Government censorship should scare us as much as COVID did
I imagine the takedown went something like this:
“Hey, Zuck. This is Tony Fauci, America’s top expert on all things COVID.”
“Hi, Tony. What can I censor for you today?”
“Top of the list is this new article in the New York Post by this guy named Steven Mosher. He’s a China expert who argues that you can trace the virus back to our Wuhan lab. Oops, I mean, the Wuhan lab. Anyway, this is dangerous misinformation. The science tells us it came from a bat. That’s what our Chinese colleagues tell us, too.”
“Don’t worry, Tony. I’ll get my people on it right away. We’ll put a ‘False Information’ alert on top, and prevent anyone from clicking through to the original article to read it for themselves. We’ll show The Post what happens to those who write and publish these kinds of crazy conspiracy stories. Not to mention who controls the flow of information in this country.”
The above conversation is purely imaginary, of course. I really don’t know how Facebook received its marching orders in my case. All I know is that it quickly complied.
Within hours my article was taken off line. This was insulting enough, both to me and The Post. But Facebook didn’t stop there. The largest social media company in the world added injury to insult by wrongly labeling my work, based ultimately on decades of study of Communist China, as “false information.”
While I was among the first to be censored, I was far from the last.
Fauci and others in the federal government were colluding with social media to shape the COVID narrative from the beginning, and this effort quickly expanded as time went on. Anyone who questioned lockdowns, school closures, masking and social distancing was shadow banned, if not destined for the “delete account” button.
Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, we now know that dozens upon dozens of federal officials were engaged in the effort to pressure social media to remove “misinformation.” Schmitt characterizes this — correctly — as “a vast censorship enterprise.”
And it was an enterprise that, for all intents and purposes, was directed by Fauci.
There was a direct line between the man who posed as America’s leading expert on the coronavirus and Mark Zuckerberg, a man who controlled Facebook and Instagram, two major conduits of COVID information for the American people.
I mean that literally. It turns out that Fauci really did have Zuck’s personal cellphone number.
And he had our number as well.
The thin-skinned bureaucrat — who once claimed that to criticize him was to criticize science itself — turned out to be one of the chief purveyors of misinformation during the pandemic.
Fauci wasn’t just wrong about the lab origins of the COVID virus. He was wrong about lots of other things as well.
He demanded school closures despite knowing that kids were at low risk from COVID and pushed for lockdowns despite studies showing that this would cost lives. He insisted on universal masking despite privately admitting that masks offered little protection against COVID and ridiculed the idea that those who recovered from COVID infections would have natural immunity. He claimed that the vaccines would prevent infection and that any effort to focus on protecting those who were at the highest risk was “nonsense and very dangerous,” neither of which turned out to be true.
We have come a long way since early 2020.
We no longer — most of us anyway — lock ourselves in our homes and our children out of schools. Companies are abandoning mask and vaccination mandates. Most of us are putting COVID in the rear-view mirror.
Fewer and fewer people are paying attention to Fauci, who by all appearances is being quietly shunted aside by the Biden administration.
But one worry remains. The vast censorship enterprise with social media platforms that allowed Fauci to collude with, if not control, messaging through Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms remains in place.
And the Biden administration is not at all averse to using this public-private partnership to stifle free and open debate on questions of vital concern to the country. Think Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Americans should be just as afraid of collusion between Big Government and Big Tech as they were of COVID back in the spring of 2020. Such collusion provides endless opportunities to plant destructive viruses in our minds.
Viruses to which we have no natural immunity.
Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Pandemics.”