Last Updated on September 30, 2022
During her statement to the U.N. General Assembly, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for increased internet censorship in order to combat “misinformation.” The prime minister referred to discourse her government disapproves of as “weapons of war” and urged nations to take collective action.
PM Jacinda Ardern calls internet freedom a “weapon of war” in most recent UN speech. Calls for a new type of internet with “rules and transparency”.
“How do you tackle climate change if people don’t believe it exists”.
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— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2023) September 28, 2022
Ardern cited climate change, as well as other issues as a justification for a crackdown on free speech. “How do you tackle climate change if people don’t believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideologies?” she pleaded.
“The weapons may be different, but the goals of those who perpetuate them is often the same. To cause chaos and reduce the ability of others to defend themselves, to disband communities, to collapse collective strength of countries who work together.”
“But we have an opportunity here, to ensure that these particular weapons of war do not become an established part of warfare,” Ardern continued. “In these times, I’m acutely aware of how easy it is to feel disheartened. We are facing many battles on many fronts. But there is cause for optimism, because for every new weapon we face, there is a new tool to overcome it,” she said. “We have the means; we just need the collective will.”
The New Zealand leader’s framing of internet discourse that question’s government narratives as “weapons of war” has been slammed by social media users and pundits.
“This is the face of authoritarianism – even though it looks different than you were taught to expect. And it’s the mindset of tyrants everywhere,” wrote The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald in reference to Ardern’s speech. “This is someone so inebriated by her sense of righteousness and superiority that she views dissent as an evil too dangerous to allow.”
Ardern’s sentiment has been echoed by many left-wing leaders throughout the Western world, including the United States. Leftists have called for a technocratic “rule by experts” situation in which those in charge would determine what is true and what can be reported on.
Ardern has perhaps been more transparent than other leaders in her desire to implement anti-freedom policies under the guise of “protecting democracy.” In 2019, after the mass shooting at a Christchurch Mosque, she moved immediately to ban firearms, as the country did not have built in protections for their citizens.
To a large degree, this has already been happening throughout the West. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have moderated content at the beck and call of the U.S. Government. This was especially clear pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccines, as dissenting opinions were flagged as “disinformation.”
In the U.S., documents recently uncovered by state attorneys general revealed that the Biden Administration coordinated with Twitter and Facebook to censor posts it deemed misleading or inconvenient. One email from a Facebook official to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said, “I know our teams met today to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.”
A week later, the Facebook official told the Department of Health and Human Services about how many posts and profiles had been deleted.
“[W]e removed 17 additional Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts tied to the disinfo dozen (so a total of 39 Profiles, Pages, Groups and IG accounts deleted thus far, resulting in every member of the disinfo dozen having had at least one such entity removed),” the Facebook official wrote, according to the emails released by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “We also expanded the group of false claims that we remove to keep up with recent trends of misinformation that we are seeing.”