Censorship in the Social Media Age

We’ve all heard it before, and probably even quoted it (or something close to it)…

“Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”
Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770

François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church and Christianity as a whole and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state.

Unfortunately, he may never have actually written that quote – but it is so universally attributed to him, and more importantly universally praised by lovers of the freedom of expression, that I don’t think it matters.  The quote stands on its own, and is no less poingiant for his never having said it.

In America, we all used to believe this, but do we all still believe this?

Social media platforms are censoring voices for “Wrong Think.” Twitter has shadow-bans; Youtube demonetizes videos, or removes them altogether; Facebook keeps “uncomfortable” topics from trending; Google manipulates search results to bury conservative results 18 pages deep. When all of that fails, users are being banned entirely.

All of these companies derive their value from collecting your information, and selling it for advertising. If a product on the Internet (like a social media platform) is free, YOU are the product.

The thing we’re supposed to be exchanging, for our privacy and our personal data, is a platform from which to be heard…

That’s the trade off we’re supposed to be agreeing to. We’re supposed to be exchanging our privacy and our personal data for a platform to be heard…

This is “the public square” in the 21st century. Silencing people because you disagree with what they say – that’s not America.

If you are reading this, please consider signing #InternetBillOfRights petition on the White House “We The People” site.

The free exchange of ideas is our most important right, and nobody should be silenced.

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