Twitter has announced that David Icke, the British conspiracy theorist, has been permanently banned from its network. This follows his earlier bans from both YouTube and Facebook for apparently posting misinformation about the Covid 19 virus. Other notable bans and suspensions include Professor Jordan Peterson whose Google account was suspended in 2017 and later reinstated without explanation. Some of the reasons given for these suspensions are the spreading of misinformation, but many believe that there’s an agenda at play here, even though social media hardly ever pinpoints the actual reasons for such actions.
It’s common knowledge that David Icke believes that the Royal family are all lizards, that he himself is Jesus Christ reincarnated, that COVID 19 is caused by 5G transmission masts and that the world is run by The New World Order or some other shadowy organisation in the style of a James Bond movie. I think it’s fair to say that most of us who haven’t yet been committed to the funny farm, are able to judge for ourselves whether Her Majesty The Queen is a lizard, and the New World Order conspiracy has been around for decades and I can confirm that Barack Obama is definitely not a lizard.
See what I just did there?
I made up my own mind, judged for myself, and used my own opinion because I know that there will always be fringe characters who believe themselves to be on a completely different plane to the rest of us, and let’s face it, an opinion is just that. In fact, I’m writing this during the nail-biting US elections, where the incumbent president’s Twitter rants have been severely curtailed by that platform with the reason being that he is believed to have been spreading misinformation on the results, the methods used to vote, and the counting of those votes. But are we not seeing double standards at play here? If David Icke is banned from Twitter for proclaiming himself to be The Messiah, shouldn’t the current resident of the White House be banned for his theories on drinking and injecting bleach?
Are media platforms censoring freedom of speech?
I’ve been criticised here at DCT for veering political, but that isn’t what this is about at all– far from it. It’s about asking whether social media platforms should be the arbiters of our opinions and whether they should expel and/or censor information that may be construed as factually incorrect, or indeed wacky opinions per se (see lizards, above).
The above Tweet is a good example where one person believes what they have written to be true but may be proven to be false under later scrutiny. But let’s face it, wouldn’t you rather make up your own mind whether a statement is true or not, or do you need a nanny to hold your hand? History is replete with opinions and theories — the earth is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, JFK, Princess Diana — the list is endless and the question we should be asking is: should alternative opinions be silenced?
What concerns me is the political agenda behind such censorship– the David Icke bans are not political as such, because his views are generally seen as wacky by most of the population who have a right to make up their own minds. Censoring stories on social media simply gives that story more importance and readers will simply find them through other means. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned leading to huge demand for the book and prohibition in the US simply created another marketplace. Have we learned nothing?
What are your thoughts on social media control?