The Mail On Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens and the musician and broadcaster Gareth Icke have been asking the same question on Twitter this week. “Where have my followers gone?” Public figures and many others, have seen their follower count decrease by hundreds, sometimes thousands in recent weeks. My own Twitter account @RichieBBG lost 2,000 followers over two days. When Hitchens complained, he was accused of having bought the followers from online companies who provide that service. He hadn’t. I’ve certainly never purchased followers and I’m pretty sure Gareth never did either.
Twitter acknowledged deleting the accounts of around 80,000 supporters of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory. It’s safe to assume that if Jack copped to 80,000, it’s probably many times that, which explains the loss of followers for me and others. Ah well. I won’t bore you with lamentations on the insidious purging of our accounts by the social media giants. I believe it’s small beer compared to what is coming down the tracks.
Oh it’s bad now, don’t get me wrong. Twitter and Facebook enjoy a hegemony that was unimaginable when I first opened a mic back in 1998. They are omnipresent. There’s no escaping them. Facebook has nearly 2 billion daily users. It owns WhatsApp which has 2 billion users too. Twitter is approaching half a billion users. Amazingly, news websites like The Daily Mail, employ teams of “journalists” to write stories which are exclusively sourced from Twitter. Go to The Mail Online and look. You’ll find dozens of articles based on a furious Twitter row. Twitter and Facebook use censorship, or the threat of account deletion, to wield unparalleled influence on how billions of people think. They deleted the account of the President of the United States and they got away with it. They’ve also booted a lot of well known people who said the wrong thing or caused offence to one group or another. They’ve permanently banned tens of thousands of folks who just cannot accept that a woman can have a penis. The result is an increasing tendency for people to self-censor.
Give it a few years though and 2021 will look like a picnic. We’ll long for 2021. Those were the days, we’ll say. Imagine my horror, me a journalist, when Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, in an interview on SKY, proposed working with the government to criminalise those who question the necessity or the efficacy of vaccines! He did. Look it up. Starmer said that folks who claim that vaccines are harmful put lives at risk! They need to be dealt with, he opined. And of course they will be, give it a little time. And ironically, not a peep from the press, while we learn that coronavirus vaccines are in some cases causing serious harm!
Don’t forget Covid denial. This week, as the government ramped up it’s efforts to “inject hope” into all of our arms, the mass media collectively and most helpfully I might add, sent reporters to stand by the bedsides of Covid patients, who wheezed down the camera lens from behind their visors and told us that Covid is real and must be taken seriously. This is Vaudeville right? Well it would be funny were it not for the fact that journalists alongside politicians and academics, are using this blatant propaganda, to call for action against those who claim that Covid is actually seasonal flu, or that it doesn’t exist at all. They will legislate for this. What will it look like? Will you be fined for a first offence? Might you be jailed? Don’t laugh. If we don’t put the brakes on this agenda now, we’ll regret it for the rest of our lives.