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Barack Obama Demands Big Tech Platforms Censor Right-Wing Populists in Atlantic Interview

Demanding that dissent be silenced.

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Former President Barack Obama called for Big Tech platforms to censor views he finds objectionable in an interview with the Atlantic on Monday, citing what he sees as “crazy lies and conspiracy theories” that need to be purged from social media.

The former President made the demand for censorship in response to a question about the American media and inherent divisions present in the American electorate.

I don’t hold the tech companies entirely responsible, because this predates social media. It was already there. But social media has turbocharged it. I know most of these folks. I’ve talked to them about it. The degree to which these companies are insisting that they are more like a phone company than they are like The Atlantic, I do not think is tenable. They are making editorial choices, whether they’ve buried them in algorithms or not. The First Amendment doesn’t require private companies to provide a platform for any view that is out there.

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At the end of the day, we’re going to have to find a combination of government regulations and corporate practices that address this, because it’s going to get worse. If you can perpetrate crazy lies and conspiracy theories just with texts, imagine what you can do when you can make it look like you or me saying anything on video. We’re pretty close to that now.”

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Jeffrey Goldberg would go on to ask Obama about what he calls a “new malevolent information architecture,” which Obama identified as “the single biggest threat to our democracy.”

Neoliberals have increasingly criticized Section 230 on the grounds that it doesn’t abet enough censorship, and that the publisher regulation should be replaced with legislation that legally mandates Big Tech platforms purge and silence dissidents that leftists find objectionable.

Obama also cited Sarah Palin as a predecessor of the Trump-era Republican Party, generally declining to admit that his own unpopular and divisive policies played any role in creating demand among Republican voters for leaders that actually challenge the power of the organized Left.

The American left is now wholly dependent on silencing, censoring and banning those who challenge its religion from the public sphere, digital or otherwise. Maybe one day they’ll end up getting the “fascist” they’ve cried wolf about throughout the Trump presidency, and learn that relying upon craven censorship as a political tactic is a double-edged sword.

Free Speech

YOUR NEW MASTER: Twitter’s Head of Conversational Safety, a “Young, Queer Asian-American Businesswoman,” is “Rethinking” the Concept of User Safety

Do you trust someone like her to make Twitter “a safer place”?

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The media company Protocol, a sister site of Politico, recently published an article about Twitter’s new “head of product for conversational safety,” Christine Su. It claims that Su, a “young, queer Asian-American businesswoman,” is revolutionizing what “user safety” on social media means.

Twitter hired Su around six months ago to be in charge of “what might be the most difficult task on Twitter,” despite having no apparent experience in politics, programming, and media relations. But Twitter seems to like her for her “creative” and “somewhat radical new ideas” about user safety.

“As a queer woman of color who is an Asian American in tech in rural America, that experience is a very intersectional one. I’ve had plenty of experiences moving through spaces where I wanted more safety,” Su said.

Protocol writes that Su’s vision incorporates “transformative and procedural justice.” Transformative justice ostensibly refers to a non-retributive form of repairing harm done to someone and preventing it from happening again; procedural justice to enacting a set of rules that “make harm rarer in the first place.”

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This all sounds nice and dandy—but beware. So-called transformative and procedural justice will not benefit you, but will crush you. Anything that’s perceived as “harmful” against “women and people from marginalized groups” can and will be used to censor you. Christine Su may reassuringly claim that “the point is not to make the entire world a safe space,” but she’s open about the fact that she will help give the Coalition of the Fringes more control over what people are allowed to do and say on Twitter.

Examples from the article:

  • Creating an audio hangout feature called “Spaces,” which will allow users to determine who is allowed to participate, as well as who can speak and when. (Note that it’s being tested on “women and marginalized groups of people” first.)
  • Potentially doubling down on functions that “encourage people to read content before reposting it.” (Which is exclusively done to censor or limit the reach of conservative and other right-wing content.)
  • Building tools that “create private pathways for apologies, forgiveness and deescalation.” (The finer details are still a work in progress according to Su.)
  • Defining what a “meaningful conversation” is. (Would people like Su think that anything right-wingers say or believe belongs in a “meaningful conversation”? Let’s just say I wouldn’t bet money on it…)

You know full well that a company like Facebook would shortly follow suit. After all, it’s not just Twitter that Su is “revolutionizing,” but the concept of social media itself. Figure out where all this is heading.

Now is as good a time as ever to plug our Parler:

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