Oh, and ignorant. Among other things. Don’t worry, it’s water off a duck’s back.
I hope you might agree I am none of the above. My crime was to dare to suggest to some pseudo-social media virologist that she was wrong when she posted that anyone with flu was being counted as having Covid. Nonsense. What’s more it’s dangerous nonsense.
I always like to check who my detractors are and so I went on to her page to find that Facebook had already deleted one post peddling the same rubbish on the grounds it had been taken out of context, whatever that means. Sadly they hadn’t deleted her.
And so she was allowed to continue to share her made-up facts anywhere and everywhere, including in reply to messages from people who expressed their fears about the pandemic. Not only was she feeding into their understandable insecurities, I suspect it made her feel important in her ignorance too.
It happens all the time. You know it and so do I. And I can’t ignore it. It is dangerous to allow the spreading of misinformation, whether it comes from the anti-vax campaign, the anti- mask campaign or the Covid deniers, not to mention another idiot who sent me a video “proving” that hospitals were empty and there was no crisis.
Let us be clear – the spreading of misinformation, or lies as I prefer to call it, is dangerous. And people could die. And if you don’t believe me look at events in the US this week when five people lost their lives.
There are many who will now say this time Donald Trump has gone too far. Let me say here and now he has been going too far for weeks since the election – and long before that too. And like conspiracy theorists worldwide, he has been helped by social media.
Now is the time to act. And to change the law. Donald Trump was never going to go quietly. Like many narcissists, he cannot and will not accept defeat. But, like many narcissists, he is not a stupid man. Since he lost the election, even before a vote was cast, he has used social media to declare himself the winner. No matter how many times the giants in the industry, especially Twitter, fact-checked his lies, he continued to spout them.
Even after his mob, encouraged by him, had marched on the Capitol Building because “you have to show strength… you don’t concede,” he used Twitter to urge them to go home, yet still told them the election was fraudulent. “We love you. You’re very special,” he added.
So special that five people are now dead and for a few hours, until the politicians regained control, anarchy ruled. “I know your pain, I know you are hurt,” he said in another Twitter video. “We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide.” Well, yes, it was, Donald – for the other side. Lies, lies and damned lies.
“Remember this day forever,” he told his supporters. And we will, the whole world will, as a day of shame for the United States and a day of shame for democracy.
The hatred on the faces of those who screamed at the news media there to capture the scenes of mayhem was horrific to see. “You did this to us”, they shouted. “Stop the Steal”. “This is a revolution… We are decent, law-abiding citizens”.
No, you are not. You have been brainwashed into doing your master’s dirty work. You were behind an attempted coup orchestrated by the madman in the Oval Office. But an attempted coup it was.
For weeks, months and years, this man has peddled lies on social media, finally declaring himself the victor in an election that wasn’t even close.
But the thing we all know about bullies is if they say it loudly and often enough there will always be those who believe the lies. Millions of people in America now believe they were robbed of victory. More than 60 court cases have proved otherwise. Yet it has taken death and destruction for members of his own party to finally turn against him.
At last Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, declared: “If this election were overturned by allegations our whole democracy would enter a death spiral.”
Trump’s number two, Vice President Mike Pence, announced “the Presidency belongs today to the people and to them alone” – but only after he and others had to be removed to safety after the mob charged.
Then, and only then, did Twitter remove the President’s account, warning they may make the ban permanent. Well, too late. People are dead. And who knows what they
plan for election day in less than two weeks’ time?
The damage has been done. The pattern has been set. Just arrest the man for insurrection and get on with it. And make sure he can never run for office again by removing the tools of his trade for ever, and that means every social-media account he has now and in the future.
In this country, Sir Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Opposition, has called for a new law to make it a crime to spread misinformation on social media. I disagree with him on many issues but on this he is spot on.
I will always defend the right to free speech, to air your views whether or not I agree with you. But downright lies are another matter. And it is time to remove them and their perpetrators from being allowed to spread them. Whether that person is someone you know down the road or, thank the Lord, the outgoing President of the US.
And that, my friends, would make the world a safer place for all of us.