Rupert Murdoch has been silent on Twitter for nearly five years, but the media baron has come out swinging against social media and what he described as the prevalence of a “woke orthodoxy” in the online realm.
Murdoch, 89, created a stir with a two-minute video message that was released in connection with his receiving the Australia Day Foundation’s lifetime achievement award. The video was posted on the website of Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, which News Corp. owns.
Murdoch’s remarks veer from a conventional thank-you for a lifetime achievement honor and kind words about his “undying love” for his native country to a deliberate swipe at social media. He remarks echo the recent refrain from far-right conservatives that Big Tech giants and social media platforms are seeking to impose censorship by flagging false and inflammatory statements from political figures such as former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been permanently banned from Twitter and other platforms.
“For those of us in media, there’s a real challenge to confront a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversations. to stifle debate and ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential,” Murdoch said. “This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibilities. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy.”
Reps for Murdoch in the U.S. declined to elaborate on the mogul’s remarks.
Murdoch’s comments reflect the anger expressed by far-right conservatives in the U.S. and other countries that Facebook, Twitter and other platforms are overreaching in their efforts to stop the spread of misinformation online.
Murdoch established his personal Twitter account in 2012. For a few years, he posted periodically, including the occasional provocative message about business or politics. But Murdoch hasn’t had a new post since March 4, 2016, when he swore off Twitter “for 10 days or ever.”
No more tweets for ten days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in world.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) March 4, 2016