You may have seen it on TV or in action, up close and personal on social media: Big Tech, at the request of the federal government, has been censoring Americans who ask questions about the COVID vaccines. The unintended consequences of this blatant violation of Americans’ First Amendment rights has been a growing mistrust of the government and what it says about the vaccine, resulting in a steady percentage of Americans remaining hesitant to get vaccinated. Everyday Americans are being censored by our social media giants when they ask questions or oppose the prevailing narrative. This censorship, intended to tamp down on “misinformation,” is instead a leading source of vaccine hesitancy and fuels the fires of conspiracy theories.
Recent polling suggests that across party lines, Americans have an overall negative view of social media. A supermajority of 69 percent of Americans believes that social media makes it easier for misinformation to spread, creating a culture where a lack of trust is prevalent. Big Tech companies have tried to remedy this by censoring content it finds problematic, but this has had the opposite effect. The answer to speech one disagrees with isn’t less speech; it’s more speech.
Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Tech has been working overtime to promote its own ideology over any dissent standing in the way. This strategy has only grown during the Biden administration. We’ve seen doctors censored for questioning the vaccine, along with any posts that did the same thing. It’s easy to conclude this was the result of Big Tech working together with the government, which Jen Psaki openly admitted did happen earlier this year. Big Tech and the federal government don’t want debate that could undermine their preferred narrative. It’s straight out of the totalitarian playbook.
Understanding and appreciating our differences helps bring us together by building bridges, thus benefiting all of us. That is why censorship and cancel culture are so troubling. Instead of resolving our differences, these forces exacerbate them. When you marginalize, you radicalize.
Today’s biggest proponents, enablers and enforcers of censorship and cancel culture are the trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolists: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Big Tech monopolists have an unholy alliance with Big Government to censor, silence, deplatform and even cancel those with whom they disagree. When Big Tech censors under the guise of protecting us from “misinformation,” it behaves more like the communist Chinese than patriotic, constitutionally guided Americans.
Big Tech has been particularly egregious with its COVID censorship. Big Tech is censoring noted doctors, scientists and even a sitting United States senator—who also happens to be a doctor. Even if one is ignorant or arrogant enough to believe that Big Tech is the ultimate arbiter of truth, how does censoring dissenting doctors and scientists help convince vaccine-hesitant Americans —disproportionately Black and Hispanic—to overcome their concerns and get vaccinated?
Censorship is counter-productive. It makes people lose confidence in the science, particularly the science behind vaccines. COVID vaccines are indeed quite effective, especially in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. But many people don’t believe this because censorship has created mistrust.
Individuals must be allowed the freedom to make their own choices, especially when it comes to their health and well-being. We don’t need Biden administration officials and their censors working with Big Tech to protect us from ourselves. Get the information out there, good or bad, right or wrong, and let people make their own informed decisions, in consultation with their own medical providers.
There are no real competitors to Big Tech, especially as it relates to online speech. Google owns YouTube. Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Google controls online search. Facebook and Google control the digital advertising market. Google and Apple control the smartphone app market. And Facebook, Twitter and Google control social media. These conglomerates can pick and choose winners and losers with no repercussions. This cannot be allowed any longer.
How do we fix this? We must do two important things.
First, we must end Big Tech’s antitrust amnesty. We cannot continue to allow trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolists to use their market dominance to kill competitors like Parler, control the online public square and censor our opinions. We must break up Big Tech before it is too late.
Second, we must repeal Big Tech’s Section 230 shield—which gives the companies immunity with respect to third-party content posted on their platforms—so they can no longer censor, silence, deplatform and even cancel those with whom they disagree. This leads to government-sponsored censorship, and Biden officials have made it clear that the government is actively working with various social media platforms to censor Americans.
The COVID vaccine is a remarkable human achievement that is saving millions of lives across the globe. But many Americans aren’t going to believe that because they think they aren’t being told the full story. And it’s true—they’re not. Big Tech is censoring critical voices online and it’s having a devastating effect, contributing directly to vaccine hesitancy. If we break up Big Tech to give users more options and modernize Section 230 to allow for freer online speech, Americans would feel more confident they aren’t being lied to. They would choose to get vaccinated after they feel more fully informed.
We need more competition, not less. We need more free speech, not less. The less we have of each, the more dangerous and totalitarian the national political and social environment becomes. And that’s not a road we want to continue to go down.
Mike Davis is the founder and president of Unsilenced Majority, an organization dedicated to opposing cancel culture and fighting back against the woke mob and their enablers. Davis is the former chief counsel for nominations to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and clerked for Justice Neil Gorsuch.