Censoring a World Leader By Paul Walker
In these crazy times, here is where censorship over the coronavirus has gone, with Facebook removing a post by the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro:
“Shortly after Twitter removed a post about the coronavirus pandemic by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Facebook followed suit also removing the president’s post from its platform as well. TechCrunch reports that Facebook has appeared to stray from its general policy of not fact-checking politicians and removed a post by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro relating to the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, Bolsonaro shared a post stating that “hydroxychloroquine is working in all places,” to treat the coronavirus, Facebook removed the post to prevent the spread of “misinformation that could lead to physical harm.” The company said in a statement to TechCrunch: “We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow misinformation that could lead to physical harm.” Facebook says it specifically prohibits false claims relating to cures, treatments, the availability of essential services and outbreak locations. The removal of the post was first reported by BBC News Brazil. In the video which was removed Bolsonaro had been speaking to a street vendor and stated that “They want to work.” Bolsonaro also added that “medicine there, hydroxychloroquine, is working in all places.”
Breitbart News reporter Allum Bokhari reported this week that Twitter had also removed posts by Bolsonaro, writing: The deleted videos consist of videos of Bolsonaro discussing the Chinese virus with Brazilian citizens, emphasizing the need to balance concern about the pandemic with economic reality.
According to Yahoo:
In one of the deleted videos, Bolsonaro tells a street vendor, “What I have been hearing from people is that they want to work.” “What I have said from the beginning is that ‘we are going to be careful, the over-65s stay at home,’” he said. “We just can’t stand still, there is fear because if you don’t die of the disease, you starve,” the vendor is seen telling Bolsonaro, who responds: “You’re not going to die!” In another video, the president calls for a “return to normality,” questioning quarantine measures imposed by governors and some mayors across the giant South American country as an effective containment measure against the virus. “If it continues like this, with the amount of unemployment what we will have later is a very serious problem that will take years to be resolved,” he said of the isolation measures. Responding to a request for comment, a Twitter spokeswoman cited the platform’s new rules against misinformation, which Breitbart News reported on earlier this month. According to the spokeswoman, the rules cover content that “could be against public health information provided by official sources and could put people at greater risk of transmitting COVID-19.”However, as Breitbart News reported last week, Twitter has not clamped down on misinformation about the virus posted by Chinese officials, even after U.S. lawmakers have brought it to their attention.”
This is legitimate political comment by a world leader, who even if his opinion is wrong, still needs to be heard, because we need to know what is happening in Brazil, and knowing the thoughts of its president is highly relevant.
The problem here is that “misinformation” is an essentially contested concept, and the Left have as their theme song, that knowledge is socially constructed, and not read off of reality as the empiricists thought, merely by unmediated looking. Theories and concepts influence things, so what counts as misinformation is also contestable. Banning material is therefore irrational because only by examining competing ideas can we get any sort of handle on what is likely to be correct of not.