It’s terrible when authoritarian regimes seek to censor political dissent by labeling it as misinformation or fake news, and then working to censor it.
It’s also awkward when your authoritarian Socialist regime criticizes an authoritarian Communist regime for doing the same thing you’re doing.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the government was working on “fake news” legislation to tackle “misinformation, hatred and lies,” as worries grow over media freedoms in the global financial hub.
There’ll be as much media freedom in Hong Kong as there is in America. Those media outlets that push socialist propaganda will be allowed to go on doing it. Those that do not will have to be deplatformed, investigated, raided, and shut down by various means to fight “misinformation”.
“The fake news law needs a lot of research, especially (on) how overseas governments are tackling this increasingly worrying trend of spreading inaccurate information, misinformation, hatred and lies on the social media,” she said.
“We will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is doing to many people.”
This could be a New York Times or Washington Post op-ed. Remember this one?
“Sri Lanka Shut Down Social Media. My First Thought Was ‘Good.’” the headline of a New York Times op-ed blared. “Sri Lanka social media shutdown reveals Facebook’s Achilles’ heel,” the Washington Post echoed. The theme of both major media pieces was that social media was dangerous and that government shutdowns of free expression might be necessary to keep people safe from “extremism”.
“Good, because it could save lives. Good, because the companies that run these platforms seem incapable of controlling the powerful global tools they have built. Good, because the toxic digital waste of misinformation that floods these platforms has overwhelmed what was once so very good about them,” Kara Swisher of Recode ranted in her Times op-ed defending Sri Lankan government censorship.
Obviously, this was in response to a Muslim massacre of Christians. Had it been the other way around, the media’s position would have been reversed. Meanwhile, the same media that cheered Sri Lanka’s censorship is now fuming over India’s censorship of the internet.
The Sri Lankan government, Cat Zakrzewski at the Washington Post claimed, “made a unilateral decision: The risks from rampant misinformation and fake news on these platforms were greater than the communications benefits these channels could bring during a crisis.”
Now the Chinese government is making a decision. What possible basis is there for objecting to it when the lefty media in the United States has made the same exact authoritarian argument when political censorship was in its interest?