We previously talked on the internet about the relentless clash of censorship between Democratic leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden. This growing campaign against free speech continues to grow despite yesterday’s hearing when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company falsely blocked the New York Post’s story of Hunter Biden’s pre-election influence. There was no recognition from the many academics or politicians who supported Twitter’s action. Instead, Democratic senators demanded more such censorship.
Dorsey’s statement was apologetic but still incomplete and evasive. He stated, “We did a quick interpretation without using any other evidence that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking, and according to our policy, we have blocked the distribution of those materials. After further deliberation, we admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours. “
There was no evidence of hacking as the source of the information was from an abandoned Hunter Biden computer. Neither Biden nor his father’s campaign have ever denied that the laptop and email were his. Additionally, Twitter blocked the New York Post for two weeks, not 24 hours. The New York Post refused to write the story, and it was two weeks before Twitter unblocked it. As a result, it blocked the newspaper in the critical run-up to the election.
It was not Dorsey’s statement, however, but the reaction of the Democratic senators that was so disturbing. Various senators called for more such censorship. As I have already established as someone from a strictly Democratic family in Chicago, I never thought the party would accept the censorship as a rally. However, the attack on freedom of expression has become a general issue on the left.
This is exactly how the crackdown on freedom of expression in Europe began. After politics convinced the public to give up this right to fight hateful views, countries like France, Germany and England plunged into ever-increasing criminalization and regulation of the language. In one particularly worrying move, Biden selected one of the most anti-free speech people in the United States to lead his transition team in media agency offices.
Fear of going the same path as Europe was heightened in yesterday’s hearing when Senators pushed corporations to do a lot of censorship. One of the spookiest moments came from Delaware Senator Chris Coons demonstrating the essence of the “slippery slope” danger.
Dorsey: As you know, misleading information is a big problem. It is difficult to define it fully and coherently. We wanted to broaden our approach to focus on the highest severity of damage. We focused on three areas, rigged media that you mentioned, civil integrity in relation to the elections, especially in the area of public health, specifically in relation to COVID. We wanted to make sure that the resources we have that have the greatest impact on where we believe the greatest severity of damage will be. Our guidelines are living documents. You will evolve. We will add to them, but we felt it was important that we concentrate our energies and prioritize the work as much as possible.
Coons: Well, Mr. Dorsey, I’ll close with that. I cannot think of any greater harm than climate change, which is literally changing our planet and causing damage to our entire world. I think we take significant damage while speaking. I acknowledge the pandemic and misinformation about COVID-19, tampered media is also causing damage, but I urge you to reconsider this as the spread of climate denialism further eases and in my view one of the greatest existential threats to our world accelerated. Many thanks to our two witnesses.
In particular, Dorsey begins with the same argument made by free speech advocates: “As you know, misleading information is a big problem. It is difficult to define it fully and coherently. “However, instead of voicing concerns about censoring views and comments based on such an amorphous category, Coons urged that the categories of censored material be expanded to prevent people from sharing what he sees as“ climate denial ”.
There are, of course, a variety of views that different people or groups would declare as “harmful”. Indeed, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal seemed to be taking the opposite meaning of Twitter and admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said he was “concerned that your two companies are actually falling behind or falling, that you are not taking action against dangerous disinformation”. Accordingly, he asks 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 Orwellian feel to it. It is not a content change. It’s censorship. If the Democratic Party takes action against freedom of expression, it should admit that it is the party of censorship and join those who have insisted that “China is right”. At least there would be an element of honesty in this growing campaign against freedom of expression in the United States.