Tech's Sloppiness and Bigotry Aren't 'Censorship'

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Not too long ago, John Stossel cataloged examples of "fact checkers" employed by social media companies actually snuffing out the truth, thereby proving to be enemies of open debate.

Here's an example:

Big tech wants you to see things the way they do, but they aren't actually censors. (Image by Steve, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
[Bjorn] Lomborg was censored [sic] for pointing out "rising temperatures have actually saved lives." That's because cold weather kills more people than warm weather.

No scientific study has yet proven that a recent drop in deaths was caused by the temperature rise. But so what? His main point -- temperature-related deaths fell while the planet warmed -- is true.

Yet Science Feedback works with Facebook to keep that out of your Facebook feed.
And that was just one example of Science Feedback keeping social media customers in the dark.

This piece is eye-opening, but its value is severely compromised by its failure -- common among conservatives and libertarians -- to note the fundamental difference between a private platform like Facebook (badly and wrongly) policing its own property -- and government violating the right to free speech. Ayn Rand cannot be quoted enough on this point: "Censorship ... is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas..."

What Facebook and the like do, when they refuse to allow people to present facts that might call current orthodoxy into question, is sloppy or wrong, but it is not censorship. Unlike government, they can't fine or jail anyone, for expressing their opinions, arguments, or data.

-- CAV


Amlan said...

Gus, one argument being advanced is that these actions are indeed censorship since the platforms are being induced or coerced to take these steps. Given how pervasive our governments have become in our daily lives, on the surface there seems to be some merit to this argument but what do you think?

Gus Van Horn said...


I haven't heard such arguments myself, but if it were indeed going on, THAT would be a rather fascist form of censorship.

That said, the correct target for the ire of, say, conservatives, would be government regulation, and not -- as too many, especially of the trust-busting or "lets regulate them like utilities" types -- "Big Tech."

Furthermore, if this were going on, the companies involved should make it known that they are being required to do this.

I see neither of these things going on, regardless of the facts on the ground.


Gus Van Horn said...

put it should go after types above.

Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, I've encountered a few cases that do, from what the articles reporting them say, savor of government "suggesting" actions by media companies, but Rand already addressed that back in 1962. The conservatives I've read recounting those instances show the rightness of her analysis in the way they essentially accept the mixed economy and simply want to be the ones nudging people with the government gun, and are perfectly happy to smuggle in more government control of the mixed economy by declaring large media companies "platforms" that have to follow some standard of the "common good," and then hope that their version of the common good will win out against their more consistently altruist counterparts who are perfectly happy to accept their claim lock, stock, and barrel, since it delivers them exactly what they have argued for for decades.

Gus Van Horn said...

Excellent point, and thanks for linking to that ARI post on the matter.