Episode 187: “The Federal Government Is Using Twitter to Censor Speech It Doesn’t Like” with Jenin Younes and John Vecchione
[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/23141051/height/100/width//thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/custom/tdest_id/2148569/custom-color/87A93A” height=”100″ width=”100%” scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]
Is this right and lawful? Well, we now have a test case to find out.
In a first-of-its-kind First Amendment lawsuit against the federal government, attorneys Jenin Younes and John Vecchione of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, argue that the government acted wrongfully when it “directed social media platforms, including Twitter, to censor alleged “misinformation” about COVID-19.”
Both Jenin and John join me on this episode to explain the suit and what’s at stake for free speech.
To recollect, in May 2021, the White House began a coordinated and escalating public campaign to stop what it called the flow of purported “health misinformation” related to Covid-19.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki went so far to say that the President believed social media platforms have a responsibility to censor health “misinformation” related to Covid-19 vaccinations. She then added ominously that by not doing so social media companies were responsible for American deaths.
Next, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directed social media platforms including Twitter to censor alleged “misinformation” about Covid-19. They also demanded that the tech companies turn over information about individuals who spread such “misinformation,” a clear intimidation tactic that HHS has labeled a “Request for Information”.
And “after the Biden administration started their campaign to silence Covid policy opponents, there’s been a massive increase in Twitter suspensions.”
The speech ban has included information the Government later conceded was true but that conflicted with the Government’s messaging on Covid-19 at the time.
This censorship strikes at the heart of what the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect—free speech, especially political speech.
But the heart of the matter is that by instrumentalizing tech companies, including Twitter—through pressure, coercion, and threats—to censor viewpoints it deemed “misinformation,” the Surgeon General has turned Twitter’s censorship into state action.
And this has to be brought to an end.
Jenin Younes and John Vecchione of the New Civil Liberties Alliance explain why and how it can be done.