Teen Vogue calls for censorship in a recent piece railing against social media platforms’ ad policies. Sure, it’s not the government doing it so it’s not a First Amendment issue, but it is censorship all the same.
Now, the specific argument here is that teens – an entirely valid audience for Teen Vogue to be thinking about – gain much of their information from social media rather than either more traditional media, their teachers or their parents. We’re likely to agree so far. This then morphs into the argument that since crisis pregnancy centers advise against abortion, they should not be allowed to advertise on social media.
Of course, that’s why crisis pregnancy centers – which do not advise abortion as a general matter – advertise on social media. They think abortion is a bad thing and accordingly attempt to prevent them. And it is censorship to prevent them from spreading that idea. Again, it’s not government censorship. But it is the silencing of dissenting views all the same:
More than 37,000 people have signed my petition with ParentsTogether and MoveOn to demand that social media platforms ban crisis pregnancy center ads. As long as these centers can advertise on social media, these companies are complicit in disinformation that harms teens. I’ll never be able to undo the harm I did to the young people who walked into the crisis pregnancy center I volunteered for, but we all — regardless of how we’ve felt in the past — can fight for a future where youth can make empowered, informed decisions about their own bodies. If social media companies care at all about their young users, they can change too.
This is their thinking: These people believe differently from me. They must not be allowed to say what differs from my beliefs.
It’s not just that that’s clear and obvious censorship, it’s a ludicrous manner of being able to reach the right decision on any subject at all.
OK, perhaps this is pushing opposition to what is a pretty small social media campaign a bit too far up the agenda. But the point is that this isn’t just one disconnected and separate campaign. It is true that many young people gain information from social media. This is why there’s such a push to censor it.
Facebook has been labeling the entirely standard definition of recession as misinformation – because that standard definition disagrees with a Democratic talking point.
Slightly differently, many complaints about how advertisements for abortion pills are being denied on those same platforms. For clearly no one did mean censorship of things agreed upon by the woke. Or a more direct attempt to stop people from spreading “misinformation” about abortion. Also known as views those who would ban disagree with. Or even, and this is one that amused us, people complaining because a site won’t take political ads – although of course the complaint is that they won’t take D-side-of-the-aisle ads.
Teen Vogue is within the top 500 U.S. media and news outlets and gains some 5.5 million visits from that position. It also proclaims its mission as being “Educating the influencers of tomorrow”. We think that’s a noble mission and it’s one we share too. We clearly differ on how that is to be done.
We come from the free speech, even the science, part of this. Anyone gets to say anything and what is said stands or falls on its own merits. That’s also how science works – anyone gets to attack any theory they wish whenever and with whatever. Such a theory is only valid as long as it continues to beat off such attacks. It’s also how society works. That free speech universe gets to say anything. It’s our job as free people to sift through for the truth. A society in which certain views cannot be said is hiding the current thing, the current way of thinking, from that test of the truth.
Whether crisis pregnancy centers are allowed to advertise on social media is not the end of the world either way. That people will seriously advance the argument that this sort of social censorship should be enforced might well be, though. That’s also not how to educate teens whether they become the influencers of tomorrow or not.