The World War On Free Speech Intensifies
Elon Musk can't fight censorship on his own
The war on free speech is hardly a novel phenomenon, instead mutating over the centuries. What is new, however, is its global aspirations: today, the conflict takes the form of a world war.
You can see its shadow in every Western country, from the US and Canada to Ireland and Australia, as well as in every multinational organization, from the EU to the UN. Rising levels of hate speech and misinformation, we are told, make it more urgent than ever for governments, corporations, and multilateral organizations to adopt stronger measures to protect vulnerable populations online.
It is for this reason that Biden’s Department of Homeland Security recently created a “Disinformation Governance Board,” the European Commission crafted a new Digital Services Act and Code of Practice on Disinformation, and the UN is proposing a “Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms.”
All of these initiatives are allegedly the product of good intentions; all of them, however, are rooted in the same fallacy: there is little evidence to suggest that hate speech and misinformation are on the rise. On the contrary, Western countries are more tolerant of racial, religious, and sexual minorities than ever before. To take one example, the percentage of Americans who approve of marriages between white and black Americans has risen from 4% in 1958 to 87% in 2013 to 94% in 2021.