Welcome to StateBook. A Public Option for Social Media. Beginning these debates over ten years ago, I used to joke that the United States should nationalize FaceBook and make it a division of the Post Office. If this was ever truly an option in the past, it seems highly implausible now. But the underlying provocation rings true and is more necessary than ever.
Cool but what about those of us who have friends and family abroad? What about US citizens who are living abroad? These are not edge cases.
"All legal speech is permitted and protected under the first amendment."
This would go A LONG way to solving the "free speech debate" American can't seem to escape. Currently, as social media is privately owned, there is no 1st Amendment/Free Speech protection. People seem to be confused by this, which makes them frustrated and claim "censorship" when their posts violate terms of service. With a public social media option, people can see what a "free speech" platform looks like. And, if they don't like it, they can vote to change what is and is not protected speech.
A great idea, and a great article.
The central idea of having a state issued email address is great, but some of the outgrowths of this idea may not be realistic - the social media idea in particular. This actually has interesting parallels with the thinking behind BeReal - namely the motivation to promote something that is more genuine, substantive, and that is capable of breaking the dopamine doom-loop that infinite scrolling creates. But BeReal, like this app idea, ran into the concerning problem that there is considerable difference between what people should want, what people say they want, and what they actually want. The premise behind BeReal is beautiful and is a perfect response to what people say they want out of social media (and resolve the issues people claim to have with social media). But the problem with BeReal is that it's kinda boring. The reality is people use social media almost entirely when they're bored, and something that promotes real, genuine (and therefore more limited) social interactions just doesn't scratch the itch (in other words, people should use social media primarily to stay in touch with friends/family and secondarily to stay informed, but in practice entertainment is the primary driver). Of course, that's not even getting into the more practical consideration of how horrible a government attempt at creating a social media app/website would be at a product level.
Put differently, this idea - while very well thought out and theoretically very sound - is sort of like the idea that we should have relatively unbiased media. The thing is, we do. But people find it boring; the stated reason people engage with the news is because they want to be informed, but unfortunately the reason they read the news seems to be some combindation of the desire for entertaiment and to have their perspectives validated. People have the option to read quality news but they don't because there is a difference between the stated reason people read the news and the actual reason people read the news - much like the stated and actual reasons people use social media.