2020: The (Mis)Information Age

2020: The (Mis)Information Age

July 29, 2019

One Google executive was already caught on camera admitting her job was preventing another "Trump situation." So it's no wonder Americans' eyebrows shot up at the latest comments from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Unlike Jen Gennai's comments, Dorsey's were public. But if they imply what conservatives think they do, they're just as disturbing.

With the censorship debate boiling over everywhere -- including Congress -- Twitter just poured more fuel on the fire by warning users that blocking "misinformation" during next year's campaign is the company's biggest goal. "Our No. 1 priority within elections and conversations on the elections," Dorsey said, "is making sure we're protecting the integrity of the conversation." That requires "identifying forms of manipulation used to amplify misleading information," he said, "as well as increasing transparency around ad purchases and targeting."

Normally, that sort of statement wouldn't be cause for concern. After all, no one wants a culture of dishonesty deciding America's next president. But it's how Twitter defines "misinformation" that has conservatives worried. In the past several months, social media platforms have used the word to describe everything from pro-life science to Bible verses. Lately, it's been the catch-all term -- not for half-truths and distortions -- but anything the Left disagrees with.

Dorsey insists that this has a lot more to do with outside countries influencing the election than conservatives. But that's cold comfort to a movement that's seen one platform after another systematically silence their voice. Even now, Twitter is adding a warning flag that will cover up any posts from elected officials that they consider "offensive." Jokingly called the "Trump rule," when a politician violates Twitter's standards, the account will be slapped with a label that says the content might be abusive. What's considered "abusive," of course, is up to Twitter.

In public, Dorsey says all the right things. "Our purpose is to serve the public conversation," he insisted, "and we have seen a number of attacks on it. We've seen abuse, we've seen harassment, we've seen manipulation, automatic and human coordination, misinformation ... What worries me most is our ability to address it in a systemic way that is scalable."

At the end of the day, what most Americans want is neutrality -- or at least consistency. If companies like Twitter hold themselves out as a virtual public square, then they can't block messages just because they hold a different view. There's a growing concern that Big Tech is picking and choosing who can speak on their platforms. That's not free speech. And if we aren't careful, it won't be a free election either.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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