Social Media Joins the Unholy Alliance

Social Media Joins the Unholy Alliance

“Censorship was now [1649] more severe than at any time in England’s history, following the general rule that censorship increases with the insecurity of the government.”  – Historian Will Durant

In late May, LinkedIn suspended the account of Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.  A few days later, Meta issued a 180-day suspension of the Instagram accounts of everyone working for the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  Apparently, it had maintained a continual suspension of Kennedy’s personal account since 2021.  Ramaswamy’s offense had been to post statements questioning current dogma on climate change.  What had Kennedy’s campaign officials said or done?  Apparently nothing.  They’d posted nothing at all to Instagram, but had their accounts suspended en masse anyway.

When both candidates complained, the two platforms reinstated all the accounts.  But the lesson is clear: social media giants are continuing to censor speech on the basis of its content or, in the Kennedy case, supporters’ mere association with a candidate apparently deemed inappropriate.  Social media’s antipathy for free speech is ongoing.  As Yale constitutional scholar Jed Rubenfeld pointed out,

This censorship should worry anyone who cares about democracy in America. It isn’t only antidemocratic; it’s a thumb on the scale that could easily tip a tightly contested election.

That last of course isn’t some paranoid prediction of a dystopian future, but simply a reasonable description of the past.  The taking down of all information about the New York Post’s accurate reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop was designed to damage the Trump campaign and benefit Biden’s.  It may will have done both.  And four years previously, the Steele dossier and its leaks to the press had the same goal, albeit unachieved.

But it’s not just the legacy press that’s involved and it’s not just presidential elections that are at stake, important as both are.  Massive social media platforms have been revealed by the Twitter Files to have been frankly altering access and exposure based entirely on the politics of presidential candidates.  So, well before Election Day, 2020, Twitter was “visibility filtering” Donald Trump, but not Joe Biden.

Plus, those platforms have accepted the role of government-appointed gatekeeper of information generally.  Pre-Musk Twitter not only quashed the Biden laptop story, it did the same to COVID reporting that failed to repeat, or questioned, the government’s line.  Never mind that questions about the origin of the virus and how best to deal with it persisted throughout the pandemic and up to the present.  Social media platforms aggressively supported Anthony Fauci and the claim that the virus entered the human population through a Chinese food market.  That claim was always questionable, but, as the most recent story on COVID’s origins makes clear, has become increasingly unlikely compared with that of the virus originating in the Wuhan lab’s experiments with gain of function.

That Fauci may have adopted his intransigent point of view to shield himself and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases he headed for 38 years from criticism due to the Institute’s funding of Wuhan’s GoF research has gotten little attention from social media platforms or the legacy press.

When even scientists with impeccable reputations questioned the government’s narrative, they found themselves sidelined by what were at the time social media techniques of which they had no knowledge.  Scientists like Dr. Jay Bhatacharya, Dr. Martin Kulldorff and Dr. Sunetra Gupta mostly disappeared from public discourse despite expressing well-considered ideas that desperately needed a public airing to inform policy.  Governmental agencies decided not only that they knew better, but that even principled disagreement had to be squelched.  They recruited social media giants to the cause of damping down that disagreement and those giants happily complied, even when they knew the party line was of doubtful validity and their own protocols didn’t permit the actions they took.

Unsurprisingly, the attacks against legitimate points of view expressed by highly qualified scientists, plus the acceptance as gospel of questionable ones, resulted in public policy that has since come to be widely understood as both dishonest and outright damaging to the public health and welfare.

Do I need to say it?  That is precisely what the right of free speech is supposed to prevent.  One key idea of free speech is that a healthy exchange of ideas is the best way to establish public policy and come to a consensus on issues of the day.  And that is exactly what we didn’t do thanks to the unholy alliance of governments (federal and state), the legacy press and social media.

Now, thanks to the Twitter Files, we have some inkling of just how ubiquitous that alliance is and how intolerant of dissent.  So, for a few examples, one doctor found his Twitter account suspended simply because he had referred to a study of mRNA vaccines.  The FBI paid Twitter over $3 million to field its concerns about Tweets and Twitter users, even those with very few followers.  In a particularly disgraceful episode, Twitter worked hand-in-glove with a Pfizer lobbyist to cast doubt on the concept of natural immunity, giving a boost (pun intentional) to the Pfizer vaccine in the process.  All this was going on while Twitter was assuring the world that it was entirely independent of governmental influence.  In fact, its fealty to an array of governmental agencies and corporate entities was unflagging.

And then of course there’s its connection to Hamilton68, the non-profit organization whose entire reason for being was the invention and dissemination of false information that could then be quoted as true by whoever found it of use, particularly the leftist news media.  Memorably, MSNBC quoted as true Hamilton68 lies an amazing 229 times over three years, surely a record.  Twitter investigated H68, determined that what it reported as “Russian bot” activity was actually the routine interactions of everyday Americans with no connections to Russia or bots of any kind.  But, even knowing that, Twitter brass allowed the scam to continue, which it did until Musk bought the company and opened the files to principled journalists.

Censorship is always the behavior of elites controlling what the rest of us can and cannot know, read and hear.  Censorship is always an exercise of power.  Censorship is always the behavior of the powerful seeking to maintain power. ‘Twas ever thus.

Because of the above, our forebears made freedom of speech and the press bedrock principles of this country.  They didn’t anticipate a time in which the news media would, almost as one, abandon their role in our constitutional system and join with governmental powers to spread disinformation in order to maintain and enhance governmental power.  But that is what has happened.  Because it has, we find ourselves at a unique moment in American history, one that demands reform that’s preceded by the large-scale rejection by the American people of a dishonest press and an anti-democratic government.


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