San Francisco Chronicle
Free speech is best speech
Regarding “America was built on an unwavering commitment to free speech? No, that’s fiction” (Open Forum, SFChronicle.com, Jan. 18): Censorship never has been and never will be the path to achieving a more inclusive and truthful environment, and social media is no exception. To that end, Edward Wasserman missed the mark in his op-ed.
Free speech does not become freer by restricting it. Social media companies’ suppression of information and opinions hasn’t helped bring more voices to conversations. Instead, it has widened the political chasm and exacerbated the formation and preservation of ideological bubbles. And let’s not forget that big tech has inaccurately labeled truth as misinformation and censored it. No person or company can consistently distinguish fact from fiction, and we shouldn’t trust anyone who claims they can. But even if an idea is just as wacky and untrue as expected, it’s always useful to know what people think and why.
Maybe we weren’t quite ready for one of, if not the, biggest disruptor in mass communication we’ve ever had. Maybe the problems we’re experiencing with social media are just growing pains we’ll naturally shake off. But the one thing we shouldn’t bet against is the demonstrable winning record of actual free speech.
Josh Haverlock, program officer, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education,