Every day new initiatives are being announced to ensure people have the correct information on the COVID-19 pandemic, but who watches the watchers?
The BBC reported today that the UK government is cracking down on misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. This is taking the form of a rapid response unit within the Cabinet Office [that] is working with social media firms to remove fake news and harmful content. As ever harmful is undefined, but the government seems worried that people could die as a result of being misinformed.
Meanwhile an initiative started by the BBC, among others, called the Trusted News Initiative, has announced plans to tackle potentially harmful coronavirus disinformation. Most things are potentially harmful, surely, and theres something distinctly sinister about an organisation designating itself trusted. Surely thats for other people to decide.
During emergencies of this magnitude, the need for trusted, factual, evidence-based reporting is more crucial than ever, said Noel Curran, Director-General of the European Broadcasting Union, which calls itself the worlds leading alliance of public service media and is a member of the TNI.
Yet there is a tide of misinformation and bad information, driven mainly through online social platforms, which is threatening to undermine public trust and cause further anxiety for people. This initiative underlines the role of public service media in tackling misinformation head-on and delivering accurate content that audiences can safely rely on.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all members of the TNI too and on top of this, they seem to be constantly rolling out initiatives of their own. Last week Nick Clegg, Facebooks VP of Global Affairs and Communications wrote about what the company is doing to ensure purity of information across all its platforms.
The most untainted source of COVID-19 information, according to Clegg, is the World Health Organization. So Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are now all spamming their users with top tips from the WHO, in many cases whether they like it or not. Until recently not many people would have contested claim that the WHO is the ultimate global authority on such matters the clue is in the name, right? but the tendency of its senior leadership to overtly kowtow to China, as in the clip below, is undermining trust in it.
Speaking of Twitter, it seems to be taking a strong position on the matter of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that also seems to have at least some positive medical effect on COVID-19. Twitter apparently doesnt like people bigging the drug up too much on its platform, even going so far as to take down posts from President Trumps Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, for extolling its virtues.
However, as Axios points out, Twitter is inconsistent in its implementation of this new rule, having recently permitted a tweet of clear misinformation from tech entrepreneur Elon Musk to stay up. This highlights the problem with this latest attempt at censorship, one shared with all others. The censorship decisions ultimately have to be made by humans and will therefore always be flawed.
Until recently very few people expected Twitter to be expert on the therapeutic qualities of hydroxychloroquine, yet now we do. Meanwhile Facebook has unilaterally anointed the WHO the Oracle of Healthy, despite its refusal to acknowledge Taiwan and many questions about its effectiveness in mitigating the catastrophe the world is now having to endure.
As for trusted sources, how much of the mainstream media can really be trusted? Very few publications dont have some kind of bias, with the US especially egregious in that respect. If President Trump suggested a new course of action, how sure can we be that CNN or the New York Times wouldnt dismiss it out of hand or that Fox News would subject it to proper scrutiny?
The thing is, Journalists are human too and no less prone to biases and prejudices than anyone else. At Telecoms.com we never expect our audience to unquestioningly accept everything we say and encourage stress-testing of our stories by investigating what else has been written on the matter. In fact, the more trusted a source of information claims to be, the more we would urge you to seek a second opinion.
As we have said previously, censorship is at best a game of whack-a-mole because you cant perfect speech. You cant have good speech without bad speech and attempts to eradicate the latter lead to no speech at all, at least none that you can hear in public. In practice censorship just drives banned speech underground, where it gains prominence and is subject to far less scrutiny.
There is currently an abundance of official information on the coronavirus pandemic, meaning supposed misinformation can easily be fact-checked by anyone with an internet connection. Nothing can be done about those who choose not to and attempting to protect such people from themselves through blanket censorship and culling of information sources is both futile and repressive.
The rest is here:
- The spectre of censorship and intolerance stalks todays left - The Guardian - July 13th, 2020
- How literary censorship inspired creativity in Victorian writers - The Conversation UK - July 13th, 2020
- Chinese TV Regulators Appear to Increase Story Supervision - Variety - July 13th, 2020
- Gone With the Wind and the Difference Between Censorship and Context - Film School Rejects - July 13th, 2020
- UK universities accused of censorship by complying with China - Telegraph.co.uk - July 13th, 2020
- Parler: the Twitter 'alternative' isn't the free speech haven it claims to be - The Conversation AU - July 13th, 2020
- How Victorian Writers Navigated Censorship And Suppression Of Free Speech - Science 2.0 - July 13th, 2020
- Art Exhibit Hits Back at Censorship, Abductions of Dissidents - Khaosod English - July 13th, 2020
- Disney + has just added a version without the censorship of a Marvel movie, well liked- JAPANFM - D1SoftballNews.com - July 13th, 2020
- Claims of censorship and bullying at UCT as another explosive report surfaces - IOL - July 13th, 2020
- Social Media Bans 'Highlight the Profound Censorship on Web 2.0' - CoinDesk - CoinDesk - July 12th, 2020
- Wendell Berry joins lawsuit to stop University of Kentucky from removing controversial mural - Courier Journal - July 12th, 2020
- The Trump Administration Is Attacking Critical Internet Privacy Tools - VICE - July 12th, 2020
- Facebook suspends disinformation network tied to staff of Brazil's Bolsonaro - Reuters - July 12th, 2020
- [OPINION] Pinoy BL, censorship, and problematic LGBTQ+ representation - Rappler - July 12th, 2020
- Laura Loomer and Freedom Watch request full court review of their Big Tech censorship lawsuit - Reclaim The Net - July 12th, 2020
- Hongkongers face a Kafkaesque reality as censors outlaw the words of protest - The Guardian - July 12th, 2020
- US Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing highlights need to review on China's censorship - Tibet Post International - July 11th, 2020
- Black TikTok creators have long accused the platform of censorship - Reclaim The Net - July 11th, 2020
- The Facebook boycott is illiberal. Who has the courage to oppose it? - Thehour.com - July 11th, 2020
- Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Blasts Alleged Big Tech Censorship: By Offensive, They Mean The Left Doesnt Like It - Deadline - June 21st, 2020
- 'Gone With the Wind' censorship is a slippery slope - Los Angeles Times - June 21st, 2020
- AG Barr on tech companies censoring viewpoints: 'There's something very disturbing about what's going on' - Fox News - June 21st, 2020
- Resist The Self-censorship Bug - City Journal - June 21st, 2020
- New Report Looks at How People Feel About Online Censorship, and Who Should be Making the Calls on Such - Social Media Today - June 21st, 2020
- The main types of censorship in films: Are they even necessary? - Film Daily - June 21st, 2020
- Censorship and the future of e-readers - Catholic Culture - June 21st, 2020
- Censorship is a growing problem in our news and other media - Bluefield Daily Telegraph - June 21st, 2020
- U.S. senator: Twitter tried to censor me and lost - The Highland County Press - June 21st, 2020
- Is this the maddest target of woke censorship yet? - Spiked - June 21st, 2020
- Gail Asper 'very troubled' by allegations of discrimination at Canadian Museum for Human Rights - CBC.ca - June 21st, 2020
- The Unplug Collective Allows Black Women to Express Themselves Without Censorship - Teen Vogue - June 21st, 2020
- Bolton book decision: Right answer, wrong reasoning | TheHill - The Hill - June 21st, 2020
- Censorship by country - Wikipedia - June 9th, 2020
- Censorship Is Not All Bad | HuffPost - June 9th, 2020
- Why Is Censorship Bad? | Reference.com - June 9th, 2020
- Things you're not allowed to say: lowlights of the new censorship - New York Post - June 9th, 2020
- Barr claims social media platforms 'censoring particular viewpoints and putting their own content in there' - Fox News - June 9th, 2020
- Nazi Propaganda and Censorship | The Holocaust Encyclopedia - June 9th, 2020
- The march of progressive censorship - Spectator.co.uk - June 9th, 2020
- Reddit CEO Steve Huffman thanks users that asked for more censorship on the platform - Reclaim The Net - June 9th, 2020
- The Censorship of COVID-19 Data Around the World | Sam Bocetta - Foundation for Economic Education - June 9th, 2020
- Censorship row over report on UK BAME Covid-19 deaths - The Guardian - June 9th, 2020
- Blood Brothers #36: Social media censorship, nationalism and defending Muslim rulers - 5Pillars - June 9th, 2020
- Bitcoin.com's Mining Video Censored: The Tale of Youtube's Blatant Censorship and Propaganda - Bitcoin News - May 19th, 2020
- Here's How to Fight Censorship In a Nutshell - Discovery Institute - May 19th, 2020
- What Triggered a Biology Journal to Demand Government Censorship of Intelligent Design - Discovery Institute - May 19th, 2020
- OpEd: Has Disney Taken Censorship Too Far With the Latest Disney+ Blur? - Inside the Magic - May 19th, 2020
- People are worried about Disney censoring 'Hamilton' when it comes to Disney Plus this July - Insider - INSIDER - May 19th, 2020
- Does Big Tech censorship ultimately fail, giving more legitimacy to the content it tries to hide? - Reclaim The Net - May 19th, 2020
- Hey, Google, your censorship of 'Plandemic' only turned its author's book into #1 bestseller. Its the Streisand effect, stupid! - RT - May 19th, 2020
- Opinion: Conspiracism is a popular phenomenon; addressing it requires understanding and dialogue rather than censorship - Eastern Echo - May 19th, 2020
- The pandemic is making digital rights violation in Africa, the new norm - Techpoint.ng - May 19th, 2020
- YouTube bans content that contradicts WHO on Covid-19, despite its track record of misinformation - MercatorNet - May 19th, 2020
- Bringing Back Blogs in the Age of Social Media Censorship - WP Tavern - May 10th, 2020
- #MeToo in the land of censorship - Human Rights Watch - May 10th, 2020
- The people have cancelled... there's a new kind of censorship in town - Independent.ie - May 10th, 2020
- Dave Rubin interview: His new book, censorship on the left and what he sees happening in Canada - National Post - May 10th, 2020
- The Darlings are discouraged and disheartened by live stream censorship - The Province - May 10th, 2020
- Twitter accused of 'censorship' after banning Wings Over Scotland accounts - The National - May 10th, 2020
- Facebook Won't Fudge Censorship Oversight, Qumra Sells $80 Million in Holdings and Juganu Revolution in Today's Roundup - CTech - May 10th, 2020
- Facing COVID-19 Misinformation and Censorship in Brazil, Russia, and China - Slate - April 23rd, 2020
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle accused of censorship over refusal to engage with tabloid media - The Independent - April 23rd, 2020
- German censorship campaign targets scholar over BDS and applies 'antisemitism' charge - Mondoweiss - April 23rd, 2020
- Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords - National Post - April 23rd, 2020
- News on News: Reflecting on institutional censorship and the conversations with the experts - Grand Valley Lanthorn - April 23rd, 2020
- Facebook Pandemic Philanthropy Overshadowed by Its Censoring of Protests - Breitbart - April 23rd, 2020
- Lady Chatterley's censor: Almost 60 years ago, a court case looked to save us from ourselves - The Big Smoke Australia - April 23rd, 2020
- The ADL wants to fight hate in video games, but ham-fisted CENSORSHIP is the last thing we gamers need - RT - April 23rd, 2020
- Internet Censorship During COVID-19 Is Threat To Cryptocurrencies And Liberty - Forbes - April 2nd, 2020
- The Coronavirus Has Started a Censorship Pandemic in Turkey, Hungary, Thailand, and Around the World - Foreign Policy - April 2nd, 2020
- Landmarks in law: the controversial 80s play that defied gay censorship - The Guardian - April 2nd, 2020
- Turkey among several countries censoring their coronavirus critics - Ahval - April 2nd, 2020
- Bitcoin Core shifts to dark web to resist censorship - Decrypt - April 2nd, 2020
- It's a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what's true or false - The Conversation US - April 2nd, 2020
- The mounting human cost of Chinas coronavirus censorship - Reclaim The Net - April 2nd, 2020
- Society's Dependence on the Internet: 5 Cyber Issues the Coronavirus Lays Bare - Nextgov - April 2nd, 2020
- Turkmenistan bans the word Coronavirus, wearing of masks, in a major censorship move - The Statesman - April 2nd, 2020
- Indias government wants to censor the media to fight Covid-19 but transparency is a better weapon - Scroll.in - April 2nd, 2020
- YouTube continues to ban crypto content; None knows the reason - iNVEZZ - April 2nd, 2020