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Ted Lieu Would “Love to Regulate the Content of Speech”

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In an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Wednesday, California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu appeared to make a surprisingly bold argument in favor of government censorship many free speech and First Amendment advocates found chilling.

Speaking about the availability of content he viewed as “conspiracy theories”(in other words, inconvenient to progressives and liberals) in Google search results, Lieu said thatI would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so.”

Many supporters of free speech were shocked that an American member of the House of Representatives would speak of the cherished First Amendment in terms that make it sound like a burden or an obstacle to the policy preferences of a California Member of Congress.

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View the segment in which Lieu expressed his preference for some sort of censorship policy:

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While the concept of deplatforming or otherwise silencing political opponents (usually exercised through the corporate censorhip of Silicon Valley tech companies)is lately seeming to become a hallmark of the contemporary progressive movement, Lieu’s open skepticism towards the First Amendment could represent a totally new instinct to legally criminalize certain forms of political speech among Democrats.

Some other leading progressives have taken increasingly critical perspectives towards the American conception of free speech, but Lieu could be the first Member of Congress to sympathize with a instinct for censorship.

However, with cultural progressives possessing a stranglehold on Silicon Valley tech monopolies, it may not even be necessary for governmental institutions to enact anti-constitutional polices in order to purge right-of-center, conservative and nationalist thought from online public spheres. Leaked internal briefings from Google revealed that figures within the company desired to use the behemoth tech giant’s massive influence to move the internet closer to a “European tradition” which favors “dignity over liberty and civility over freedom,” as opposed to an American tradition which places free expression as sacrosanct.

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.

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