Prepare for the arrival of the 'Great Firewall of China'
Conservatives frequently complain about Twitter and Facebook policies that censor conservative views. Even "moderates" admit that these social networking services are biased against conservatives. The Wrap reports, "Twitter and Facebook have been increasingly proactive in moderating content." Moderating content is a euphemism for censoring.
Twitter and Facebook are social networking services that are privately owned. It is argued that they are entitled to deny service to anyone they choose. (Could they deny service on the basis of race?) Their influence on public opinion cannot be overstated, however.
In addition to social networking services, website and blog hosting services are capable of denying service. Recently WordPress, the world's largest website and blog hosting service, informed the site, The Conservative Treehouse, that it was being deplatformed. The reason given was "the incompatibility between your site's content and our terms."
Social media have censored a large amount of information. However, they have not been 100% effective. They will be making improvements.
Social media censorship has had a major impact on public opinion. This was dramatically illustrated by the media treatment of the New York Post article dealing with the Hunter Biden laptop. Twitter and Facebook blocked platform links to the New York Post revelations of the Biden family scandals. This obviously had an impact on the presidential election. Mark Zuckerberg argued that his company's delay in releasing the article was to allow time for his own fact-checkers to vet it. Twitter's Jack Dorsey admitted that "this action was wrong" regarding Twitter's censorship of the Hunter Biden emails.
Of course, Americans are protected by the First Amendment. Government censorship cannot happen here. We are a nation of laws, not men. We have free and fair elections. (Please excuse the sarcasm in this paragraph.) However, if the private media companies are not able to filter out unapproved opinion, the government may be forced to step in. Terrorist and racist posts must be blocked. This must be done for the greater good, to protect the American public. Fortunately, Facebook has been able to team up with people like ex–Stasi agent Anetta Kahane, founder of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. Still, if this fails, the government must step in. The system is already in place and only needs to be imported.
The Chinese government has implemented a variety of strategies to censor the internet. They are referred to as the "Great Firewall of China."
The government maintains complete control over the internet. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) controls access to the worldwide web. Their social media app WeChat employs artificial intelligence to scan and delete images considered to include banned content. There are over 10,000 websites blocked in China, including the New York Times, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Chinese tech firms employ thousands of censors. Facebook plans to increase the number of its employees who review and delete content on the site from 4,500 to 7,500. According to The Wrap, "China is a leader in developing and exporting internet censorship tools." It concluded, "Internet censorship in China will likely get more rigorous."
Government censorship is obviously nothing new. It has been countered in various ways. One effective way is the production of Samizdats (Russian for self-publishing). Samizdats were a form of resistance where individuals reproduced censored publications, often by hand, and passed the documents from reader to reader. The Soviets saw this as a serious threat, and harsh punishment was meted out to people caught possessing or copying Samizdats.
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing). He has a Master of Arts degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University. He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. He is featured on the BBC's program "Things We Forgot to Remember:" Morgenthau Plan and Post-War Germany.