The Aspen Institute has issued the results of its much heralded 16-person Commission on Information Disorder on how to protect the public from misinformation. The commission on disinformation and “building trust” was partially headed by Katie Couric who is still struggling with her own admission that she edited an interview to remove controversial statements by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Aspen recommendations however are a full-throated endorsement of systems of censorship.
The findings and recommendations are found in an 80-page report on how to combat “disinformation” and “misinformation,” which are remarkably ill-defined but treated as a matter of “we know when we see it.” From the outset, however, the Commission dismissed the long-standing free speech principle that the solution to bad speech is better speech, not censorship. The problem is that many today object to allowing those with opposing views to continue to speak or others continue to listen to them. The Commission quickly tosses the free speech norm to the side:
“The biggest lie of all, which this crisis thrives on, and which the beneficiaries of mis- and disinformation feed on, is that the crisis itself is uncontainable. One of the corollaries of that mythology is that, in order to fight bad information, all we need is more (and better distributed) good information. In reality, merely elevating truthful content is not nearly enough to change our current course.”
In addition to Couric, the Commission was headed by Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Robinson was also a notable choice since he has been one of the most outspoken advocates of censorship. While some of us have been denouncing the expanding system of censorship by companies like Facebook, Robinson was threatening boycotts if the companies do not “rein in” those considered racists or spreaders of misinformation.