Twitter’s suspension of Donald Trump is a chilling sign of tyranny to come

Twitter’s suspension of Donald Trump is a chilling sign of tyranny to come. By Brendan O’Neill.

Cancel culture doesn’t exist, they say. And yet with the flick of a switch, billionaire capitalists voted for by precisely nobody have just silenced a man who is still the democratically elected president of the United States. …

The new capitalist oligarchs of Silicon Valley have prevented a man who won the second largest vote in the history of the American republic just two months ago — 74million votes — from engaging with his supporters (and critics) in the new public square of the internet age. …

[This] demonstrates that the greatest threat to freedom and democracy comes not from the oafs and hard-right clowns who stormed the Capitol this week, but from the technocratic elites who spy in the breaching of the Capitol an opportunity to consolidate their cultural power and their political dominance.

Twitter’s ban on Trump is extraordinary for many reasons. First, there’s the arrogance of it. Make no mistake: this is the bosses vs democracy …

Secondly, there is Twitter’s deeply disturbing justification for why it suspended Trump. It says Trump’s account ran the ‘risk’ of ‘inciting violence’. And yet the two tweets of his that it cites do nothing of the sort. In one, Trump describes his voters as ‘great American patriots’ and insists they will have a ‘GIANT VOICE’ in the future. In the other he confirms that he will not be attending the inauguration of Joe Biden. That’s it. In what warped moral universe can such standard, boastful Trump-made statements be interpreted as calls for violence?

In the warped moral universe of pre-emptive, precautionary censorship being built by our tech overlords, that’s where. Strikingly, Twitter says its censorship of the president is based on how other people might read and interpret his words. …

So Trump’s words, strictly speaking, are not the problem; it’s the possibility, the risk, that someone, somewhere might interpret them in a particular way.

This sets a terrifying precedent for the internet age. It legitimises a new regime of online censorship which doesn’t only punish inflammatory speech — which would be bad enough — but which punishes normal, legitimate political speech on the grounds of how other, unnamed people or groups might respond to it.

It isn’t just Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg (zero votes) had already indefinitely suspended Trump (74million votes) from Facebook. Reddit has scrubbed its Donald Trump thread. All social-media accounts that promote the mad Qanon conspiracy theory are being suspended. Mike Flynn and Sidney Powell have been banished from Twitter. YouTube is now banning any video and account that says the American election was fraudulent. …

And then there’s Parler, the libertarian alternative to Twitter. Google this week removed the Parler app from its store on the basis that it doesn’t control its users’ inflammatory speech strictly enough. Apple is threatening to do likewise. …

This is a full-on purge of any voice that significantly runs counter to the worldview of the anti-populist elites.

That the left is cheering this on is cretinism of the most remarkable kind. … They are sanctioning the control of speech by billionaires. They are celebrating as corporate oligarchies interfere directly in the democratic process. …

The business and political elites, determined to crush the populist experiment of recent years, will busily launch wars on ‘domestic terrorism’, clamp down on inflammatory speech, purge from the internet and from workplaces anyone with ‘incorrect’ thoughts, and blacklist those who believe populism is preferable to technocracy. They’re already doing it.

Oh joy. The golden age of democracy is over.

What will we tell the kids?