In the latest evidence of the war on free speech, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is demanding that Big Tech companies surrender user data to the federal government regarding so-called COVID “misinformation” which, as we all know, is Washington doublespeak to describe people exercising their First Amendment right to say things Big Brother doesn’t approve of.
In a formal notice, Vivek demanded tech companies to serve as de facto speech police in writing yesterday (via TheHill.com):
In a formal notice, Murthy requested major tech platforms submit information about the prevalence and scale of COVID-19 misinformation on their sites, from social networks, search engines, crowdsourced platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems.
The Surgeon general last summer issued an advisory calling health misinformation an “urgent threat,” and urging tech and social media platforms to redesign algorithms to reduce misinformation amplification and to bolster their monitoring of it.
In his notice to major tech platforms, Murthy is requesting specific information on demographics affected by misinformation as well as sources of misinformation and “exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of Covid-19 misinformation,” according to the notice reviewed by The Times.
“Technology companies now have the opportunity to be open and transparent with the American people about the misinformation on their platforms,” Murthy said in a statement. “This is about protecting the nation’s health.” (emphasis mine)
We’ve known since July 2021 that Joe Biden was making plans to force tech companies to spy on users of their platforms in order to weed out unapproved speech and protect government’s COVID propaganda by reporting them to his administration.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the time that the White House was working with Facebook to not only flag so-called disinformation/misinformation on COVID vaccines, but to also have Facebook share data on the reach and engagement of posts deemed disinformation with the government.
“Facebook should provide, publicly and transparently, data on the reach of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, not just engagement, but the reach of the misinformation and the audience that it’s reaching.
“That will help us ensure we’re getting accurate information to people. This should be provided not just to researchers but to the public so that the public knows and understands what is accurate and inaccurate.” (emphasis mine)
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 15, 2021
During the Joe Rogan controversy last month, Psaki praised Spotify for adding an anti-free speech disclaimer to podcasts discussing COVID, and she encouraged other platforms to do the same in order to silence people spreading so-called misinformation and disinformation:
“This disclaimer is a positive step, but we want every platform to continue doing more to call out mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information.” (emphasis mine)
Of course, nothing gets done in Washington unless Republicans and Democrats are allied — and the surgeon general’s war on free speech is no exception.
Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress have expressed their willingness to destroy free speech by taking down Big Tech.
For example, Republicans like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have made the war on social media and free speech, along with a healthy dose of Trumpism and nationalism, key to their presidential aspirations in 2024.
In the name of taking down Big Tech, Republicans have made protecting our God-given, constitutionally protected rights secondary to protecting politicians and their selfish ambitions. Josh Hawley has been a loyal soldier in this regard, first serving under the orders of Donald “Fake News” Trump.
When Trump issued an executive order to “reform” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — an order where only government-approved speech would be considered free speech — he included suggestions on how government could control internet content and spy on internet users.
Right on cue, Josh Hawley and a group of Trumpists in the Senate introduced the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act, a bill that limited Section 230 immunity for social media platforms. The measure was co-sponsored by fellow soldiers in Trump’s war against Big Tech and free speech: Sens. Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, and Tom Cotton.
In one of their first orders of business following the 2020 election, Democrats took up Trump’s “Fake News” war against free speech and a free press when they sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies suggesting that they stop carrying Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax.
According to these Democrat lawmakers, these “conservative” channels had become promotors of misinformation and political violence. (emphasis mine)
While it can be argued that social media has been engaged in far-left activity by silencing voices they don’t agree with — I have experienced that myself — their actions are not an “assault” on free speech because the First Amendment protects private entities (i.e., social media companies) from these kinds of laws.
Ironically, Donald Trump and the Republicans want to take down Big Tech and social media because they allegedly censor free speech, while Joe Biden and the Democrats want to take them down because they aren’t censoring free speech.
The motivation behind the Republican/Democrat duopoly’s war on social media and free speech has nothing to do with truth or protecting people from so-called disinformation/misinformation, their goal is simply to silence the voices of people saying things they don’t approve of in order to protect the interests of the parties and the state.
And they will go to whatever lengths necessary to reach that goal, including the surgeon general’s attempt to silence free speech by coercing social media and tech companies into serving as government’s COVID misinformation police.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.