It’s been a big week for Barack Obama, and the former president has been singing some showstoppers during his return to the spotlight.
On Tuesday, Obama traveled back to the White House for the first time in years to buttress Obamacare. Then, on Thursday, the former president appeared at an event hosted by The Atlantic magazine and the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. It was a lower-profile gig, but what he said there was more infuriating — and more dangerous — than anything he uttered at the White House.
During his Wednesday evening speech, the former president said there was “a demand for crazy on the internet” that it was up to Silicon Valley and federal regulators to quash.
(This isn’t the first time that Democrats have called for censorship in the online town square — and they’ve been upping the pressure of late now that the unpredictable Elon Musk has taken a nearly 10 percent share in Twitter to become the company’s largest shareholder as well as a member of its board. Here at The Western Journal, we’ve been documenting for years now why the problem isn’t the lack of censorship on social media — but rather the onerous yoke of the censorship that already exists. We’re going to keep documenting it, too — and you can help us by subscribing.)
“I do think that there is a demand for crazy on the internet that we have to grapple with,” Obama said when asked about how social media should deal with so-called misinformation and disinformation on the internet.
“Obama pointed to examples of how misinformation has plagued the U.S., with some still falsely believing that President Biden did not win the 2020 election,” The Hill reported.
What’s the blame? The smartphone, of course, according to Obama.
Once the smartphone became the dominant medium of news consumption, Obama said, according to The Hill, there was “an erosion of accountability norms and standards in political life.”
Social media, meanwhile, allowed that corrosive content to “spread and accelerate,” Obama said.
Now: “Roughly 40 percent of the country appears convinced that the current president was elected fraudulently and that the election was rigged,” Obama said, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
He noted that Russians aren’t able to see information regarding Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine due to social media censorship — and then made an extremely inapt comparison.
“If that’s true in our society, imagine how any of us would process information if we are not getting, seeing, anything else?” Obama said.
“It is difficult for me to see how we can win the contest of ideas if, in fact, we are not able to agree on a baseline of facts that allow the marketplace of ideas to work.”
Yes, how would we process information we weren’t getting? Say, let’s hypothetically posit a situation where the son of the Democratic presidential nominee leaves a laptop at a Delaware repair shop that contains documents, photos and emails that implicate him and potentially his father in massive influence-peddling schemes.
What would happen if social media were to block sharing that story in general and the lords of Twitter were to lock the newspaper that originally reported it out of its Twitter account?
Not that this would ever happen, certainly during the 2020 presidential election and not to the New York Post. I’m just spitballing a hypothetical here.
So, what is needed to ensure social media is only passing on all the news that’s fit to print?
Obama said it required “a combination of regulatory measures and industry norms,” which sounds an awful lot like a euphemistic way of saying we need both de jure and de facto censorship in the digital town square.
Obama’s remarks, vague though they may be, will do nothing to rein in the “demand for crazy on the internet.”
But the kind of censorship regime he’s hinting at can only chill free speech and silence prominent dissident voices — ones that are almost exclusively conservative, as the last half-decade demonstrates.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the former president over the next few months. Upon his visit to the White House earlier in the week, the general assumption was that he was acting as a campaign surrogate for President Joe Biden’s foundering administration.
Now, it’s sounding an awful lot like he’s implying to Facebook, Twitter and other social media services that the Democrats want to do away with “misinformation and disinformation,” and they plan to do that with a very small carrot (voluntary acquiescence to new “norms”) or a very large stick (government regulations).
Neither outcome is promising for American freedoms — and both are warning klaxons to the American people that the Democrats cannot be allowed to maintain control of the levers of power beyond this year’s midterms.
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