The Huffington Post has shut down its contributor blogging network, amid a multi-million dollar lawsuit from a Young Turks reporter alleging that the platform published a false rape allegation against him.
The editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, Lydia Polgreen did not mention the lawsuit, or the potential for libelous articles when she announced the site’s decision to shut down the blogging network. Instead, she explained that too much free speech is actually…. not free speech!
Now, there are many places where people can share and exchange ideas. Perhaps a few too many: One of the biggest challenges we all face, in an era where everyone has a platform, is figuring out whom to listen to. Open platforms that once seemed radically democratizing now threaten, with the tsunami of false information we all face daily, to undermine democracy. When everyone has a megaphone, no one can be heard.
Polgreen did not add “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”
She did, however, explain HuffPo’s new priority: deciding what content should be “tuned out.”
Thousands of voices shout for our attention from our social media timelines and TV screens. It’s hard to know what deserves our focus and what to tune out.
As a news organization rather than a social media platform, the Huffington Post can not exactly be accused of censorship. But beware Polgreen’s broader philosophical point, that giving “everyone a platform” is somehow bad for free speech. It’s an argument that is being used to deplatform the Trump movement from social media and retrench the power of the media establishment.