We have repeatedly addressed how social media companies now openly engage in censorship of political and social viewpoints. The latest example is from the company TikTok which reportedly censored a video from the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) group supporting Kyle Rittenhouse. The video discusses the effort of Arizona State University (ASU) students to ban Rittenhouse from campus. TikTok then banned the pro-Rittenhouse statement from its platform, an act that should be offensive to anyone who supports the values of free speech.
On December 1, the group posted a video stating:
“After Kyle Rittenhouse revealed that he had enrolled as an online student at ASU [Arizona State University], the collegiate woke mob was unleashed. A coalition of student groups has started a campaign to demand that Kyle Rittenhouse be expelled from ASU, citing that he is a violent racist murderer and poses a threat to the whole student body.”
First of all, he was acquitted. And second of all, he was enrolled as an online student. Therefore, he will never interact with any of these social justice warriors. Therefore, they are trying to deny this young man a college education simply because they disagree with his beliefs and his actions. That is a dangerous precedent to set.”
Censorship has become an article of faith for many on the left. Faculty and editors are now actively supporting modern versions of book-burning with blacklists and bans for those with opposing political views. Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll has denounced the “weaponization” of free speech, which appears to be the use of free speech by those on the right. So the dean of one of the premier journalism schools now supports censorship.
Free speech advocates are facing a generational shift that is now being reflected in our law schools, where free speech principles were once a touchstone of the rule of law. As millions of students are taught that free speech is a threat and that “China is right” about censorship, these figures are shaping a new society in their own intolerant images.
In one critical hearing, tech CEOs appeared before the Senate to discuss censorship programs. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story, but then pledged to censor more people in defense of “electoral integrity.”
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, however, was not happy. He was upset not by the promised censorship but that it was not broad enough.
He noted that it was hard to define the problem of “misleading information,” but the companies had to impose a sweeping system to combat the “harm” of misinformation on climate change as well as other areas. “The pandemic and misinformation about COVID-19, manipulated media also cause harm,” Coons said. “But I’d urge you to reconsider that because helping to disseminate climate denialism, in my view, further facilitates and accelerates one of the greatest existential threats to our world.”
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal also warned that he and his colleagues would not tolerate any “backsliding or retrenching” by “failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” He demanded “the same kind of robust content modification” from the companies – the new Orwellian term for censorship.
If this account is accurate (and TikTok has not denied it), the company is now censoring statements of support for an individual acquitted by an American jury. It is the latest example of the slippery slope of censorship on social media.