The captains of Big Tech who appeared before a Senate committee a few days ago revealed once again what a pernicious force they are.
Moral narcissists of the highest order, they are all the more dangerous because they think they are good. They are convinced they are helping the world, making sure we in the great unwashed are not propagandized by what they deem disinformation or misinformation, when in actuality they are making a frontal assault on free speech via various forms of censorship.
This reached the level of Theater of the Absurd when Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, responding to Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), testified that Holocaust denial did not meet Twitter’s definition of misinformation while, evidently, the New York Post’s reporting on Tony Bobulinski’s widely-authenticated emails did.
Dorsey also told Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) his site had not censored tweets from the president when they had done so literally dozens of times.
The most flagrant Orwellian prevarication, however, was when Dorsey stated Twitter had no influence on elections. (Why then would he bother to censor the New York Post?)
Four legs good, two legs bad, anyone?
In a manner even the Chinese might envy, “The ends justify the means” has come to America via unseen algorithms dictating what is displayed on our laptops, cellphones and, soon, just about everything else.
But what do we do about it?
I propose a two-pronged attack, one legislative and one personal/consumer-oriented. The latter, I believe, may ultimately be more effective, but both are necessary.
From the legal standpoint, Sens. Blackburn, Joshua Hawley (R-Mo.) and several others, some Democrats, are attempting to overhaul Section 230 that shields sites like Facebook and Twitter from being sued for the content to which they have linked.
Written over twenty years ago, the early Paleolithic Age in internet terms, the authors of this rule could not have conceived to the degree these sites have become publishers themselves.
In fact, they are now, in essence, the managing editors of the world’s news and therefore the gatekeepers of an overwhelming percentage of global information. In a sense, the truth is what they say it is. What could be more powerful than that in a digital age?
We should adamantly support a rewriting of 230, allowing these behemoths to be sued just as much as the rest of us residents of Grub Street. It’s possible this can be accomplished, but, unfortunately, as no doubt some of those legislators would agree, that is not going to be nearly enough.
A serious look at rewriting anti-trust legislation should be in the cards, but without a Trump victory, that is highly unlikely. And even with one, it will be tremendously difficult, given the deepest pockets in Washington—the deepest pockets anywhere actually— belong to the tech giants. And since “money is the mother’s milk of politics,” well, you know the rest….
Which leads me, my fellow citizens, to that second prong, to what we can and must do—the consumer approach.
We can leave Google, Twitter, and Facebook, pretty much in that order. If there are enough of us, we can cut their profits and build competition.
For some, maybe many, of us that means our lives will change radically—or at least we fear it will. But as the saying goes, fortune favors the daring.
The lockout of the New York Post is a reminder that Abandoning the decentralized Blogosphere for the walled gardens of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was a huge mistake, particularly for conservatives. Somebody should write a book about the reasons why.