I Was Banned for Life From Twitter

I Was Banned for Life From Twitter, by Peter Van Buren.

When I was in Iran, the government there blocked Twitter, effectively deciding for an entire nation what they cannot read. In America, Twitter itself purges users, effectively deciding for an entire nation what they cannot read. …

For lack of a more precise starting point, the election of Donald Trump did away with our near-universal agreement over the right to speak, driven by a false belief that too much free speech helped Trump get elected.

Large numbers of Americans began not just to tolerate, but to demand censorship. They wanted universities to deplatform speakers they did not agree with, giggling over the old-timey First Amendment and taunting “conservatives” for not being able to do anything about it.

But the most startling change came within the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which once embodied “defend the right, not the content” when it stood up for the free speech rights of Nazis in the 1970s. … The ACLU in 2018 is siding with those who believe speech should be secondary to other political goals. Censorship has a place, says the ACLU, when it serves what they determine is a greater good. …

“Hate speech,” clearly not prohibited according to the Supreme Court, is an umbrella term used by censorship advocates to describe anything they don’t want others to be able to listen to or watch. It is very flexible and thus very dangerous. As during the McCarthy-era in the 1950s when one needed only to label something “communist” to have it banned, so it is today with the new mark of “hate speech.” …

Google (until May) had a slogan commanding its employees: “don’t be evil.” Yet in China, Google is deploying Dragonfly, a version of its search engine that will meet Beijing’s demands for censorship by blocking websites on command. Of course, in China they don’t call it hate speech; they call it anti-societal speech, and the propaganda Google will block isn’t from Russian bots but from respected global media.

Meanwhile, Apple removes apps from its store at the command of the Chinese government in return for market access. Amazon, which agreed to pull hateful merchandise from its store in the U.S., the same week confirmed that it is “unwaveringly committed to the U.S. government and the governments we work with around the world” in using its AI and facial recognition technology to spy on their own people. Faced with a future loss of billions of dollars, as was the case for Google and Apple in China, what will corporations do in America?

Hmmm, prophetic?:

Or maybe this?

hat-tip Stephen Neil, byrmol