By Richard Sudan
As a democracy, the United States claims to value freedom of speech. This is definitely true. Just so long as you publicly agree with all of its policies, both domestic and foreign.
If you fail to adhere to the White House’s basic rule regarding freedom of speech you face censorship. Which, not for the first time, is exactly what has happened regarding the recent targeting of Press TV, which saw its website domain seized, without warning along with other Iranian regional networks.
In recent months, Press TV has also had its YouTube platform frozen, reflecting the fact that US owned corporations that make a big song and dance about valuing global freedom of speech and diversity of opinion, are really very much under the thumb and control of the United States, and will do exactly what they are demanded of, by the government.
And what’s telling, is that virtually no reason, or credible explanation as to why such acts of censorship take place has been offered. It would be one thing if outlet’s like Press TV were continuing to violate community guidelines regarding social media, or were breaking some kind of laws with the use of their website domains. But the fact that no real justification is given, is of course because guidelines and laws are not being broken, and quite simply the US government is deciding who has freedom of speech and who doesn’t, on the internet, making themselves the arbitrators of criticism and accountability.
Press TV is not the only outlet to have been hit by the US grip of censorship, as other countries which have also criticized the narrative and political actions on the US, such as Venezuela have also found themselves silenced on social media platforms in a quite blatant attempt to muzzle those voices asking questions and disagreeing with Washington’s stance on a number of issues.
But the attempts to shut down alternative voices also tell us that actually, more and more people are at odds with the policies of the United States and the justifications given for its actions, and that those voices are most certainly having an impact. Social media and the presence of non-mainstream media platforms has challenged and broken the monopoly on the narrative presented by the likes of the US as never before. And this concerns the US government.
Recently, following a global tidal wave of support for the Palestinians, Palestinian voices also breaking through the lies and spin of the mainstream media and the governments they do the bidding for, also found themselves removed and silenced on platforms like Instagram and elsewhere.
The list goes on and on. If the US government had nothing to fear, it wouldn’t silence platforms critical of its policies. But of course, the world is changing, and fast, with growing economic powers around the world competing and challenging US hegemony, while at the same time the global means of communication and information sharing reflects the fact that the world is also becoming much smaller, and more interconnected than ever, fast.
Ultimately, the unjustified clamp down by the US government on platforms it doesn’t like should alarm journalists from all over the world, and anyone who says they consider free speech to be important. And the US government should also realize that moves like this, do not do its reputation any good at all. People see what’s happening and will find the means to find the information they seek, regardless of censorship.
There’s also a strange academic quality to all of this too. The US is concerned with other outlets, simply asking questions and holding the government to account, which by the way is what journalists are meant to do. To silence any and other opposing voices is right out of the Orwellian playbook.
But the reality is that Iran, and countries like Venezuela, those muzzled on the internet waves by the US are not countries actually posing any threat to the United States, nor have they meddled or interfered in any of its internal affairs.
We all know that in reality, it’s the other way around, has been for decades, and millions of people across the world want this to change. But sadly the US clampdown on outlets like Press TV and others, is simply a tactic which runs concurrently to its continued and disastrous foreign policy, which is seeking to influence and control the global narrative of events in the world, in its own favor. Many believed that a change in leadership in Washington at the last election meant that the White House would strike a different tone with countries like Iran, but it is clearer than ever with these new steps of censorship that in 2021, it’s just business as usual.
(Richard Sudan is a journalist, writer and TV reporter working for Press TV.)
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.