While many people on the Right saw the digital purge coming, the ferocity of the ambush has been a shock. The major tech companies- specifically Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter- have become absolutely brazen in their partisan assaults. Whereas they used to pretend that right-of-center views were mysteriously censored or banished by accident, now they are outright telling America: we decide what you can say. If you don’t abide by their dictates, they will banish you from the internet.
To make matters worse, it’s now clear that these companies are working together. A handful of the most powerful, wealthy, and influential companies on the planet have shown they can unite to elevate or destroy political candidates, online competitors, or anyone who they decide is a threat to their messianic-progressive worldview.
They’ve become the world’s most powerful censorship cartel.
It’s not an exaggeration to say this is the most serious threat to free speech since the founding of the Internet. The tech giants not only control the most important content platforms online, but they also own and run much of the internet’s underlying infrastructure. It’s one thing to be told you can’t tweet anymore or your Facebook videos have been demonetized.
It’s another to find out- as the free speech micro-blogging site Parler did last week- that Amazon Web Services has actually shut off your servers and put you entirely out of business. Add to that the flight of text messaging, email, payment processors, and even legal services (all of which also happened to Parler) because nobody wants to cross the censorship cartel, and it’s clear that Silicon Valley has the ability to annihilate any online enterprise with insufficiently left-wing politics.
While there is extreme tension around the transfer of government power right now, the first signs of the great digital purge had nothing to do with the 2020 election. The social media suppression campaign of (accurate) New York Post reporting about Hunter Biden as “hacked information” was certainly a major indicator of trouble to come. But the oligarchs of Silicon Valley showed us what they were planning even earlier than that with their “fact checks” around covid-19.
Question the efficacy of masks against the virus? Get suspended from Facebook for misinformation. Claim on Twitter that pandemic lockdowns haven’t stopped the virus in major cities? Watch as your account gets dinged with a fact-check for “lacking context.” The Covid-19 pandemic remains a policy issue of urgent national and global concern, but only approved narratives are allowed online. Deviate from them, and you find yourself throttled, shadowbanned, or booted off the platform altogether.
Who determines what the limits of acceptable speech are in America today? It’s a combination of big tech’s “independent fact-checkers” who have an obvious preference for Leftist politics, and algorithms that unsurprisingly suppress and target conservatives. They used to call this political targeting of conservatives a conspiracy theory. Now, the tech giants admit that they are playing favorites, and that means Democrats have a huge advantage in the entire online ecosystem.
For Google, Amazon, and the social media platforms to shut down speech they dislike is deeply un-American. The First Amendment is a law that protects us from government action, but it’s also a principle that the American experiment relies on. For all their claims about transparency and open platforms, we can see that Silicon Valley has produced companies that are dishonest with the public about their intentions when it comes to free speech. They are now explicitly political actors, tilting the entirety of American political discourse to the Left.
This censorship will lead the country down a dangerous path if it continues. Ideas that the internet elites deem too dangerous or problematic for online sharing will find other ways to spread. Dark conspiracies will flourish, as will distrust and mounting frustration. Eventually, such suppression will boil over. We’ve already seen how ugly and destructive that can be.
The only easy answer to this problem would be for the internet giants to voluntarily cede their editorial powers and promote the open exchange of ideas. They absolutely won’t. Their leadership cadres are made up of Democrat donors, and many of their rank and file workers are woke activists. They enjoy this new power to throw elections to their preferred candidate or silence anyone with the temerity to challenge “the science” behind covid lockdowns.
All of this is likely to get worse before it gets better. Their ultimate plan is not to eliminate hate from the internet, but to hobble conservatism as an ideological force in American politics. If the oligarchs at Google, Facebook, and Amazon have to sacrifice our central freedom to get there, they view It as a small price to pay. And they’ve got deep pockets.