Whataboutism does not make your case

Yesterday’s post about Florida’s pending “Big Brother” legislation inspired a larger number of responses than usual. Lawyers are already lined up on both sides, so this law is destined for a protracted legal battle. But here’s a fun fact: 100 percent of the negative responses were 100 percent tu quoque (aka whataboutism).

My post condemned Florida’s SB 7072, which empowers the government to force social media platforms to allow people who violate their terms and conditions to remain on their platforms. It even forces platforms to give the worst offenders a 30-day advance notice. I asserted that “the governor of Florida is about to sign a law that does exactly what the 1st Amendment was written to prohibit.”

Rather than debate if my interpretation of the application of the 1st Amendment was correct, every negative respondent justified the law with whataboutisms vilifying social media and big tech.

This is not a republican or democratic issue, it has nothing to do with left or right wing ideology, and it is not a conservative or liberal agenda item. The Orwellian nature of this legislation reaches far beyond any grievance we may have with a social media company.

I welcome any and all Socratic debate, but please don’t respond tu quoque. State the reasons you believe it is fitting and proper for the government of Florida to pass a law that allows it to tell private citizens how to think. While you’re at it, tell me why you wish to live in a country where the government has that power.

One last point: the passage of this law makes it profoundly evident that politicians (and the general public) lack the knowledge required to govern the data elite. If social media and big tech need to be reined in (and I believe they do), the regulation has to focus on the collection and use of data. You cannot solve a 21st century problem with a 20th century solution. As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments and criticisms.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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