Twitter Files & Big Tech's Role in Subverting the Basic 'Right of People to Peaceably Assemble'
Did Twitter Suppress Covid Lockdown Protests? Elon Musk Should Find Out
As Twitter’s anti-democratic tactics are revealed, the public needs to know whether one of our most basic rights was also subverted: the right to protest peacefully.
By: Eleanor Bartow
December 12, 2022: During the Covid lockdowns, did you ever wonder why there weren’t more peaceful protests as we lost our basic liberties?
The release of the “Twitter Files” has shown the government collaborated with the Big Tech platform to suppress free speech by censoring disfavored news stories and speakers. But as journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and others comb through years of Twitter data, they should seek to discover whether another of our most basic rights was also subverted: the First Amendment “right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
A month into the Covid-19 lockdowns, anti-lockdown protests were taking place nationwide. Politico reported: “Facebook is blocking anti-quarantine protesters from using the site to organize in-person gatherings that violate states’ stay-at-home orders.” A Facebook spokesman said the company was removing posts “when gatherings do not follow the health parameters established by the government and are therefore unlawful.” Protest organizers’ Pages were also shut down by Facebook for violating its terms of service by allegedly inciting violence.
But protest organizers knew to encourage participants to wear masks, socially distance, and not carry guns to avoid criticism. How much did Twitter, Facebook, and other tech giants restrict protesters from organizing under the guise of concerns about health risks or incitement to violence?
While there were those calling for revolution and saying menacing things on social media, did groups clearly advocating nonviolent demonstrations get blocked too? What was Twitter’s policy on sharing posts inviting people to demonstrate peacefully?
We know tech giants acted to support heavy-handed Covid-19 policies. They suppressed content questioning Covid lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccines. Anthony Fauci directly communicated with Facebook’s chief, Mark Zuckerberg, to control coronavirus information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s digital medical chief communicated with Twitter executives about censoring unapproved opinions on social media.
Anti-Lockdown Protests Quelled
We know Twitter has quelled demonstrations in Canada too: the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers, who protested Covid shot mandates and policies in the Canadian capital of Ottawa in February 2022, two years after the Covid outbreak. Twitter banned their account, again using the reasoning that the group was inciting violence. The Canadian government also froze protesters’ bank accounts, and GoFundMe demonetized the group. The trucker convoy was noisy and blocked traffic, but it appears to have been nonviolent.
Contrast that with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020, which frequently turned violent and did billions of dollars of damage. Did tech giants amplify calls for BLM demonstrations? How much more manipulation might Big Tech have wrought? How much were President Donald Trump’s tweets suppressed?
Massive Democrat Effort to Manipulate Election Protesters
If this seems too speculative, remember that a key Time magazine article clearly states at its very beginning that avoiding protests was the main focus of a massive effort by “left-wing activists and business titans” to influence the 2020 election, an effort that began around when Covid-19 broke out.
“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that … curtailed the protests,” Molly Ball wrote, referring to possible post-election demonstrations.
This anti-Trump campaign premised on Trump stealing the election included plans to counter any pro-Trump protests.
What was the Effect?
We’ll never know how large protests might have been, and whether they could have ended harmful lockdowns and other Covid measures sooner, or even created massive unrest.
Of course, there are many other reasons Americans didn’t more strongly protest against Covid policies. Fed disinformation by corporate media, many agreed with draconian interventions. Others were too comfortable working from home — and not working at all, with government benefits — to protest them.
Perhaps Americans were afraid to speak up, given Big Tech’s censorship and corporate media’s disparagement of critics of the conventional wisdom on Covid. They were silenced into submission because they could get “canceled” or fired. With few protesting, they were made to feel more alone in their beliefs and that most people were going along with it all.
All the more reason to be grateful Musk has taken over Twitter so that reasonable critics of the government don’t have to feel so persecuted and ideas can be exchanged freely. In fact, why aren’t Americans peacefully protesting Big Tech now, given that Musk has given us proof that Twitter suppressed information so vital to the functioning of our democracy?
Perhaps because conservatives have known about media bias for a long time, but let’s hope the Twitter Files open other people’s eyes to this huge threat to the health of our nation — and that key records have not been deleted, as Musk has said they might have been.
Eleanor Bartow is the features editor at The Federalist. Bartow received a Fulbright grant in journalism and was a fellow with the Claremont Institute and the National Review Institute. She was editor-in-chief of the American Enterprise Institute’s magazine, an editor and investigative reporter at the Daily Caller, and a reporter for Congressional Quarterly.
Source: The Federalist