Bill Maher, host of “Real Time,” said on Friday that it was “f—ed up” for Twitter to suspend the account of the U.S. Border Patrol chief for praising America’s southern border wall.
Maher interviewed former Google employee Tristan Harris about Big Tech’s influence over our daily lives. Maher eventually shifted the conversation to Twitter’s suspension of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan. Maher began by summarizing the situation to Harris before criticizing Twitter for the suspension.
“Can I read to you what was blocked on Twitter just last week?” Maher asked Harris, according to Fox News. “This is from the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan. I don’t really agree with this comment, but this is what he said. He was talking about they’re continuing to build the wall every day, which is his domain. ‘Every mile helps us stop ‘gang members, murderers, sexual predators, and drugs from entering our country. It’s a fact. Walls work.'”
“I can take issue with some things in there but it’s an opinion!” Maher said. “This should not have been blocked! This feeds into that saying, ‘You just don’t want to hear anything that you don’t agree with!’ And this is a platform! Twitter is about expressing opinions. And here’s somebody who expresses an opinion, albeit I don’t agree with it, but then it’s like, ‘Well, my opinion doesn’t agree with your opinion so you can’t talk on my platform about opinions.’ That’s f—ed up too.”
Harris, who appeared in the documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” a film about Big Tech’s control over the information we see, told Maher that social media companies struggle between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of reach.” He told Maher that just because users have a “football stadium-size audience” doesn’t mean the companies will let them say what they want “without accountability.”
“So what is the answer?” Maher then asked. “How do you protect free speech while not looking like you’re censoring? … There is no bulls— detector.”
Harris said the social media companies have led the “downgrading of our attention spans, our critical thinking, our ability to form an opinion that isn’t in the hyper-present.”
“The business model, so long as we’re the product which is the point we make in the film, we are worth more when we’re addicted, distracted, outraged, narcissistic, polarized, and disinformed than if we are a thriving citizen, an informed citizen of a democracy,” Harris said, according to Fox. “And so just as Justin [Rosenstein], who’s the inventor of the ‘like’ button who’s in the film says in the end, ‘So long as a whale is worth more dead than alive and a tree is worth more as 2x4s than as a tree,’ in this new model of this attention business model, we’re the whale, we’re the tree. We’re the thing that’s being mined.”