Critics say the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is based on commercial interests that could make conservatives less likely to speak out.
YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter are some social media sites that have banned Russian propaganda and misinformation or have limited their use.
Worries and Questions
Conservatives say the tech companies’ censorship of Russian information is hypocritical and could soon target Americans.
According to Dan Gainor, vice president of the Media Research Center, we’re witnessing Russia getting de-platformed internationally across the board.
— Dan Gainor (@dangainor) March 4, 2022
Gainor noted that censoring Russia today when it attacked other regions without consequence before was inconsistent and unfair. He remarked other countries used violence without repercussions.
An invasion of another country by a major power in the era of social media, where billions use online platforms to make up different stories, is one of the first big full-scale military attacks.
A recent Facebook purge of anti-Ukrainian misinformation campaigns is linked to ‘Ukraine Today’. This Russian propaganda news outlet uses false Facebook pages to portray Ukraine as a failing state.
Last week, a Russian news agency falsely alleged Ukrainian civilians’ massacre of foreigners to justify the Russian invasion.
Pressure from users and governments across the globe has pushed social media companies to combat Russian disinformation over the Ukraine crisis.
Different Reaction to China
Some sites have even blocked Russian government accounts. Republicans in Congress are leery of social media filtering efforts by Russia because they appear government-driven.
Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs said that he wished tech firms would react similarly to violent acts in China and Africa.
They claim to target Russians on social media and cutting off the Russians’ costs less than the Chinese.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 4, 2022
“Most censorship decisions are business-related. Their focus is on the bottom line,” said Ari Cohn, a free speech advocate with TechFreedom, a libertarian technology think tank.
“It bothers me that we are all saying we don’t want particular stuff from one place,” Cohn added.
In Cohn’s view, the Russian attempts to filter content on social media aren’t a sign of big changes in how people manage content online. The Ukraine invasion is a one-of-a-kind event.
Those who disagree with major social media sites’ content moderation policies can go to other platforms, say tech industry experts.
“I understand conservative control complaints, but we want private enterprises to decide what information is appropriate,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, a tech trade association that includes Facebook and Google.
“The market provides us with alternatives like Truth Social and others,” Szabo remarked. “You can always switch platforms if one doesn’t provide you with a fair deal.”
This debate about censorship and de-platforming has been ongoing for a fair amount of time at this juncture.