In a major speech last week, Barack Obama called for even MORE censorship, MORE cancellations, MORE demonetization and more violations of the First Amendment by Big Tech.
He described himself as “pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist” but immediately clarified that it did not apply to U.S. social media companies – the largest purveyors of news content and opinion in the country.
I guess to Obama news content and opinion are safe to be disseminated for now – as long as they run offline in more traditional media, like print.
In fact, he demanded that online social media go further to diminish what he called “disinformation.”
The former president delivered a speech on the issue at Stanford University after spending “months” studying the subject.
“The First Amendment is a check on the power of the state,” he said. “It doesn’t apply to private companies like Facebook and Twitter.” He called for more “value judgments” on content moderation and censorship on social media.
“While content moderation can limit the distribution of clearly dangerous content, it doesn’t go far enough,” Obama added.
I guess he speaks for the Democratic Party. And that suggests to me he doesn’t speak for America and the Constitution. Because the Constitution is clear on the First Amendment. That’s the reason it’s called the FIRST AMENDMENT.
“Over time we lose our capacity to distinguish between fact, opinion and wholesale fiction. Or maybe we just stop caring,” he said.
Obama also complained that an overwhelming flood of information made it difficult to discern the truth.
“Our brains aren’t accustomed to taking in this much information this fast, and a lot of us are experiencing overload,” he said.
Obama warned that dangerous people were using social media to distract the public. He wasn’t speaking of the Big Tech giants. Rather it is Vladimir Putin, who keeps Russia in the dark about what goes in Ukraine. It’s Steve Bannon, who advocates for America First.
“People like Putin and Steve Bannon for that matter understand it’s not necessary for people to believe disinformation in order to weaken democratic institutions – you just have to flood the public square with enough raw sewage,” he complained.
He complained there was no way to distinguish online between “a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Anthony Fauci and a miracle cure pitched by a huckster.”
The wide variety of content on the coronavirus and vaccines, Obama said, was concerning, as some people chose not to get vaccinated.
“People are dying because of misinformation,” he said.
No, last time I checked, people are dying because of Big Pharma’s misinformation.
Obama noted that content moderation by tech companies already exists, but argued for MORE of it.
He laid out a set of “principles” for how controversial content should be moderated, either by tech companies themselves or by a government entity:
- Whether it strengthens or weakens the prospects for a healthy inclusive democracy.
- Whether it encourages robust debate and respect for our differences.
- Whether it reinforces rule of law and self-governance.
- Whether it helps us make collective decisions based on the best available information.
- Whether it recognizes the rights and freedoms and dignity of all of our citizens.
“Regulation has to be part of the answer,” Obama said, calling for ways to start “slowing the spread of harmful content” online.
Obama expressed regret that he believed, prior to the 2016 election Donald Trump won fair and square, that the public could still distinguish fact from fiction on social media.
“What does still nag at me was my failure to fully appreciate at the time just how susceptible we had become to lies and conspiracy theories,” he said.
But presidents don’t make calls like this – nor does one corrupt party or the Deep State. The Constitution does.
He had some other crazy ideas, too.
Obama cited the principles in the “Fairness Doctrine,” widely criticized by the conservative movement, to help control what kind of information was allowed in broadcasting. He also called for social media algorithms to be regulated by “government inspectors” and “regulators,” just like other industries.
Again, these ideas are contrary to the American tradition. They represent a police state tradition.
In 2016, Big Tech wasn’t yet a full-blooded monster. But it will be if Obama gets his way.
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