Concerned about online censorship? Never fear, a counterterrorism team is now available to help tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft to track “extremist” content, including material from “white supremacists and far-right militias,” according to a Reuters report.
While stopping extremism sounds all well and good, the same Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’s (GIFCT) database used to stop the Islamic State and the Taliban now has a new target—”extremist” conservative Americans.
The official report mentions groups like the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could expand to anyone who supports Trump, America First or simply opposes kneeling for the National Anthem.
Will religious groups be censored for traditional stands on marriage and gender? Will pro-life Americans be profiled for “hate” over wanting to protect life in the womb? What about those who support the Second Amendment? Will it be “extremist” to support the right to bear arms?
If the current social media landscape is any indication of where things are headed, conservatives of all kinds are in trouble. Worse, Big Tech isn’t partnering with an American antiterror group that holds to Constitutional values. GIFCT is largely an international organization, with the EU and UN among its Independent Advisory Committee Members.
What happened to the First Amendment freedoms of America? The current administration continues to speed toward a global agenda that looks more like Brussels or Geneva than Washington or Dallas.
The one barrier to such censorship in the past has been an America First approach to foreign policy. Though this was certainly encouraged under former President Donald Trump, both the Obama and now Biden (Obama 2.0) administrations have encouraged a global agenda with American in the middle or the back of the pack.
Thankfully, not all American social media companies have embraced the agenda. So far, former Trump adviser Jason Miller’s Gettr remains independent, as does video sharing platform Rumble. Other arising social media platforms also embrace an American free speech approach.
But the problem remains that the biggest platforms will be the most censored platforms. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Microsoft, Twitter and others are more worried about being cut off in China than extending free speech in America. Their global approach will mean more crack downs on those who want to speak freely on government, health or other controversial issues. President Trump was just the beginning.
We might just have to return to the pre-internet days in some cases and even do some actual offline advocacy to spread the word on important causes. It’s hard to know what will happen in the days ahead, but the battle over free speech online is not going to get easier; it going to become more challenging.
The challenge for freedom loving Americans will be to stand firm even if censorship does come. We may look at Cuba now and think, “Glad we don’t have our internet cut off. Good thing we have freedom of speech.” Yet our freedoms may be more like Cuba’s than we realize. It’s fine to post about puppies and kittens, but question election results or Covid vaccines, and it’s a warning label or worse.