Big Tech’s censorship is election tampering. It may also violate campaign finance law. It’s actions clearly amount to in kind donations.
Silicon Valley is censoring the NY Post’s Hunter Biden story. This is important. Sure elections are messy. The closer we get to Election Day gets the more stories come out which are designed to hurt one campaign or another. The process can be ugly. The process has been around since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
What we have to understand is that the process plays an important role in informing voters. It was on display just a few weeks ago. President Trump’s tax returns were stolen and leaked. They were published to call to light the fact that he had limited his federal income tax liability to just $750 in 2016 and 2017.
He did nothing illegal. He paid what the law requires based on expert advice. We would all do the same if the roles were reversed.
Similarly, a blockbuster report from the New York Post asserts ethically questionable behavior by Joe Biden’s son. Hunter Biden introduced business contacts to his father. The assertion is he did so in an improper pay for influence set up.
The Post reported on “a message of appreciation that Vadim Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.” It also reported on salacious images of Hunter Biden using drugs and engaging in sexually explicit acts.
The report has been declared false by the Biden campaign. No proof or rebuttal has been forthcoming. Challenges by leftist media outlets trumpet Biden’s innocence. The Washington Post fact-checker has cast doubt on the authenticity of the emails. Also the WaPo fact checker doubts the claim that Biden ever met with Pozharskyi. Still there is no actual proof. There’s only spin.
Does any of this matter? Are the allegations legitimate? It should be up to voters to weigh conflicting reports and decide for themselves. It is not up to social media, the mainstream media or government to censor what political speech we the people can or cannot have access to in our deliberations. Big Tech’s censorship is election tampering.
The thumb on the scale
This election Silicon Valley tech wizards made the decision to throttle and ban the Post story. These companies presumptively and unilaterally declared this story “misinformation.” It may not be acquired or read across their platforms. Facebook used its algorithm to limit the story’s reach. Twitter took it several steps further.
Twitter actually locked the New York Post’s Twitter account. It banned the President of the United States’ press secretary for sharing the story. Journalists who were attempting to share the link awoke to find their accounts under suspension.
Twitter’s claim is the article violates its policy on spreading “hacked content.” They made the claim even though it is not proven that it stems from hacking. This policy is generally does not apply to other “big” stories. It certainly was not applied to the Trump tax return story. Big Tech’s censorship is election tampering.
Twitter also limited the ability of users to link to the story. The big tech company attached a “dangerous content” warning to existing links. This is unprecedented restriction on the free flow of journalism by Big Tech companies. It is beyond concerning. These actions represent a rather transparent attempt to protect the Biden campaign.
Freedom of speech… especially political speech
Data shows employees at tech giants overwhelmingly skew Democrat in their political donations. Why is a media company using its work product to help a political campaign not an in kind political contribution? This is going too far. It is abusing their governmental protections as a “platform”.
Facebook and Twitter are private companies. They have the legal right to limit content on their platform. The First Amendment does not apply to them. But their decision to do so is still morally wrong and counterproductive. They are provided protection under section 230. Big Tech’s censorship is election tampering.
The American political system depends on the free flow of information. It’s important that voters can share, debate, and contest information freely. We should not have to navigate a web of censorship. We’ve come to rely on our free speech on the main mediums to inform our decision making.
Facebook and Twitter’s efforts were also counterproductive. Their attempt to crackdown and censor information flow has totally, woefully failed. The story about corruption in the Biden family was initially making something of a splash. There’s no evidence it was totally dominating the news. Yet Big Tech tried to censor it. Now, the report has become an explosion.
It became the prime topic of discussion on cable news. The censorship itself trended on Twitter. The result was to call much more attention to the story than before. It is prompted lawmakers like Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to speak out publicly. This amplifies and draws even more attention to the story.
On Facebook stories about the story’s censorship dominated the website’s rankings. If you wanted to keep the story about Hunter Biden quiet this was the worst possible way to do it. Wanna-be censors everywhere take note. Censoring something has the effect of drawing exponentially more attention to it.
The takeaway here is clear. Sunlight, not censorship, is the best antidote for bad ideas and bad information. Big Tech should rethink its move toward political censorship. Big Tech should embrace its original role; providing platforms for the free flow of information. Voters are smart enough to decide for themselves.
Further attempts by Silicon Valley to force narratives down from up above will backfire. If Facebook and Twitter keep it up, free-speech competitors like Parler will continue to grow. Competition and consumer pushback will win. Heavy-handed government regulation is not the solution. We will preserve a free and open internet. This has been a learning exercise.