Following Elon Musk’s Twitter Files, which exposed the extent of government censorship on Twitter, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government began its hearings. The focus was on Twitter, but Facebook isn’t any different. We just don’t have internal emails and memos from Zuckerberg’s minions.
Law professor Jonathan Turley’s testimony before the subcommittee explains that government agencies trampled the First Amendment citing “Twitter and Facebook clearly had an impact [on our elections] by suppressing certain stories and viewpoints in our public discourse.”
Some excerpts from his testimony:
The Twitter Files raise serious questions of whether the United States government is now a partner in what may be the largest censorship system in our history. The involvement cuts across the Executive Branch, with confirmed coordination with agencies ranging from the CDC to the CIA. Even based on our limited knowledge, the size of this censorship system is breathtaking, and we only know of a fraction of its operations through the Twitter Files. Twitter has 450 million active users but it is still only ranked 15th in the number of users, after companies such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. The assumption is that the government censorship program dovetailed with these other companies, which continue to refuse to share past communications or work with the government. Assuming that these efforts extended to these larger platforms, it is a government-supported censorship system that is unparalleled in history.
Regardless of how one comes out on the constitutional ramifications of the government’s role in the censorship system, there should not be debate over the dangers that it presents to our democracy. The United States government may be outsourcing censorship, but the impact is still inimical to free speech values that define our country.
……The growing distrust of our government is fueled by the concern of some citizens that the Justice Department and the FBI have lost clear separation from the political influence and the agenda of the White House.
……In addressing these controversies, the subcommittee will also have to distinguish between problems of personnel and problems of policy or practices. Some questions of bias can be traced to personnel. We have seen FBI agents, like Peter Strzok, removed or fired in recent years for their open political bias. The belated efforts to remove such officials is a concern, but their conduct may not show a systemic bias in the bureau. However, a far more serious concern is why the bureau continued to push the Russian collusion investigation despite ample and early evidence refuting claims by Christopher Steele and others. Recently, the mainstream media has begun to acknowledge that it committed the same failure of objectivity and judgment in pushing these allegations.
……Another area of concern has been the push by many in Congress to get the Justice Department to prioritize certain ideologies in opening investigations. As I stated in recent testimony, such use of ideology as a determinative threshold criteria can have dangerous implications for free speech in the United States.
……It is a common refrain among many supporters of corporate censorship that the barring, suspension, or shadow banning of individuals on social media is not a free speech problem. The reason is that the First Amendment applies to the government, not private parties. As a threshold matter, it is important to stress that free speech values are neither synonymous with, nor contained exclusively within, the First Amendment. The First Amendment addressed the most prevalent danger of the time in the form of direct government regulation and censorship of free speech and the free press. Yet, free speech in society is impacted by both public and private conduct. Indeed, the massive censorship system employed by social media companies presents the greatest loss of free speech in our history. These companies, not the government, now control access to the “marketplace of ideas.” That is also a free speech threat that needs to be taken seriously by Congress. While the Washington Post has shown that the Russian trolling operations had virtually zero impact on our elections, the corporate censorship of companies like Twitter and Facebook clearly had an impact by suppressing certain stories and viewpoints in our public discourse. It was the response to alleged disinformation, not the disinformation itself, that manipulated the debate and issues for voters.
……The “marketplace of ideas” is now largely digital. The question is whether the private bodies engaging in censorship are acting truly independently of the government. With the Twitter Files, there is now ample reason to question that separation. Social media companies operate under statutory conditions and agency review. That relationship can allow or encourage private parties to act as willing or coerced agents in the denial of free speech.
Even if the bigwigs who own social media sites weren’t overt in their collaboration with the government, they ban and censor in accordance with their own ideological bias. The “market place of ideas” is restricted to what they deem appropriate.
Every three-letter weaponized agency in the Swamp dictated which accounts to ban and posts to censor. They teamed up with Big Tech to control information, free speech, and debate on social media. The Dems did their part, as well.
BTW: Mark Zuckerberg admitted to helping the FBI rig the 2020 election.
Leftwing totalitarians have decided that free speech is a ‘threat to democracy’; an accusation they reserve for viewpoints and facts that refute their ideology. The real menace to our democratic republic is the hostile leftwing media, corrupt Dems, and their weaponized government agencies that target American citizens.
Let me know when those involved are held accountable and are punished. There are no oversight and accountability committees worth your time – they hold the hearings, create soundbites, create a “viral” moment, frame the narrative for the media to run with and then raise money for themselves and their party.
‘Misinformation’ is what the government autocracy says it is.
“Free speech” is what the leftwing cabal says it is.