Journalist Matt Taibbi argued in an interview with The Epoch Times that the "consensus enforcement mechanism" of social media censorship not only infringes on civil liberties but also hinders the public's motivation to seek the truth in the open public discourse.
He added that once upon a time in America, there was a rabid hunger for freedom, but now there is much apathy and too little fighting desire to keep it.
“In parallel to this censorship program, I think what they’re doing with things like shadow banning and deny listing is they’re trying to simplify controversies and reduce everybody’s field of view," Taibbi told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders.”
“It’s making us less interested in fighting for our rights," he added.
The outlet noted further:
In 2022, Mr. Taibbi uncovered an FBI censorship operation in partnership with former Twitter staff, which became known as the Twitter Files.
In his speech at “Freedom Fest” in Memphis, Tennessee on July 14, Mr. Taibbi said what he found unbelievable was not the government censorship but its endorsement in society at large.
“The part that didn’t compute was why so many in the general public were accepting of the situation,” Taibbi said during his speech. “This included people I knew. Many people in America are not just accepting of digital censorship, they believe it to be vitally necessary.”
According to Taibbi, the American public was once renowned for its rebellious and fighting spirit, unafraid to protest government overreach. However, in recent years, this spirit has been homogenized into compliance, and social media has played a significant role in facilitating this transformation.
“I was one of the first people in the ‘mainstream media’ to worry about it [internet censorship] in the States, and one of the first things I was told is that social media is addictive, the same way cigarettes are addictive,” Taibbi said. “There are studies done about how people get dopamine hits even from feeling, for instance, the waffle pattern on the back of their phones; they’re addicted to the whole process of looking at their phones.”
Taibbi asserts that this addiction to social media fuels an internet culture that is inherently anti-individualistic, especially evident in younger individuals. Their self-worth becomes entangled with the amount of attention they receive on social media, leading them to depend on group approval rather than relying on self-creation.
“We Americans once cherished independence and lived off folk tales about going off on one’s own, on the open road,” he said during his speech. “Think about Ishmael, or Huck and Jim, or Chuck Berry, who picked up a guitar and sang about setting out with ‘no particular place to go,’ creating a dazzling sound that touched a nerve with the whole world.”
“We never had to think about how we fit into a crowd as much as we do now,” he told EpochTV. “And I think internet culture wraps up everybody so much in group affirmation that it’s been very harmful.”
“Now, the stars of our business and mainstream media are all people who go along with the consensus view of things, and it’s very frowned upon to raise questions about things that have ‘been decided,’” he added. “That’s just a terrible atmosphere for this kind of job because you need to have that spirit of free inquiry in order to get to the truth."
“Your average investigative journalist—the good ones—are difficult, prickly people who go against the grain, and they keep digging until they find what they think is the truth,” he said. “Take somebody like Seymour Hersh—that is exactly the kind of person the current system is designed to weed out—the person who doesn’t accept on its face whatever the official explanation of things is.”
In February, Hersh reported an allegation claiming that the Biden administration had authorized a military operation targeting the destruction of three out of the four Nord Stream pipelines. But the legacy media outlets largely presented their destruction as "a mystery" in a consensus view.