- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 8, 2022

OPINION:

Liberty is a fragile quality, and the nation is now witnessing just how close it has come to losing it. Elon Musk‘s bold exposure of a roiling internal debate at Twitter regarding suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal exemplifies just how close. Americans are called to fend off Big Tech’s power to fold, spindle and mutilate the First Amendment with its censorship tools. There is no substitute for liberty.

As promised, Mr. Musk last Friday began unwinding the thread of tweets revealing the evolution of the tech giant’s policies that led to the suppression of a now-famous New York Post article about the younger Biden bound to be damaging to then-candidate Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign for president.


Handed the task of Twitter exegesis, independent journalist Matt Taibbi relates how the company originally embodied “the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” Gradually, the platform’s masterminds developed tools “designed to combat the likes of spam and financial fraudsters,” Mr. Taibbi writes. Twitter staffers eventually expanded the use of the tools in response to petitions from “connected actors” to delete tweets they disliked.

During the 2020 presidential election cycle, the Trump White House and the Biden campaign both availed themselves of Twitter’s censorship practices. Requests to remove critical posts were answered with a succinct “handled.” But since most Twitter employees were Democrats, Mr. Taibbi observes, “there were more channels … open to the left (well, Democrats) than the right.”

By then, well practiced in the art of censorship, top Twitter employees spiked the New York Post’s Oct. 14, 2020, Hunter Biden laptop story, employing “extraordinary steps” that included the use of “a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g., child pornography.” In incremental steps, power corrupts and, as Lord Acton once upon a time observed, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Twitter has not toyed with tyranny without help. More than 50 former high-ranking intelligence community officials joined in by signing a letter two weeks before the 2020 election alleging that the New York Post story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Included were former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden, as well as ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — all outspoken critics of Mr. Biden’s GOP opponent, Donald Trump.

By any definition, the political left’s ministrations to suppress information in 2020 constituted election interference. Most tellingly, a potentially outcome-altering 1 in 6 Biden voters said they would have “abandoned the Democratic candidate” had they been aware of censored news stories that included the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, according to a survey conducted by The Polling Co. after the 2020 election.

Moreover, there are troubling indications that the Twitter-Biden link persisted, aiding in censoring critics of the Biden government. In defense of his revelations, Mr. Musk tweeted: “Twitter acting by itself to suppress free speech is not a 1st amendment violation, but acting under orders from the government to suppress free speech, with no judicial review, is.”

Judicial philosopher Learned Hand put it thus: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.”


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