Gretchen Smith Air Force veteran accused of hate speech by Linkedln only to have account ban dropped after complaint. Free speech in the hands of social media.
‘What did I do wrong?’ Debate over how much power social media firms wield when it comes to ‘free speech’ was re-ignited after Linkedln last week deemed an Air Force veteran’s post as hate speech only to turn about face on Sunday and apologize after the vet appealed a restriction on her account.
‘Freedom has been secured with our blood, sweat, lives and tears,’ the veteran, Gretchen Smith, told Fox News. ‘Every American has a duty to protect our freedoms.’
Adding: ‘I am grateful LinkedIn reinstated our account. Now we can resume focusing on veterans in crisis/need.’
Last week Smith, founder of the non-profit organization Code of Vets, created to help vets in times of crises shared a post that encouraged people to work their way out of student loan debt.
‘I am not responsible for your student debt,’ the Tennessee resident wrote in posts on both LinkedIn and Twitter. ‘I grew up in poverty in NC. Ate from a garden, name was on a community Angel tree for Christmas, bought clothes from yard sales & if I was lucky, on a rare occasion Sky City. I joined the Air Force then went to college. I made it happen.’
Joe & I ate a lot of ramen noodles & potatoes after we got out of the USAF. We took turns going to college & working. It was incredibly challenging, but we did it. FYI we also had a baby. Talk about difficult. Our hard work/determination paid off. We are living the American Dream pic.twitter.com/nsu8YItOX3
— Gretchen Smith🍊 (@cov_Gretchen) April 11, 2022
‘What did I do wrong?’
The post came after President Biden announced that federal student loan repayments would be paused through Aug. 31, extending the moratorium that had been set to expire next month.
The gesture has re-ignited debate as to whether $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt ought to be forgiven, with many ‘conservative’ commentators such as Smith arguing that she as a taxpayer shouldn’t have to take responsibility for others’ student debt, especially after electing to go into military service as a way of limiting college school fees and making personal sacrifices.
The Air Force vet said she was ‘baffled’ when the social media network removed her post and restricted her account because, they said in a message, the missive ‘goes against our policy on hate speech.’
‘What did I do wrong?,’ Smith told Fox News. ‘I shared my story. That’s how I grew up. That’s how I believe everyone is responsible for their own bills and payments, and I’m being punished for it. And I just find it absolutely unacceptable that Big Tech has that kind of power.’
“Wokeness” gives people a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.” -Elon Musk
— Gretchen Smith🍊 (@cov_Gretchen) April 8, 2022
The restriction led to Smith taking to Twitter (who un-ironically did not ban her post) to voice her concerns.
‘I was locked out of @LinkedIn just now for this exact post below. It went viral,’ she tweeted on Thursday.
‘This is the second time this platform has targeted me. I am frustrated and disappointed. Freedom of Speech has been secured by our blood, sweat and lives. This has got to stop.’
Who really gets censored?
After Smith appealed the move by LinkedIn, the social media outlet acknowledged the error and apologized and re-instated the post.
‘We confirmed your content does not violate our policies,’ a LinkedIn representative told Smith in a message over the weekend. ‘We apologize for the mistake, your content is now back on LinkedIn.’
Told Smith via Fox: ‘I’m not seeing Democrats being censored. I’m seeing conservatives censored. They’ve got 100 percent control over our freedom of speech right now on these platforms, and I find that to be very scary.’
In actuality, social media has over-ridingly banned left point of views along with a recent report saying that social media outlets while typically catering to both right and left points of views (and their followers) seek to deter what it deems to be partisan fringe elements from both spectrums – often to little avail.
Smith has since said she is satisfied with her post and account being re-instated.