Bosses at Facebook, Twitter, Zoom and other “social media” claim their platforms are an open means of communication for use by all — kind of like a grander form of email. Their “business model” is to profit handsomely by charging for advertising, justified by the number and breadth of their users. Some of the nouveau riche techies who run these operations have now come under growing pressure from liberals to suppress political views they don’t cotton to, especially targeting tweets and postings by President Donald Trump.
Since Trump’s election in 2016, the liberal press and Democratic Party leaders and their backers, including FBI spy bosses like Robert Mueller and others, have sought to bring Trump and his administration down by any means possible. Twitter, run by billionaire college dropout Jack Dorsey, recently started putting snide disclaimers on posts by the president, and then barred a video that particularly grated liberal sensibilities.
The Democrats’ presidential candidate, Joe Biden, added his voice to those pushing for political censorship, demanding bosses at Facebook bar Trump’s online “threatening behavior and lies.”
Liberals in the U.S. are not the only ones pushing social media political suppression — the government in Beijing successfully forced Zoom bosses to bar its political opponents in Hong Kong and elsewhere from using the platform.
Owners of Twitter and similar media have been legally absolved by the government for any liability for comments people post, on the basis that they are supposed to be “neutral.”
But Twitter censors decided anyone reading Trump’s tweets about voter fraud in May had to receive a “fact-check” label, cautioning them there were questions about the truthfulness of the president’s views. They hid another of his tweets urging the use of military force to stop looters, behind a banner alert that claimed the president’s comments “violated” rules about “glorifying violence.”
For some liberals warnings are not enough. Writing in the New York Times, Greg Bensinger complains Dorsey and Twitter bosses merely scold the president, when instead they should just remove all his posts that they deem violate “good taste.” After all, Bensinger says, “That’s the beauty of being the boss.”
Twitter bosses have now appointed an executive in charge of “good taste,” Yoel Roth, who has been designated “head of site integrity.” Roth tweeted his good taste opinion that the president is a “racist tangerine” and called White House adviser Kellyanne Conway a latter-day Joseph Goebbels, referencing the Nazi minister of propaganda. Twitter censors decided no “fact-check” warning was needed!
Twitter and other social media bosses are hypocritical. They never posted warnings about “glorifying violence” when Barack Obama sent tens of thousands of troops as cannon fodder to Afghanistan. Their decisions on fact checks and suppression are grounded in partisan politics and liberal pressure.
This month Facebook unveiled a new “content moderation tool” that claims to reduce online “bullying” by removing some words, including the term “unionize.” After protests by union officials Facebook bosses tabled their plans and apologized.
After criticism for censorship, Facebook guru Mark Zuckerberg — who also runs Instagram — set up an Oversight Board to review these outfits’ decisions on what they call content moderation. On May 6 Facebook announced the first 20 people appointed to the board, with 20 more to come. These experts will be “compensated an undisclosed amount for their time.”
Among those chosen for their expertise and fair-mindedness is Alan Rusbridger, for 20 years the editor-in-chief of the notoriously liberal Guardian newspaper in the U.K. In 2016 he offered the “good-taste” opinion that “Americans had elected a liar.” How do you think he’ll vote on blackballing Trump?
The point isn’t whether Trump’s positions are right or true. The Socialist Workers Party opposes the politics of all capitalist politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike. They all seek to advance the interests of the capitalist rulers against the needs of working people. The point is the falsehood that pompous liberal social media overlords are equipped to decide what is or isn’t politically correct, and then act on it.
Zoom, a newer company that has greatly expanded its reach — and profits — sells online conferencing as many political groups have turned to its service in response to government lockdowns against gatherings on the pretext of the coronavirus. Like all the others, it claims to be apolitical. But Zoom officials shut down the account of Humanitarian China after it posted a videoconference protesting Beijing’s 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square.
Officials at California-based Zoom openly admit they did so at the request of the Chinese government.