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China's Newest Export: Censorship - ...

Posted: Jun 5th, 2021 - 6:15 am

When I taught English to students in Beijing, the most important lesson was one I learned: Government censorship works.

My class was conducted in the evenings for adults ranging from college students to middle-aged white-collar workers. We often talked about world events. One day, the topic of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing came up.

Older students spoke of the event in hushed tones, knowing it was taboo to discuss the Chinese Communist Party's massacre of pro-democracy students.

But younger students? They had little knowledge of the infamous event at all.

The Chinese communist government had gone to great lengths to suppress knowledge of the massacre. At the time (2008), even Google images of Tiananmen Square were blocked by the government. (Google has since been blocked entirely.) You could only learn or discuss the truth in dark corners.

Online and in my classroom, Chinese students referred to the Tiananmen Square massacre by its date, "liu si," or six-four, for June 4th. This was to help evade government censors -- thousands of whom scour the Internet to block information and opinions that people aren't allowed to share. It's hard to ban the number 64.

Seeing how censorship could prevent the truth from being known by students was shocking coming from America.

Now we are seeing Chinese-style censorship being imported and imposed on Americans--not by our government, but by powerful Big Tech corporations that control online speech platforms.

Facebook recently announced that it would allow the American people to discuss the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan. For a year, any discussion of this possibility -- which is now considered the most likely hypothesis as to how the pandemic began -- was forbidden. Any posts on the topic were suppressed as supposed misinformation.

Facebook’s censorship of the theory was done in partnership with the media. Politifact, one of the fact-checking organizations that partners with Facebook, decided that the science was settled and that COVID was a trans-species infection that came from a bat.

After all, that’s what the oh-so-trustworthy Chinese Communist Party claimed.

Now, our social media censors have decided the lab-leak theory is permissible to discuss following an announcement from President Biden that the U.S. would re-investigate the origins of COVID. Facebook has reversed its ban on the discussion and Politifact removed its "fact-check."

By suppressing a perfectly valid theory (key word being theory) for over a year, Facebook has done immense damage to the ability to hold China accountable if indeed this virus came from a Chinese government lab.

The whole point of protecting free speech is that it allows people to propose and investigate different theories and figure out what’s true. But repeatedly, we see powerful companies silence speech they don’t like.

Facebook and Politifact were not the only ones to bungle the COVID origin story. And China and COVID are not the only taboo topics. Both Amazon and Twitter have banned discussion on transgender issues. Twitter has banned users for saying things like “men aren’t women” while Amazon banned the book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment”. There is an obvious difference between stopping the harassment of trans people and stopping the debate altogether. But not to Big Tech.

The same censorship occurred when the New York Post reported on Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election. Facebook and Twitter suppressed the story and called it Russian disinformation. Yet the report was ultimately confirmed. Hunter Biden himself admitted it may be his laptop. But Big Tech decided the story wasn’t to be discussed ahead of the election, so they censored it.

Earth to NYT: The Bablyon Bee is Satire

Unpopular theories are often correct. Galileo went against contemporary belief in the 1500s when he argued the Earth was round. If social media was around at the time, Galileo would likely have been deplatformed for his blasphemous ideas. But it is through free discourse that we are able to discuss, debate, and find truth. Otherwise, we may as well be brainwashed drones, oblivious to what the “we know what’s good for you to read” information brokers don’t want us to know.

From cancer-causing drywall to poisonous pet food, there have been plenty of instances of harmful Chinese exports. The latest export of censorship is the most toxic yet for our society.

LINK/URL: China's Newest Export: Censorship


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