I have been censored by social media for the first time. Sure, I have been shadowbanned for years, at the expense of my free speech and my income. A year ago, I wrote, in a professional capacity, about the social media companies’ hypocrisy in avoiding liabilities as a publisher while publishing their own content and censoring posts with which they disagree. But now a single post, with a single sentence, linking to my review of a book on American Greatness, has been banned by LinkedIn.
Why has LinkedIn banned this particular post? LinkedIn hasn’t given a reason.
On Monday, American Greatness published my review of Mollie Hemingway’s fine book Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.
I posted on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn a link to this review, with the following text: “Next time someone caricatures evidence of #voting irregularities as a conspiracy theory, throw the book at them—@MZHemingway’s book. My latest review for @theamgreatness.”
This exact post went on three social media platforms, of which only LinkedIn deleted it. In stereotypical social media fashion, LinkedIn has provided no explanation.
The process of social media censorship is revealing in its vagueness and opacity (ironically).
LinkedIn sent me an email on the following day titled “A problem with your post.” The body of the email begins with a banner headline: “Your post goes against LinkedIn policies.” The succeeding content begins: “Your post goes against our policy on misinformation.” Which post? What content is supposed to be misinformation? Nothing is specified.
The rest of the email invites me to “access” and “view your post.” But the link to “view your post” does not work. In my LinkedIn account, I am invited to view the offending post. But this link also does not work.
I am invited to ask LinkedIn to “take a second look” at my post. “If we find your content doesn’t go against our Professional Community Policies, https://www.linkedin.com/legal/professional-community-policies, we’ll put it back on LinkedIn.”
I am given one textbox in which to write a “reason for your request.” Surely that’s unreasonable, asking for a “reason” as to why I should dispute a ruling that itself doesn’t specify any evidence or argument?
But I’m not given any choices. I can only estimate the reasons for the accusation of “misinformation.”
I write: “There is no misinformation in posting a single sentence about the fact of voting irregularities, as evidenced in the book that I had reviewed and to which I linked.”
Three hours later, I received another automated email. “After taking a second look, we confirmed your content goes against our Professional Community Policies.” Which content? Which policy? Nothing is specified.
Further, I see that my “case” is automatically “closed.”
So I tried to “reopen” my case. I wrote: “Can you specify: 1. the community guideline that I have allegedly violated, and 2. the content that is in violation?” I still have not received an answer.
There you have it. Social media arbitrarily censors speech, without consultation, evidence, reason, discussion, or liability.
But it’s not only me being censored on LinkedIn. The facts are being censored, as well as a wider epistemic community of people who care about facts and discourse—and anyone who cares about the principle of free speech itself.
Who at LinkedIn is deciding that the existence of “voting irregularities” is disinformation? As a professor of political science who published on voting irregularities before the 2020 general election, and who has read Mollie Hemingway’s erudite book, I am in a better position to declare the political facts than censors at LinkedIn who aren’t prepared to provide evidence, argument, or their names. Here’s a fact for the fake-checkers: Every general election contains irregularities, including, in 2020, numerous criminal indictments.
But are we really supposed to believe that the phrase “voting irregularities” is the real reason for LinkedIn’s censorship?
Perhaps “voting irregularities” is the phrase that serves as the excuse to censor links to a book review, a book, and a website that the anonymous fake-checkers of social media find politically inconvenient.
And it’s not just about me. American Greatness is getting censored, as is Mollie Hemingway, as is the book itself, as is the publisher and all of Hemingway’s sources.
Whether intentional or not, LinkedIn is in effect banning books by banning posts.