On Thursday, former President Barack Obama will give a speech to Stanford University that focuses on his “new role” in policing national debates over whether social media companies should be censoring political opponents.
According to the New York Times, Obama is expected to “add his voice to calls for rules to limit the flood of lies that pollute public discourse.” “In private meetings as well as public appearances, Obama has been deeply involved in the debate over misinformation and disinformation over the past year. He warned that the online scourge is threatening the foundations and stability of democracy both at home and abroad.”
The Times reported that it was not the first time Obama has given a speech on this topic. Obama addressed an Atlantic and University of Chicago events last month. Obama stated that social media companies should not censor content “that we don’t believe are good for society”.
Obama said, “I believe it is reasonable for us to have a discussion and then put in practice a combination of industry norms and regulatory measures that preserve the opportunity for these platforms make money.” “But tell them that there are certain practices that you don’t believe are beneficial for society.
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Obama suggested on Twitter Tuesday that censorship was necessary to stop “real challenges” to Washington, DC’s establishment. He said, “In recent years we’ve witnessed how quickly disinformation spreads especially via social media.” “This has presented real challenges to our democracy.”
Obama’s “new” role of championing censorship was dubbed by The Times after Twitter censored Hunter Biden’s “laptop from Hell” story. Facebook, however, failed to “suppress sketchily sourced stories or facially unreliable stories, such as the Steele Dossier, and the endless articles based thereon.”
Social networks’ scandals have sparked a national debate about whether they should be considered the arbiter for truth. While Elon Musk attempts to take over the social media network, polling shows that a majority of Americans support Musk restoring Donald Trump to the platform. Rasmussen Reports found that 46 percent of Americans would support Trump’s restoration, and 43 percent oppose it. Independents were asked to vote for Trump’s restoration. The results showed a spread of 11 points: 47 percent voted in favor and 36% opposed.
Only 24% of Democrats responded to the question “Good” about Musk’s possible ownership of Twitter, but 56% of Republicans agreed.
For those who are against censorship and for the free expression of all ideas, the polling is a good sign. Freedom of speech is an American institution and has been opposed historically by those who want to suppress political opponents.
John Adams, in 1789, passed the Sedition Act. This law allowed for the deportation, fine or imprisonment of political enemies he considered a threat to publicize “false or scandalous writings” against the United States government. Adams sentenced Matthew Lyon, a publisher and congressman, to prison for criticizing the president both in print and speech. Thomas Jefferson overturned the law.
Social media companies, which tend to be aligned with Democrat Party, don’t have the power to imprison opposition. Those who violate the terms and conditions of service are canceled from public space.