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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
If Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey decide to delete every American politician off their platforms tomorrow and declare themselves President and Vice President of the United States, accompanied with Fact Check labeled, “True”, what would we do?
Seriously. If the CEO’s of the internet cartel of Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, PayPal, Stripe, Chase, AWS, Godaddy, etc. all decided to band together, remove all political opponents from commerce, fundraising, and communication, while misinforming the nation about who was President, where do we go to fight this type of tyranny? I think we used to write with pen and paper, but I don’t even know where my nearest post office is to mail a strongly worded letter! This week Mark Zuckerberg has demonstrated that he is more powerful than the sitting President.
In theory, he could literally show his own Presidential acceptance speech to every user on every website you visit on the internet, while the current White House Press Secretary is banished to the dark web with a couple of changes to their weighted algorithm and a little coordination.
This isn’t fantasy.
You may not realize it, but we live in a country where if a few American oligarchs decide to, they could hijack the country in a few days. So far, it’s only been limited to election interference, cultural narrative pushing, and not-so-subtle political influence campaigns.
However, let’s not forget, they’ve already used these more extreme cartel-tactics before to punish people they disagree with; such as Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos. So, this hypothetical Zuckerberg coup d’état isn’t a farfetched scenario, and it is inching ever closer as Facebook and Twitter begin the process of permanently banning Donald Trump from the entire internet. Trump may only be banned from Facebook temporarily as of the time of writing this, but just wait until the likes of Michelle Obama, who is currently advocating for a permanent Trump ban, continue to pressure additional companies to quit doing business with their political opponents…it’s coming.
Many people do not understand the sheer power these tech companies hold when they act unilaterally and in a coordinated manner. Alone, Facebook and Snapchat are merely social media platforms, and you do not have to use them, as there are always other options; but when they come to an agreement with every company horizontally through the internet supply chain, like this instance against the free-speech platform, Gab, they become an insurmountable, legally operating cartel preventing free market commerce on the internet.
If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, I’ll walk you through a more relatable scenario for my less tech-centric readers. I promise you this is how deep these bans actually go, so follow me here.
Imagine, you go to open a pizza shop, but the Small Business Administration has legally labeled you a hate-organization because your business is culturally appropriating Italians. In disagreement of that assessment, you still want to open your shop because a lot of people still buy pizza. So, you go to take out a loan, but Chase, Bank of America, and every other bank won’t even let you open a checking account. Disgruntled, you somehow get privately funded and deal in nothing but cash and Bitcoin. Sadly, even with your own funding, no commercial real estate company is allowed to rent you store space, and the city won’t give you the permits to build your own shop.
Frustrated, but determined to open this shop, you literally are forced to move to another country to do so. Unfortunately, any country allied to the United States won’t allow you to open a pizza shop within their borders due to fear of retribution. So you go to a territory that doesn’t corporate with the United States, like Russia. There, you are able to pay in Bitcoin for a small store front in Siberia. Excited to open your pizza shop, you go to order the ingredients required to bake pizza, but all U.S. and allied nation’s farms refuse to do business with you, or face being cancelled for supplying your racist pizza shop with goods. You are left to start from scratch and grow all of the ingredients yourself in Siberia. Luckily there is a Siberian dairy farmer who was also excommunicated from the United States for sharing a meme of Joe Biden sniffing a kid. This is not funny, and now a felony under the Biden administration (Hypothetical Law), the same way it is illegal to post pictures of Winnie the Pooh in China (Real Law).
Finally, you manage to make a pizza and want to market it to the world. However, you are only able to access the internet through a local library, because broadband internet services also will not do business with you. Even then, Google will not allow you to add your business to their servers and bans you from their search engine, all while no social media company will let you have an account. You can forget about airing a commercial on network Television. Ultimately, the only way anyone finds your store is to come across your exact GPS coordinate location in Siberia. No laws were broken in your quest to open a business, so good luck, and may the free market work its magic!
This may seem extreme, but it is actually what’s happening in our crony capitalist society. This is essentially the blueprint that Infowars.com, Gab.com, and most of America’s sex workers have to follow to operate as businesses. This was the first week in history the same tactics will begin to be used against a sitting politician, and the President of the free world at that. Donald Trump and his allies will be shunned, maybe literally to Siberia, and banned from commerce within the current system, along with anyone else who is deemed a threat to the new world order. If you don’t believe me that this is the route we’re heading yet, revisit this article in a year. If that sounds conspiratorial, I can assure you that a few very powerful companies blacklisting the sitting U.S. President will give real legitimacy and credence to all conspiracy theories across the internet.
If you are a liberal and you’ve made it this far into the article without exiting out, you’re probably thinking:
“I don’t know what your problem is. This is great! Donald Trump is the greatest threat to democracy we’ve ever seen. All of the people you’ve mentioned are hateful, dangerous, and (everyone’s favorite), racist. They SHOULD ban him from the platforms. I think Facebook hasn’t done enough over the last 4 years to protect us in my opinion!”
This is the general attitude I’ve seen from the left when it comes to this topic. Many leftists cheer as people who they politically disagree with are strong-armed out of business, and lose their ability to compete for space in American minds. Ultimately, if this is your opinion then you do not truly believe in free speech and you don’t believe in the first amendment of the Constitution. If this describes you, I cannot convince you in a single article that freedom of speech outweighs compliance of current social norms.
To you I would say, I hope that you enjoy your position within the Biden/Harris administration, and I hope you never step out of line in the future. All I will say is this: The funny thing about Marxist/socialist regimes is that the goalpost never stops moving. What is not racist today is racist tomorrow, anything out of line can be considered insurrection, and eventually all free thought is punished even if you consider yourself on the right side of history today. If you disagree with this assessment of socialism and the relation to today’s political climate, flip open a history textbook to any socialist or communist takeover of a country, evaluate how it began, and see how many friendly supporters of similar movements end up dead.
On the other end of the spectrum, my libertarian colleagues think we need to let the free market play out. To that sentiment, I agree, but the problem is that most people do not see that there is no free market anymore, and there is an oligarchy in front of us. Unless you have set up your own remote internet business as I have, I doubt you have a full grasp of how powerful these tech companies can be when they decide you no longer get to participate. To you, I would refer you back to the pizza store example, because that IS how extreme the scenario is once the cartel drops the hammer.
The other big argument is that, people on both sides seem to think that this really isn’t an issue of free speech because they’re private companies, and they should be allowed to do what they want. My argument is that the internet has become the same commodity as a phone line or a public square. All people have a right to have their voices heard, and we are in desperate need for a 2021 Internet Fairness Doctrine Bill.
Rarely do I call on government intervention, but the only way to ensure people are not discriminated against online, and their first amendment rights upheld, despite their political views or their unpopular words, is to legally provide everyone the same protections granted in the 1987 Fairness Doctrine and the 1927 Radio Act, particularly when it comes to elections and apply it to the internet. There needs to be full social media reform to make sure all forums, are first, classified as forums OR publishers, not both simultaneously as they are now, and create an updated Internet Fairness Doctrine that applies to the entire World Wide Web. Included in this should be strongly worded anti-monopoly provisions that prevent the aforementioned scenarios where companies through the horizontal supply chain can band together and effectively blacklist people form the internet simultaneously.
Overall, it is a tough issue to tackle, but whether we act or not, this dynamic is about to play out much more publically and in the open over the next few years as the current Biden administration begins to pressure tech companies to purge conservative voices. Worst of all, now that Trump is out of office, we have no hope that a Biden administration will ever pass something like this. I’m highly pessimistic of really any reform, because why would you bother if the top communication platforms in the country have literally become your press secretaries and your fundraising chairs? Why would you ever punish the people who ban you political opponents and give you unilateral access? Hell, even establishment Republicans don’t mind if it means Trump can’t fundraise over the next two years and use the money to fund primary opponents against them in the next election. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they strengthen their current oligarchy to solidify this power structure.
Despairingly, we are entering the next stage of our George Orwell 1984, dystopian downward spiral of political correctness and assault on the American Constitution, and I fear that in a short two years the Democratic Internet Industrial Complex that has been established will be so entrenched and monopolistic that there will be no coming back for conservatives on the mainstream internet platforms. I will still urge the federal government to use their power for good and protect our first amendment rights, but I doubt they’ll listen to me. I’ve spent the last four years sharing memes of Joe Biden sniffing kids, so I’m probably on my way to Siberia sooner rather than later.
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