Cancel culture and wokeism have turned social media into truly perverse tools: They now aggressively censor key points of view (at least from those on the right) while, in the case of Facebook, letting sex-trafficking flourish — and sometimes even allowing child nudity. These “services” fly smack in the face of traditional American values.
Banning former President Donald Trump, a world leader, from such widely used platforms was unprecedented for an advanced, free, democratic republic like ours and wholly out of line with the nation’s longstanding love of free speech. The good news: Trump is fighting back with a comprehensive lawsuit to assert the constitutional rights of all Americans.
Not long ago, the nation celebrated our shared values and common interests while respecting dissenting opinions. But this cherished mindset is now almost obsolete in mainstream media and on college campuses.
And it’s Silicon Valley that’s now spearheading the drive to restrict views, by filtering opinions through biased algorithms under each company’s sole control. Big Tech corporate-board-room and C-suite execs claim to be enlightened and acting in the public’s best interests, but they’re really just employing crude censorship at their whim — the culmination of cancel culture and newfound wokeism.
Fact is, our shared sense of values is compromised when it comes to social-media platforms’ ad hoc and vague policies. I know this firsthand, having worked for Facebook via one of its contractors, Cognizant, before becoming a whistleblower to sound the alarm about hypocrisy and unfair practices that discriminate against conservatives.
Yet slamming free speech isn’t Facebook’s only abuse: The platform also serves as a primary tool for sex-traffickers. Fortifying the southern border, of course, is critical to our fight against sex-trafficking, but it doesn’t end there: Social media need to step up, too.
Alas, the Human Trafficking Institute reported last month, Facebook is a primary source of recruitment for sex-traffickers and child exploitation. The exploiters promise jobs, housing or romantic dates to lure victims. The faces and profiles of the emotionally and physically vulnerable are shared, traded and commercialized on Facebook’s platform of nearly 3 billion subscribers.
According to HTI’s 2020 report, 59 percent of online recruitment of victims occurred on Facebook, coupled with a shocking 65 percent of child victims.
It’s baffling to think Big Tech platforms are shielded from lawsuits via Section 230 legislation while restricting the free-speech rights of conservatives and enabling adults to take advantage of our young.
Let’s face it: Anything even remotely related to pedophilia and sex-trafficking is objectionable to nearly all Americans and has no place on a public platform, especially one accessible to minors. How ironic that Facebook censors conservatives claiming it’s concerned about public safety while permitting offensive and dangerous content to be posted and shared.
The company has also allowed lewd content to circulate on its platform, even though obscenity isn’t protected under the First Amendment. True, Facebook’s official policy standards technically ban “content that sexually exploits or endangers children,” and the company claims it removes “nude images” of kids. Yet it makes a glaring exception for nudity it deems “artistic” or of “public-interest” value.
It’s time for Americans to demand Facebook follow both the letter and spirit of the law, deter the use of its platform to exploit kids and respect free speech, even that which lacks a left-leaning narrative. Americans cherish their traditional values; we shouldn’t let corporate hypocrisy and censorship by a bastion of self-anointed geeks destroy them.
Ryan Hartwig is the coauthor of “Behind the Mask of Facebook: A Whistleblower’s Shocking Story of Big Tech Bias and Censorship” and founder of The Hartwig Foundation for Free Speech.
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