Last night was quite the ride.
Bari Weiss, who left the New York Times in protest against the culture of that paper, had been given access to another tranche of inside information about the operation of Twitter before Elon Musk took over. She found vast confirmation of what we’ve suspected for years now: the platform was censoring people who objected to lockdowns and vaccine mandates among the whole litany of coercion and compulsion that swept the world from March 2020.
The first person highlighted here is Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, who only joined the platform in the summer of 2021. During this entire time, Twitter spokespeople had said repeatedly that it did not shadowban but of course all of us knew otherwise.
It turns out that the company had an elaborate system for deboosting, shadowbanning, trending topic bans, search bans, and other fancy tricks all designed to minimize as much as possible the reach of a person’s account.
You can see some of the controls imposed from the admin panel. He was treated lightly compared with others. More than 10,000 were banned.
She goes on to give other examples among which there are surely thousands and I’m all-but apodictically certain that I have been among them. After Elon took over, my own accounts have seen tremendous increase in reach, follows, and so on.
There is a lawsuit pending as brought by the Attorneys General of Missouri and Louisiana that accuses the Biden administration (and really the whole administrative state as it pertains to communication and information) of violating the First Amendment by colluding with Big Tech companies. There are already hundreds of pages here to document this but Elon’s releases only further entrench the point. It is now so incredibly obvious that this is exactly what was going on.
Now we know how Elon could fire 3 out of 4 workers there and the platform would work better than ever. These people were not working for the platform. They were working against it. And to what end? To keep the schools closed. To force people to get the jabs. To keep the travel restrictions in place. To keep people in masks and living in terror of a virus. This all really happened.
What pertains to Twitter is surely true at Google (therefore YouTube), Facebook (therefore Instagram), Microsoft (therefore LinkedIn), and even Amazon (many great books were blocked from publication and distribution). At this point, one would have to be completely blind about the reality of what we’ve dealt with for almost three years: in the name of virus control, the country, its laws and traditions, its liberties and rights, were taken over by a junta with different ideas.
Tellingly, one of Musk’s tasks has been to ferret out the spooks on the staff. Jim Baker of the FBI seems to have been involved in vetting the first release of information from the Twitter files, so he too was thrown out, presumably clearing the path for more information to be released.
Some of the commentary I’m seeing this morning is trying to characterize this whole sorry situation as the censoring of “conservatives.” That is completely incorrect. It was fundamentally about objecting to Covid controls (which were pushed by vast numbers on the left and right, among whom Mike Pence). The dissidents from despotism include many people from all over the political spectrum and many who have no political bent at all but merely have a penchant for truth-telling.
(As an aside, I’m completely weary of bogus media-monitoring services describing Brownstone as conservative or right of center. This is ridiculous, for more than half our writers, or more, have a tradition of being on the left. For my own part, I was among the first to warn of what a Trump presidency could become. This was back in 2015. This was followed by a full book exposing the statism of the right.)
What shakes me every time I think about it is this: we only know the inner workings of Twitter because Elon had the idea of buying the company for $44 billion. And that sale went through because stockholders approved it and funding sources backed him. Twitter is now among the only top venues in the technology space that is not curating information flows according to the priorities of the national security state. Think about that.
Just how close did we come to losing every bit of free speech? Very. And the battle is very much alive. As I finished writing this column, I received the following from LinkedIn concerning a Brownstone article from yesterday. Now we know for sure what motivates this kind of thing and it is not customers, stockholders, and information freedom. It is about service to government and the deep state in particular.
Every time these releases come out, we think that is surely the worst of it. But it always gets worse.
The FTX scandal is deeply related here and we know very little about where some $10 billion of its fraudulently acquired funds went. We are starting to trace the networks, however, and they flow through many nonprofits, scientists, and universities that mysteriously went silent from March 2020 onward. In this case “effective altruism” really meant totalitarian control of the whole of society.
For years now, many of us thought perhaps we were the crazy ones. Why are so many top voices and once-respected institutions wholly signed up to go along with the destruction of freedom and the social order in the name of a completely unworkable plan to manage a virus by crushing liberty? How the heck did this come to be?
We are gradually learning: it was about power and money.
And yet we also have before us some examples of how to beat the hegemon. Bhattacharya, Musk, and so many others show the path. It is a path of moral courage. Do what’s right. Don’t play along. Tell the truth and fight for it. All the power and money in the world cannot stand up against that seemingly simple approach.
Sadly, such moral courage is too rare. Far too rare.
We’ve all been personally devastated to see so many friends, colleagues, institutions, and once-trusted venues completely fail over three years of hell. Whole networks went silent, even those that claim to support liberty. At the same time, we should be inspired by the few examples of courage too and the difference it makes.
Brownstone is pledged to getting to the bottom of this disaster one way or another, and highlighting and supporting the best researchers, writers, and professional voices who can assist in the great effort before us: finding the truth and pointing a way out of this astonishing morass. I will end with a simple word of profound thanks to readers and supporters. We need you now more than ever. The whole world needs you.
As Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1922:
Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. No one can stand aside with unconcern: the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us. ~ Ludwig von Mises