Social media giant Twitter has become known for shutting down stories unfavorable to the federal government. Shortly after the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a “disinformation governance board,” headed by Nina Jancowicz, 33, of the Pulitzer Center, also known for amateur music videos. If embattled Americans saw this as a government attempt to replace Twitter as an agent of censorship, it would be hard to blame them.
Musk seems determined to make Twitter a neutral platform. That development, though welcome, would not end the battle against censorship by Big Tech. Consider developments at Facebook.
In congressional testimony in 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that he was cooperating with former FBI director Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian collusion in 2016. The former FBI boss had interviewed some Facebook employees, but Zuckerberg would not say who they were, why they were interviewed, or what information they revealed. This is the same CEO who approved, facilitated, or looked the other way at massive transfers of private data to non-government actors.
When Sen. Ted Cruz asked Zuckerberg if Facebook was a “neutral forum,” the CEO seemed puzzled. Asked by Sen. Cory Gardner if the government had ever demanded that Facebook remove a page from the site, Zuckerberg said “yes, I believe so.” The Facebook CEO did not indicate the content of the page, which government officials had demanded its removal, and when the removal had taken place.
As currently constituted, Facebook should be regarded as an enabler of government censorship. The DHS “disinformation governance board,” meanwhile, is more typical of a Communist dictatorship than a constitutional democracy under the rule of law.