It looks like the assault on free speech under the guise of combating misinformation will have to get worse before it gets better under the new US administration.
Among the many ideas currently being thrown around, exploring ways in which to fight “disinformation and domestic extremism” is that of forming a cross-agency task force, whose head would be “something like a ‘reality czar’,” the New York Times wrote on Tuesday.
Does it sound dystopian to you? It does to the “paper of record” and the reporter behind the article, but the bar is now so low that he declares he is willing to “hear out” those making such suggestions.
Apparently, the recommendations to appoint a “reality czar” (needed because there is a “reality crisis”) are now being made to President Biden by several people described as “experts.”
The “czar” would have the job of coordinating a cleanup on the internet of discussions and information from a wide range of sources, from QAnon groups to conservative media, from debates around Covid to the opinions of people who think the election was fraudulent.
Efficiency seems to be what these “experts” aim to achieve, as currently, both misinformation and domestic extremism are tackled by various agencies whose activities overlap. So instead of having this effort dispersed across various government bodies, why not form an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” – which is what those perplexed by the idea are already calling it.
We already have a dangerously centralized internet, and now people like Renée DiResta, who is introduced as a Stanford disinformation researcher, want a centralized task force to police it.
Furthermore, DiResta would like to see this task force collaborate with Big Tech in order to offer them a helping hand in dealing with misinformation and extremism (two terms that are now becoming increasingly linked in mainstream media coverage.)
The other new alarmist and dramatic term is “the reality crisis” and it needs to be tackled by government and tech companies working together. One idea is to give the latter yet another “safe harbor” privilege, this time allowing them to “share” user data while not being held liable for breaking privacy rules.