Learning to Fear Free Speech: How Politicians Are Moving to Protect Us from Our Unhealthy Reading Choices | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Learning to Fear Free Speech: How Politicians Are Moving to Protect Us from Our Unhealthy Reading Choices

“Caution: Free Speech May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” Such a rewording of the original 1965 warning on tobacco products could soon appear on social media platforms, if a Senate hearing this week is any indicator. Listening to former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, senators decried how Facebook is literally killing people by not censoring content, and Haugen proposed a regulatory board to protect the public.

But before we embrace a new “ministry of information” model to protect us from dangerous viewpoints, we may want to consider what we would lose in this Faustian free-speech bargain.

Warnings over the “addiction” and “unhealthy” content of the internet have been building into a movement for years. In July, President Biden slammed Big Tech companies for “killing people” by failing to engage in even greater censorship of free speech on issues related to the pandemic. On Tuesday, many senators were enthralled by Haugen’s testimony because they, too, have long called for greater regulation or censorship. It all began reasonably enough over concerns about violent speech, and then expanded to exploitative speech. However, it continued to expand even further as the regulation of speech became an insatiable appetite for silencing opposing views.

In recent hearings with social media giants, members like Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) were critical of limiting censorship to areas like election fraud and instead demanded censorship of disinformation on climate change and other subjects. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has repeatedly called for “robust content modification” to remove untrue or misleading information.

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