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The floodgates that the Twitter Files opened in empowering media to talk about the long-alleged and now for all intents and purposes obvious Big Tech/government collusion – that was until recently treated as pure “conspiracy theorizing” – keep producing reporting about yet more cases to prove the point.
One of the biggest buzzwords of the past few years coming from both Big Tech and government(s) has been, “misinformation.” US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was among those who started using it early.
And he has been using it often.
In late summer 2021, Murthy had a private meeting with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, during which they learned that the US government was combating what it designated as misinformation “in many ways.”
And you guessed it, one of the ways was in collaboration (collusion?) with companies behind social media.
Many of these reports have one clear through line – that such activities were being done behind closed doors, far from the public eye, privately. Why?
It’s anybody’s guess, but it could easily be that the “misinformation” (and those co-opted into it from Big Tech) themselves weren’t exactly sure their actions were actually above legal board.
Either way – Murthy was not the only one trying to push the “think of the children” button when, essentially, selling a policy of censorship. Rather, it looks like ground preparation work, judging by reports coming out now, President Biden himself a month later, in September 2021, received a demand from the NSBA about what they said was “domestic terrorist parent protesters.”
The “terrorism” here had to do – as the era demanded – with the pandemic. Covid vaccines, mask mandates, lockdowns, the lot.
According to the Washington Examiner, Murthy’s August 2021 call with the NSBA clearly worked, because when at the time acting CEO Chip Slaven wrote to the White House about a month later, they informed the administration of plans to “craft the school boards letter, ‘asked for advice on combating misinformation and proposed possible [sic] doing a national town hall to address some of the misinformation head on.”
The same article notes that Murthy was apparently pleased with his handiwork. He replied to Slaven, including a platitude stating “the importance of using trusted voices at all levels.”
But there was a more substantial revelation in Murthy’s response: that the government, and Big Tech, were at it.
And so he – “noted that they are already working to combat misinformation in many ways, one being working with tech companies,” the report said, citing meeting notes seen by the website.
But Murthy hasn’t stopped his quest to censor. Murthy has been in the news a lot this week – for “merits” past and present, both in the press critical, and approving of his, and the work of the administration he belongs to.
The New York Times has a story about Murthy’s latest report – essentially, again about social media.
And about how controversial, to say the least, tech like “age verification” tied with everyone’s real world ID, and “data sharing” can slip under the radar allegedly there merely in order to scan the web for any harm to the youth.
On the surface, it’s all about the welfare of the children. Unfortunately, this has become a tried and trusted way to silence any dissent, because dissenters are pretty quickly painted as essentially monsters who don’t care about the safety and well-being of one of the most vulnerable populations in our societies.
A craven lie, of course.
But who better than politicians and government officials to care about your kids, or any kids, right. /s
And so, bearing in mind that media-trained tricks are one thing, and reality very often another, let’s see what Murthy’s 2023 “Social Media and Youth Mental Health” document is about.
Speaking of media tricks – the NYT makes sure to slip through in the report’s headline that social media “MAY” harm children and teenagers.
Or MAY not.
But Murthy’s report sure aims at ringing them alarm bells.
It’s actually more than a report – it’s “an extraordinary public warning” about the alleged risks. There’s no denying that the internet is – and has pretty much always been – something of a viper’s pit that can indeed harm the mental health of anyone.
But on the other hand, the purported concern for people’s welfare, when it’s coming from the government, is way too often just a front and an easy way to slip through some more censorship, more questionable regulation, or “cover for” some past, questionable decisions.
Murthy’s advisory seems to follow the same trope: it’s murky and can mean different things to different people.
“The effects of social media on adolescent mental health (are) not fully understood, and social media can be beneficial to some users,” the NYC quotes it.
But – “There are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”
So Murthy’s saying nothing here. One theory negates the other.
That out of the way, here’s the real privacy kicker:
“Dr. Murthy also called on tech companies to enforce minimum age limits and to create default settings for children with high safety and privacy standards. And he urged the government to create age-appropriate health and safety standards for technology platforms.”