No matter how we feel about social media or what our level of awareness is about how it operates, its algorithms still manage to shape our conversations, if only by inspiring us to find work-arounds against the political censorship we know is happening.
In time, it starts to become second nature to refrain from using “trigger words” and go only so far, not over the line on certain subjects, even if we have solid reasoning behind what we want to say. Over time, we start to build a lawyerly sense of where that line is. The distinctions can be very subtle. For example, a person comes to understand that it’s permissible to say there was some evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election, but not that there is evidence that Trump really won the election. That will be labeled by agenda-driven “fact”-checkers as “misinformation” and “conspiracy theory” and get that person suspended, demonetized, perhaps cast adrift to find an “alternative” platform.
To cite another example, for a long time, it was not permissible to say there was evidence that COVID-19 originated in a virology lab in Wuhan, China, where they were studying bat coronaviruses, rather than a nearby “wet market” as the CCP continued to insist. That would have been labeled by “fact”-checkers as “misinformation” and gotten a person similarly suspended, demonetized, etc.. If a person wanted to communicate candidly about this, it was necessary to find another platform, one with far less reach.
Oh, but then it turned out that this “misinformation” about the origin of the virus was most likely true.
Were the “fact”-checkers chastened by this turn of events? Did they say, “Oh, we’re so sorry! We realize the error of our ways and from now on will respect your free speech rights and leave you alone to present your own opinions and evidence, and just stay the heck out of it”? No, they went right on as they had. No apologies.
And the scrutiny never stopped. Over time, we of the conservative persuasion gradually learn to sense automatically when we need to pull back from what we wanted to say. If we’re still going to be on, for example, Twitter, we know this is what we have to do. It becomes an unconscious process.
And that’s exactly what Big Tech wants of us, especially if we are conservative. Their goal is for us to exercise self-censorship, as automatically as Winston Smith did in front of the telescreen. (I know, I apologize for yet another Orwell reference.) They’re training people to do it. It makes their job SO much easier.
Even some people on the left have figured this out, after becoming victims of the left's obsession with ideological purity and its inclination to eat its own. Glenn Greenwald and Naomi Wolfe are two who come to mind. And that’s what makes them worth reading. This link introduces you to Wolfe, if you don’t know her, and also provides links to various alternative social media platforms.
All of the above is primarily to set the stage for a story in the WASHINGTON FREE BEACON about a function of social media that apparently is not being interfered with at all: organized Islamic terrorism. As this report says, Taliban leaders have had no problem spreading propaganda and establishing control over Kabul as they continued their takeover of Afghanistan. It was easy; they used Twitter. Also WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.
While conservatives on social media were busy trying to find a way just to say what was on their minds, members of the Taliban were using it to pave their own way into Kabul after President Biden abruptly left it to them, boldly spreading lies to the citizens there to get them to give up with little resistance. As they entered the city, a Taliban spokesman tweeted out that the residents of Kabul were welcoming them in.
Their propaganda apparently even snowed observers in our own country and around the world. As Ned Price, our State Department spokesperson, shakily announced, the U.N. Security counsel issued a joint press statement calling for a new government that was “inclusive” and involved the “full and meaningful participation of women," as if that's going to happen. He went on to say that “the Council spoke with one voice, to underscore that Afghanistan must abide by its international obligations, including international humanitarian law for the safety and security of all Afghans and international citizens.” Also, pigs must fly.
I wonder what President Biden is going to do when the Taliban fail to follow instructions. Make them pay, after we just pulled out? After they've taken all the military equipment we just left there? Biden won't do anything. The Taliban knew Trump would've hit them hard, but, as with China regarding Taiwan, they don’t have to worry about him now.
But back to social media, and the role it plays here. As the FREE BEACON reports, the Taliban have been using WhatsApp and Twitter for years, to share their official statements. Now, they’re using these platforms to announce new rules to the people of Kabul. They even used WhatsApp to set up an emergency broadcast system. Isn’t technology wonderful?
Twitter and Facebook regularly ban ISIS from their platforms, but they appear to be letting the Taliban broadcast without incident. This is happening even though Twitter has a policy banning “hateful conduct” as well as “threatening or promoting terrorism.” The spokesperson who told this to the FREE BEACON did not say whether or not they consider the Taliban to be a terrorist organization. A Facebook spokesperson weaseled out of a specific answer, saying that they take action against accounts belonged to “sanctioned” groups but refusing to comment on specific cases.
To quote the BEACON: “Several Taliban spokesmen have maintained Twitter accounts for years, regularly tweeting updates on negotiations and regional battles. The accounts often post photos and videos from frontlines, which are then copied and shared by pro-Taliban accounts.”
The ultimate irony: This is going on while former President Donald Trump continues to be banned by both Twitter and Facebook, who blame him for the unrest at the Capitol Building on January 6. The reason: “incitement to violence.”