Douglas Andrews / Jan. 7, 2021

Big Tech Censors Are at It Again

They seem to hold in utter contempt the crucial role of free speech in a peaceful society.

Buried beneath the news of yesterday’s mayhem on Capitol Hill was Big Tech’s effort to once again silence its political opposition. In something short of a shocker, it’s blaming it on Donald Trump.

By now, those who follow the president on Twitter have gotten used to the routine. “As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C.,” said the serious-sounding “Twitter Safety” censor, “we have required the removal of three [of the president’s] Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. This means that the account of realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.”

Below that is an admonition that seems utterly lacking in self-awareness: “You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.”

Got that? Twitter’s speech police won’t tolerate manipulation or interference in an election. Unless they themselves are doing it. Or perhaps they don’t consider censoring a bombshell news story that’s deeply damaging to their preferred presidential candidate just days before the election to be “manipulating” or “interfering.”

And what’s this “ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C.” Twitter mentions? Things look downright peaceful there today.

No matter. Jack Dorsey and his speech suppressors seem to be laying the groundwork to silence The Orange Menace once and for all.

“The company then went further,” The Federalist’s Tristan Justice reports, “declaring the Silicon Valley tech giant — which had already censored the president and affiliated campaign accounts at least 65 times over two years without censoring former Vice President Joe Biden once — is prepared to permanently kick the president off the platform for posts not even published yet.”

“Future violations of the Twitter Rules,” the company wrote, “including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the realDonaldTrump account.”

Twitter even vowed to consider the president’s speech away from their platform. “We’ll continue to evaluate the situation in real time, including examining activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter,” it said. “We will keep the public informed, including if further escalation in our enforcement approach is necessary.”

Here, we can’t help but set the over-under for President Trump’s permanent expulsion from Twitter at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, January 21.

Taking a backseat to no one in their efforts to suppress the speech of the opposition party’s president, Facebook and YouTube joined the fray. As National Review’s Brittany Bernstein reports, they’ve taken down the one-minute video President Trump published yesterday — the one that tells his Capitol Hill supporters to “go home in peace.”

“Facebook also announced it would be removing photos and videos illustrating Wednesday’s riot,” Bernstein continued, “claiming such content promoted criminal activity. No such widespread censorship was employed of the left-wing Antifa riots last year, where reporters stood in front of burning buildings and called the demonstrations ‘mostly peaceful.’”

In fact, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook and Instagram will be blocking Trump indefinitely. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” he explained, adding that the blocking will continue “for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.” Thus a sitting U.S. president may not exercise his own right of free speech in the public square. Astonishing.

If we seem a bit obsessive about Big Tech’s efforts to selectively silence political speech and thereby restrict the marketplace of ideas, it’s for good reason. Media censorship breeds frustration, because it eliminates what we might call a pressure-relief valve. When we as citizens have no voice, we stew and we simmer, and sometimes we boil over. Oftentimes, people riot because they feel they have no voice, and because that’s seen as their only outlet.

Think about it: Democrats have been telling voiceless black Americans that they’ve been brutally oppressed for more than half a century, even after Civil Rights legislation. Are we surprised that they rioted? Wouldn’t you be inclined to riot under those same conditions?

The Founders understood the importance of free speech — and especially free political speech. Because in its absence, and even more so in its suppression, we ultimately get political violence.

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