Commentary: War brings out the anti-free-speech bureaucrats

News & Politics

The world is watching much of the violence between Israel and Hamas through traditional media broadcasts. As is always the case in the digital age, millions are also getting their information through social media. Thierry Breton, the face of the European Union’s Digital Services Act, says many of these social media platforms are spreading misinformation or outright lies.

Breton wants whatever he deems misinformation removed from social media platforms or these same platforms may be slapped with fines of up to 6% of their annual global revenue. In terms of Meta’s, X’s, and TikTok’s global revenues, these fines would equal or exceed the gross domestic product of many countries around the world. This poses the question that is so elusive to answer: What is “misinformation” and who is qualified to make such a determination?

Social media provides people around the world with the opportunity to be citizen-journalists reporting real breaking news before any credentialed news team arrives on the scene.

Clearly, there are atrocities currently being committed by Hamas and most likely Israel. War is hell, and on either side in every conflict in history, there is always a bad actor or actors who are fueled by aggression and fear.

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But if we are to believe what the mainstream media report as fact, why are we already seeing so many retractions to their reports?

Much of what the media have reported about the current war between Israel and Hamas remains unconfirmed or in dispute, including the now infamous story of the 40 murdered infants in Israel. Shouldn’t Breton, by his own standards, treat these unconfirmed reports in the same manner he is treating social media posts? Or do press credentials give the mainstream media qualified immunity?

As an advocate against big tech and government censorship and as the founder of a popular free speech social media platform, I believe nudity, pornography, posts with criminal intent, and posts that contain depictions of graphic violence do not belong on social media. I also reject the idea that the government should be able to tell you what you can post or what we as platform owners may allow. Certainly, government should not have authority to fine us.

There are other options to keep “misinformation” down, and warnings can be placed on photographs and in videos that warn the viewer of their graphic nature. In fact, AI can do that work in a matter of seconds. Let’s not forget, as well, that every individual is entitled to his own free opinion and can do his own fact-checking and debunk anything he thinks is false.

Yet we are all expected to trust whatever the media report, even when so much of their reporting is later proven false or misleading.

My platform, Wimkin Social Media, was immediately met with resistance and then mass censorship from big tech. After launching in Apple’s App Store and Google Play in August 2020, we rapidly reached No. 1 in both app stores, and we were still at the top when Apple and Google banned us mid-January 2021 for abetting the alleged “insurrection.”

During that time, server companies shut down our hosting, big tech blocked our emails and password resets, a DNS provider canceled our domain name, Google AdMob and AdSense removed our monetization capabilities, Facebook and Twitter banned us and treated our shared links as spam, and PayPal and Capital One cut us off, all in an effort to cripple the platform simply because we offered freedom of speech in a feature-rich environment that encouraged widespread dissemination of our users’ messages.

In short, we were a threat to their narrative.

When all of that failed to shut us down, the House January 6 committee in November 2021 essentially demanded every piece of information on every single Wimkin user. Because our platform was built on a foundation of privacy, we could not comply.

We are no stranger to government and big tech censorship and have a great understanding of what’s coming. Free society is in trouble, and humanity is at a crossroads.

The EU’s Digital Services Act and the proposed RESTRICT Act in the United States are draconian measures that would push the West toward the Chinese style of governance, with severe strictures on what citizens can see and do on the internet.

A free people must be able to choose how much we allow ourselves to be governed online and on social media. Social media offers everyone a chance to learn and formulate opinions. Censorship in the name of combatting “misinformation” or “malinformation” — that is, truthful information used to challenge or attack an organization or government — will deny people the right and ability to form accurate opinions. We will only be able to agree or disagree with what we’re allowed to see — a truly frightening thought.

Jason Sheppard, founder of Wimkin Social Media, is an entrepreneur and free speech advocate who has launched numerous social media platforms to provide alternatives to combat big tech censorship.

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