Over the course of many decades, we have been able to observe a significant leftward
shift in the cultural, and subsequently the political Overton window – the range of
ideas and policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given
All establishments - academia, tech corporations, government and media - converge and
work in tandem with one another to ensure a narrative is asserted in society that paints
progressive theory as unequivocally correct.
Though there are many factors that have contributed to this, it has been driven in large
part by legacy media and their reporting, which is observably done in such a manner
where a forgone conclusion based upon a liberal ideological lens is inherent. As we hear
a set of ideas and dogma propped up over decades, they become what people perceive
as truth from a simple, often cursory glance.
Further to this, we live in a timeline where our primary sources of information are
funneled through social media. It’s where we see and share these media news stories,
where we can gather data from many sources, and have conversations with others who
can shore up our thoughts, or challenge them, so we can form our own conclusions and
beliefs about the world.
What happens when an entire political and cultural worldview is banned from operating
in these spaces?
In January of this year, we heard of Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to
introduce legislation and regulations surrounding social media speech in 2021 to, as he
frames it, “protect Canadians online”.
We also heard the global director and head of public policy for Facebook, Kevin Chan,
say that the federal government should be more active in outlining what content is not
allowed online. His statement to the CBC was, “On this question of content regulation,
we think that having platforms make decisions about all these things and in an
uncoordinated fashion with different platforms having different postures, we think
that's not sustainable. So we think that public rules by Parliament would help clarify
these things and obviously apply across the internet.”
In other words, Mr. Chan is openly advocating for government to have control over
what ideas and opinions are suitable to be expressed and discussed among private
Independent media has grown in popularity over the last several years, and they largely
utilize social media companies to get their content out into the public sphere. As this
direct competition to legacy media has increased, we observe the broadening of Terms
of Service within tech corporations such as Twitter and Facebook, which they assert are
for the “safety” of their users. The application of these TOS most often effect
independent media organizations seeking to present information and ideas that would
run counter to the cultural narrative which establishment media and tech corporations
prop up as being ‘suitable’ for discourse.
The media and social media corporations have enormous sway in society; they control
what information you see, or don’t see, at least superficially. With this in mind, we
should be able to dig deeper on our own to try and find further information, search for
other media sources to gain insight into an issue, and to be able to discuss concepts and
beliefs with fellow citizens online. But this is what those seeking to have government
dictate online behaviour are working to erode. Tyranny always operates under the
pretense of being “for the greater good”.
If certain viewpoints are barred by government from being expressed across the board;
when powerful corporations and government are united in working together to control
and dictate standards to the populous, that goes against the very nature of a free
society. We need only look to history to gain understanding on why advocating for this
is concerning, and where it leads.
Do you really want the government to hold authority over what ideas and opinions you
can or cannot communicate? What happens when there is a government administration
in place that has fundamentally different values and beliefs about what is right than you
do? Are you happy for them to take away your right to express yourself, under the guise
of it being for “safety”?
When people, governments, or organizations reference “unacceptable” or “hateful”
speech or ideas, it is simply a euphemism for speech or ideas they don’t like. If we
disagree with someone, we can debate or critique them, but striving to silence them is
authoritarian. Doing so while asserting the purpose is for “safety”, is purely a deceptive
tactic to silence and control the populous. And when people advocate for this form of
action, they often don’t take into account that they, too, will not be pardoned in the
future from the repercussions of a system they worked to establish.
Since the Trudeau Liberals first took office in 2015, online censorship on social media has increased and to also keep in mind, bail out media has been laying off employees due to lack of viewership and financial support.
Does the branding of a company become compromised for taking handouts from the Government?