The internet is filled with massive amounts of unhealthy and destructive content. There is little debate about this. The internet is a free-for-all.
Buyer beware. Proceed with caution.
All citizens in good standing choose and filter the content they consume. All mindful parents monitor the content that their children are exposed to. Under the auspices of “free speech,” copious amounts of immoral, evil, inhumane and sickening content is published on big-tech platforms with little to no intervention from the U.S. government – unless you're a popular podcaster named Joe Rogan, that is.
With an estimated 11 million listeners per day, The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet and herein lies the problem for big-tech and big government. Rogan is reaching a massive audience with thoughts and ideas that sometimes run contrary to a liberal agenda.
Rogan’s recent “crime” was labeled “COVID misinformation,” which is code for providing a platform for varying voices on the subject. A public discourse of different opinions used to be called dialogue. Today it’s called “misinformation.”
In his defense, Rogan posted a video on his Instagram account explaining the controversy on his "misinformation."
Here's what he said:
Like, for instance, eight months ago, if you said if you get vaccinated, you can still catch COVID and you can still spread COVID, you'd be removed from social media. They would ban you from certain platforms. Now that's accepted as fact. If you said, I don't think cloth masks work, you would be banned from social media. Now that's openly and repeatedly stated on CNN. If you said, I think it's possible that COVID 19 came from a lab, you'd be banned from many social media platforms. Now that's on the cover of Newsweek. All of those theories that at one point in time were banned were openly discussed by those two men that I had on my podcast that have been accused of dangerous misinformation. I do not know if they're right. I don't know because I'm not a doctor, I'm not a scientist. I'm just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them. Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong, but I try to correct them. Whenever I get something wrong, I try to correct it because I'm interested in telling the truth. I'm interested in finding out what the truth is, and I'm interested in having interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions. I'm not interested in only talking to people that have one perspective.
Rogan clearly is not knowingly trying to promote false information. He said, "I don't know because I'm not a doctor, I'm not a scientist. I'm just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them."
But apparently Rogan, or anybody else, saying "I don't know" or "I'm interested in telling the truth" is not good enough.
This so-called controversy should have ended with Spotify – as big-tech protector of free speech – placing a disclaimer message on Rogan's show. However, it got an extra jolt when the White House weighed in last week during a press briefing.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the issue. Here was the exchange.
Reporter: Last week, the surgeon general also was asked on MSNBC about Joe Rogan's vaccine comments on Spotify, and he said that tech companies have an important role to play in stopping misinformation because they are the predominant places where misinformation spreads. Does the White House and the administration think this is a satisfactory step?
Psaki: Our hope is that all major tech platforms and all major news sources for that matter, be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19. That certainly includes Spotify. So this disclaimer? It's a positive step, but we want every platform to continue doing more to call out misinformation and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information. It's a positive step, but there's more that can be done.
Shockingly (or maybe not shockingly) the U.S. government publicly called for Spotify and all big-tech companies to take more steps to censor Joe Rogan. How else can one interpret the White House Press Secretary's statement: "... That certainly includes Spotify ... but we want every platform to continue doing more to call out misinformation and disinformation ... It's a positive step, but there's more that can be done."
Several days after Psaki's call for "more that can be done", Spotify responded by removing over 100 episodes of Joel Rogan's podcasts. Is this an act of changing history? Where are the champions for freedom of speech and freedom of the media? Would Spotify have taken this extra step of censorship without the U.S. government's call to do more?
After President Trump's de-platforming by Big-Tech after Jan. 6, we are no longer surprised when Twitter, Facebook and YouTube delve into censorship as private companies. But now with the White House weighing in on matters of the media, it's a slippery slope that will have far reaching consequences.
I agree – yes, more can be done by the government and big-tech to clean up the unrestrained vile and destructive content that pervades social media platforms. But the U.S. government calling on Spotify to censor Joe Rogan is not the answer to making the world a better place. Instead, it does the opposite. It's a governmental overreach that borders on fascism.
Joseph Magen is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. He has more than 20 years of experience in high-tech, software development, and the Israeli venture capital industry. Joseph lives in the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem with his wife and five young children.