A Twitter feud erupted this week between U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and Donald Trump Jr., after Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify decided to no longer allow Infowars publisher Alex Jones use of their platforms to advance demonstrably false conspiracy theories.
Murphy hailed the decision to pull the plug on Jones, who among other conspiracies alleged that the mass shooting of school children in Newtown in 2012 was fake. “I know Facebook and Apple and YouTube have gotten so big they sometimes seem like the government. But they aren’t. They are private companies that shouldn’t knowingly spread lies and hate. They took a good first step today by removing Infowars,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.
Murphy then added that these companies should do more to limit the spread of lies and hate on their social media platforms.
“Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it,” he wrote.
The latter comment on Twitter drew a sharp rebuke from Donald Trump Jr.
“A Democrat Senator openly admitting that Big Tech’s censorship campaign is really about purging all conservative media. How long before Big Tech and their Democrat friends move to censor and purge @BreitbartNews, @DailyCaller and other conservatives voices from their platforms?” he asked on Twitter.
Murphy wrote in response that the “slippery slope” argument is “right wing tripe.”
“No company is compelled to smear the reputations of dead kids’ parents, and no elected official (even Democrats) are required to stand idly by,” he wrote, noting as well that President Donald Trump “is engaged in a DAILY bullying campaign to try to censor the press.”
Murphy’s Twitter comment seeking the removal of additional hate and lies from social media platforms also drew a sharp rebuke from the conservative Washington Examiner.
“Disinformation and lies are a real problem. They were part of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election. These extensive Russian efforts appear to have had no zero impact on the vote. But Murphy doesn’t have faith in voters to discern truth from lies peddled by two dudes in Moldova. He also believes Facebook needs his guidance on how to play the responsible middleman,” the editors wrote. “Murphy, as is typical of a progressive, wants to create a country in which government protects us all from ourselves. He thinks that we don’t need virtue to keep this Republic (as its founders insisted explicitly) so long as we have the right rules, and we keep people from hearing the wrong messages.”