Steven Edgington has written a perceptive piece in the Telegraph about the “moral panic” over ‘disinformation’ and the clueless Conservatives handing their ideological enemies a nuclear weapon in the form of the Online Safety Bill.
Yet how often do official ‘facts’ turn out to be wrong, and supposed ‘misinformation’ turns out to be true?
Remember all the fuss about Hunter Biden’s laptop? In 2020, everyone had an opinion on its significance. You were either convinced of a great media coverup of Biden-family corruption, or adamant that Trump’s conspiracy theories had got a whole-lot weirder.
Perhaps you even believed that it was Russian disinformation. That’s what Mark Zuckerberg was concerned about when the story broke.
Of course, even the New York Times now admits the story was authentic. But in a recent interview with Joe Rogan – the world’s most popular podcaster – the Facebook founder said the FBI had warned him to be on “high alert” for a big Russian dump of propaganda.
Attempting to excuse his company’s decision, he said: “Hey, look, if the FBI, which I still view is a legitimate institution in this country… come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something, then I want to take that seriously.”
This led to Facebook suppressing the story for up to a week. People could still share the expose, but far fewer people saw it on their Facebook feeds. Twitter banned sharing any link related to the story altogether.
Fifty former intelligence chiefs even signed a letter dismissing the Hunter Biden story as having “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation”.
This moral panic over “disinformation” arguably altered the course of the election, and such concerns continue to grip politicians and journalists on both sides of the pond.
A grievance racket of what I call the disinformation industrial complex has grown ever larger in recent years.