The concentration of ownership of social media platforms has been likened to an “absurd form of dictatorship” by President Michael D Higgins.
Appearing on the Late Late Show on Friday night, the president was asked by host Ryan Tubridy about comments he made earlier this month when he suggested billionaires’ attempts to control public discourse were a “dangerous narcissism”.
While he didn’t identify Elon Musk by name during these comments, they were widely understood to be criticism of the billionaire’s attempted $44 billion takeover of Twitter.
When asked on Friday evening if he was referring to Mr Musk, the president replied: “It doesn’t matter who I was referring to”, before giving more details on his vision for the future of social media and public discourse and the dangers of concentration. property in the hands of a small number of wealthy individuals.
He said that in the past when it came to the news industry “you had some sort of code and understanding of what was legitimate commentary and so on.”
He said if this widely accepted code was breached, mechanisms were in place to deal with breaches, but “then you get social media development”.
He asked, “Why would anyone say that those who can concentrate the greatest property should be the people who decide how people should behave with each other in communication?”
He suggested that such concentration of ownership was “such an absurd form of dictatorship in a way, so if you want to have responsible communication, why would you decide to seek out the wealthiest person or group and give them the authority? That seems absurd to me. You don’t have to be a left-wing lunatic to believe that, it’s just a matter of democracy.
Looking at the wider economic situation closer to home, Mr Higgins also questioned how society was developing and said that ‘the essentials, such as, for example, with regard to food, shelter, housing, etc. should never have been seen as something that can be sorted by the market”.