Tik Tok And A Pack Of Smokes

As I was growing up, cigarettes were part and parcel of our lives. Military gave them away in WWII.  Vending machines full of them in restaurants and gas stations. Commercials on television with celebrities or even “doctors” hawking their smoothness. Cartons decorated with holiday package to be given at Christmas. Forty plus percent of the adult population smoked. No wonder.  And no wonder their kids emulated them

By the mid-1960s, things changed. The second of two Surgeon General reports came out saying there was a direct link between cigarettes and cancer.  Numerous television and movie personalities either died of lung cancer and had serious operations to remove cancers.  Commercials were ordered off the air.  Labels were placed on packages warning of the dangers.  Large scale programs in schools focused children on the dangers.  Now less than 11 percent smoke - mostly outside.

The Cigarettes of the 21st Century

As someone who has been part of the cyber realm since its beginnings in the early 1990’s, I think you can make a pretty good case that Social Media has become the cigarettes of the mid-21st century - TikTok the latest worst case.

Given away for free, it has become part and parcel of our lives.  In many cases, carrying the carcinogen of disinformation, lies, and bigotries.

 Addictive to young and old who become wedded to it night and day.  Causing psychological harm to a generation of young people.  Yet, like cigarettes in my youth, no one has yet to step in to really regulate it. Warn perhaps. Cajole perhaps.  But not step in to really deal with the harm it causes.  It is time to do that now.

Free Cigarettes And Section 230

I was on the Hill in the Senate Majority Leaders office of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 was put forward.  How could anyone not favor a bill trying to clean up the nascent internet and protect minor from accessing porn.  And as a less than subtle dig by the Republicans in an election year about a President who had a “zipper” problem.

Eventually layered into the much larger Telecommunication Act of 1996, the CDA contained a section hard lobbied for by the early purveyors of the internet - Section 230.   Protecting a new industry was the desired effect – “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”  

The bill was passed easily and what was a small sop to a small industry became a “Biblical Commandment” of Social Media  carried to this very day. We are simply placing material on our platforms. We are neutral. And, as time went along, don’t worry we can self-regulate. A mantra repeated by a generation inculcated in the deliberate misinterpretation of the original intent by people who would most benefit by it

Big Social Media As Tobacco Companies

Social Media is following Tobacco’s game plan. The push back against regulation by Big Tobacco was hard and fast.  An enormous amount of money was at stake – from sales to Federal price supports for tobacco farming.  Advertising of “filtered” cigarettes, positive “studies” countering the accusations of addiction, and protective lobbying with the requisite political campaign support  – billions spent to protect Big Tobacco’s position.  Still, the damage continued.  The body of information condemning it stacked up as fast as the cigarette victims bodies.  

Still, when action was taken in the late 1960’s, it was not a total banning of cigarettes.  As mentioned previously, it was a harsh compromise. And while a tenth of the adult population still smokes, it is recognized as a dangerous habit.  Bluntly, people’s lives were saved. Children’s’ lives were saved.

The Party Is Over

We know the harm.  We’ve seen the harm. It is now time for the Federal government to do the same with Social Media.  

There will be naysayers - many well paid by the industry - who will talk about the taking away of freedoms and censorship.  Government intrusion and incompetence.  How dare the government regulate content and “quality” – as it has with other products we use daily from over the air television and radio, to food to cars to computers?  As our Supreme Court has noted in the past, free speech has it limits when harm follows.  And, my favorite quote, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

In the final analysis, we have a generation of young people (and older) who are being harmed by Social Media. Bullying, propaganda, targeted influencing of foreign hostile nations.  

Surely they are entitled to be protected by a responsible society – a responsible government.  Whether the solution comes from Congress or the Executive.  

Whether it is the Federal Communications Commission or a cyber version of it.  Something must be done as the damage mounts every day. We owe to the next generation to clean up our Social Media “ashtray.” 

Ronald A. Marks is a former CIA officer who served Intelligence counsel to two Senate Majority Leaders and currently heads a Cyber advisory firm. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and visiting professor of technology at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. 

Image:  Ideogram     

You Might Also Read: 

US Legislators Want TikTok's Chinese Owners To Divest :

___________________________________________________________________________________________

If you like this website and use the comprehensive 6,500-plus service supplier Directory, you can get unrestricted access, including the exclusive in-depth Directors Report series, by signing up for a Premium Subscription.

  • Individual £5 per month or £50 per year. Sign Up
  • Multi-User, Corporate & Library Accounts Available on Request

 


Cyber Security Intelligence: Captured Organised & Accessible


 

 

« Russian Hackers Are A Global Threat
Cybersecurity Recruitment Agencies »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Resecurity, Inc.

Resecurity, Inc.

Resecurity is a cybersecurity company that delivers a unified platform for endpoint protection, risk management, and cyber threat intelligence.

NordLayer

NordLayer

NordLayer is an adaptive network access security solution for modern businesses — from the world’s most trusted cybersecurity brand, Nord Security. 

The PC Support Group

The PC Support Group

A partnership with The PC Support Group delivers improved productivity, reduced costs and protects your business through exceptional IT, telecoms and cybersecurity services.

North Infosec Testing (North IT)

North Infosec Testing (North IT)

North IT (North Infosec Testing) are an award-winning provider of web, software, and application penetration testing.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of automatic cloud backup and critical data protection against ransomware, insider attacks and hackers for businesses and organisations worldwide.

Wibu-Systems

Wibu-Systems

Wibu-Systems is a leading provider of solutions for the Digital Rights Management (DRM) and anti-piracy industry.

Untangle

Untangle

Untangle provides network security products designed specifically for the below-enterprise market, safeguarding businesses, home offices, nonprofits, schools and governmental organizations.

Wizlynx Group

Wizlynx Group

Wizlynx services cover the entire risk management lifecycle from security assessments and compliance to the implementation of security solutions and provision of Managed Security Services.

Cyber Base

Cyber Base

Cyber Base is an Information Technology company based in Uganda providing software and hardware solutions to clients.

Zeguro

Zeguro

Zeguro provides complete cybersecurity risk assessment, mitigation and insurance, allowing you to easily manage your cyber risk.

Malleum

Malleum

MALLEUM are specialists in penetration testing and security assessments. We think like hackers – and act like them – to disclose discreet dangers to your organization.

Energia Ventures

Energia Ventures

Energia Ventures is a three-month intensive accelerator for entrepreneurs with an innovative business in the energy, smart grid, cleantech, and cybersecurity sectors.

Labs/02

Labs/02

Labs/02 is a seed-stage incubator with a mission to advance cutting-edge technology in innovative areas including AI, deep learning, autonomous transportation, and smart cities.

Dynatrace

Dynatrace

Dynatrace provides software intelligence to simplify cloud complexity and accelerate digital transformation.

Pionen

Pionen

Pionen are a specialist information security consultancy with excellent people and proven security delivery methodologies at its core.

Digital Edge

Digital Edge

Digital Edge provides unparalleled Managed Cloud Solutions, as well as superior Information Technology Support Services.

Oligo Security

Oligo Security

Oligo aims to streamline the usage of open source by making it secure and easy to protect. Through focusing developers on the relevant vulnerabilities we make the fixing process significantly shorter.

RSK Cyber Security

RSK Cyber Security

RSK Cyber Security are a leading cyber security services company that uses services, consulting, and product knowledge to lower security risk across the board.

Entro Security

Entro Security

Entro is the first holistic secrets security platform that detects, safeguards, and enriches with context your secrets across code, vaults, chats, and platforms.

ThreatDown

ThreatDown

ThreatDown, powered by Malwarebytes, is on a mission to overpower threats and empower IT by removing the complexity of detecting and stopping today’s most advanced threats.

Grypho5

Grypho5

Grypho5 offers managed packages to protect where threat actors strike most. We defend your infrastructure dynamically, leaving you to focus on other priorities.