The idea that giants e too big to control is nonsense, says Gudian columnist Zoe iams

Guardian

If re not on , dont stt. Its like smoking: highly addictive and no good come of it. But if e, log on and put Elon Musk in r handle. has had enough of ulent Musk imitators and has decided to put a stop to their merry japes. r account be imtely blocked until ve provedre a real person (which do via atet to r phone).

So is no at why couldnt deal with hate speech, disruptive or Russian troll factories: theyd need is a fewNazikey, a flag on anyone with a name like @2876776, a quick Musk- block and an check. e anieties, of course, ound es that come from the social themselves. This leaves political and moral adjudication to giants, whose only kn skill is virtual domination. The likes of Mk have no obvious competencies in ethics. But they could stt rey simply, by ejecting kn racists and troll accounts. Sure, its a wide net that could easily ensne the of the , and who ks what mis hed be up to if he werent on Twitter. They could move on to the more generalised groups that simply sow bitter hatred and di with mis, those whom the n press recently called mischief mongers.

We could graduy build an ethical code collectively, and make it so much more sophisticated than just flagging up swe but having an open-door on rape threats. Cruciy, its not that hd: this is how civilisations e built and decency is maintained, by making trenchant decisions about whats acceptable and what isnt, not by endless equivalising between one persons right to say whatever they want, and ans right to a functional democracy.

The MPs on the , , and select committee have rightly been lauded across the world for their pluck and rigour in investigating fake , dk ads and abuse. If electoral meddling by a foreign power is wrong, its full etent has to be scoped. It cannot be filed under , hyper-connected world, along with Fortnite and eBay. Yet the committees chacterisation of the as the west, along with some of its prescriptions a micro on et al, to be spent on telling 12-ye-s not to believe everything they read plays into the nrative of our mutual lessness. It implies that, since s nothing to be done about the spread of dis, we must , individuy, become better at recognisingit for what it is.

This roach promuated most consistently by himself is remkable for its slacker fatalism. eplained recently that couldnt take down posts that deny the Holocaust because e that different get wrong I dont think that theyre intentiony getting it wrong, but I think its hd to impugn intent and to understandthe intent.

Until can see into the of the person who insists that Auschwitz didnt eist, cant impugn them. They simply be mistaken. The proposition asks us to believe in a group of who dispute a historical truth by mistake, who mean nothing by it and have no dker pur in spreading it.

We can recognise this studied impotence from sectors, notably finance: s nothing to be done with the territory, because it is just too vast. How can I k the intentions of a billion users? And if we cant control it, what can a state regulator, with a fraction of the and a zillionth of the epertise, possibly achieve? It has been established as an unchengeable , to be too big to fail chged with r ures, simply insist upon r impossible bigness.

A glance at Wikipedia is enough to e the facy in this gument: it is within the bounds of human ingenuity to create s defined by cooperation not discord, epertise not falsity, reservoirs of shed .

The civic entrepreneur EdSaperia, who set up peak , a for political nologists, is supporting the of PhD student in developing an aorithm for the detection of fake . Explaain.com scans the re reading and automaticy links it to pop-up cds that check its vera.

Meanwhile a s of e mobilising from different angles against the spread of sheer menda that has plagued elections from here to the US, Canada to Nigeria. A flawed of political activity is emerging. This world is seen as an inherently lawless place, where bad messs and big can be funnelled into the webs dk corners where no respectable person can see them. This is treated as an inevitability, boastfully by disruptors, ruefully by social giants. So we rive at the logical endpoint of free mket funentalism. A social that cant be regulated, yet affects everything from voting to consuming; which obviates altogether, while disempowering the individual by blaming them for ures of credulousness.

The only flaw in this analysis is that we e not powerless. We have the same moral musculature weve always had. We e nts in both analogue and ters, and enough of us (not me) e ingeniousin ways that snake-oil blowhards threateningan invasion of Turkish immigrants couldntbegin to . We e more than capableoffighting back.

Zoe iams is a Gudian columnist

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