While Facebook and Twitter continue to act as the self-anointed arbiters of the online world, their aggressive acts of censorship have come at a cost.
Between the pair of them, their market values have plummeted by more than $50 billion dollars since their deactivation of Donald Trump’s accounts in January.
“Facebook and Twitter […] saw $51.2 billion in combined market value erased over the last two trading sessions,” Business Insider reported.
Frustration has long been brewing towards Big Tech for its selective and hypocritical censorship practices over the years, and the loose justification of Trump ‘inciting violence’ that unfolded at the Capitol Hill on 6 January has proven the final straw for millions of users who, as a result are flocking to alternative social networks which protect free speech.
Facebook saw $47.6 billion erased from its public valuation following its announcement that Trump would remain suspended indefinitely, while Twitter’s dropped by $3.5 billion. Will this see a change in Facebook and Twitter’s moderation practices?
For now, it appears unlikely. “This is going to be much bigger than just one account and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day this week. And the next few weeks and go on beyond the inauguration,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stated on a video leaked by Project Veritas.
That sentiment was echoed by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in an interview with Reuters. “‘In this moment, the risk to our democracy was too big, that we felt we had to take the unprecedented step of what is an indefinite ban, and I’m glad we did,” she said.
However, despite the firm stance of Facebook and Twitter on their latest act of supranational censorship, the main objectives of these companies are expansion and profit. Therefore, should they continue to plummet as a result of their selective censorship practices, they will inevitably have to curb their actions.
A snapshot of this was provided by the recent decision of WhatsApp to update its terms of service which would require users to agree to share the same data as they do when using Facebook, its parent company, drawing widespread criticism and concern over user privacy.
This led to a mass exodus to messaging services which put privacy first, such as Signal and Telegram. The former saw 7.5 million downloads while the latter earned nine million between 5 and 12 January.
Within the same week, WhatsApp downloads fell by more than two million and, shortly after, the company announced that it would delay implementation of its terms of service update from February 2021 to May in order to considers its next steps.
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