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Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle has denounced “partisan hypocrisy” on free speech after many on the left expressed outrage over Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.
In his op-ed Thursday, McArdle pointed out how unsympathetic Democrats had been to conservatives complaining about big tech censorship in recent years and now had to face the reality of their own “inadequate” arguments.
“Suddenly, ‘private companies can do whatever they want’ might no longer be quite enough to guarantee a robust and democratic debate,” she wrote. “[G]”Creating your own social media platform if you don’t like it” seems a somewhat inadequate retort to those complaining.”
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McArdle deconstructed a Twitter thread by former Reddit general manager Yishan Wong, which defended Twitter’s policies as necessary to crack down on offensive images and abuse.
She argued that “it does not follow” that Twitter should censor political and social viewpoints or stories that it deemed objectionable, such as the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
“Of course, Wong is right that some moderation is needed… But it doesn’t follow that they also need to quell vaccine skepticism, people who think trans women are only not really women, or media reports of Hunter Biden’s shadowy business dealings, to name just a few of the views that Twitter at one point deemed verboten,” McArdle wrote.
A Media Research Center report found more than 600 instances of pro-Biden censorship on major tech platforms in two years.
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She argued that these were choices made to make liberals “comfortable” and their reaction to the notion of less moderation.
“If things were really that even-handed, the left wouldn’t panic, while the right celebrates,” she said.
McArdle noted that the left’s defense that right-wing viewpoints should be censored from social media because they are “dangerous to democracy” was a counterproductive argument.
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“Now, one could argue that right-wing views should be suppressed because they are hateful, retrograde and dangerous to democracy,” she added. “But one might also wonder if it’s not a bit dangerous for a social media platform to take on the task of defining and massaging the discourse in this way. Maybe even a bit…undemocratic.”
The columnist urged both sides to be open to discussing the “digital water cooler” rather than just listening to their own side.
Despite this, Democrats pushed for more moderation on Twitter in light of Musk’s purchase. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for rules to govern “unregulated” social media during a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC.