Online war between liberals and conservatives in US obscures real threat of government censorship

With sudden suspensions and hasty banning sprees, social media giants are censoring more than ever. High-profile spats between liberals and conservatives often grab the spotlight — but that’s the tip of the censorship iceberg.

Liberal rage mobs calling for provocative conservatives to be “cancelled” or “deplatformed” are loud — and they attract plenty of attention both on social media and across centrist and liberal-leaning mainstream media.

The simultaneous banishment of right-wing agitator Alex Jones from major platforms last year was a litmus test; a way to gauge whether such bans would be palatable to the mainstream. When few raised their voices to object, the corporations had their answer: It was going to be easy to push out similar voices — and they could probably even start to widen the net.

When Vox journalist Carlos Maza insisted that conservative YouTube host Steven Crowder be banned for using homophobic slurs against him, it made headlines. In their haste to comply with this and other demands from the outrage police, platforms have been concocting new ‘rules’ and ‘guidelines’ on the fly. The result has been that even the most innocuous accounts have found themselves caught up in the maelstrom. Incredibly, history teachers even had their YouTube channels suspended for “hate speech” because they published resources for students to learn about Nazi Germany. 

This might at first seem like a digital war between liberals and conservatives, with the social media companies firmly on the side of the liberals — but to really understand the latest moves toward censorship, it’s necessary to put aside that notion and begin to see this as a fight between governments and anyone who challenges establishment narratives, wherever they lie on the political spectrum.

When you delve into the details, there is little doubt that the most dangerous censorship efforts are all coming straight from the government itself — and social media corporations like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as everyone knows, are inextricably linked to the US government. 

The last three years have seen numerous attempts by the US Congress to rid social media of information which might “sow discord” in American society, particularly the nebulous “Russian disinformation.” Silicon Valley CEOs have been dragged before Congress and raked over the coals by elected officials demanding that they “do more” to tackle “fake news.” Of course, they never offer a concise definition of what “fake news” actually is.

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