The new Cold War with Russia and China (and censorship on social media)

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Russia and China engage in propaganda. The West, of course, does not. We only write about truth and peace and democracy. What nonsense! I reacted strongly – on my LinkedIn account – against what I perceive to be a new Cold War with Russia and China and – more to the point – how wrong it is to demonize not only leaders or systems but also people. Indeed, the Russian or Chinese people are not inherently bad and sanctions should, therefore, not be applied to people-to-people contacts, such as a ban on Russian tourism in Europe – which is currently being advocated by some European politicians (I am thinking of two new hawks here – both young, pretty and very woke, on the surface, at least).

My post was removed. See the screenshot below. It will not make me change my mind. On the contrary: I am someone who would rather defend or even exaggerate an unpopular view rather than adapt it to please the other side. It makes me feel that we live in dangerous times, and that free speech is under attack. Not only in the East but also in the West. This confirms what I wrote in previous posts. We are straight back where we were 50 years ago – right back to the old world order: a terribly Cold War. It is a Cold War with China, and a hot war with Russia too! I tell my children not to worry about it and just have fun but, deep inside, I feel very sad. It feels like this generation has failed on all fronts: climate change, peace, poverty, exclusion, etcetera. I hope the next generation will do better but, judging from what young and popular European politicians such as Kaja Kallas and Sanna Marin are pleading for, I have little hope.

They are supported very vocally by a majority of smart young business-minded people from former Eastern Europe as well as by very vocal Ukrainian migrants here. While I understand what they are saying, I would suggest they go back to their own country and make a difference there. We do not need more warmongering here in Europe.

As for social media censorship, some kind of regulation is obviously needed. We do not want senseless material to go viral. However, I feel the only way to keep it transparent is to do it like Twitter is doing it: they do not resort to trolling or patrolling threads and then randomly deleting tweets but just stick to clearly identify and labeling the source for what it is. For example: tweets by government officials (be they US, Chinese or Russian or whatever nationality) are clearly marked as such. Hence, exaggerated or weird claims are not being censored (removed) but their source is appropriately flagged. I like that. Facebook says it has policies in place that should filter things out but, whatever these policies are, they are not clear to me and I will, therefore, not use FB anymore for political comments.

I do not believe it is useful to try to actively filter out messages. Tracing and marking the source of a message should do. As far as I can see from my analysis while participating in Twitter discussion threads, Twitter is quite good at that. The interesting thing here is that both Russia and China have an official ban on Twitter but that the ban does not apply to government officials and that, in China and Russia itself, private users do circumvent the ban without too much trouble.

Elon Musk wrote that he was/is interested in acquiring Twitter because he wants to turn it into some kind of ‘absolutist free speech’ medium. Many people may think he cannot possibly be serious. Based on my (admittedly limited) experience with Twitter, I feel he has got a point. I like Twitter. As mentioned above, I feel that the regulation they have put in place is effective: clearly marking the nature of the source of a social media message is probably sufficient to make sure its readers read it with the “pinch of salt” that is required. I think the regulation of social media should be based on the Twitter model: one can write what he or she wants but you should identify yourself and what you stand for. The rest is for the reader to judge. We should not underestimate his or her intelligence and we should – surely – not judge in his or her stead.

You may not agree with my views above. That is fine. All that I am asking is that you question whatever would irk you and make you feel that I am totally wrong. If you come out of that exercise with a confirmation of your own views – even if they would be and remain diametrically opposed to mine – then that is fine. That is what rational discussion and finding a good middle ground through dialectical exchange is all about.

Post scriptum: You may think I should request a second look at the case from the LinkedIn editors. I did. I used their appeal procedure, and wrote this as justification for asking a review for the removal of my comments:

“I know my comment is a minority view but I wrote it because I feel it is true and because I feel I must go against the grain of sentiment here. I am one of few Europeans who have seen the horrors of war up close and who – unlike some of the people who may find it offensive – did not flee Ukraine but went to fight there. I came back. Alive and sane. Yesterday I was told some of my friends are dead or lost limbs. I think you should look at the Twitter model for weeding out comments. They label content as offensive or clearly mark the nature of the source. I wrote about that on my political blog just now: https://webeu.news/. I am fine with clear feedback: perhaps LinkedIn is not the fora for such discussions. However, I do not see why there should be no equal treatment of majority and minority views.”

I am curious to see if they will reply and, if so, what they will do or write. As for now, I will refrain from further posts or comments on political issues on that channel. It is not good for my business anyway, so I should not bother and do what is right for me. 🙂

4 thoughts on “The new Cold War with Russia and China (and censorship on social media)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s