With all the talk about misinformation and disinformation, one fundamental question always remains unanswered: based on what criteria are decisions to dismiss content as misleading or false actually made?
There is strong and lingering suspicion, especially among those continuously targeted with such censorship on social media but also on other online services, that “misinformation” is often simply something these companies don’t like for political or ideological reasons – and labeling content in that way makes it easy to get rid of, but also justify that action as not simply blatant suppression of speech.
At least Mailchimp, a US email and marketing automation service – doesn’t even try to pretend there is some objective, consensus-based way in determining what’s false and what’s true. Instead, they’re saying what many others in the tech industry are thinking and doing: “misinformation” is simply what we decide it is, because we can.
The news is particularly worrying for customers as businesses who have used Mailchimp have said they were banned by Mailchimp and lost access to their email contacts.
The mention of “important” events, etc., and the message around them being protected in this way is shorthand for political issues – but declaring Mailchimp’s right to ban content “in sole discretion” clearly spells out and cements the arbitrariness of it all.
With such rules in place, the New York Post – who recently broke the story about Joe Biden’s meddling in Ukraine’s affairs on behalf of his son, which was quickly labeled as “misinformation” – would not have the ability to use email marketing.
Mailchimp is a popular service for email campaigns, but it is not so big that it’s irreplaceable and beside lamenting the current state of affairs with freedom of expression on the internet, some customers are recommending switching to other services who do not restrict their customers’ behavior and business in this way.