John Hawkins, The problem with social media is not that different services banned President Trump or other conservatives, it’s that those services have such a stranglehold on free speech that even the President of the United States has trouble getting his message out without them.
We have let a Silicon Valley Cartel have so much control over who gets heard and who doesn’t, that it has become a very real threat to free speech in America. Instinctively, many conservatives tend to recoil at that statement because they incorrectly believe that only the government can threaten free speech.
Even a decade ago, that would have been true – and that’s coming from someone who did social media for Duncan Hunter’s presidential campaign in 2008 Back then, if you had asked me what was more important, getting support for my candidate on conservative blogs and websites or building a powerful social media presence, I’d have said the former. That is no longer true.
Today, all political roads lead through Google, Twitter, and Facebook. These unaccountable corporations have become so powerful that websites, newspapers, candidates, and businesses have all become heavily dependent on them to get their message out. In fact, I would venture to guess that 95+% of the people that see anti-social media arguments, this column included, will learn about them through those three websites.
These companies, along with Apple and Amazon, have the power to set an agenda for the nation online and they are using it. Here’s a fun little exercise. Pick any prominent conservative politician and search for them on Google. Once you get beyond their campaign website & social media profiles, you’ll find mostly negative results for the first couple of pages. Now search for any prominent liberal politician and search for them on Google. Once you get beyond their campaign website & social media profiles, you’ll find mostly positive results for the first couple of pages.
Those results, which Google has deliberately orchestrated through the way they’ve designed their algorithms, help move millions of votes to Democrats every election. Facebook plays the same kind of games with information and it has a huge impact on the news. Facebook rewrote its algorithms to dramatically reduce the traffic of conservative websites. Even more insidiously, Facebook may penalize your website for saying things they don’t agree with about topics like COVID precautions, transsexuals, or election fraud. This puts conservative websites in a no-win situation. Either they self-censor what they believe on those topics or if they come out and say it, they have their reach reduced and people still don’t get to hear their message.
What this means is that the information you are allowed to hear is increasingly controlled by a small, completely unaccountable group of far-Left-wingers that live in Silicon Valley. These are people with pronouns in their bios and MAO posters on their walls who believe everyone to the right of Tulsi Gabbard and Joe Manchin is a white supremacist. Do you trust them to be the arbiters of what news and opinions you are allowed to consume?
What choice do conservative consumers have at this point other than to leave and be silenced or stay with a service they despise to try to get their message out? The standard response to this has always been, “If you don’t like these social media monopolies, build your own.” Of course, that is always much easier said than done in a field like social media, where already having a huge share of the potential users on a service gives them an enormous competitive advantage, but as we’ve seen in the last few years, building a genuine competitor to the social media monopolies is nearly impossible. Companies that start to make competitive inroads will either be bought out by deep-pocketed Big Tech companies if they want their user base (see Instagram and WhatsApp for example) or targeted for destruction by the Big Tech Cartel if they don’t, as we’ve seen with the Libertarian platform Parler (full disclosure: Dan Bongino is one of the owners of Parler).
While I’m not a lawyer and can’t tell you how Parler will ultimately fare in their suit against Amazon, I can tell you that the Big Tech Cartel uses its own standards like a weapon. They have set up a situation where whether you are adhering to their standards or not is an arbitrary judgment call and what do you know, conservatives almost always lose those judgment calls while liberals get the benefit of the doubt for the same supposed offenses 99 times out of 100. For example, if you want to claim Parler had violent content that wasn’t deleted, you could literally point to thousands and thousands of similar posts on Twitter and Facebook. But Parler, which was one of the hottest apps in America, was targeted for destruction by the Big Tech Cartel while Facebook and Twitter get a pass for much worse offenses because they’re part of the club.
Again, none of this would matter if these weren’t monopolies, but they are. So, here’s the real question. What are Republican lawmakers going to do about this? Back in 2016, they could have done a lot, but they didn’t. Right now, they probably can’t do a whole lot, but that is likely to change quite a bit in the next 2-4 years. When it does, they need to move to destroy the Big Tech Cartel instead of allowing themselves to continue to be paid off in campaign contributions to look the other way.
They can hit the Big Tech Cartel via anti-trust lawsuits, getting rid of section 230, making it easy for banned users to sue, sliding poison pills into these massive budget bills that hurt the stock value of these companies, or my favorite, by breaking these monopolies up.
Anything that does serious damage to these corporations is a step in the right direction. I would encourage Republican lawmakers to do this not only because these companies are a frightening threat to free speech in America, but because these companies are also targeting their constituents, making it harder for Republicans to win elections and doing everything in their considerable power to tilt this country as far as possible to the Left. So, in the end, it doesn’t really matter why Republican lawmakers go after these companies, it’s just critically important that they do, not just for their own sake, but for the good of the country and the world.