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Conservatives call censorship as Spotify, big tech combat COVID “misinformation”

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Artists boycotting Spotify have continued the conversation over tech companies’ responsibility when it comes to content moderation. Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash are some of the musicians who withdrew their music from Spotify in protest over the company’s continued streaming of the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, which they say is spreading misinformation about COVID-19. (Spotify has since removed dozens of Rogan’s episodes containing racial slurs.)

Other platforms have taken a different stance and decided to act on their evaluation of misinformation in some episodes–particularly one of Rogan’s episodes featuring Dr. Robert Malone. Malone is one of the creators of the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, and speaking on Rogan’s podcast, he expressed hesitation regarding its widespread use. YouTube removed the episode, and Twitter suspended Malone’s account.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all fact-check against claims supported by the CDC and WHO when it comes to evaluating information. As private companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the platforms are legally allowed to police the content on their sites. However, the sites do not have to monitor for misinformation, as Section 230 also states the companies can’t be held liable for the content users share.

Critics of content policing have voiced concerns that social media companies are targeting conservative voices. Supporters assert that monitoring for misinformation is the responsible approach.

LONGWORTH: THERE WAS DONALD TRUMP.

“TWITTER HAS PERMANENTLY SUSPENDED PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ACCOUNT.”

LONGWORTH: AND LATER? MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE.

“NEW LIES ABOUT THE PANDEMIC HAVE SILENCED THE CONTROVERSIAL CONGRESSWOMAN FROM ONE OF HER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS–AT LEAST FOR NOW.”

LONGWORTH: WITH BIG NAMES BOOTED OFF TWITTER, FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE IN A COUNTRY THAT BOASTS THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH.

SHOULD SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS CENSOR THE CONTENT USERS SHARE?

LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT.

FIRST, I’LL REMIND YOU THAT THE FIRST AMENDMENT ONLY PROTECTS PEOPLE FROM *GOVERNMENT* CENSORSHIP.

SO, AS PRIVATE COMPANIES UNDER SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT, THESE PLATFORMS ARE LEGALLY ALLOWED TO POLICE THE CONTENT ON THEIR SITES.

BUT THE SITES DON’T HAVE TO MONITOR FOR MISINFORMATION, AS SECTION 230 ALSO STATES THE COMPANIES CAN’T BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE CONTENT USERS POST.

WHICH IS WHY CENSORSHIP CRITICS–GENERALLY CONSERVATIVES LIKE SENATOR TED CRUZ–SAY BIG TECH IS CHOOSING TO USE ITS MODERATION POWER TO TARGET CONSERVATIVE PERSPECTIVES.

TED CRUZ: “THE ALMOST UNIFORM MESSAGE FROM DEMOCRATS IS ‘CENSOR MORE–SILENCE EVERY VIEW WE DISAGREE WITH.”

LONGWORTH: HOUSE MINORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY SUGGESTED THESE OUTLETS SHOULD LOSE THEIR SECTION 230 PROTECTION–AND THEREFORE THEIR ABILITY TO CENSOR IN THE FIRST PLACE.

MEANWHILE, PLENTY OF DEMOCRATS SAY THE PLATFORMS AREN’T DOING ENOUGH–ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO COVID-19.

JOE BIDEN: “I MAKE A SPECIAL APPEAL TO SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES AND MEDIA OUTLETS. PLEASE DEAL WITH THE MISINFORMATION AND DISINFORMATION THAT’S ON YOUR SHOWS. IT HAS TO STOP.”

LONGWORTH: TWITTER’S FORMER CEO JACK DORSEY HAS HIS OWN REASONS FOR POLICING – AND REMOVING – SOME PEOPLE FROM HIS PLATFORM)

JACK DORSEY: “IF WE WOKE UP TOMORROW AND DECIDED TO STOP MODERATING CONTENT, WE WOULD END UP WITH A SERVICE VERY FEW PEOPLE–OR–ADVERTISERS WOULD WANT TO USE. ULTIMATELY, WE’RE RUNNING A BUSINESS, AND A BUSINESS WANTS TO GROW THE NUMBER OF CUSTOMERS IT SERVES.”

LONGWORTH: TWITTER’S RULES BAN VIOLENT AND OTHERWISE OVERTLY HARMFUL BEHAVIOR.

THAT’S REPORTEDLY THE REASON IT SUSPENDED PRESIDENT TRUMP AFTER HE WAS ACCUSED OF INCITING VIOLENCE ON JANUARY 6TH, 2021.

TWITTER ALSO BANS “MISLEADING INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19”–WHICH IS WHY IT SUSPENDED MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE.

AND IT’S NOT JUST POLITICIANS WHO ARE BEING SILENCED.

DR. ROBERT MALONE IS A VIROLOGIST WHO HELPED DEVELOP THE MRNA TECHNOLOGY USED IN THE PFIZER AND MODERNA VACCINES.

HE WAS KICKED OFF TWITTER AFTER POSTING HIS CONCERNS REGARDING THE VACCINE.

ROBERT MALONE: “THESE MANDATES OF AN EXPERIMENTAL VACCINE ARE EXPLICITLY ILLEGAL. EXPLICITLY INCONSISTENT WITH THE NUREMBERG CODE.”

LONGWORTH: TWITTER REPORTEDLY DEEMED MALONE IN VIOLATION OF ITS COVID MISINFORMATION POLICY.

AND YOUTUBE TOOK DOWN THE INTERVIEW HE DID ON JOE ROGAN’S PODCAST.

NOW, WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT’S CONSIDERED MISINFORMATION.

FOR ALL THREE, THE FACT CHECKING IS DONE AGAINST GUIDELINES AND CLAIMS SUPPORTED BY THE CDC AND WHO.

ANYONE WHO POSTS MISINFORMATION IS PUNISHED ON A STRIKE SYSTEM, AND ULTIMATELY BOOTED OFF THE PLATFORMS.

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK–SHOULD SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS CENSOR THEIR USERS?  DOES IT MATTER WHETHER THEIR CONTENT IS MISINFORMING OTHERS?

LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS AND MAKE SURE YOU HIT THE STRAIGHT ARROW BIAS METER.

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Artists boycotting Spotify have continued the conversation over tech companies’ responsibility when it comes to content moderation. Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash are some of the musicians who withdrew their music from Spotify in protest over the company’s continued streaming of the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, which they say is spreading misinformation about COVID-19. (Spotify has since removed dozens of Rogan’s episodes containing racial slurs.)

Other platforms have taken a different stance and decided to act on their evaluation of misinformation in some episodes–particularly one of Rogan’s episodes featuring Dr. Robert Malone. Malone is one of the creators of the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, and speaking on Rogan’s podcast, he expressed hesitation regarding its widespread use. YouTube removed the episode, and Twitter suspended Malone’s account.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all fact-check against claims supported by the CDC and WHO when it comes to evaluating information. As private companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the platforms are legally allowed to police the content on their sites. However, the sites do not have to monitor for misinformation, as Section 230 also states the companies can’t be held liable for the content users share.

Critics of content policing have voiced concerns that social media companies are targeting conservative voices. Supporters assert that monitoring for misinformation is the responsible approach.

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