By Christos Koutsonasios *
Social media definitely represents a great opportunity for anyone, no matter who they are, to express themselves freely. I say opportunity and not reality. Strong reality and not real opportunity. For the first time in the field of circulation of ideas, anyone can become a journalist for himself, have a public platform, communicate his or others’ views without commitments and promises to economic and political agents, without being blackmailed, censored and himself – censored
One can use these tools for free and be judged, criticized, confronted, evaluated, this is the quintessence of democracy in a society that wants and claims to be called democratic. The rhetoric used can be sharp, soft, sugary, propagandistic, nonsensical, superficial, while the repertoire is also unlimited; political, social, cultural, personal, simple entertainment, songs, photos, etc.
These are possibilities, but how is reality formed?
We would be very romantic, perhaps naive and in any case unrealistic if we were to believe that supernational business tycoons like Facebook or Twitter launched these platforms that expect billions of users with the sole purpose of promoting the free flow of ideas. Their main concern is business profit and to some extent this is legitimate, as they are actually enterprises and their profits are huge. At the same time, they create a large database that includes all types of personal data; political views, personal tastes, personal information, consumer preferences, etc., which in themselves, without being trafficked for this purpose, constitute the number one tool for governments, political parties, companies, advertisers.
The function of social media is unclear; no one can really tell who calls the shots, what decisions are made and when, when and why a feature will be added and when it will be removed. No one knows social media relationships with governments, party affiliations, companies. There are supposed to be some frameworks and some principles, but they are general, unspecified and usually applied ala carte by some anonymous people called Facebook or Twitter Team, who impose sanctions such as temporary blocks.
Elena Akrita’s latest 30-day ban from Facebook, but also from other journalists, shows prejudice, censorship and political appropriateness. Akrita’s acrobatic commentary, by perfusion and penetration, is troubling the administration, disturbing a government that has placed monophony in the mainstream media, and is damaging mainly because it has a large reach; Her comment reaches over 100,000 readers, a number that no ordinary media can ever reach. If anyone was annoyed and considered that one of Akrita’s comments was offensive, they have every legal right to go to court, as dictated by the press law. Any other action and punishment imposed on her anonymously through Facebook is pure censorship and after all everyone, even Akrita, is judged every day for what she writes and is appreciated by thousands of readers. After all, this is the essence of democracy.
* Christos Koutsonasios is a Lawyer and member of the PRATTO Political Secretariat