GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley walked back her vow that she’d push for an end to anonymous posting on social media after she was badly burned by the firestorm of outrage that she ignited.
The media’s choice to topple frontrunner Donald J. Trump and go up against Joe Biden next year was slammed over her remarks suggesting that those who wish to protect their identity from leftist and government harassment were a threat to national security, an unforced error that may have inflicted grave damage on her political aspirations.
In remarks during a Tuesday Fox News appearance, the former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the UN told a group of prospective voters that “every person on social media should be verified by their name,” pledging that it would be the “first thing” on her to-do list if elected.
On Wednesday, the candidate moderated her controversial stance when she was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and insisted that she was more concerned about foreign actors than American citizens who are protected by that pesky Constitution.
.@NikkiHaley incoherently attempts damage control She repeats her plan to register all social media users by name Then says “I don’t mind Americans having anonymous free speech” …if you force U.S. users to register their names, that makes “anonymous free speech” IMPOSSIBLE pic.twitter.com/xfzjzjDSLZ — John Hasson (@SonofHas) November 15, 2023
“Do I think life would be more civil if we were able to do that? Yes,” she responded when being asked if she really meant what she said. “You should stand by what you say.”
“But no, you can have anonymous — I don’t mind anonymous American people having free speech, what I don’t like is anonymous Russians and Chinese and Iranians having free speech,” Haley added.
“Americans have a right to free speech, including having anonymous accounts on social media. What Nikki doesn’t support is letting the Chinese and Iranians create anonymous accounts to spread chaos and anti-American filth among our people,” Haley’s campaign said in a statement.
NEW: @NikkiHaley campaign tells me she believes “Americans have a right to free speech including having anonymous accounts on social media” She doesn’t support letting foreign bad actors “create anonymous accounts to spread chaos and anti-American filth among our people.” Full: pic.twitter.com/8FOT3TjpmI — Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) November 15, 2023
“They’re doing that as we speak and it’s a national security threat. Social media companies have to do a way better job policing that,” her team stated, adding a dig at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who along with Vivek Ramaswamy, were the two GOP candidates who rejected her Chinese-style philosophy.
DeSantis also laid into his authoritarian rival during an appearance on conservative host Glenn Beck’s podcast.
“Forcing disclosure of names and registration, that’s what China has done,” DeSantis said. “China did that recently, that is totally inappropriate for the United States of America.”
“We’ve lived through this age of cancel culture, you can lose your job if you’re a conservative,” he continued. “You can have things done to you, there’s a role for anonymous speech. The Federalist Papers were written anonymously by Madison, Jay and Hamilton that’s a long tradition in our country.”
“But what it would do I think is open the door for a social credit system,” he said, adding that he thinks that Haley is in favor of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) which he would ban if elected.
“This is something which is totally unacceptable, I just think it shows… you don’t know what time it is if you’re trying to, saying that we need your names on all this stuff,” DeSantis said. “Honestly I wasn’t surprised she said it because I think that’s just who she is but it was totally out of bounds of what would be acceptable in the Republican party.”