January 25, 2018

WELL, YES: The Russia ‘Fake News’ Scare Is All About Chilling Speech.

David Harsanyi:

If you genuinely believe that Donald Trump’s distasteful tweets are attacks on the foundations of free expression, how can you not be alarmed by a pair of powerful elected officials demanding social media companies hand over information about their users? What would they say if the president had sent a letter to Google insisting they give the executive branch an “in-depth forensic examination” of his political opponent’s searches?

As it turns out, reports today say that Twitter’s internal analysis found that it was mostly Americans, not creepy Slavic mind-control robots, who were behind the hashtags. Not that it really matters, anyway. If a group of Americans have a legitimate issue to rally around, how are they supposed to control what outsiders do? It’s not as if #ReleaseTheMemo was a secret or illegal. Republican politicians were openly using it.

Yet, if Feinstein and Schiff had their way, Twitter and Facebook would have moved to quash the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag for what turned out to be apparently solely partisan reasons. Sounds like a power that can be abused. Even if the two had been genuinely troubled by Russian hashtags — yes, suspend your disbelief — the source of fake news is not always easily discernible. Sometimes it comes to you from an anonymous Russian bot, and sometimes it’s retweeted by a prominent journalist.

Democrats have manufactured panic over amateurish Russian propaganda to not only claim that Vlad Putin was “meddling” in the election, but also to argue that interference had the power to turn the election to Trump. With this risible idea in hand, they have created paranoia about social media interactions and rationalized infringements on expression.

It’s always about rationalizing infringements on what the proles are allowed to read, say, or do.

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