Shut Facebook and Twitter down for 6 weeks before elections

If Facebook and Twitter can't control what happens on their sites, perhaps an election moratorium would help. It might have many beneficial consequences.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

It's a few weeks before midterm elections and the quaking has already begun.

Who might win? Who might get surprisingly defeated? And which of Facebook and Twitter will be blamed more for the result?

In the aftermath of the 2016 Elections, it seemed clear that neither of these famed sites had any idea what was sort of nefarious influences were operating on them.

This time around, Facebook and Twitter claim they'll pay more attention. They say that they've bolstered their security services.

How much faith, though, can we have in, for example, a company like Facebook that just announced, oh, another security breach?


Shut it down for a little while?

YouTube screenshot/ZDNet

We're living in times where draconian solutions are popular. So I have one. How about shutting down Facebook and Twitter for 6 weeks before elections?

Some countries, such as New Zealand, have all sorts of rules about election day itself. Some countries limit the length of election campaigns to as little as six weeks. In India, there can be no public meetings or election processions 48 hours before an election.

In the US, however, we need constant extremes in order to listen and change our behavior.

Imagine, then, if our citizens were given six weeks to avoid all the prattle on Facebook and Twitter. Imagine if we were forced to consider the realities of our political way of life just a little bit more -- in a little bit more peace.

Please, I know you'll freely tell me I'm trying to deny free speech, but this (limited) privilege has been abused a little over the last few years, don't you think?

Fakers, cowards, Putinists and those who wish the country ill will have found an easy way to flood minds with, more than anything else, confusion.

What if these bad actors had their stages taken away for a little while?

What if it was just a little harder to pump arrant, divisive, vindictive nonsense into human brains for six weeks that might affect people's futures?

Isn't this, at the very least, a disruptive idea?

We've moved fast and we've broken things. Now we're looking down at the mess we've made and wailing like chicken pox-ridden children.

Why not give ourselves just a little pause for -- a revolutionary idea, this -- thought?

There might be other positive consequences to all this. What if we discovered that life without Facebook, Twitter -- and, yes, let's close down YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat too -- was a little more relaxing?

What if we discovered that our minds became slightly more able to consider deeper thoughts, rather than being forced to react like Pavlovian puppies to every dramatic update or tweet?

What if this let more traditional media companies, too, focus on issues instead of tweetable moments?

Here's another potentially positive result: the people who run Facebook, Twitter and the rest might have a little time to improve their systems and consider more deeply the wreck they've wrought.

And the rest of the world -- oh, Facebook and Twitter would be shut down everywhere -- would be able to solemnly consider that we might do something considered.

Suddenly, America would be seen as a beacon of restraint and deeper thought. Perhaps, drier philosophers might observe, for the first time.

No, I've not entirely thought this through. Then again, Facebook and Twitter didn't exactly think things through before they sucked the world in to be suckered.

This is something of an experiment, but surely one worth trying.

Could it really make things any worse than the place -- and the state -- we're in?

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