What I learned when Linkedin deleted my post – Reason.com
I’ve been warning for years that social media is removing views that aren’t popular in Silicon Valley. Until recently, however, I hadn’t found myself on the receiving side of its power. Now I have. So this take on Silicon Valley speech suppression is more personal than usual.
Let’s start with the history of the Hunter Biden laptop.
I know. You’re probably already kidding. Granted, my mostly liberal friends (and even some conservatives) are convinced that this is all bogus, of interest only to the people of the Trump fever swamp. They recall that the laptop was never verified, that it was widely believed to be a product of Russian hacking and disinformation, and while it is true, that it was simply a ‘a dive into Hunter Biden’s many personal failures that told us nothing about his father’s suitability for Office.
Most of these popular opinions are wrong. They are contradicted by a long and detailed story in the UK Daily Mail. The claim of “Russian disinformation” has never stood up to scrutiny, consisting mostly of claims that rigging a laptop was the kind of thing Russians did. would have do. Now, however, the Daily Mail has validated the laptop and its contents, both obtaining forensic judgment from a former FBI agent and performing a detailed examination of the contents of the laptop. The sheer sheer volume of hardware makes it highly unlikely that the laptop itself is a manufacture. There are 103,000 texts, including many intimate (and heartbreaking) father-son exchanges, 154,000 emails, and over 2,000 photos, including many nude or sexual photos of Biden and others. (This leaves open the possibility that someone, possibly even Russian intelligence, added some fake documents to the real ones – a possibility that would seem to call for a detailed examination of the contents of the laptop, which no mainstream media outlets have. did not deign to do.)
As to its relevance to President Biden’s physical form, earlier reports have been leaked correspondence suggesting that Hunter’s unsavory businesses exploited or even benefited his father. And the Daily Mail claims Hunter was getting some form of Secret Service protection long after the agency claimed to have ended his work for the Biden family. Perhaps these stories will crumble on examination, but there is no doubt that they are worth investigating. And there is no doubt that such an investigation could have influenced the 2020 election campaign, when the laptop first surfaced.
What the laptop story got was the opposite of the review. Relying on unsupported “Russian hacking” conspiracy theory, Twitter blocked New York Post article. Indeed, he blocked the New York Post’s Twitter account for weeks because the Post refused to remove his original tweet on the story. Facebook also limited distribution of the story. The threat was pretty clear. Even an established medium could lose reach and advertising revenue if it reported the story. And the threat worked; no mainstream publication followed up on the Post article, with the exception of one New York Times article who put the knife in place by reporting on the controversy over the story’s publication in the Post’s newsroom. When the story was brought up in the presidential debates, candidate Biden was able to dismiss it is undisputed as “a Russian plan [and] a pile of garbage. “
In my opinion, this treatment of the history of Biden laptops tells us a lot about the role Silicon Valley intends to play in the upcoming election. Companies like Twitter were so fearful of a second Trump victory that they grabbed a dubious hacking claim to suppress the story. This act of censorship may well have changed the outcome of the elections. So when the Daily Mail showed the hack’s excuse to delete the story to be specious, I posted a link to the Daily Mail story on Twitter and Linkedin, with this introduction:
“The social media giants who won’t let you say the 2020 election was rigged are the ones who did their best to rig it: the Hunter Biden laptop was genuine and outrageous – Daily Mail”
Linkedin (but not Twitter) decided I couldn’t say this. He sent me this message:
This is a forbidden message, as it should be. If you follow the “Learn More” link, you will eventually come to the Account Restriction or Removal Standards, which tell you: “If we determine that an account, or content posted to that account, violates the policies of professional community or user agreement, we may remove the content or place a restriction on your account. Depending on the severity of the breach, your account may be limited indefinitely. “(Emphasis added.) In short, Linkedin was telling me that it could put me out of service if I repeated my offense.
The Linkedin message worried me. I have more than 5000 contacts on Linkedin and I use it in business almost every day. Losing my account would be a big blow.
However. I hadn’t been intimidated by such a helpless boss since high school. So instead of switching to a less loaded topic, I doubled down, posting five variations of my original post. The idea was to see exactly what it was about my original article that triggered LinkedIn’s antibodies. I started off by simply posting “The Direct News Version: The Hunter Biden Laptop Was Genuine and Outrageous, According to the Daily Mail.” Then I added a link to the Daily Mail story. Then I added a comment: “Social media deleted the story from the Hunter Biden laptop in the middle of the 2020 election campaign. We now know the story they deleted was true.” In the fifth post, I was more specific: “Social media won’t let you talk about election interference in 2020. Maybe that’s because it was social media that interfered in the election by removing a true story that would have hurt Joe Biden. ” And, finally, I reposted the original, which said the same as the fifth, but spoke of “rigging” rather than “interfering with” the election.
I thought there was a real possibility that Linkedin would deform me for the same reason the deputy principal used to discipline me in high school – my palpable lack of respect for authority. But it was a risk I was willing to take in the name of science – trying to figure out exactly what triggered the Linkedin content deletion machine. To get straight to the point, Linkedin left all my messages except the one that repeated the original message. This happened and I was again made aware of LinkedIn’s professional standards.
What have I learned? First of all, I am grateful to Linkedin for giving me the chance to regain my youth, if only for a few hours. Second, Linkedin and its parent company, Microsoft, have some explaining to do. (Brad Smith, I’m talking to you.) The most charitable assessment of its policy is that it has adopted a lame algorithm that suppresses allegations of election rigging of any kind, whether they are accusations that the Venezuela allegedly tampered with our voting machines or arguments that Silicon Valley used its platform power to defeat Trump. The scariest possibility is that, having first joined the suppression of stories that hurt Biden in 2020, Linkedin is now removing stories that criticize his role in suppressing stories that hurt Biden.
I guess a lame algorithm is the real culprit. But frankly, me and anyone else censored by Linkedin deserves to know how it went. That’s why we need laws that require social media to offer a lot more transparency and better appeal procedures when they remove content. But these laws alone do not seem suited to the threat.
To be clear, Linkedin, or an algorithm, or a contract employee in Arizona or the Philippines, decided that there were opinions about an American presidential election that I could not express, even to my friends. Is that so? This is the real offense against the American values of free speech. Linkedin added the insult to injury by failing to say why he didn’t like my speech, but that insult bore its own hurt: it chilled (or tried to) anything I might say in the future about it. subject. A careful man wouldn’t have posted any of my follow-up messages.
This deterrent likely helps explain why no U.S. media published a story about the Biden laptop after Twitter canceled coverage of the Post. Even a reporter or newspaper who thinks there might be a good story in the laptop must have wondered what would happen once the story goes live. If Twitter, Facebook and YouTube took it down, the story would go from bomb to bomb. It wouldn’t get any reach or attract any publicity. The ambiguity increases the already high cost of investigative journalism on this subject.
Such removal is a recent phenomenon, less than a decade old, but Silicon Valley is not yet over. One of my rules about the valley is “You won’t know how bad a technology can be until the engineers who maintain it start to fear for their jobs.”
Right now, social media is printing money. No one is afraid for their job, or even for their yachts. But if the decision to take control of social media really gains momentum, I’m confident that the content removal tools that protected Joe Biden will be used even more enthusiastically to protect Silicon Valley itself.
Of course, at this point it will be foolish to complain. No one will hear you anyway.