Pew Research reports that nearly half of the population favors government action to stem the flow of false information.
And a majority wants the big communication companies to do so, too.
This is disheartening. As the old expression goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”
What is false information? Who decides? Many conservatives believe that liberals spread lies and falsehoods. Many liberals accuse conservatives of doing the same.
Both sides can’t be correct. And neither group should be silenced.
One truth is undeniable; much misinformation is easily available for those who either believe it or search for it.
It should remain so.
The world is not flat. But Flat Earthers, who think so and want to share their delusion with others, should be free to do so.
Equally fanciful is the certainty by many that Area 51 in Nevada is home to secret research and contains the remains of extraterrestrials who died when their spacecraft crashed near Roswell, NM in 1947.
No serious persons can believe that all the employees who work there could keep these purported facts hidden for decades. But that won’t dissuade believers and they should also be free to access this nonsense.
Even more preposterous but much more dangerous are the modern day snake oil claims that certain products can cure or prevent Covid-19.
This belief has hoodwinked too many gullible consumers some of whom have died because of their skepticism in actual scientific truths and their decision to try these bogus cures. Americans continue to die due to their own ignorance.
But they are solely responsible for their own actions and fake news that perpetuates such lunacy should not be silenced.
Why? Again, who decides what’s false and what’s true? It’s dangerous to censor beliefs and opinions no matter how ludicrous.
We have laws against obscenity, pornography, libel and slander. These are appropriate and sufficient.
Arguments by proponents of further limitations on free speech and false information are dangerous. But they should be permitted and evaluated carefully.
But the most basic true is this. False information, fake news, misinformation—no matter how you label such assertions—should not be silenced.
What we need are Americans who are capable of critical thinking and smart enough to ignore lies.