Skip to comments.Will Conservatives Finally Awaken to the Big Tech Threat?
Posted on 10/16/2020 5:51:35 AM PDT by Kaslin
As the American right continues to sort through its identity crisis, four years after the earth-shattering election of a heterodox Republican Party presidential standard-bearer, battle lines are hardening on the issue of Big Tech's hectoring censorship and its monopolistic corporate misbehavior.
The increasing brazenness with which the various Big Tech behemoths distort their search algorithms to hide conservative viewpoints, undermine conservatives through "shadow banning" and weaponize the sanctimonious and self-serving "fact-checking" cottage industry to suppress conservative voices has long been clear to those of us who, to use the parlance of the day, are "very online." The 2017 dismissal of Google engineer James Damore exposed the search giant as an "ideological echo chamber" (Damore's words) -- a company that, incidentally, has a jaw-dropping 87.3% market share for the U.S. search market. Amazon has faced allegations of artificially limiting competitors and boosting its own internal AmazonBasics products. Facebook has outright banned anti-lockdown pages and removed posts supportive of the besieged teenager Kyle Rittenhouse. Twitter affixes "fact-checking" warnings to the tweets of conservatives -- and exclusively the tweets of conservatives.
But conservative angst with Big Tech duplicity, long latent and perhaps overshadowed by other issues deemed more pressing at a given time, has now reached an apogee. Facebook and Twitter ganged up against the New York Post, founded by Alexander Hamilton and existing today as the nation's oldest continually operating daily broadsheet, in galling fashion. The Post, with assistance from President Donald Trump's attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, broke a bombshell story about the miscreant Hunter Biden's dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma -- and the extent to which then-Vice President Joe Biden's diplomatic efforts in the Eastern European nation might have been tainted because of it. Facebook dutifully blacklisted the story -- with its policy communications manager having the chutzpah to boast about it. Twitter followed its older corporate cousin's lead, effectively banning in toto access to and sharing of the story.
It is, of course, fair game -- indeed, it is a good thing -- for public-spirited media watchdogs to closely scrutinize the Fourth Estate's veracity (though one cannot help but wonder where this scrutiny was for the myriad journalistic outlets that reproduced, no questions asked, the infamous and reckless Hillary Clinton/Democratic National Committee bought-and-paid-for Steele dossier). But the Post is not exactly a "fringe," "far-right" outlet; it is one of the nation's largest daily newspapers by circulation, with a storied history. And notably, no one seems to be outright denying the Post's reporting -- not even Hunter Biden himself.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will assuredly have to answer, via Senate subpoena, for what appears to any reasonable observer to be a deliberate, partisan attempt to quash a prospective "October surprise" and elevate one particular presidential candidate over another. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has even raised the possibility that the shameless censorship may amount to in-kind political contributions in violation of extant campaign finance law. But all of this raises the question: What is the proper "conservative" approach, in the 21st century, to the thorny issue of a preening, deceitful, uniformly leftist Big Tech corporate landscape -- a landscape, that is, characterized by a small handful of firms exercising either monopolistic or near-monopolistic power?
Think tanker Henry Olsen has written extensively about the American right's decades-long malady of "free market fundamentalism" -- the liberalized notion that private-sector action is per se good and public sector action is per se bad. But whatever intuitive appeal such a sentiment might have for dorm-room libertarians reading Ayn Rand for the first time, to proffer such a creed as a viable theory of governance is to succumb to the elevation of fanciful dogma over the pragmatic realities of everyday life. Justice and liberty are ill-served by large concentrations of tyrannical, unaccountable power, regardless of whether those concentrated power sources are public or private. As the great conservative sage Russell Kirk was fond of noting, relying in part on Aristotelian wisdom and conscientiously drawing a distinction between his worldview and that of the classical liberal F.A. Hayek, the maximization of individual liberty is hardly a just society's highest good -- to say nothing of "corporate liberty," whatever such a nonsensical term might imply.
Legal theorists and policymakers are still contemplating how to reconcile the fact that our Constitution deals primarily with state action -- the 13th Amendment is the only constitutional provision that deals explicitly with private action -- and the fact that the true threats to our liberty in the 21st century, whether in the form of online speech or digital privacy, disproportionately emanate from private, nonpublic action. That generational reconciliation process is unfolding in real time, and it is unlikely to conclude any time soon. In the interim, it is imperative that conservatives resist the outmoded pieties of an overly liberalized past and embrace the solemn responsibility of wielding the levers of political power in the service of good political order -- to protect online speech from the heavy, censorious hand of Silicon Valley ideologues. It is time for all conservatives worthy of the name to support reform of Big Tech's wide-ranging sweetheart legal immunity deal, Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, in addition to antitrust enforcement against the very worst offenders of concentrated power.
Let the libertarians and liberalized conservatives continue to wax poetic about maximal private sector worship and market fundamentalism. It is incumbent upon the rest of us -- those of us who live in the real world -- to act responsibly and stand up against this distinctly 21st-century threat to the American way of life.
I just got woke. Anti trust the slime and take away their section 230 immunity. Dorsey of Twitter is the worst of the lot.
No! When your #1 job is to get re-elected, you don’t want to irritate the power of Twitter and FB.
They will cower and hope they get to keep a place at the public trough.
I have absolutely no use for twitter.
Where have they been?
We’ve been aware of it for years.
Just wondering if Twitter’s down time yesterday was uploading new algorithms to stop anything negative about Biden being loaded automically.
It won’t matter what laws are in place or how many fines they pay. They will always find ways around the system. If laws mattered we would have thousands hanging from lamp posts.
I just got woke. Anti trust the slime and take away their section 230 immunity. Dorsey of Twitter is the worst of the lot.
We had a family friend that worked in anti trust at DOJ. They’re all rabid Dems. They’ll never go after Big Tech. Period.
Just wondering if Twitters down time yesterday was uploading new algorithms to stop anything negative about Biden being loaded automically.
I was thinking same. They changed some processes on the back end and it slowed down the network.
Oh, we’re aware.
We’re just baffled how fight it without violating the villain’s Constitutions rights or creating legislation that will inevitably be used against us.
Rather, classify them as public utilities and take away their ability to censor or comment on any posts. They are today's telephone companies and should be treated as such.
I think most Conservatives recognize Big Tech for the threat that it is. They are illegal monopolies which with government assistance thanks to section 230 of the 1996 decency act, have been allowed to become the richest most powerful corporations in the history of the world.
I think even most libertarians understand that:
A) they would never have gotten to where they are without government assistance and
B)the claim that somebody should just go build their own Google/Facebook is a disingenuous one. They are giant rich monopolies. There’s no way a start up can compete.
If one even tries to compete - like Gab - the established players collude to destroy them (like getting Gab tossed off of the Microsoft service it was using). By the way....collusion and anticompetitive practices as well as their massive market share are the hallmarks of monopolies.
The problem IMO are Republican politicians like Mumbai Mike Lee who have been bought by Big Tech. A lot of the think tanks like Heritage and Cato have also been bought. We need to break up Big Tech. It may be necessary to make common cause with those on the Left like Bernie or Pocahontas who are also suspicious of Big Tech. They will fight like hell to keep their monopolies and they have a lot of money.
No! When your #1 job is to get re-elected, you dont want to irritate the power of Twitter and FB. They will cower and hope they get to keep a place at the public trough.
You got it right. In particular, the Republicans will give it the usual lip service and make a few symbolic gestures, just enough to deceive the voters into allowing them to keep their seats, which is all they really care about.
14 Oct: The American Conservative: Shhh! Dont Talk About Hunter Biden
by Rod Dreher
The story might have been a one-day affair except for Twitter and Facebook interfered to keep people from sharing it. Pete Spiliakos says it succinctly:
“That a politician has a failson engaged in influence peddling is not particularly interesting or new or likely to change many votes.
“That the tech oligarchs are colluding to cover for that politician is sinister.”
Peter Spiliakos (@petespiliakos) October 14, 2020...
UPDATE.2: Big Tech pulling out all the stops this week. From the Wall Street Journal:
(excerpts WSJ) As a documentary, What Killed Michael Brown? has everything going for it. Its subject is timely, about the pre-George Floyd killing of Michael Brown by a police officer that set off riots in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.
Its written and narrated by Shelby Steele, the prominent African-American scholar at the Hoover Institution, and directed by his filmmaker son, Eli Steele. Its subjectrace relationsis a major fault line in this years presidential election, one reason the Steeles scheduled their film for release on Oct. 16. Our columnist Jason Rileywrote about the film on Wednesday.
One problem: What Killed Michael Brown? doesnt fit the dominant narrative of white police officers killing young black men because of systemic racism. As a result, says the younger Mr. Steele, Amazon rejected it for its streaming service. We were canceled, plain and simple....READ ON
The problem IMO are Republican politicians like Mumbai Mike Lee who have been bought by Big Tech. A lot of the think tanks like Heritage and Cato have also been bought.
We certainly have a problem with the GOP. They want our votes but they don’t want to represent us.
From my experience, IT would never take their systems down during the day unless for a REAL emergency! Twitter is did something.
IT would never take their systems down during the day unless for a REAL emergency!
Absolutely correct. IT people can lose their jobs over downtime like that.
There’s too much built in redundancy and fail over technology in place for that kind of thing to occur. This was an excuse to cover a nefarious action.
The upcoming election and fear of Trump is driving liberals to do increasingly extreme things.
I, like you, have lost faith in the Justice Department. What happens when Justice is not dispensed? Ask the Sodomites. Oh wait, they are not around anymore.
That will in large part depend on whether the Think-Tank Republicans are still willing to die on the hill of “free market uber alles”.
Problem is, our “leaders” are absolute simpletons when it comes to tech stuff and it shows every time the tech people are brought in to testify. I don’t know why they can’t get their staff members to do some research and inform them of how tech things work. Instead, they all look like a libertarian candidate saying, “What’s a leppo?”
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