The leftists in California are at it again, this time making a legislative move so stunning, so counter to the traditions of the state, one might be tempted to call it farce.
A bill introduced by hard-left California Sen. Richard Pan would mandate that any social media or blog site “with a physical presence” in the state will have to create a fact-checking “plan” to verify news stories, and to attach “warnings” to news stories that contain “false information”…and this all comes from the state that became famous for being the entertainment capital of the world and making money off freedom of expression.
California, meet "1984."
The bill, entitled SB1424, or the “Internet: Social Media: False Information: Strategic Plan”, actually says this:
(a) Any person who operates a social media Internet Web site with physical presence in California shall develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Internet Web site.
(b) The strategic plan shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) A plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories.
(2) The utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories.
(3) Providing outreach to social media users regarding news stories containing false information.
(4) Placing a warning on a news story containing false information.
(c) As used in this section, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.
Not only is it coercive and fascistic to tell website creators and users what they must say and do, it also is not limited to the things written in the bill. It’s a completely top-down, arbitrary, open-ended, “politicians will decide if your post fits” bill designed to stifle independent bloggers and news gatherers with limited extra cash to afford lawyers and wrestle with the state-speech maze.
Clearly, the establishment media and their political pals fear, and have had enough with, competition from alternative news sources that have risen thanks to the frustration people feel over the leftist pop news, and thanks to the great proliferation of technology that lets people become independent news reporters and compare notes and facts themselves.
Because we have mental faculties, we’re doing fine without the grand “gatekeepers” who would block information that could make politicians and policies look bad.
The bill mandates “fact-checkers.” Whom will the state consider acceptable as an “authorized fact-checker”? Will such great and glorious wizards be licensed by the California government? Perhaps Senator Pan and the politicians can call the new “fact-checker” licensing board The Ministry of Truth, in honor of Orwell’s “1984.” After all, the Ministry made sure all the facts the public saw were in compliance with the law, and who would want information that wasn’t lawfully vetted?
This bill is so ambiguous, and so insanely crushing of free speech, it could stifle most independent bloggers, along with most web-servers. It appears designed to stop people posting news stories, and, since YouTube and its parent company Google are based in California, this could apply to people posting on the most ubiquitous video hosting platform in the world.
Perhaps the most stunning thing about this is that the California Constitution specifically prohibits this. While the US Constitution allows states to have speech codes, the California Constitution openly states in Article One, Section Two:
Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.
To which one might add that the “abuse of this right” pertained to matters of slander and libel.
It seems that Barack Obama’s 2016 statements that he wanted a “truthiness test” on the internet is being adopted and turned into potential law by politicians.
A very bad sign for policy, and an even worse sign of the times. The mentality of many collectivist politicians is becoming so twisted that they are actually pushing for laws that would mandate speech.
Orwell saw it coming.
(Cover Photo: Jason Howie)