot that still needs building to create an alternative digital commons, but it can be accomplished. Communicating freely might take more work in the future, and your favorite politician might get banned or your favorite app taken out of the store. But in this cat-and-mouse game, the mice far outnumber the cats.
That said, in the short term, the decision makers at Twitter and Facebook may want to consider that repression tends to have the unfortunate effect of pushing legitimate dissidents and dangerous, unsavory extremists into the same channels.
Sigmund Freud theorized that when thoughts or experiences are repressed, they inevitably resurface in more deranged and damaging forms. When our dominant communication platforms seek to repress widely held beliefs and opinions, those beliefs and opinions aren’t likely to simply disappear but rather reemerge elsewhere in less visible forums where they’ll face less scrutiny.
The next few years may be ugly, but silencing dissenters will ultimately fail. As Stewart Brand famously quipped, “Information wants to be free.”