Facebook and Twitter and Freedom of Speech

As the CEO of Digital Double I feel you deserve a more detailed explanation about some recent events and decisions we’ve made as a company.

You may have noticed that on July 20th 2016, our company, took a public stand to defend freedom of speech.  I’ve been warming up to this decision for many months now. Those of you subscribed to the mailing list know what I’m talking about.

Before I go further with this, you should know that over the years Digital Double has had the pleasure of working with people of many backgrounds and viewpoints. Men & women, some liberal and some conservative. Some religious and some agnostic and atheists.  And everywhere in-between the spectrum.   Many of whom we still work with today.

I myself have traveled to many places around the world and I love observing and interacting with different cultures.  So I’m very aware that all those labels I just used, do very little to describe a person’s viewpoints, let alone a person. Instead they seem to provide a box within which any antagonist can insert an opponent and use them as an intellectual punching bag.

So while I despise the use of these labels, they are useful in helping me explain what is happening with freedom of speech and our desire as a company to do everything that is in our power to bring light to the issue.

So I’d first like to explain what brought about this decision.

Second I’d like to explain why we are doing what we are doing

And third I’d like to explain the consequences of these actions and how you can help.

 

What Caused It.

In recent years some terrible things have been happening in our country and around the world. While the gap between wealth and poverty widens, companies that monopolize industry get special government protection from market forces preventing entrepreneurs from accessing capital for upward mobility. This, in our opinion, only stifles innovation and progress.  Meanwhile mass immigration from third world countries into European nations has brought about tremendous societal tension and here in the US even the rule of law itself is now under question.

It’s in these times of cultural crisis that we need the power of speech more than ever because it’s in times like these that diverse ideas and a diversity of opinion are most needed to solve difficult problems. Shutting people’s voices will only produce miscommunication and ultimately create more violence and division in the process. If the pen is not allowed to prove mightier than the sword, then only the sword can prevail.

It is quite a blessing that we have platforms like Twitter and Facebook which have provided people around the world a voice and a forum by which to engage in this dialogue.  In fact I believe it has been the most empowering form of speech ever devised because it combines speech with the freedom of assembly.  But that is all starting to change.  Both these companies have started to engage in selective censoring.  And while we agree with their right as a private company to ban any account that violates their terms of service, we also believe they should apply their rules consistently across the board and also be transparent about their intentions.

Instead, what appears to be happening is these companies have become politically leaning organizations and have gone out of their way to stifle popular libertarian and conservative voices and organizations such as GotNews,  MiloYiannopoulos, LouderCrowder and others.  It is, perhaps, not surprising that the timing has coincided with the lead-up to the democratic national convention.
But what is almost more upsetting of all is that terror organizations seem to get a free pass and continue to use social media as their primary recruiting arm. We believe this behavior is unacceptable and hypocritical.

 

Why We’ve Chosen to Disengage

We’ve spent years building up our online presence and devoted a tremendous amount of resource, energy and money into our social media pages.  Doing our darnedest to gain a following and doing so primarily through word of mouth and with quality posts and incentives to our followers.   But, as I’m sure you know, posts are throttled and we are unable to reach our very own fans unless we pay for each post.  And so over the years we’ve spent thousands of dollars JUST to reach the people that have voluntarily chosen to like and “follow” our page. And yet despite this, I still get customers complaining that they “never see our posts”

That said, we have really valued the service and have been glad to continue spending our hard earned money doing this and treating it as part of our marketing budget.

But in light of these recent events, we feel that this money is now being spent politically and as a company we don’t want to be part of enabling that behavior. It would be disingenuous to all the people that work for our company because we want our online presence as a company to not be coupled with endorsing a particular candidate or political party. For reasons that should now be obvious. The only way to do this is to be watchful of where we put our money and remain as independent as possible in the process.

Therefore, as of July 20th 2016, Digital Double and all its affiliates such as Armature Nine, will not be posting news or updates on these websites.

 

The Consequences

To let go of all that investment we’ve put into our social media pages is really only going to hurt us, honestly. These social media pages have provided one of the best ways for us to market our products. But we believe that continuing to do so at the expense of our principles as a company will hurt us even more.

Three days after making this announcement on facebook our message board was met with its first  false flagger (first time in seven years).  These are essentially “fake” accounts engaging with us via message only to then use our friendly replies as a means to flag us as spam.

false flagger

So while we intend to keep our accounts open so that customers have a convenient way of getting a hold of us, we don’t know how long it will take for facebook or these hitmen/trolls getting our accounts to close.

 

What You Can Do

I want to make it clear that this decision does not come coupled with an implied judgement of users themselves. Everyone is entitled to do what they will with their time and money. That’s the beauty of freedom. In a free society we get to carve out the future by voting with our feet. So keep using it or don’t. I would actually advise you to continue using it, especially if you’re using it as a platform to promote freedom of speech. Heck, try to prove me wrong and see if you can get yourself banned 🙂  It’s totally up to you. But as far as what you can do to help us continue having a voice is to share this blog post or join our emailing list.   I realize email is really old-fashioned, but it’s still the most reliable form of communication the world has ever devised. We use mailchimp which is a great and reliable company that uses industry standard security measures to keep your email addresses private. We have two separate mailing lists:

Product Updates  Mailing List

Corporate Updates Mailing List

Our lists are pretty large and so it’s not inexpensive for us to send out emails (MailChimp charges per number of subscribers). That’s why we only send emails when there’s something really important to say or a lot to bring you up to date on.

We will also continue posting updates on this Epic Blog and if you like tumblr, that account will also remain in use.

Our facebook and twitter accounts will remain open in case you want an easy way to get a hold of us. But all contest news and announcement of winners and such will be done through our blog,  tumblr page and on occasion, our mailing list.

 

Conclusion

Diversity is a beautiful thing and diversity of opinion that much more complex and intriguing. Our company culture has embodied this over the years.  After all, we are an art studio, which means speech and communication are central to maintaining a healthy company ethos and brand. That’s why we believe it’s of utmost importance that all viewpoints are represented in debates moving forward and if there’s anyone we should be intolerant of it’s of those individuals that promote intolerance of others. But instead what we seem to be facing today is the beginning of an oxymoronic form of fascism in the name of tolerance.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you’ll allow us to continue having a voice outside of social media.

 

UPDATE

On August 29th 2016 we decided to continue to use facebook but only as a platform for artists that wish to showcase work they’ve created using our products. No reason to hinder their speech.

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