As these platforms have increasingly become monopolies, their impact on the political future of the country has become far more extensive than current legal remedies were designed to resolve. Google (including its subsidiary, YouTube) can effectively make a website disappear. Twitter and Facebook (including its subsidiaries, such as Instagram and WhatsApp) can become an effective government censorship or propaganda tool—not altogether unlike how social media is leveraged in China. Amazon, as we saw earlier this year, can effectively ban books.
Big tech companies would have more control over online speech than they already have because they can afford the legal fights that will scare off new entrants to the market. What’s more, they would push legal, protected speech offline, and silence the voices of marginalized and less powerful people who rely on the internet to speak out — a diverse set of people that includes activists, journalists, LGBTQ individuals and many more.
Instead, users should have more power to control what they see on their feeds. They should be able to move freely with their data from one platform to another when they don’t like what they see.
Others applauded Thomas’ remarks, including Rachel Bovard, senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute.
“The Thomas concurrence regarding Big Tech has everything: 1) legitimizing the threat of concentrated corporate power; 2) Google gatekeeping info for 90% of the world; 3) gov’t outsourcing censorship; 4) justifications for common carrier regulation,” Bovard tweeted.
A new report from the Napa Legal Institute has revealed the full extent of big-tech censorship of Christians. It details the growing attitude of hostility towards faith-based views and organizations in large tech companies, and urges “decisive” actions by faith leaders to confront this new culture.
The report, compiled by the Napa Legal Institute and published last week, alleges that since the beginning of the year, religious organizations and individuals have been censored on social media at a rate of roughly once a week.
But whose standards are these? There is an implicit bias in whichever standards the coalition will build given that these Big Tech companies are often under the wing of high level politicians.
“What’s happening now in this country, nobody ever thought would happen. It is total censorship,” the former president said, attacking Big Tech. “You don’t have free speech in this country. But you know what happens, they take it off and now people talk about it more.”
A new state bill wants to hold large social media companies to account for how they police that kind of harmful content. Introduced by California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), AB 587 is aimed at social media giants like Facebook and others with gross revenue in excess of $100 million annually. If signed into law, the legislation would require social media companies to make their policies public on how they monitor hate, disinformation, extremism, harassment and foreign interference on their sites.
The Parler incident was one of a deeply comprehensive “deplatforming” efforts – i.e. censorship of an independent and upcoming social media platform – that eventually got removed from the internet infrastructure in a fit of post-November US elections rage influencing platforms ranging from social networks all the way to cloud hosting and storage corporations.
Now a coalition of Big Tech and mainstream media companies are pushing new technology that could turn your phone or computer into an informant. Everything created on a device with a computer chip could be traced back to the author. Everything. Every post, every photo, and every video will have the creator’s digital signature on it.
“It’s not a bad idea to track down on information that’s false or misleading or deceptive. The problem is who are you going to put in charge of that? The people who have been put on in charge of it over the past four years, Silicon Valley companies, they’ve abused that power to crack down on information and viewpoints that they don’t like. They can use it as a tool of political interference.”
Religious groups that speak on controversial topics are at risk of being removed from social media platforms and need to prepare, a legal education group says.
While a “de-platforming” event can pose significant operational problems, there are also ways to organize broad-based efforts to respond when a group faces sanctions from influential internet companies such as Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.