Are we free to talk on social networks? In the land of the free par excellence, the United States, it seems not. Let alone with us.
It is common experience to be banned for a period of a few days or a month, or being reported as possible spreaders of disinformation, false or “out of context” news and we never understand if it is a prudent choice of the directors, in the face of a report from some of our nice ” friend ”, or a real censorship. Normally we give ourselves the reassuring explanation that they are still free online platforms managed by individuals. We are guests and the landlord can also throw us out, if he wants. But what if the landlord was, in turn, forced by the government to throw us out? He would change everything, one could fully speak of censorship. And this is what is emerging from the Facebook investigation papers in the United States. There are two serious news (for those who still care about freedom of expression): the first is that the scoop of New York Post on the compromising content of the pc of Hunter Biden (son of the then still candidate for president), has been obscured from social networks by the will of the FBI. The second is that the federal administration, including the White House, has been (and probably still is) in constant contact with the managers of the major social platforms to “suggest” how to manage information on Covid-19.
The sources of these two reports are more than reliable, we are not talking about conspiracy theorists looking for celebrities on 4chan or some other minor social network. But, in the case of the first news (on Hunter Biden) by Mark Zuckerberg himself who, in the podcast of the television commentator Joe Rogan, told how the censorship was born on the scoop that could have changed the fate of the 2020 elections (those won by Biden, despite the compromising evidence on his son): “The FBI basically came to us, from some people on our team, [dicendo]: ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on the alert… We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, we noticed there is going to be a lot of crap like that, so be on your guard.’ The news of the New York Post, which later proved to be authentic, was therefore downgraded to “suspicious Russian propaganda” and on the largest social network in the world it was relegated by the algorithm to the last positions, so that few saw it. Twitter acted in a more brutal way, as we all remember well: not only deleted the account of the New York newspaper, but suspended all those (including the White House) who relaunched the incriminated news.
The source of the second news (the censorship regarding Covid-19) instead it comes from emails between Big Tech company headquarters and various government agencies, including the White House. The emails were published by order of the Louisiana and Missouri prosecutors, two states that have sued social networks on suspicion of censorship. Suspicion for now confirmed, according to the outcome of this first investigation: “a vast work of censorship through a multitude of federal agencies.” The bodies involved are many: at least 45 officials from the White House, the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior, the Cybersecurity Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute for Infectious Diseases regularly communicated with the big tech headquarters. and Office of the Surgeon General. What they asked for. A striking example: closing the parody accounts of Anthony Fauci, the “virologist in chief”. Government officials gave instructions on how to report alleged misinformation and fake news.
With this first form of censorship in social networks, the government enters with a straight leg in the “virtual square”, where we are no longer free to talk to each other at this point. The pretexts for censoring can be endless. It may not be an exception. It happened for the 2020 elections (for fear of Russian propaganda … when there was still no war, let alone today), it happened for the pandemic, it will happen, if it does not already happen, also for global warming and the crisis energy. Progressive governments, which historically boast of having fought the censorship of the obscurantists, behave as obscurantists themselves. Always for our good: if we cannot distinguish true from false, nor look after our own good, we must be protected from dangerous information. Which then “false” are probably not, but are foreign to the narrative of progressives. The weapon can backfire on those who use it: the media have already lost credibility, now social networks will lose it.