A Chinese virologist whistleblower was suspended from Twitter following claims that the COVID-19 virus was manufactured in a lab in Wuhan. This comes as a latest incident of major social media networks moving from simply moderating conduct to moderating narrative.
Former Hong Kong School of Public Health researcher Dr. Li-Meng Yan famously claimed that the COVID-19 virus, which has spread to affect much of the word, was manufactured in a Wuhan lab, and further alleges that the Chinese officials are lying to cover up the origins of the virus. Shortly after, Dr. Yan's Twitter account was suspended without official comment from the company.
The advent of social platforms policing narrative
The suspension of Dr. Yan's Twitter count comes as a recent example of a growing trend of major social media platforms restricting alternative narratives rather than simply enforcing respectful conduct. Jeremy Kauffman, CEO of LBRY Inc., the company behind the LBRY decentralized content protocol, believes that independent and diverse voices will likely flow to alternatives, particularly decentralized communication networks as a result:
"Twitter and the rest of big tech now exclusively allow narrow, corporate-friendly opinions. The future of independent voices will be on alternative, decentralized platforms."
Additional recent examples of this trend include Facebook employing "fact-checkers" (with potential conflict-of-interest issues) to explicitly mark posts for veracity, and YouTube actively removing content which presents an alternative point of view to that of the World Health Organization.
Alternative and decentralized platforms have seen significant recent growth
In response to the growing social media trend to police content and narratives, alternative platforms, both decentralized and otherwise, have seen significant growth in 2020. Censorship-resistant media platforms LBRY.tv and Bitchute have grown significantly in traffic this year, with LBRY.tv growing from about 960,000 monthly visitors in March to about 4.06 million in August, and BitChute growing from about 15.4 million to 31.6 million during that same period. Social media alternative Parler grew significantly following the "Twexit" Twitter exodus from 280,000 monthly visitors in March to 5.82 million in August, with a peak of 9.65 million in July.
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