Liz ‘2 internets’ Truss wants to change the online world

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Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

Declassified is retreating to its summer residence (which, by pure coincidence, happens to be in a tax haven) to relax, get wasted on supermarket own-brand Polish liebfraumilch, and think of some insulting nicknames for Donald Trump. Back in September.

Everyone loves the internet. It’s a magical place filled with unicorns, glitter and people who take the time to write long messages with questionable spelling in which they call you a “‘vile monolithic left-wing corrupt lying swamp creature” (or so I’ve heard).

Now imagine if there were two internets! That day may be coming thanks to Liz Truss, the very likely next prime minister of the United Kingdom and someone who definitely understands how the internet works.

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Asked about the U.K.’s online harms bill (and spare a thought for poor old Bill, who is always being harmed by people online), Truss said she would like to see two internets — one for teenagers and another that protects adults’ free speech. At the same speech, Truss also said she would ignore Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, describing her as an “attention seeker” — just in case you were wondering if any bridges were about to be rebuilt!

I’m guessing you may have already spotted several (thousand) holes in the “two internets” plan, including that many teenagers love porn, drugs and general bad behavior; that many adults regularly lie and pretend to be younger than they are; and that “free speech” is a phrase often used by people who miss the days when you could say terrible things about people and not be called out for it.

One issue that would have been very confusing under Truss’ “two internets” plan has now been resolved after the British parliament shut down its TikTok account because MPs sanctioned by China had raised concerns about data security. 

TikTok is of course beloved by young people and Chinese government officials, and utterly incomprehensible to anyone over the age of 19, and so the idea of the stuffy old House of Commons having an account and putting out “hip content for young people” was rather embarrassing.

Thankfully, parliamentary authorities deactivated the social media profile just six days after opening it, following an outcry by MPs worried about the relationship between TikTok and its Chinese owner ByteDance, meaning we’ll be spared the sight of Tory MPs indulging in crazes such as shoplifting (no, really) and “vabbing” (look it up, but not on the office computer).


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Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.