Does a pandemic demand the robust medication of censorship? Social-media corporations appear to suppose so. They’re taking steps to manage speech within the title of combating the unfold of medical misinformation. Facebook employs “reality checkers” to evaluate posts, makes people who don’t cross their check tougher to seek out, and directs customers to purportedly dependable sources just like the World Well being Group. YouTube has taken down movies it deems inconsistent with science. Twitter plans so as to add warning labels to tweets that don’t cross muster with “subject-matter specialists, similar to public well being authorities.”
Aaron Ginn’s story is a cautionary story that even well-intended censorship can overreach, suppressing the seek for reality. Mr. Ginn, 32, is the Silicon Valley technologist who posted an essay on March 20 titled “Proof over hysteria—COVID-19” on the Medium web site. Citing educational analysis and authorities information, Mr. Ginn argued that public-health specialists had been focusing an excessive amount of on “flattening the curve . . . whereas ignoring the financial shock to our system” of shuttering companies and faculties and ordering Individuals to remain residence.
“When 13% of Individuals imagine they’re at the moment contaminated with COVID-19 (mathematically not possible),” he wrote, “full-on panic is obstructing our capability to suppose clearly and decide the best way to deploy our sources to cease this virus.” The message was well-timed—the day he posted it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered “nonessential” New York companies to shut.
Mr. Ginn’s essay drew 2.6 million web page views in 24 hours—and a barrage of liberal criticism. Carl T. Bergstrom, a College of Washington biologist, known as it “Shakespeare run by google translate into Japanese, then translated again to English by somebody who’d by no means heard of Shakespeare.” Then Medium took it down, saying it violated guidelines beneath a “threat evaluation framework we use for ‘Controversial, Suspect and Excessive content material.’ ”