Religion & Liberty Online

Acton online conference: “Banned” wagon? Why dissenting freethinkers are censured on social media.

The Acton Institute’s Rome office is sponsoring an online seminar on Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m., Central European Time: “‘Banned’ wagon? Why dissenting freethinkers are censured on social media.” The topic is most timely as independent voices–doctors, scientists, economists, activists, and journalists whose duty it is to be inquisitive–are being silenced by social media giants like Facebook and YouTube.

Now, even Google has joined the “banned” wagon, removing content it considers “misinformation” from its private file-sharing accounts on Google Drive, according to

Why is this happening? Because some have offered opinions that dissent from the views of state or world health authorities regarding the treatment, prevention, and consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They reject “groupthink” by questioning the very basis of scientific and social models, which have immediate repercussions for our physical health and socioeconomic well-being. Their social media accounts are threatened with closure. Their posts and videos suddenly “disappear” for “violating community standards” and providing “misinformation.”

The main question of the May 28 Rome seminar is whether democratic nations are tragically regressing after centuries of advancement toward constitutionally protected freedom of speech. Another issue to be discussed concerns existing and future alternatives to mainstream social media that noble-minded entrepreneurs will be called to invent.

The seminar’s guest speaker, Li Zhao Schoolland, was raised during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. She knows firsthand the extreme danger that tyrannical censure has on a society’s search for the truths on which human flourishing depends. She will offer a challenging perspective on why media must never police or bully outspoken truth seekers, especially at a time when disputed premises and conclusions may have catastrophic results.

Click here to reserve your place for the May 28 (7:00-8.00 pm CET) Rome seminar.

(Photo credit: Michael Malone. CC BY 2.0.)

Michael Severance

Michael Severance earned his B.A. in philosophy and humane letters from the University of San Francisco, where he also studied at the university's St. Ignatius Institute, a great books program. He then pursued his linguistic studies in Salamanca, Spain where he obtained his Advanced Diploma in Spanish from Spain's Ministry of Education before obtaining his M.A. in Philosophy and Modern Languages from the University of Oxford. While living in Italy, Michael has worked in various professional capacities in religious journalism, public relations, marketing, fundraising, as well as property redevelopment and management. As Istituto Acton's Operations Manager, Michael is responsible for helping to organize international conferences, increase private funding, as well as expand networking opportunities and relations among European businesses, media and religious communities, while managing the day-to-day operations of the Rome office.