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If you’ve spent any time on social media lately, you know charges of social media censorship have hit an all-time high. Posts appear and then disappear without much explanation other than that the content violated some policy and was deemed to be out-of-bounds by a third-party arbiter. You may be asking yourself, “Who controls what can and can’t be posted on social media? And who gives them that authority? Why is everything so controversial? Offensive? Argumentative? What is being hidden?”
Because this is a Presidential election year, partisan political discussions, which usually degenerate into name-calling and unfriending, affect the social media atmosphere. People are paying more attention to politics and the news this year than in other years. And, politics surround us because we live in a 24-hour news cycle. In the media business, it is called “top-of-mind awareness.” People have more “top-of-mind awareness” in a year when we go to the polls to elect a President than in non-Presidential election years.
Additionally, we are facing many highly controversial decisions in response to the COVID pandemic: restrictions on gatherings, mask-wearing, going back to school, returning to worship, the use of Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to COVID, vaccines, etc. All of these issues make the social media atmosphere intense. Even people who do not consider themselves politically active, who in other years would simply check out, can’t escape the news.
Last Monday, this highly charged environment crashed like a lightning bolt when America’s Frontline Doctors held a press conference organized and sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots on the Supreme Court’s steps to talk about COVID from the perspective of those working on the front lines of the pandemic. They wanted to stress their support of Hydroxychloroquine combined with antibiotics as an effective treatment for COVID. They also wanted to dispel misinformation about the drug, the politics surrounding its use, and how that single drug has become a political football that prevents them from doing their jobs. Hydroxychloroquine has been in use for nearly 75 years as a preventative medication against malaria. It has a long clinical track record. It became the subject of controversy when President Trump announced he was prescribed the drug by his physician to prevent him from contracting COVID.
However, I am not here to argue the science of Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. After Breitbart News posted the press conference on Facebook, it became the top-performing post in the world and was viewed by 17-million people around the globe. I am troubled by the fact that Facebook and YouTube suddenly pulled the video on Monday afternoon, just as it started to gain traction on social media as a counter-narrative to a lot of what we’ve been told concerning COVID. Because of the references to Hydroxychloroquine, they suddenly banned the video. Facebook sited that an independent arbiter reviewed the footage and judged it to be misleading information. I watched the video, and most of the content was first-hand accounts of the drug being administered and its results. Other doctors talked about the harassment they have faced from peers, including harassment and threats from their own states’ medical boards. One doctor made some pretty fantastic claims as to it being a cure.
Facebook and YouTube are private companies, and they enjoy anti-trust exemptions from Congress. In essence, they’re not responsible for what appears on their sites. That gives them free rein to censor speech and disrupt the free flow of information, even if that information comes from frontline medical professionals working daily in the trenches of COVID.
Throughout this pandemic, the authorities who make decisions concerning our daily lives and freedom of movement say we need to follow the science. Why are they allowing this version of “the science” to be censored when other versions are not?
As Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google have grown, so has their influence. Congress this week is holding hearings regarding the on-going validity of that anti-trust exemption. These big-tech social media and internet platforms now have the authority to determine what you see and don’t see. And, they’re using that authority! They determine what is misleading and what is not. They are using their power to influence opinions. They can change the course of elections by strategically granting or denying permission. They are actively censoring content they find objectionable while allowing other content without question.
There are many conspiracy theories about why Facebook and YouTube removed the video. Some say they are following the World Health Organization guidelines. Others speculate it’s to help China and hurt Trump. Others say it’s because governors don’t want to stop the flow of government money into their healthcare systems, so they’re prolonging the pandemic. I don’t know that I buy any of these theories, but I know what John 3:20 says, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (NKJV). Abruptly removing a press conference video after 17-million people viewed it, and it was trending up on social media, certainly makes it appear like they are attempting to hide something from the light!
What I am concerned about is why the media, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. won’t allow us to be discerning adults? Let the information flow and let us make our own decisions! Why do they think they have the right to censor what we see? And why do they believe they have the power to influence our thoughts and opinions?
At the Family Vision Media, our goal is to educate parents from a Biblical worldview. We will always treat you as adults and with respect. We cannot do that by keeping you from seeing information vital to you and your family. As a public service, attached is the transcript of the press release from America’s Frontline Doctors. Read through it carefully and, as an adult, draw a conclusion untainted by social media bias.
Fred Zielonko is the Executive Director of the Family Vision Media, a non-profit dedicated to equipping families to respond to today’s news, culture, and politics from a Christian worldview.