December 15th, local time, some Republicans of the U.S. House of Representatives again requested a hearing on the speech censorship mechanism of social media platforms. Some people believe that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have blocked content in favor of their own camps on a large scale, but promoted the ideas of political opponents.
But the opposite view is that these people just want to make the public opinion environment on social media benefit themselves, and do not care about the truth itself. This series of disputes not only stimulates a wide discussion about speech censorship, but also exposes the widespread inequality of voice rights in American society.
It’s easy for “big people” to spread news.
The content censorship mechanism of American social media companies has always been controversial. For different camps with different political views, both sides feel that the content of social media platforms is biased, which puts pressure on the technology companies and executives behind them from all walks of life.
Since the beginning of this year, some opinion leaders and even government officials in the United States have used social media to spread unfounded news. Events that cause social differences are common, and there are problems of exaggerating or even distorting facts between different forces. In addition to using public opinion to achieve their own political goals, some people even spread rumors for economic interests, and the lack of supervision of media platforms also creates opportunities for them to take advantage of.
For example, on the eve of the coronavirus pandemic, Richard Burr, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, publicly “appeased” the public, claiming that there would be no outbreak in the United States, but then madly sold his stocks and successfully avoided the stock market crash. He has since been investigated by the FBI for alleged insider trading.
According to NPR, Burr has privately warned some people who are close to him to prepare for the upcoming economic depression. In other words, Burr took advantage of his position to learn about the epidemic and the serious situation of the stock market for a long time, but chose to hide the truth from the public for his personal benefit and secretly operated funds to escape to preserve wealth.
It is difficult for the people to tell the truth.
In contrast to “bigwigs” like Richard Burr, ordinary Americans are seriously lacking channels of voice, and even retaliation may be taken when the content of the speech may have some kind of “political impact”.
According to CNN, on December 7th local time, an epidemic data expert named Rebecca Jones was raided by Florida police while at home. He had previously worked for the Florida health department and was responsible for processing epidemic-related data. Jones had previously been asked by his superiors to whitewash the data he had processed to help parts of the state reopen smoothly.
After refusing this request, Jones was fired in May this year. Since then, with the help of his supporters, he has established an independent coronavirus data sharing system, which is committed to providing real and effective information to the local residents. However, the state government obviously did not welcome such a move. Local police confiscated Jones’s mobile phone, computer and other items during the December 7 raid.
According to the Washington Post on December 11, Cliff Gilman, a doctor named Cliff Gilman in Yuma County, Arizona, also lost his job because he exposed the state’s epidemic data.
Previously, Gilman’s hospital had reached the limit of admission capacity. When he tried to transfer three COVID-19 patients, he learned that there was no more intensive care unit available in Arizona, but real-time data at that time showed that 10% of the state’s intensive care units were still vacant. Gilman then criticized the data on social media for not being true, but the next morning he was told by the hospital that he had been fired.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, there have been countless cases of ordinary people like this who have been hit by their voices. In addition, incidents including the dismissal of the aircraft carrier captain for “blowing the whistle” for the U.S. military, the prosecution of photographers taking photos of buried bodies on New York’s uninhabited islands with aerial camera, and the dismissal of nurses on social media to expose the shortage of medical supplies.
Privilegation of freedom of expression
According to the analysis, the two major forces of the left and right of the United States fought a war of public opinion, using their respective privileges to silence adverse news, and in turn suppressed adverse information under the guise of “freedom of speech”. In the absence of effective supervision, the facts gradually ignored and replaced them with their emotional vents.
Recently, American public opinion has begun to reflect and criticize this phenomenon. The Washington Post recently commented that the so-called “freedom of speech” is becoming a weapon, which gives barbaric power to those who lack facts.
The British Guardian also pointed out that when discussing problems in other regions, Western society can easily shout beautiful slogans such as so-called freedom of speech and censorship, but it is unwilling to face reality when dealing with its own problems.
Some observers believe that during a special period like 2020, the epidemic has gradually exposed the fact that freedom of speech in the United States has been shelled and privileged. This phenomenon is exacerating antagonism, hurting the stability of American society, and causing further tearing of American society.