An Open Letter

Re: Freedom of Information

Dear Facebook, Google, and YouTube: 

After observing your growing take-down of information over recent months, I would encourage you to have a re-read of your first amendment and take stock of the rights written therein. 

Americans have a right to listen to dissenting voices because America is supposed to be a free country—at least, that’s what your national anthem says, right? “The land of the free and the home of the brave?” 

Without dissenting voices, you do not have a truly free society. 

Removing information (the act of discriminatorily censoring) is a form of control. Firstly, it deliberately withholds information that is deemed “inappropriate” (North Korea, China, and Indonesia are extreme examples of ‘government’ censorship such as this), thus assigning power to specific bodies of people to decide which information stays and which information goes. 

Secondly, censorship removes freedom of choice. Your American libraries understand this principle all too well. Many of your libraries have taken those who have interrupted or withheld information from them (or destroyed information) to court because they have understood that once freedom of information is removed, you have a partially uninformed society left behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I recognise that freedom of speech and freedom of information are two separate issues under American law, but they frequently collide together on platforms where “choice” and “freedom” (or lack thereof) become the overriding focus on any given day. 

‘Real’ choice for an individual involves the acquisition of information from as many different avenues of thought as that individual ‘chooses’ to consider. Reflect upon. Mull over. 

Control is when someone intercepts that free flow of information and says, “You can read / watch / think on this, but you cannot read / watch / think on ‘that’… because we do not consider ‘that’ to be information.” 

Fair enough if you feel that some information out there is “violating YOUR community guidelines.” People can certainly find or create a new community and create their own guidelines if they so wish. They are not victims. We are not victims. And because these are YOUR communities, it is YOUR prerogative to believe or act in the ways YOU choose to. 

But just know that the more you attempt to control the narrative, the more people will begin to ask WHY the narrative needs controlling in the first place, and the less they will accept that control. It’s that age-old, “Don’t touch—wet paint” sign that comes into play. “Is the paint really still wet, or has it dried? Well, I won’t know unless I touch it.” 

Curiosity nearly always wins out—it’s a great motivator. Ask Aristotle. He loved information, but he loved curiosity more.

Best of luck in your new endeavours to control the flow of information.

Sincerely,

One Tiny Australian Voice.

Image of typewriter: unsplash-logo
Shelby Miller

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