On Saturday, Twitter admitted that it is actively working with the Indian government to censor criticism of its treatment of the pandemic as the number of cases and deaths continues to skyrocket. There are widespread reports that the Indian government has misrepresented the number of deaths and the actual case rate could be up to 30 times higher than reported. The country is short of beds, oxygen, and other essentials because it is unable to adequately prepare for a new surge. Unsurprisingly, the Indian government has taken action against criticism. This included a call to Twitter to censor such information, and of course Twitter has obeyed. With the support of many Democratic leaders in the United States, Twitter is now regularly censoring positions in the United States, and India has had no problem getting it to crack down on those who are raising the alarm about the government’s handling of the crisis.
In an Associated Press story about the raging pandemic and the failure of the Indian government, these two lines are buried:
“On Saturday, Twitter complied with the government’s request and prevented people in India from seeing more than 50 tweets that appeared to criticize the government’s handling of the pandemic. Targeted posts include tweets from opposition ministers who are critical of Modi, journalists and ordinary Indians. “
The article quoted Twitter as saying that it had authority to “deny access to content only in India” if the company found the content to be “illegal” in a particular jurisdiction. Hence, criticizing the government in this regard is illegal, so Twitter has agreed to become an arm of the government in censoring information.
Remember, some of this information can be true and actually save lives. It is not “false news” but an effort by journalists and others to expose government errors that could cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Twitter’s guidelines state:
Content that is proven to be false or misleading and that could result in a significant risk of harm (e.g. increased exposure to the virus or adverse effects on public health systems) must not be shared on Twitter. This includes sharing content that can mislead people about the nature of the COVID-19 virus. the effectiveness and / or safety of any preventive measures, treatments, or other precautions taken to alleviate or treat the disease; government regulations, restrictions, or exceptions relating to health warnings; or the prevalence of the virus or the risk of infection or death related to COVID-19. In addition, we can flag tweets exchanging misleading information about COVID-19 to reduce its spread and provide additional context.
Here, critics say Twitter is acting in concert with the Indian government to censor criticism of its response – criticism that could expose “significant risks of harm” from government neglect. Furthermore, Twitter seems not only to tag the tweets, but to block them like an outsourced censorship agency at the behest of the government.
This is the face of the new censors. The future of voice control does not lie in the classic state-mdia model, but in the alliance of states with corporate giants such as Twitter. Twitter is now actively engaged in what Democratic leaders approve of as “robust content change” to control positions and political disagreements.
When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey came before the Senate to apologize for blocking Hunter Biden’s pre-election story as a mistake, the Senators pushed him and other big tech executives to be more censored.
At that hearing, members such as Senator Mazie Hirono (D., HI) urged witnesses such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey to reassure Trump still unable to speak on their platforms, “What are you two willing to do about Donald Trump’s use.” to do? Will he continue to be considered up-to-date after his tenure as president ends, and can he continue to use your platforms to disseminate misinformation? “
Rather than addressing the dangers of such news censorship, Senator Chris Coons urged Dorsey to expand the categories of censored material to prevent people from sharing what he sees as “climate denial.” Likewise, Senator Richard Blumenthal seemed to be taking the opposite meaning from Twitter, admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said he was “concerned that your two companies are actually falling behind or pulling back, that you are not taking action against dangerous disinformation”. Accordingly, he asked for an answer to this question:
“Will you commit to the same kind of solid game books for changing content, including fact checking, labeling, reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps in the upcoming election, even for politicians in the upcoming runoff?”
“Robust content change” has a certain appeal, like a kind of software upgrade. It is not a content change. It’s censorship. If our representatives want to crack down on freedom of expression, they should admit that they are campaigning for censorship.
It’s fascinating how social media companies have privatized censorship. These companies are now implementing policies to censor material that is deemed illegal, counterfeit, or misleading by those in power. The company also shows no compulsion to protect freedom of expression. When India calls for censorship, it just shrugs and says the dissenting views are now illegal.
Meanwhile, Liberals support crackdown on free speech and corporate power over expression.
We discussed how writers, editors, commentators, and scholars have embraced the increasing demands for censorship and language control, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisors. Even journalists cite attacks on freedom of expression and the free press. This includes scholars who reject the concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. The Dean of Columbia Journalism and New York writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment freedom of expression was “armed” to protect disinformation.
Liberals now advocate censorship and even declare that “China is right” about internet controls. Many Democrats have resorted to the false narrative that the First Amendment does not regulate private companies, so this is not an attack on freedom of expression. Freedom of speech is a human right that is not based solely on or defined solely by the first change. Internet company censorship is a “little brother” threat that has long been debated by free speech advocates. Some may willingly advocate control of corporate language, but it’s still a denial of free speech.
That’s why I recently started calling myself an internet originalist. Twitter is now blatantly and unapologetically a corporate censor. The question is whether the public will remain silent or, like some, will actually adopt Orwell’s new order of “robust content modification”.