Freedom to Think by Susie Alegre review – the big tech threat to free thought

The modern online environment undermines our independence of opinion, argues a human rights lawyer

It is often said that people are entitled to their opinions. But are they really? Do you have a God-given right to believe that torture is good, or that the moon landings were faked? To the extent that opinions are not merely secret possessions but dispositions to act a certain way in society, they are everyone’s business. So, no, you don’t have an inalienable right to your dumb opinion.

Unfortunately, that was also the position of the Spanish Inquisition and witch-hunters, who dreamed up vicious ways of attempting to uncover inner impiety. So these days we generally separate opinions (or beliefs) from the expression of them. Expression can be regulated, in the case of incitement to hatred, for example, but opinion is sacrosanct. It’s a fundamental freedom, but one that is everywhere under attack.

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