Warren calls for criminalizing online 'disinformation,' gets roasted for Orwellian overreach
Warren called for “civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in US elections” on Wednesday, as part of the lengthy and occasionally self-contradictory plan for “fighting digital disinformation” posted to her campaign website.
The policy has raised a few eyebrows, given the candidate’s own tenuous relationship with the truth, but also the slippery slope that tends to come into play whenever censorship is involved.
The Massachusetts senator also called for a “summit of countries to enhance information sharing and coordinate policy responses to disinformation” and “additional sanctions against countries that engage in election interference through disinformation,” though she did not make clear how she would divide the world into disinformation “victim” and “perpetrator” nations.
In addition to calling on her fellow Democratic contenders not to knowingly use disinfo “to benefit their own candidacy or damage others” and pledging that her own campaign would avoid doing the same, Warren called on social media platforms to share information among themselves and the government, inform users about how algorithms work, and tip people off if they’d been targeted by a disinfo campaign - and “clearly label content created or promoted by state-controlled organizations,” which many already do, albeit with a more lenient approach toward outlets controlled by the US and its allies.Also on rt.com Twitter bans ‘state media’ from advertising… and guess who decides how they are defined
The crusade against online disinformation struck some on social media as particularly ironic coming from Warren, who has been accused by supporters of rival Bernie Sanders of flat-out inventing an encounter between them in which Sanders allegedly told her a woman could not be president - just days before the most recent Democratic debate.
Several brought up Warren’s fake claim of Native American heritage, a nugget of “disinfo” that earned her the nickname “Pocahontas” from President Donald Trump and has continued to haunt her.
Under your plan, what's the penalty for spreading disinformation about someone's ethnicity? Asking for a friend. https://t.co/gPJJ5ebZm4— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) January 29, 2020
We gather here today, dearly beloved, to mourn the loss of Elizabeth Pocahontas Warren’s presidential campaign.. https://t.co/mAlBy2YwRv— Jess✨ (@BadCrippIe) January 29, 2020
Others reminded her that neither her fellow Democrats nor the supposedly-authoritative mainstream media are known for being grounded in facts.
Would that include Schiff’s lying calling everyone he disagrees with ‘Russian agents’?— DJ Publius🇺🇸 (@djpublius) January 29, 2020
So Warren is gonna jail the CIA and FBI for spreading disinformation? Every media company? Or just the average citizen? https://t.co/6sh86PCZqf— Héctor E. Alcalá (@Hector_E_Alcala) January 29, 2020
Others warned that letting a Warren government (or any government) pick what’s designated “disinformation” would not end well.
Considering how the US govt and its lackeys define disinformation, this is a dystopian plan that will put censorship of social media on hyperdrive. It also reflects a discredited establishment’s fear that too much information access will promote rebellion. https://t.co/WmGquTFQRu— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) January 29, 2020
Once the government starts to decide what is disinformation and what is not, it will be the end of the internet, freedom of speech and all independent media. This is one absolutely terrifying reason why Elizabeth Warren should not be President. Ever. https://t.co/LNv2JyQhs5— Amir (@AmirAminiMD) January 29, 2020
Warren’s defenders insisted the plan was merely to criminalize disinformation about voting.
Lots of Tweets today say @ewarren wants to criminalize disinformation. That would be scary! But it's not true. Her plan actually says: A) she won't spread disinfoB) she wants more from platformsC) she will criminalize disinfo on voting suppression.https://t.co/nZMH5LMb78— Nicholas Thompson (@nxthompson) January 29, 2020
While Warren’s true intentions are known only to her campaign, it is worth recalling that Facebook began what has become a sprawling censorship program by banning “misinformation” about when and where to vote in 2016. By 2018, that initiative had expanded to disinformation about voting requirements, voting-related incidents (violence, long lines, or other disturbances), and other voting-adjacent falsehoods.
Popular right-wing radio host Alex Jones was mass-deplatformed from all social media shortly before that year’s midterm elections, kicking off an avalanche of censorship and un-personing that has touched both ends of the political spectrum, leaving only political advertisements untouched. Warren, unsurprisingly, is one of many who has called for Facebook to fact-check its political ads as well.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!