This story surrounds the debate to release a controversial, confidential memo by Rep. Devin Nunes regarding alleged FBI surveillance of the Trump Campaign in 2016. In turn, many in the public have called for the release of this memo, which has caused hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo to trend across social media. Mr. Harsanyi noted:
It didn’t take long for a report to emerge that claimed Russian-sponsored Twitter accounts and bots were the real driving force behind the viral call for the release of the memo. Without worrying about the veracity of this convenient claim, all the usual suspects giddily spread the story across social media — probably because they have such a deep reverence for truth in the Era of Trump...The report also prompted Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff, both Democrats, to pull out every fearmongering catchphrase available to demand that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg perform an “in-depth forensic examination” on the “ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process.”. . .
As it turns out, reports today say that Twitter’s internal analysis found it was mostly Americans, not creepy Slavic mind-control robots, who were behind the hashtag. Not that it really matters, anyway. If a group of Americans have a legitimate issue to rally around, how is it supposed to control what outsiders do? It’s not as if #ReleaseTheMemo were secret or illegal. Republican politicians were openly using it. . . .
Yet if Feinstein and Schiff had their way, Twitter and Facebook would have moved to quash the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag for what apparently turned out to be solely partisan reasons. . . . Not long before she demanded forensic investigations into hashtags, Feinstein was demanding that Twitter, Facebook, and Google restrict their content more tightly, threatening, “Do something about it — or we will.” Democrats have attempted to control interactions through the Fairness Doctrine or the IRS, and now through the Russia scare. Part of living in a free country is dealing with messy, ugly misinformation.Mr. Harsanyi also makes a comparison the how speech is treated in Europe today:
Lots of people in the United States seem pretty impressed by how they do things in Europe. In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May is launching a “rapid response unit” run by the state to “battle the proliferation of ‘fake news’ online.” The “national security communications unit” will be tasked with combating misinformation — as if it had either the power or ability to do so. In France, President Emmanuel Macron is working on a plan to combat “fake news,” which includes the power to institute an emergency block on websites during elections. What could possibly go wrong?He finishes by making a very good, salient point:
I’d rather we live with Russian troll bots feeding us nonsense than with authoritarian senators dictating how we consume news... If your argument is that Americans are uninformed and easily misled, I’m with you. Just look at all the people who believe that a $46,000 buy on Facebook by the Russians was enough to destroy the pillars of our democracy. But if you want to live in a free and vibrant nation, you have to live with the externalities of that freedom.Just as a refresher, according to CBS News, the total costs of the 2016 Election were estimated to be some $6.8 Billion. Americans should not allow the Democrats to use scare-mongering over alleged Russian interference in our public discourse as an excuse to limit Americans' important right of free speech.