When Facebook and Twitter moved to censor a damaging New York Post story for the Biden campaign yesterday afternoon, it marked a significant escalation in big tech censorship. Twitter and Facebook censored a story from one of the biggest newspapers in the country on the basis of it being “misinformation” just weeks before a major election.
This is false, seeing as how the Biden camp has yet to deny the revelations from the emails. The larger story, however, is that yesterday’s censorship was yet another example of social media giants selectively applying their terms of service. Anonymous sources were routinely used for Trump-Russia conspiracies that were never remotely proven true. Robert Mueller himself stated that he found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. These insane, baseless accusations, including actual Russian disinformation in the Steele dossier, were allowed to circulate and grow on Twitter. There would never have been any Russia hysteria without manufactured circulation of news and outrage on Twitter.
None of those stories were ever removed or marked as unverified. No story relating to Trump or the right in general is ever scrutinized to the extent of which the New York Post article was, let alone removed. Social media companies also blatantly ban or shadow ban dissenting opinions.
Google has even more power than Facebook and Twitter combined. A top Google executive was caught on a hot mic saying that it was up to the company to “prevent another Trump situation.”
Robert Epstein, the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, argues that Google could single handily sway the election. In a recent interview with Breitbart editor Alex Harlow, Epstein warned of Google’s power. “Just by fiddling with search suggestion, Google has the power to turn a 50-50 split among undecided voters into a 90-10 split with no one knowing that they have been manipulated,” he said. Based on his research, Epstein estimates that if Google wanted to, they could sway 10% of the public in one election without anyone ever finding out or any paper trail existing.
They do this thanks to having a monopoly over search engine traffic. Google logs over 90% of the internet’s searches and has for quite some time. The same can be said about YouTube, which is owned by Google, Twitter and Facebook in regards to their respective industries. These companies have the ability to shape narratives, and they do. Unelected tech CEO’s have the power to decide which news gets amplified and also, what gets labelled as hateful or misleading.
None of this is new. People have been sounding the alarm about increasingly brazen big tech censorship since Alex Jones was banned, but nothing was done. Facebook, Google and Twitter didn’t go full propaganda machine all at once; they did it slowly while most in the political sphere paid no attention. Political operatives on both the left and right looked past censorship thinking it would never happen to them. Now, in just a few short years, big tech has gotten so bold with their unchecked powers that they censor the President of the United States.
Under Section 230, Internet platforms and other Internet speakers are immune from liability for material that’s posted by others. Classifying these companies as “platforms” as opposed to “publishers” protects them being sued where as a newspaper could be, for example. With Facebook, Twitter and Google making clear editorial decisions, they should lose this immunity.
It is far past time for more than just talk in regards to curtailing the influence of big tech, however, and this should not be a partisan issue. The threat posed by big tech monopolies rivals that of the Teddy Roosevelt era, where industrial giants threatened the economic and political health of not just the United States, but nations around the world.
Trump and the GOP can no longer afford to kick this issue down the road. Time and time again, GOP lawmakers have held hearings and made statements condemning big tech that ultimately go nowhere. Trump will tweet that he’s “monitoring the situation closely,” but nothing will happen. If the GOP fails to recognize that big tech poses an existential threat not just to them, but the American Republic as a whole, then we won’t get another chance.
Big tech censorship needs to be a primary selling point for Republicans not only for this election cycle, but going forward altogether. Twitter and Facebook’s actions relating to the Hunter Biden story cannot be lost in the news cycle. If this isn’t a central issue, there isn’t much hope.