Today, Facebook and Twitter crossed a line. It has long been known that they have been engaging in censorship of views they do not like, typically those of Conservatives. But today, they went one step further. Today, they engaged in election interference, confirming something that Conservatives have known for many years: these are not platforms, they are publishers.
An article was published in the New York Post earlier today, detailing Hunter Biden’s email correspondence. Hunter, the son of Democrat nominee for President, former Vice President Joe Biden, with the Ukraine. Now it is widely known that Hunter has had business dealings with the Ukraine, given it has been the subject of much media coverage and scrutiny over the time in which Joe Biden has been running for President. However, the former VP has consistently claimed he had no knowledge of his son’s business dealings. The emails detailed in this report from the NY Post are thereby damning given they show that Biden was indeed involved in Hunter’s dealings with the Ukraine. This means that for months on end, Biden has been lying about his involvement. There is a very real possibility, hell, it is practically a reality, that the former VP is corrupt.
But there is a far greater concern than this that has emerged from the flames of the fire. When this report was published, it was, as is the norm nowadays, shared around on social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook. However, these social media “platforms” jumped on the article, doing all they could to practically wipe it from history. Facebook started taking down the posts, claiming it was a publishing decision (something that is limited to publishers, not platforms), and Twitter went on a suspension spree, locking the accounts of people who shared the article and removing the tweets. They locked out Hollywood actor James Woods, known for being a staunch Conservative, and political commentator Jack Posobiec. But then they went overboard when they locked out President Trump’s Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. This is where it crossed over from mass censorship to election interference.
See these Silicon Valley companies, also known as Big Tech, claim to be “platforms”. Platforms allow for the free sharing of information with very limited restrictions. In other words, people should not be punished for simply sharing their political views, or a news article like that published by the NY Post. A publisher, on the other hand, has the ability to choose what is published on their site, and thus can remove posts if they so wish. As previously mentioned, Facebook and Twitter both claim to be platforms. Now it is well known that the companies’ CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, alongside most of those who work for these social media companies, are liberals. They do not like Conservative views, being quick to censor them regularly. Many Conservatives have had their accounts suspended or indeed removed completely from these “platforms” simply for sharing opposing views to their creators. This is unacceptable under the provisions that constitute a platform. To understand this however, we must look to Section 230 of the US Communications Act.
In essence, Section 230 provides both providers and users of an “interactive computer service” who publish information from third parties with immunity from liability. Furthermore, it provides what is termed as “Good Samaritan” protection from civil liability for the operators of such interactive computer services in moderating and/or removing any third-party material that they deem to be either obscene or offensive, as long as it is done in good faith. This is the privilege extended to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, so long as they are classified as such.
However, in the actions these two social media giants have taken today, they have overstepped their boundaries, removing material that was neither obscene nor offensive. Indeed, the only issue with the article from the NY Times was that it did significant damage to the Biden campaign, evident from the actions of the campaign this morning in calling a lid at 10:30am. More notably, neither Joe Biden nor his campaign team have refuted the substance of the article, bringing into question Biden’s innocence in all this. It speaks volumes that Biden would call a lid after this was published, given the very action itself screams guilt.
Now it was only a few days ago that Twitter announced a new Civic Integrity Policy that they would be implementing in order to prevent any election interference. The irony in this is that they have now done just that themselves. In engaging in mass censorship that was clearly not in good faith this morning, and striking down Kayleigh McEnany’s account, they made a grave error. They stepped out of the shadows and revealed themselves to be a publisher. It is something that has been known by many for years, but they have now practically admitted it amidst their reckless actions. Facebook have done the same, making it clear as day when they said they chose to take down the article based on a publishing decision, a privilege that is not extended to platforms, rather being limited solely to publishers. Both companies have essentially ceded any rights they have as a platform.
This time, Big Tech have really bitten off more than they can chew. President Trump is not at all happy with what they have done, especially taking into consideration that they went after his Press Secretary. He is not the only one, with a host of other Republican members of Congress, including Texan Senator Ted Cruz, irate with the farce that these social media giants have become. Cruz in particular has been a vocal proponent of free speech on these platforms and others, including YouTube, having stood up for Conservative commentator and comedian Steven Crowder when he was demonetized by the video sharing “platform” last year after countless attacks. Crowder still faces such issues even now after he was re-monetized, unsurprising given his Conservative views and takedowns of Left-Wing ideologues and their talking points. Cruz, amongst others, has raised these issues in the Senate, however little has come of it.
But now, that is likely all about to change. President Trump has reportedly called a meeting with Republicans for this weekend to discuss the ramifications of the egregious actions partaken in by both Facebook and Twitter, with many calling for Section 230 to be repealed. It would appear some in the Trump administration have caught onto this, with McEnany today setting a broken clock she owns to 2:30 before appearing on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News. This clock has been set to specific times over the last few days (including 3:11, to represent November 3, which is Election Day, and 3:16, representative of the famous Bible verse John 3:16) as she appears from home while isolating after testing positive to COVID-19. It is essential that Section 230 is repealed, or at the very least that Facebook and Twitter are officially classified as publishers so that they cannot claim the special privileges of the Section.
In addition to this, Zuckerberg and Dorsey should be hauled to front Congress and explain themselves. Although Dorsey and Twitter claim there was a communication error and that the Hunter Biden article was removed because it “contained personal information”, they must show how this was any different to the stories published and shared on the President’s taxes, and the recordings of private conversations of the First Lady. If they are going to take down tweets for these reasons, they need to be consistent across the board, no matter which political side is affected.
Essentially, if you are going to claim to be a platform, you take zero responsibility for the content posted on your platform and have nothing to do with it. Otherwise, if you want the ability to edit and take responsibility for what is posted, you declare yourself as a publisher. It is quite simple.
Facebook and Twitter must also explain why they are engaging in election interference. This is something the Democrats accused Russia of doing back in 2016, which turned out to be a hoax, but this time it is a very real issue. These Big Tech companies pose a threat to democracy, attempting to cover up for Joe Biden in the hope that he will win the election. It is something that must be dealt with to ensure the integrity of the 2020 Election, which takes place in just under three weeks.
Big Tech must not be allowed to control journalism. What occurred this morning was Orwellian, like something out of a political dystopia where the truth is censored so that falsehoods may be preserved in an effort to ensure political victory for one side. These companies must be held to account and regulated so as to prevent any further attempts to interfere with a democratic election. But while we await this, we must be wary that all Conservatives are under threat from these tech giants now. If they can take down the Press Secretary, they can take down anyone.
Big Tech have declared digital warfare. It is crucial we do not let them win.