Peter Greenberger, a former Twitter and Google executive, is calling for the social media accounts of President Donald Trump to be shutdown for the remainder of the election. For those of us who have criticized calls for censorship from Democratic leaders for years, the demand is yet another example of the slippery slope of censorship that awaits this country with increasing regulation of speech on social media.
“I agree, it is, and extreme times demand extreme suggestions. I did not come to this opinion lightly. I believe that the tech companies, generally, have a responsibility to be neutral. I think in the case of Twitter specifically, it’s been a great champion of the democratization of information as well as a strong supporter of freedom of expression. However, we are in a unique, and, I believe, a fraught moment in time with a president who is desperate and he’s facing a very difficult situation. I think the time is to mute the president, temporarily, while votes are being cast right now and until the winner is decided.”
It is certainly comforting to know that Greenberger is not gutting free speech “lightly.” However, the most telling statement is his reference to the “democratization of information” which appears to mean the control of the majority over the speech of the minority. It shows how democracy can be easily confused with tyranny. The difference is that this censorship is being meted out by private companies at the behest of democratic leaders.
Like every censor in history, Greenberger wraps himself in the cloak of certainty and righteousness. By declaring the President’s political views to be “misinformation,” he claims license to “turn off some of the key engagement features of the platform in order to slow down the cause of misinformation.”
This is all of course to protect the public from information that it should not read, according to Greenberger and the social media companies. The silence or even support of many on the left on such censorship calls is chilling. Free speech is now often portrayed as a danger to democracy as opposed to the very right guaranteed in a democratic system of governance. Greenberger is the cheerful face of censorship, thrilling a CNN audience with the idea of removing an unpopular president from social media platforms. His extremism is not nearly as unnerving as the fact that such proposals are now deemed plausible or possible.