Covid-19 has emboldened American tech platforms to emerge from their defensive crouch. Before the pandemic, they were targets of public outrage over life under their dominion. Today, the platforms are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently boasted, “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good.”
Civil-rights groups are tolerating these measures—emergency times call for emergency measures—but are also urging a swift return to normal when the virus ebbs…
But the “extraordinary” measures we are seeing are not all that extraordinary. Powerful forces were pushing toward greater censorship and surveillance of digital networks long before the coronavirus jumped out of the wet markets in Wuhan, China, and they will continue to do so once the crisis passes. The practices that American tech platforms have undertaken during the pandemic represent not a break from prior developments, but an acceleration of them…
In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.
Ironically if it’s eventually decided by the right people the virus didn’t originate in the wet markets of Wuhan this article will be arguing for its own censorship.
Author Jack Goldsmith argues for using the Covid response to make permanent and official the private sector’s censorship of genuine dissent because of the fake news and Russian interference canards.
Goldsmith is author of another piece for the Atlantic, ” The Cost of Trump’s Attacks on the FBI”.
Yes, the same FBI recently exposed for framing General Flynn–in its attempt to get Trump. Not that anyone is paying attention, but the argument and source are laughable.
He goes on to cheer the privatization of censorship via information monopoly, acknowledging the long complaint of the censored right: of course, and it’s a very good thing, now that the social media oligopoly is working together like one giant Ministry of Truth.
Lain aside as no longer necessary are the fallacious place-holder appeals, “if it isn’t government it isn’t censorship” and “build your own platforms”; already some feel safe not even pretending these were offered in good faith.
What in the effing hell is going on over at The Atlantic?
The Covid crisis is on track to end in a social and political catastrophe that will have little to do with the initial health crisis.