Earlier this week, former President Donald Trump launched his own social media platform as a way of communicating with his followers but Big Tech oligarchs are doubling down on their efforts to bar him from their platforms.
Facebook and Twitter shocked the free world when they banned the then-sitting President’s social media accounts after the January 6 incident at the U.S. Capitol. Global leaders immediately criticized the move as censorship. Among these were Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado, who said,
“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that … A court of censorship like the Inquisition to manage public opinion: this is really serious…. This cannot be accepted, this cannot be allowed, because it contradicts freedom.”
Despite the fact that Trump did not incite the riots, Twitter and Facebook maintained their bans of Trump, claiming it was too dangerous to allow Trump to spread “disinformation.”
Trump has responded by creating “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” which allows the former president to communicate directly with his followers. Followers can sign up to receive alerts, and the platform is equipped with options to share the president’s posts on Twitter and Facebook.
The launch of Trump’s platform may have been strategically timed to be released before the Facebook Oversight Board, a kind of Supreme Court reviewing body for Facebook account decisions, ruled on whether Trump would be allowed back on the popular social media site. The board found that the company was justified in initially banning Trump, saying, “At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions. Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts.”
Board members did warn Facebook that it was attempting to “avoid its responsibilities” by imposing an indefinite suspension and stated that the company should instead issue a defined penalty, such a period of time or even a permanent ban.
Although the Oversight Board is billed “quasi-independent,” it does not appear to be neutral. John Daniel Davidson at the Federalist noted that until February, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who testified during Trump’s 2019 impeachment trial and took a snarky shot at Trump over the name of his son Barron, was a member of the board. She resigned in February to take a job with the Biden administration and was soon replaced by Suzanne Nossel, who worked for the Obama administration.
Within 24 hours of launching his “From the Desk” website, Twitter had banned Trump’s new handle @DJTDesk and had started suspending any account that exclusively shared messages from the former president. The social media platform, which continues to allow Iran’s Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to tweet denials about the Holocaust and threats against Israel, is now emphasizing that its ban on Trump is “permanent.”
Trump shot back on his new social media platform, saying,
“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Whether you love Trump or hate him, whether you agree with his claims of election fraud or think he’s deluded, this ban should be concerning to all. Leaders from across the globe chastised the censorship, warning of the danger of allowing a company to have that much power.
The ban of Trump from social media wasn’t because Trump incited violence, it was pure partisanship. Facebook and Twitter have set themselves up as intellectual and moral superiors who believe themselves to be the arbiters of truth. Is anyone surprised that Facebook’s Oversight Board of “experts,” which is bankrolled by the social media giant, said the company’s decision was justified?
Big Tech has engaged in a censorship campaign that intends to stamp out dissent — and not just political dissent but also medical dissent, scientific dissent, and even academic dissent. In the world of Twitter, Facebook, and Google, no one is allowed to question their facts.
Free speech is a right in this country for a reason. When the government — and a common communication carrier like Facebook or Twitter — limits people’s access to differing opinions and creates a monopoly on information, it harms democracy, as well as people’s ability to critically discuss and think about important topics. Censorship is anathema to a free and pluralistic society.
In a tech-obsessed world, being banned on social media is tantamount to being “disappeared.” The scary thing is that the radical leftists who run these social media platforms, along with their media and political allies, believe that censorship of certain opinions is a good thing, healthy even. But think about this: If these companies can ban someone as wealthy, powerful, and high-profile as President Trump, they can ban anyone. It’s not a question of if or when, but who will be next?