We Can Fight Lies with Facts…Until They Take the Internet Away

One of the most frightening things I can imagine is a world where the only news and information we have access to is created and distributed by the Trump administration. This is essentially what will happen should they succeed in closing down the Internet. I’m wondering how long we have until they try.

“Naw,” you might say. “They would never be so bold!”

But I’m here to tell you with 100% certainty that they will try—the only question is when.

They have the means (the new FCC head recently said that net neutrality’s days were numbered, though they could always use some form of martial law as an excuse and sidestep FCC regulations).

And they clearly have the motive (as in, the desire to tell us whatever they want us to hear and the desire to squash all other conflicting points of view—including facts).

They are already lying to us in the direct face of photographic evidence, such as when White House press secretary Spicer claimed and then reaffirmed that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest ever.

It would be a boon to their agenda if they could just do away with conflicting reports and photos. It’s so difficult to tell the public lies when the masses have access to so many facts!

They want to be able to say things like “Climate change is a hoax,” without any voices to disagree with them. And they’re quickly muzzling those voices, such as when they instructed the EPA to remove climate change data and content from their website. They also told the EPA to not talk to the media anymore. The EPA’s voice has been quieted.

Oh, and also the USDA. Similar gag orders have been sent out to other government agencies, and even the National Parks Service has been censored for posting factual information that conflicted with the party line.

Meanwhile, in addition to limiting our access to the research and information that our taxes help pay for, the GOP is taking advantage of the BIG BROTHER-fueled fervor to make it more illegal to protest. At my last count, six states have introduced bills to make various forms of protesting a felony or other serious charge. Most recently, Indiana introduced a bill that would authorize police to use “any means necessary” against protesting that happens to be blocking traffic. Yes, you read that right. If your peaceful protest spills out onto the street even for a moment, it’s felony time for you.

And people intend to use these laws. Over 200 inauguration day protestors have been charged with felonies. Even journalists who covered protests against Trump are being charged with felonies.

Trump and team clearly want to be able to lie to us while restricting our ability to protest their decisions. They want to control communication and limit our ability to revolt.

This is tyranny’s foundation. Resist.

Yes, there are positive things happening. The resistance is alive. Millions of people marching in one single global protest does at least one thing: it encourages others to use their voice.

The New York Times actually used the word “lie” in a headline to describe words made by Trump’s mouth. This is progress. Months ago (and even just the other day) major news sources said they would not use that word to describe a president’s utterings.

CNN didn’t cover Spicer’s first press appearance live for fear of what he might say, and to honor the responsibility they have to report at least somewhat-factual news.

Even the National Park Service has rallied to the cause. Now they are posting on Twitter under a non-government-run account. They already have 40,000 followers, and have inspired dozens of other rogue accounts, including a whole host of them dedicated to national parks (and truth).

And it doesn’t stop at national parks. Now the USDA, NASA, and other major national organizations are joining in. They are using these rogue accounts to express that facts, science, and the ability to share information with the public are all in jeopardy. The White House’s own staff appears to have a rogue account. They are tweeting the scariest stuff yet about what’s going on behind the golden curtains.

I’ll take these “rogue” voices and positive events as a good sign.

But we’re dealing with an administration continues to frame protest (or any reasonable form of opposition) as an act of war. For example, when McCain and Graham drafted a letter taking a stance against the immigration ban, Trump framed their opposition as an attempt to start World War III. The meaning is clear. Trump intends to go to war against all who oppose him. And that Trump has no idea what the word “world” means.

We can defend against unnecessary war and we can defend against inaccurate usage of vocabulary, but to do so, we need the Internet.

Imagine organizing a 3-million person march without the web. Imagine being unable to provide facts and supporting data to defend the truth against the Trump administration’s lies because your sources of information were missing. Imagine where we would be today without the Internet to help us. Granted, the Internet did its fair share to get us here. But we’re nowhere without it.

 

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About Aaron Dietz

Aaron Dietz (@aarondietzwrite) is an instructional designer, a data evangelist, and the author of Super and In Case I Die.
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1 Response to We Can Fight Lies with Facts…Until They Take the Internet Away

  1. Jade says:

    I’ve thought of this possibility as well but I don’t think they will shut down the Internet. What would Trump do all day without Twitter?

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