The Democrats really don’t want you consuming content that might not jibe with the party line on the COVID-19 pandemic or the vaccine. Leftists have been pressuring social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to crack down on users who spread supposed “misinformation” online. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy became the latest to join the chorus of those calling for more politically-motivated censorship.
Murthy recently stated that misinformation spread on social media platforms is a threat to public health and even argued that it has resulted in death. During a Thursday press conference, the Surgeon General stated that while most health advisories are applied to things that people consume physically, his first advisory is related to the content we consume digitally.
The advisory comes with a set of guidelines on how to “build a healthy information environment,” with recommendations for everyone from social media users up to the platforms themselves (also: health workers, researchers, and the media). Murthy also went on some of those very platforms to spread the message, including Twitter and Facebook.
During the press briefing, Murthy said that Americans live “in a world where misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health” and that “modern technology companies” are complicit in the supposed spread of misinformation and disinformation according to Vox.
Murthy’s advisory is not legally binding and cannot be used to compel social media companies to police content shared on their platforms. However, it is yet another action designed to place pressure on these companies to step up their censorship game.
Today I issued a Surgeon General’s Advisory to call our country’s attention to health misinformation – an urgent threat to our health that requires an all-of-society response. https://t.co/hqJdkLV6RK pic.twitter.com/OyX9vlyTdZ
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) July 15, 2021
As can be expected, Murthy’s remarks were met with sharp criticism coming from the right. Some intimated that the government should not be trying to persuade social media companies to do their bidding. Others expressed suspicion about the notion that the official’s statements were purely about protecting people from false information and speculated that this is designed to suppress opposing views online.
Journalist Katie Pavlich pointed out the hypocrisy of supposedly rooting out misinformation when the Biden administration has been lying about COVID-related information:
Going to be awesome to watch the White House press briefing today where the Surgeon General will lecture about the dangers of misinformation while ignoring the government’s lies and flip flopping on Wuhan coronavirus information
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) July 15, 2021
Sen. Josh Hawley also took issue with Murthy’s comments. In a statement, the lawmaker asserted:
This casual admission of collusion—between the state and corporations that have monopolized the flow of information and therefore dictate the terms of service for the public square—is shocking. The First Amendment is sacrosanct, and it is unconscionable that the federal government has evidently enlisted private actors to police speech in ways that they are unable.
According to Vox, social media companies have signaled that they will comply with Murthy’s demands. A Twitter spokesperson told the publication that it would “continue to take enforcement action on content that violates our COVID-19 misleading information policy.”
A YouTube spokesperson said that the platform (or is it publisher?):
“Removes content in accordance with our COVID-19 misinformation policies, which we keep current based on guidance from local health authorities.”
Last, but not least, Facebook noted that it has “partnered with government experts, health authorities, and researchers to take aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines to protect public health.”
Vox, like other left-leaning media activist organizations, has insisted that false information regarding the pandemic and the vaccine is rampant on social media platforms. Like Murthy, they claim that the proliferation of certain views on the coronavirus is dangerous and result in the loss of life.
However, many of these organizations fail to demonstrate that the problem is as pronounced as they claim. Moreover, it seems clear that when these individuals refer to “misinformation,” they are actually referring to “opinions on COVID-19 with which we disagree.”
One can’t blame conservatives for being suspicious of Murthy’s comments. Recent news stories revealing that Democrats wish to push wireless carriers to censor mass text messages from organizations that supposedly carry misinformation about COVID-19 is yet another indicator that this effort has nothing to do with keeping people safe; it is merely another way to crack down on right-leaning voices online.
The Democrats, through the government and other means, clearly seek to ensure that their ideas gain supremacy over the interwebs. They are intent on ensuring that they control the means by which Americans communicate. After all, the advent of social media and alternative media has provided conservatives with a way to subvert the influence of establishment activist media outlets. People are increasingly getting their news online while cable news networks suffer dismal ratings.
It can be no surprise, then, that the left would attempt to use every tool at its disposal to secure the dominant spot in political discourse online and elsewhere. Unfortunately for them, they will never truly be able to silence conservative voices no matter how hard they try.