If you listen to the social media folks, they will tell you that they are simply providing communication services, like the phone company. They are loathed to monitor every post, they say, because it may infringe on freedom of speech.

Freedom vs. Responsibility

They always raise the specter of censorship. And it’s a pretty good argument because you wouldn’t want a private company censoring your posts. However, these arguments are a thin veil for the real reason: It costs too much to monitor all the traffic they have and it would severely reduce profits.

According to the Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendel Holmes in his landmark opinion in Schenck v. The United States, freedom of speech is limited by it’s potential to injure others, like “Shouting fire in a crowded theater.” Unlike the telephone, social media is a broadcasting platform, like radio and television, to a potentially large audience. Hateful language and incitement to riot or to harm others is “Shouting fire in a crowded theater.”

No Brakes!

We had a millennial guest in our home for the weekend a while back. On Sunday, he was immersed in his phone, checking his social feeds. We were enjoying the Sunday paper over coffee. He pointed at the newspaper and asked, “How do you use that?” as if to make fun of an old, obsolete form of communication and news.

Our answer surprised him, “For one thing, posts that appear in the newspaper are more likely to be accurate than posts on social media because the newspapers are more likely to get sued for liable. They are forced to adhere to stricter principles of journalism.” Then we added, “And for another, because we don’t choose the news we want to read; we get different opinions and even stories that we would have never seen otherwise.”

Choosing Your News  

Today we have a growing number of folks getting most, if not all, their news from social media. Not only can the news be wrong, but it can be hateful and inciteful. Folks increasingly are getting less news that they weren’t looking for or does not support their own suspicions or desires. Now it’s easier than ever to pander to the desires of folks looking for simple answers, avoiding sacrifice, or acting in their own, albeit shortsighted, self-interest. Basically it plays to selfishness and a minimal education.

The question is, are we ready to choose our news and select the posts that are consistent with our own beliefs, even if they are contrary to scientific facts, and expect to continue to survive? Will we deny science and news that are inconvenient and require work and sacrifice to survive? The current events indicate that we are not ready to replace the newspaper with a social news feed. And since that is apparently the case, news feeds should be monitored for hateful and inciting language, let alone facts!

Regretful Action and Inaction

Otherwise, we will take our collective eye off the real existential threats that challenge our life, health, economy, democracy, and environment. We feel that social platforms are broadcasting, not just communication technology. Do we have the education, sensitivity, and wisdom to avoid action we will regret, or inaction on the things that matter most to our survival?




Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.