Censorship means the suppression of speech by, and only by, the government. Its chief concern is political speech.

If a private citizen prevents me from speaking either by attempting to cover my mouth, or threatening to tar and feather me for making a particular statement, or threatening violence if I don’t say ‘black lives matter,’ or by burning down my printing press, or tearing up my ‘MAGA’ sign, I have (or should have) recourse to protection and retaliation by the government. These are all acts of the initiation of force and violations of my body and/or property rights.

But, if the government decides to stop me from speaking and making particular statements, or threatens legal punishment for me from making certain statements like ‘freedom for Hong Kong,’ I have no recourse. I am a legal criminal. I am in a society where expressing my thoughts in and of itself is criminalized.

As the concept denoted by the word  ‘censorship’ applies to freedom of speech its critical role is the right to speak against the government. As Ayn Rand has observed, it is a vital distinction that separates a free country from a dictatorship.

Attempts to expand the use of the word censorship outside this domain, either to the actions of private individuals and/or big tech, diminishes or eradicates this essential distinction.