The internet is a disruptive technology comparable to the Gutenberg press. Initially it was seen as a global encyclopedia, making all human knowledge available to everyone.
Then social media arose, and I saw this as revolutionary for two reasons:
- It allows people around the world to see each other and recognize their common humanity rather than being portrayed as faceless enemies to be feared.
- Radio, TV and the press are one-way media that promote the interests of the rich and powerful. Peer-to-peer communication by passes these gatekeepers and allows other ideas to compete.
What I missed in this optimistic analysis was that the gatekeepers also performed the valuable task of checking facts and assembling a coherent, credible story, albeit with the possibility of bias.
With great power comes great responsibility.
The power we have is that peer-to-peer networks facilitate the dissemination of news that does not fit the ruling narrative.
The corresponding responsibility is that we must check the facts and assess the credibility.