The “Spiral of Silence”: Self-Censorship and Political Correctness

don'tspeak - Copy

Despite that it’s commonly believed that the Internet facilitates free speech, a new study indicates that on social media people tend to not speak out if they believe that their views are unpopular or if they perceive that they may be negatively criticized for expressing their heart-felt opinions. The authors explain that it’s long been known that people self-censor in face-to-face interactions:

A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in publicor among their family, friends, and work colleagueswhen they believe their own point of view is not widely shared. This tendency is called the spiral of silence.”

Some social media creators and supporters have hoped that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might produce different enough discussion venues that those with minority views might feel freer to express their opinions, thus broadening public discourse and adding new perspectives to everyday discussion of political issues.

This new study found, however, that, as with face-to-face interactions, people will also self-censor on social media if they believe that they hold unpopular (“minority”) opinions or because they fear “ostracism or ridicule” if they express themselves truthfully. In fact, there’s much more to fear these days than ridicule or shunning.

When specifically asked whether they would express an opinion about Edward Snowden and government surveillance, people reported that they were more likely to avoid such discussions on social media than in person.

Researchers should not be surprised by these results. Why should anyone be surprised that people might be afraid to opine online about the NSA spying on citizens who comment on the Internet?

It should also be no surprise that on social media people self-censor and/or avoid discussing controversial subjects, because most social media now require individuals to identify themselves. More and more often, people cannot opine on the Internet anonymously.

Ever since 1776, when Thomas Paine anonymously published his pro-revolution pamphlet, Common Sense, anonymous public comment has been “the American Way.” But that’s a right that’s being deliberately eroded.

Multiple social media platforms are now linked together. They share information (via cookies), so that someone logged onto Facebook is automatically “known” to Twitter and You Tube, for example, and also to many other sites, including some blogging platforms. People have learned this disconcerting fact. Some learned it in a rather unfortunate way when they forgot to log out of Facebook and then wrote something online that they would not have said had they realized that their true identities were being linked to comments that they had no power to edit or delete.

Often times, websites will allow comments only by those who are willing to identify themselves. Many news websites now require a person to log-in on Facebook or Twitter, so that the website administrators as well as readers know exactly who the commenter is. The reasoning, allegedly, is to encourage  individuals to be more civil to one another, but one has to at least suspect that the progressively minded know that people will then self-censor and not state their true opinions, especially when commenting about a story published in the mainstream media.

It’s no secret that the media in the USA skew left. Thus, by forcing commenters to identify themselves, the media can suppress opposing views, avoid criticism, and keep readers from pointing out bias in their articles, all at the same time. In addition, they can promote their own political agenda at the expense of diversity of opinion.

And so it becomes harder and harder to remain anonymous when commenting on the Internet.

Fear (of the very real repercussions some have suffered as the price for speaking out) fuels the spiral of silence, ensuring that there is no diversity of opinion. This is exactly the result that some would like to see.

Politicians, progressive activists, and some social media executives, who coordinate with like-minded politicians, are pushing for laws, regulations, or policies specifically designed to prevent people from participating in discussions anonymously.

If a person is identified, then that person can be brought to heel after a little research into his or her background, which is now much easier thanks to social media. From a person’s Facebook page, depending upon how carefully the person crafted privacy settings, anyone can build a dossier on that person, including friends, family, likes, dislikes, political views, employer, church, associations (embarrassing or otherwise)–the possibilities are nearly endless.

Social media have become a particular weapon of the progressive left, who use political correctness to force people to conform to their mindset. Those who do not follow the preferred ideology or practice the increasingly common “religion” of secular humanism are shamed, at best.

At worst, they’re punished when they do not conform. The Enforcers of Right Think use information gleaned from the Internet to go after the wrong-thinker’s business, livelihood, family, and/or reputation. We’ll look at some recent examples in the next post.

The tendency that some people have to search and destroy those with whom they disagree is exactly why there’s a spiral of silence both on the Web as well as in face-to-face discussions. Depending upon how politically incorrect their points of view are, too many people find that they must self-censor their speech lest they, too, are investigated by the Enforcers of Right Think and then find themselves punished (e.g., fired from their jobs or expelled from school) solely because they exercised their constitutional right of free speech.


155 responses to “The “Spiral of Silence”: Self-Censorship and Political Correctness

  1. I walked Woot!!! needed a walker but I walked

    And stood in place for 11 min.
    almost ready to go home,:D

  2. Some interesting comments including,

    “mlmoorelaw 14 minutes ago
    The Court will have to take up a case, if one of the Appeals Courts issues a decision different from the existing Appeals Courts. Where there is divide among the Courts of Appeals, the Court has to weigh in and decide who is right.”

  3. GOOD NEWS…. BAD NEWS…. It’s still EXPOSED NEWS ….
    Spread the NEWS…. UK has an OCTOBER SURPRISE Also! O’ !


    This is Thomas Sowell saying this:

    “… Those critics who have been citing Barack Obama’s foreign policy fiascoes and disasters as evidence that he is incompetent may be overlooking the possibility that he has different priorities than the protection of the American people and America’s interests as a nation.

    This is a monstrous possibility. But no one familiar with the history of the 20th century should consider monstrous possibilities as things to dismiss automatically. Nor should anyone who has followed Barack Obama’s behavior over his lifetime, and the values that behavior reveals. …”

  5. The OK mosque the beheader attended:

    “… Barack Obama sent a special note of praise to the Oklahoma mosque after the beheading. KFOR reported, via Jihad Watch:

    Oklahoma Muslims marked the end of the yearly pilgrimage to mecca with communal prayer and celebration called Eid Ul-Adha on Saturday.

    Leaders of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City say it’s been a tough month for Muslims here in Oklahoma after being associated with the beheading at Vaughan foods in Moore.

    Leaders of the faith here in the state say vicious messages are being left for Oklahoma Muslims, telling them to get out of Oklahoma and threatening to behead them all because the man behind the beheading claimed to be Muslim.

    But the Muslim community received the highest form of praise from the White House for their hard work in helping rebuild the Moore community after a destructive tornado tore through the city in 2013.

    Today, an official from Washington D.C. flew in to Oklahoma to present a special thank you to the Muslim congregation.

    He read a message from President Barrack [sic] Obama, extending warm greetings from the American people during the Muslim holiday.

    Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice,” President Barack Obama said. …”

  6. WOW…. read all + comments … blows my mind …. now WHAT! …

  7. QL ~ ~ October 6, 2014 at 10:48 pm @ drkate
    8 Soldiers Die From Ebola – So, Why Is Obama Sending In US Troops?


    With Barack Obama PREParing to send ThouSandS OF Soldiers to Western Africa in an Attempt to Fight OFF the Ebola disease at its Source, we learn in this brand new story excerpted from this linked Liberian Daily Observer story that AT LEAST 8 soldiers …..have succumbed …. to the deadly disease. ….O’….. WOW

    Will US soldiers soon fall victim to the same fate? At 30 seconds into
    the 1st video below, ….. it’s @ drkate …
    DOD news gives us an update on these soldiers now in Africa while the Video below tells us more about what Alex calls ‘created destabilization’ brought on by Ebola. Could Ebola REALLY lead to the collapse of America?

    THIS 1st hand? WHERE can ONE HIDE?

    At least 8 soldiers, among them 2 commissioned officers & 2 medical staff, have reportedly LOST their Lives to the Deadly Ebola virus
    disease (EVD), the Daily Observer has reliably learnt.

    The deceased, according to our source, contracted Ebola recently at
    the Edward Binyan Kesseley (EBK) Barracks when a lady unsuspected
    of Carrying the Disease, Visited 1 ….. of the victims ….O’…

    This latest setback among the rank and file of the already sparse number of soldiers has reportedly created Panic among them, to the Extent that some of them have Begun to Desert … the various barracks …..across the country. ….. with or with-out the EBOLA…. ? WE ponder on O’-yeah


      “On Oct. 5, 1918, the city health department issued this warning: “Avoid persons with colds.”

      Dr. Max C. Starkloff, health commissioner, knew that wasn’t nearly enough. Two days later, with Mayor Henry Kiel’s strong backing, he issued an emergency order closing schools, theaters, pool halls, playgrounds and other public places. Starkloff quickly added churches and taverns, and restricted attendance at funerals. Streetcars were limited to seated passengers.

      The strategy was known as “social distancing,” and the motive was to fight the Spanish flu that was sweeping the world. The misnamed influenza would kill many more people than the ghastly meat-grinder known as the Great War.

      The order was extreme, but it worked — St. Louis’ death rate was the lowest among major American cities.

      On the day Starkloff and Kiel announced the order, two soldiers died of the virus at Jefferson Barracks, the likely origin of the local outbreak. Six more died there the next day, and eight civilians died at St. Louis City Hospital. In two days, the number of local cases doubled to 1,150 patients. …

      The disease got its name because of high death rates in Spain, but it probably originated at Fort Riley, Kan., and hitched to Europe with the doughboys to the Western Front. It ravaged its way through the trenches. With all the killing already underway, the epidemic wasn’t noticed soon enough. …”

      What I was talking about the other day. The Spanish flu originated at a U.S. military base and spread because of the close proximity of the troops.

      • my great grandma survived the spanish flu, but her baby died. She told of how the undertaker came around and picked up whole families. It was devastating, I didn’t know how it originated. Watched some tv thing that tried to claim how it migrated in the atmosphere (somewhere from the cosmos) to various places. The military sure sounds more likely. Wonder if it was known then how it originated but they tried to keep a lid on it to thwart the fears of going off to some forsaken lands to fight wars????

        • I didn’t know how it originated, either, until I read that article. My grandmother talked about the Spanish flu, too, and how there were so many deaths that the funeral processions were backed up at the cemetery gate. (Guess not in St. Louis, though, where that Dr. Starkloff was wise enough to put the entire city under quarantine. It stopped it, though. At least in that city. Too bad other cities didn’t follow suit.)

  8. LindaRivera • 7 hours ago ….@ WND ~ World Net Daily

    Sending thousands of highly trained war fighters to fight Ebola by Muslim Obama, is Islam’s latest & deadliest weapon against America’s war fighters & the American people. U.S. military will return home infected with Ebola, give deadly Ebola to their families & Ebola will spread throughout America. <<<<>>>>

    In the Old Testament Bible, God Commanded that those who had been Infected with a Dangerous Contagious Disease had to be Completely Quarantined. NO ONE was to go Near the Quarantined Group. The
    God ordained Quarantine saved many lives & stopped the dangerous contagious disease from spreading.
    BUTT” … The God-hater Obama Regime R Determined to Infect many People, Possibly millions, with … ~ D E A D L Y ~ Ebola … O’

  9. Soldiers NOTE: Sneezing Could & Can Transmit so says “WHO” !

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