For the most part, Americans have grown accustomed to an increasingly left-leaning culture, with social media companies playing the role of enforcers in an openly progressive environment where conservative politics is treated as an anomaly and something to be rejected.
Whereas the conventional libertarian response to this phenomenon is to simply look at social media platforms as private companies that can set their own rules, it is also true that with a new generation coming of age and making their own consumption decisions, the current cultural environment could soon shift. In no time, companies that effectively punish conservative attitudes might have to deal with the backlash as consumers begin to punish them.
As Gen Zers, or Zoomers, are growing older, it’s becoming clear that their politics don’t necessarily mirror millennials’. This is slowly translating into more skepticism when it comes to platforms like Facebook.
As Zoomers leave Mark Zuckerberg’s platform in droves, social media companies like TikTok, an app that is making history as the fastest growing in use among the 12 to 18 age demographic, seem to be slow to pick up on the signs that the anti-conservative streak might not be that popular among younger consumers. Thankfully, public pressure still speaks volumes, and with the younger audience becoming less likely to subscribe to left-leaning politics, social media platforms may have to change their tune.
That’s precisely what happened recently when TikTok banned pro-life activist Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action.
After she announced publicly that she had been prohibited from posting pro-life content on the video-sharing medium, TikTok reached out to Rose personally to reinstate her, giving Live Action another opportunity to reach out to the demographic most at risk for unexpected pregnancies. Thanks mostly to the pressure her announcement created, Rose wasn’t locked out of the platform for long, but other voices, including some considered “dangerous” because of their countercultural speech, remain banned in most of the popular online outlets.
Right now, the leading voices in the left-leaning media, in advocacy and on social media, might still feel they have the upper hand when it comes to what is and isn’t acceptable speech online, but as young people take a hold of the narrative, will social media websites cave in or will they stand strong against the tide?
Considering some social media moguls are already beginning to sound less disapproving when it comes to certain political speech they dislike, we might finally see online platforms acquiesce in the coming years.