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Biden Criticizes Online “Misinformation,” Compares The Internet To The Unregulated Printing Press

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In an interview with ProPublica, released on Sunday, President Joe Biden touched upon the technological advancements and their pivotal role in shaping societal discourse and information sharing. While discussing Elon Musk’s influence over X and its policies, President Biden seemed to delve into concerns about “misinformation” and its prevalence on online platforms.

When asked by John Harwood about Elon Musk’s impact on X and its potential contribution to misinformation, President Biden responded by exploring the notion of technological evolution and what he sees as its consequences on society.

He said, “Yeah, it does. Look, one of the things that I said to you when I thought I wasn’t going to run, I was going to write a book about the changes taking place. And most of this directed over the years were these fundamental changes in society by changing technology, Gutenberg, printing and the printing press changed the way Europeans could talk to one another, all the way to today.”

Biden’s mention of the Gutenberg printing press highlights its revolutionary impact on communication among Europeans. Drawing parallels between the advent of the printing press and the current digital age, the President seemed to imply that just as the printing press had long-lasting effects on communication and information dissemination, the internet and online platforms have a similar transformative effect on contemporary society.

While the President (this time at least) stopped short of explicitly calling for censorship, his comments could be interpreted as subtly highlighting concerns around the unregulated nature of online information, potentially opening a gateway to discussions on tighter control and regulation of internet content.

President Biden continued, “Where do people get their news? They go on the internet, they go online and you have no notion whether it’s true or not.”

This year, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping key Biden administration officials from urging tech firms to suppress protected speech, following a lawsuit by Republican attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri. The injunction also halts these officials from working with certain groups to influence social media companies to censor protected speech. This case, reflecting on the government’s role in social media content censorship, could significantly impact the government-tech company relationship regarding free speech, amidst other 2023 free speech-related legal developments. The case is on its way to the Supreme Court.

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