The situation that is characterized as the division of the nation at the moment is indeed observed in the civilian field of the United States. The politicization of everyday life is at the moment a characteristic feature of American consciousness. The sharpened opposition between the conservative and democratic political camps inevitably affects the social self-perception of the whole country. It makes sense to assume that the censorship practice in modern American media, which has signs of political engagement, has a dramatic effect on the consciousness of American citizens. One needs to develop a strategy that could resolve, if not the conflict between the adherents of the parties, then at least the feeling of the discord of the American people as a symbolic whole. Three possible solutions to the problem of dividing the nation are: creating a commission to control censorship, opening access to information hidden by algorithms, and changing the focus of the media from political to others.
Political issues seem to be the stumbling block of the entire social situation in America today. The long-brewing contradictions between representatives of different social classes as carriers of mismatched ideas and preferences have escalated to open confrontation. The entire political history of America over the past few years presents a situation of an ever-escalating conflict between interests and needs. However, it would make sense to assume that the main role in exacerbating this political situation is played by the media. The problem of increasing the amount of information is associated with the ever-increasing access to the constant creation and viewing of content, as social media such as Instagram and TikTok transmit unimaginable amounts of information (Ghani et al., 2019). However, one of the original features of the Internet is expanding in no smaller proportions – any social network is a platform for free expression.
The Internet was originally a place for discussion of events and comprehensive analysis, including any point of view. However, in the modern reality of the United States, it seems that the largest media holdings control and regulate the flow and display of information. Censorship policies enforced by Big Tech corporations such as Facebook and Twitter extremely often block free access to information disseminated by conservative politicians (Allcott et al., 2019). Given the context of the pandemic and the link between the republican media and the proliferation of anti-vaccine fake news, the corporate policy seems meaningful, aimed at saving lives. The saturation of the modern media space with information at the direction of experts only aggravates the spread of fake news on large platforms (Menczer & Hills, 2020). The manipulation of the social consciousness of citizens and the psychological impact of false information is high enough and requires resistance. However, a much clearer distinction is required between anti-virus fakes and the political discourse of conservative ideologists.
The creation of an independent panel of experts and empowering it to check the blocked content for ethical violations could help to reduce the damage from this censorship. A panel of experts would surely satisfy critics of modern-day fake censorship by neutralizing suspicions of political commitment. This would be the first step in reducing hostility in the social space. The next step would be to rebuild some of the deprived platforms, such as Parler and Gateway Pundit, banned for spreading conspiracy theories. Scandalous and sometimes false news spread by these platforms, being prohibited, only arouse additional suspicion among the readers of these resources. This psychological turn only further incites the society against the representatives of the modern administration of the winning party. Despite the fact that these resources in themselves can pose a danger causing discord in public opinion, this news should be fully refuted by interested government officials. Open dialogical politics and censoring, or flagging only confirmed fake news verified by a commission, can soothe conflicting and aggressive political sentiments.
However, the most important and really useful action in this situation is the change of rhetorical focus in modern media. The media is a field of the opposition to political camps, and most of them deny themselves the basic principle of journalism – neutrality. The political struggle in the United States over the past five years has been extremely tense, which inevitably affects the news media. Similar aggression and one-sidedness are adopted by ordinary people exchanging opinions on social media. It is likely that if journalists strived for neutrality of speech, while other news such as culture or ecology would occupy more space in the media, tensions between people would decrease. People’s over-focus on political opposition is undoubtedly a hallmark of the modern information age. However, if the spectrum were combined instead of the camps’ opposition to real problems that citizens could solve together, the unity between them would definitely grow. Social issues in the United States are still pressing, and by bringing them more attention, modern media could really affect the perceptions of many American citizens.
Indeed, in modern society, it is difficult to try to control the internal imperative imposed by large corporations that hold information and provide space for its dissemination. Twitter as a social media and Google as a search engine are extremely popular and their dominance over other media is difficult to reduce. The aggravation of the internal struggle for the narrative in this information environment influences the radicalization of modern civic opinion, giving it decisive importance. But if corporations were to try to change the politicized narrative of their activities to a neutral one, to draw attention to other news, the gloomy mood of Americans would be somewhat cleared up. Politics may not be such a determining factor in life for a modern person if so much attention is not concentrated on it. Social companies that spread this point of view could overfit the attention of the average American. Solving environmental and social problems in the name of finding a better future should become a reference point for the current news agenda. The division in the collective consciousness of the American people can perhaps be overcome only in this way.
To prevent further discord in American public sentiment and to stem the growing mutual hostility, it is necessary to distance people from extreme manifestations of political involvement. Freedom of information is necessary in order for the equality of each statement to exist, but it must be reasoned and not knowingly false. Therefore, it is proposed to create a special expert commission, which would stand over the Big Tech platforms, which are often reproached for promoting their political narrative. It makes sense to provide access to any point of view in order not to cause mistrust and discord among the people. Information should remain open to the public, but it should be flagged as untrustworthy if it is found to be untrue. However, most of all, attention should be paid to the content of the news itself and to provide a large platform for the environmental and social agenda. Using these three ways to reduce social media tension, it will be possible to return people to a different, more humanistic understanding of their own civic life.
Allcott, H., Gentzkow, M., & Yu, C. (2019). Trends in the diffusion of misinformation on social media. Research & Politics, 6(2), 1-8. Web.
Ghani, N. A., Hamid, S., Hashem, I. A. T., & Ahmed, E. (2019). Social media big data analytics: A survey. Computers in Human Behavior, 101, 417-428. Web.
Menczer, F., & Hills, T. (2020). Information overload helps fake news spread, and social media knows it. Scientific American. Web.