Linkedin deactivates Air Force Vet account after criticizing loan forgiveness – JONATHAN TURLEY


We discussed the expanding censorship programs on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. These programs have notably targeted conservative viewpoints on contemporary controversies. Now LinkedIn has added his company’s name to the dastardly effort, according to an Air Force veteran whose account was disabled after criticizing calls for the loan to be canceled. The site said opposition to the Democratic loan cancellation plan was “hate speech”.

Smith is the founder of the nonprofit Code of Vets, a group created in honor of her father who died at 57 after years of battling post-traumatic stress disorder. Like many Americans, she opposed calls for loan forgiveness from Democratic members and shared her own use of military service to help pay for her college education.

Smith has posted his views on student loan forgiveness on numerous social media platforms.

“I am not responsible for your student debt. I grew up in poverty in North Carolina. I ate in a garden, my name was on the community angel tree for Christmas, I bought clothes at garage sales and if I was lucky, on a rare occasion, Sky City. I joined the Air Force and then went to college. I made it happen.

LinkedIn then deactivated or restricted his account as well as his Code of Vets account. LinkedIn told Smith in an email that posting the Code of Vets “goes against our hate speech policy,” according to a screenshot she shared on Twitter.

LinkedIn did not respond to media inquiries, which is typical of social media companies. The company simply said it could appeal.

If this is the entire publication, it’s hard to imagine a more egregious example of bias and censorship. Some company members simply support canceling the loans and have called opposition to the Democratic plan “hate speech.”

Public and private censorship leads to an insatiable appetite to silence those with opposing views.

This is why I described myself as an Internet Originalist:

The alternative is “Internet originalism” – no censorship. If social media companies returned to their original roles, there would be no slippery slope of political bias or opportunism; they would assume the same status as the telephone companies. We don’t need corporations to protect us from harmful or “deceptive” thoughts. The solution to bad speech is more speech, no approved speech.

If Pelosi demanded that Verizon or Sprint interrupt calls to prevent people from saying false or misleading things, the public would be outraged. Twitter performs the same communication function between consenting parties; it simply allows thousands of people to participate in such digital exchanges. These people don’t sign up to exchange thoughts just to have Dorsey or some other internet overlord monitor their conversations and “protect” them from errant or harmful thoughts.

Social media companies appear to have written off conservatives and others with dissenting views. They also readily embraced censorship as a noble task. Indeed, after former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was criticized for his massive censorship efforts, Twitter replaced him with CEO Parag Agrawal, who expressed chilling sentiments against free speech. In an interview with Technology Review editor-in-chief Gideon Lichfield, he was asked how Twitter would balance its efforts to combat misinformation with a desire to “protect free speech as a fundamental value” and uphold the First Amendment. Agrawal replied;

“Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our actions reflect things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation. The kind of things we’re doing about it is focusing less on thinking about freedom of speech, but on how times have changed.

One of the changes we are seeing today is that speech is easy on the internet. Most people can talk. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard. The rare commodity today is attention. There’s a lot of content there. Lots of tweets there, not all attract attention, some subsets attract attention.

He added that Twitter would “evolve into the way we recommend content and…the way we direct people’s attention leads to a healthy, more engaged public conversation.”

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