The Communist Chinese regime is moving aggressively to solidify what it calls a “civilized” Internet for its citizens. The regime’s definition of a “civilized” Internet is one that adheres to “the guiding status of Marxism in the ideological cyberspace sphere, foster a common ideology among the whole Party and the Chinese people, and interiorize core socialist values.”
China’s rulers want the Internet to serve as their tool to disseminate their propaganda about “the great achievements of [China’s Communist] party in each historical period of revolution, construction, and reform.” The regime intends to crack down on what it characterizes as “misinformation” and to refute so-called online “rumors” with the government’s official party line.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported on an online summary posted by China’s State Council of upcoming proposed regulations. “The country plans to better regulate the production, publication and distribution of online content, classify the management of online accounts and build a national mechanism to stop and prevent disinformation,” according to the Xinhua News Agency.
President Joe Biden has frequently sought to contrast “autocratic governments” like China’s with “democracies.” But at least in the area of freedom of expression on the Internet, Biden’s declared line of demarcation is rapidly disappearing.
Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith co-authored an article with Andrew Keane Woods, a law professor at the University of Arizona College of Law, entitled “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal.” The article claimed that “China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong” during the last two decades when it came to the debate over whether Internet freedom or control of the network deserved greater priority.
“Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values,” the law professors wrote.
The giant social media companies in the United States are already doing much the same thing as the Chinese regime in terms of censoring online speech they don’t like. The difference is that China’s government is imposing censorship directly on what is posted on social media platforms in China. In the United States, left-wing Silicon Valley plutocrats are doing the dirty work themselves, under pressure by the Biden administration and progressives in Congress to clamp down even further on what they consider to be undesirable speech.
Last July, Biden made the reckless claim that the spread of COVID-19 “misinformation” on social media platforms such as Facebook is “killing people.”
“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a White House press briefing on July 15th. She said that the federal government has “increased disinformation research and tracking.”
This is scary stuff for Americans who believe that the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech from government intrusion is worth keeping. It is right out of China’s playbook. Biased “fact-checkers” pushing their particular narratives are deciding what Internet users can read about a controversial issue of public importance on social media platforms.
Left-wing progressives in Congress are demanding even more censorship.
Democratic-Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, pushed the idea last January of a congressional commission being discussed to “rein in” the media. “We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” the radical House Squad member said. “It’s one thing to have differing opinions, but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false. And so that’s something that we’re looking into.”
Who anointed AOC and her comrades as media czars or as arbiters of what is true or not? The last thing we need is a commission of Chinese communist-style commissars regulating what appears on the Internet.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA.) has tried to bully Amazon into modifying its algorithms to make it more difficult for consumers to access books and other products on the Amazon online platform that contain what she claims is “misinformation” about COVID-19.
“Amazon is spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatment,” Warren tweeted. “Amazon must review its online algorithms and take aggressive action to stamp out COVID-19 misinformation.”
Warren wants to revive the book burnings that occurred in Boston in the 1600’s, refashioned for the 21st century.
As Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote in his concurring Supreme Court opinion back in 1927, “If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Science is all about questioning conventional wisdom. Today’s conventional wisdom may be brought into question by subsequent evidence. For example, the theory that the coronavirus might have originated from a lab leak was originally dismissed as a conspiracy theory in many influential circles and blocked on social media platforms. But the lab leak theory is now being taken seriously as a very plausible explanation of what actually happened in Wuhan China.
Genuine scientific inquiry cannot co-exist with coercive limits imposed on expressing what some in authority subjectively choose to define as “misinformation” or a “conspiracy theory.”
Leftists, in the words of AOC, aim to “rein in” the media. They are weaponizing the pandemic crisis to conduct a direct assault on the First Amendment.
Last January, China’s President Xi Jinping said that “Time and momentum are on our side.”
If the left-wing progressive shredders of the Constitution are not stopped cold, America’s precious political and economic freedoms will become a relic of the past and Xi’s boast may become a tragic reality.