Since his purchase of Twitter, Elon Musk has been releasing more and more information laying out how Twitter has censored speech, as well as the government’s role in that process. He recently emphasized that the censorship problem is by no means limited to Twitter.
“Every social media company is engaged in heavy censorship, with significant involvement of and, at times, explicit direction of the government,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “Google frequently makes links disappear, for example.”
Documents he revealed show that government agencies sought to suppress information on elections, Ukraine, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The truth is, there’s likely a far worse problem at YouTube, which is owned by Google, and Facebook than at Twitter. Twitter had about 2,000 content moderators at the time that Musk took it over. YouTube has about 10,000, and Facebook has about 15,000. These employees in their 20s and 30s have the sole job of reading or watching posts and deciding if you should be allowed to see them.
At YouTube, one of the primary things they’re looking for is “misinformation,” according to their own “community guidelines.” One of the primary subject areas of misinformation upon which it focuses is related to COVID-19 and vaccines. Specifically, they ban information “contradicting expert consensus on certain safe medical practices: Content that contradicts local health authorities’ or WHO [World Health Organization] guidance on certain safe medical practices.”
Thus, the WHO, a global health information agency that has been shown to be under heavy influence from the Chinese Communist Party, can’t be contradicted by Americans posting content on America’s largest audio and video streaming service.
I know, because it happened to me. YouTube made three episodes of my “Hidden Truth” show disappear and almost took down my show entirely. The content of the episodes they censored is eye-opening.
The first was posted in June 2021. My guest was Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, a former University of Wisconsin professor, congressional official, and author of the book “Pandemic Blunder,” in which he dares to assert that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health bungled their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He came on my show primarily to warn that if you’ve already had the virus, you shouldn’t get vaccinated. YouTube’s censors decided that this isn’t a medical opinion that Americans should be allowed to hear.
Most of us have been raised to believe that it’s always wise to “get a second opinion.” But in today’s world of government-controlled speech, this is no longer encouraged. If a doctor wishes to provide an opinion that contradicts that of a governmental authority, it’s censored.
The second episode that YouTube took down was in September 2021. It was an interview with actress Sally Kirkland. She came on the show to report that she had vertigo soon after getting the vaccine, which caused her to fall and break her wrist. (My mother also had vertigo for weeks after getting the vaccine.) She wasn’t expressing a medical opinion, just her personal experience. However, because her actual experience contradicted “WHO guidance on certain safe medical practices,” YouTube censors didn’t allow her to share it with others.
Because I had been warned by the censors before about “misinformation,” I received a “strike” for this episode. Three strikes and you’re permanently banned from YouTube.
I received a second strike two weeks later. This time because I dared to interview the attorney representing Los Angeles firefighters who were opposing a vaccine mandate in court. He came on to express their view that the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional. It’s permissible to present this view in court, just not on YouTube. (In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that similar mandates by the federal government are, in fact, unconstitutional.)
I never received a third strike because, naturally, I chose to stop posting interviews pertaining to COVID-19 or the vaccine on YouTube. So I didn’t lose my channel, but since getting the two strikes, my channel’s subscribers stopped growing. I don’t know what YouTube did, but Musk has revealed what Twitter did to suppress users who fell out of favor from gaining new followers.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed more than 25 years ago, states that an “interactive computer service” can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content. This protects these sites from being sued based upon something a user posts. The purpose was to allow these sites to be open to all posts without fear of being held legally responsible for things such as libel, as would a newspaper publisher. Without this protection, the sites may not have survived because of the legal costs.
What lawmakers clearly didn’t envision was that despite this protection, sites would nonetheless censor content. Thus, nothing in the law prevents it. This has allowed them to censor with impunity.
Both Republicans and Democrats want to see the section amended, but for different reasons. For the left, including Joe Biden, the problem they see is that content isn’t censored enough, and thus they want to take away any protection for the sites from lawsuits. For Republicans, the problem is too much censorship, and thus they want to see censorship restrictions added to Section 230.
Compromise is unlikely. This leaves us rooting for the success of Musk’s Twitter, which would at least give Google and Facebook an economic incentive to change. Laying off 90 percent of their content moderators would be a good start.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.