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Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle called out “partisan hypocrisy” on free speech after many on the Left expressed outrage over Elon Musk acquiring Twitter.
In her op-ed Thursday, McArdle pointed out how Democrats had been unsympathetic to conservatives complaining about big tech censorship in recent years and had to now face the reality of their own “inadequate” arguments.
“Suddenly, ‘private companies can do whatever they want’ might not be quite sufficient to ensure a robust, democratic debate,” she wrote. “[G]o start your own social media platform if you don’t like it’ seems a somewhat inadequate retort to those who complain.”
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McArdle deconstructed a Twitter thread by former chief executive of Reddit, Yishan Wong, who defended Twitter’s policies as necessary to crack down on offensive imagery and abuse.
She argued “it doesn’t follow” that Twitter had to censor political and social viewpoints or narratives it found unacceptable, such as the Hunter Biden laptop story.
“Of course, Wong is right that some amount of moderation is necessary … But it does not therefore follow that they must also crack down on vaccine skepticism, people who think that trans women aren’t really women, or media stories about Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings, to name just a few of the viewpoints Twitter has at some point deemed verboten,” McArdle wrote.
A report by the Media Research Center found more than 600 cases of pro-Biden censorship on big tech platforms in two years.
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She contended these were choices made to make liberals “comfortable” and their reaction to the notion of less moderation.
“If things were really so evenhanded, the left would not be freaking out, while the right celebrates,” she said.
McArdle noted the Left’s defense that right-wing viewpoints must be censored from social media because they are “dangerous to democracy” was a self-defeating argument.
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“Now, one could argue that right-wing viewpoints ought to be suppressed because they are hateful and retrograde and dangerous to democracy,” she added. “But one could also ask whether it isn’t a little dangerous when a social media platform takes it on itself to define and massage the discourse this way. Maybe even a little … undemocratic.”
The columnist urged both sides to be open to hashing out arguments at the “digital water cooler” rather than listening just to their own side.
Despite this, Democrats have pushed for more moderation on Twitter in light of Musk’s purchase. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for rules to govern “unregulated” social media in a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC.