Hear me out, I'll get to the Big Tech stuff in a moment.
Every once in a while I wonder what it was like to live in the world anywhere from a hundred to a thousand years ago. What would happen if I got in a time machine and stepped out? What would cities look and feel like? How did people communicate? What did values did they cherish? Unfortunately, the answers to many of these questions are confined to our history textbooks and maybe a few black and white videos and photos from the past century. These sources are helpful, but not nearly as vivid and immersive as real life. Worse still, how do we know these sources accurately represents the time period they come from? How do we know that the victor did not, in fact, write/distort history in his own view?
Enter the internet. We now have a platform where anyone on the planet can post their thoughts and experiences on a social media site, be it Youtube, Twitter, or Instagram. We have billions of videos and posts encapsulating the events, lifestyles, and values of the people of our times. Wouldn't it be remarkable being a scholar living a hundred or two hundred years from now and literally seeing how your great great grandparents lived and the times they went through? Imagine watching a youtube video from the Roman Republic or a reddit forum during the American Revolution. What a great privilege our descendants will have!
But now a new concern arises. How do we ensure that the social media companies, the gatekeepers of the internet, don't censor the videos and posts that truly encapsulate our era? How do we know that our history won't be erased or distorted? Even if you think Big Tech censorship is not too serious today, surely there is the possibility that it could become widespread in a more dystopian future. What stops an "activist" or an tyrant CEO from erasing mass videos and posts that they believe is the wrong way to look at history? The ordinary people on these platforms would then receive an "edited" version of the past, something that doesn't truly encapsulate the events and sentiments of our time. This is an immense concern. I believe that nearly every post and video on the internet is an artifact of historical significance. I hope that censorship does not get out of hand, or at least that there is still a way to preserve these videos for future generations if they do get removed from a platform.
When the internet dawned, people cheered for the democratization of knowledge. Now I fear the victors may indeed rewrite history in their own view.