Censorship By Proxy
Following the events at the Capitol, Big-Tech took an unprecedented step in banning The POTUS, Donald Trump, from multiple social media platforms. However, Big Tech wasn’t finished with its Orwellian purge. Google and Apple, gatekeepers of the App Store, along with Amazon’s Web Hosting Service, took aim at the young social media platform, Parler. These companies claimed that Parler provided a platform for the violence at the Capitol to be planned, thus, facilitating the violence that followed. Further, these companies claimed that they gave Parler an opportunity to address their concerns, but Parler either outright declined or failed to do so in any meaningful way. Parler argues that the banishment was a forgone conclusion and that these companies colluded with each other to use Parler as a scapegoat to obscure their own platforms’ involvement in the violent rhetoric that precluded the riots at the Capitol. It is this theory that caused Parler to sue Amazon for antitrust violations.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment
Setting aside the merits of Parler’s antitrust suit, one has to wonder if perhaps Parler why won’t Parler make this a First Amendment case? Critics of this theory have and would claim that the First Amendment only protects citizens from censorship from the Government. They reason that these tech companies are private companies/citizens after all, and not subject to the restrictions of the First Amendment. While this is not an incorrect statement, it is an overly simplistic one because it fails to address the question: What if the Government censored its citizens through a proxy? Fortunately, this is a legal question not without precedence.
In 2016, shortly after Donald Trump was elected, the accusation that the election had been stolen by the Russians began to surface. What followed was a two-year investigation into whether or not Trump colluded with the Russian Government to sway the election results in his favor. During this time, major news outlets breathlessly reported that Trump’s downfall was imminent with evidence of his treachery to be revealed at any moment.
A short two-minute video for those of you in the media pitifully insisting that no media reckoning is needed and journalists performed beautifully, soberly and responsibly throughout this whole saga: pic.twitter.com/PF5s2kTcYA
- Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 25, 2019
The actual result of the investigation was compelling, only in so far that there was no evidence to support the two-year media/politically inspired conspiracy theory. Nevertheless, the damage was done. Despite what might, at best, be called mixed evidence, social media was blamed for foreign interference and the rise of Trump. Thus, the age of Big-Tech censorship was ushered in. Legacy media outlets, all of whom actively participated in the Russia-Gate conspiracy, donned the title of authoritative arbiters of information and began to work with Facebook and Twitter as “Fact-checkers”. Using their newfound authority, they began to ban posts and outlets they deemed as misinformation.
This process culminated in Twitter suspending the New York Post from its service during the run-up to the 2020 election for breaking the Hunter Biden story, along with earsing any retweets of the story. The suspensions were jusitfyied by most of the mainstream media, who refused to report on it, deeming the story as false and Russian disinformation. The possible result of this suppression:
The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, conducted a small survey (1,750 voters) in seven swing states. It found one in six who voted for Joe Biden would have changed their vote had they known about stories the national media didn’t cover. MRC concluded if that figure had been applied nationally, it would have changed 17% of the vote and Trump would have handily won the election.
And to add insult to injury, the Hunter Biden story turned out to be very credible:
According to The Associated Press, a person familiar with the matter said, “The Justice Department’s investigation scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s taxes has been examining some of his Chinese business dealings, among other financial transactions.”
Hunter Biden disclosed news of the investigation himself last week. He said in a statement, “…I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisers.”
This entire four-year situation is eerily similar to the Red Scare events of the 1950s. During this era, along with The House Un-American Activities Committee, Senator Joe McCarthy led a crusade to find suspected communists in American society. Congressional hearings were conducted and those found accused of directly participating in or sympathizing with communists[ism], were informally blackballed from public and private life. If you’ve watched the news over the last week, it’s not hard to draw the parallels between what happened in the 50s and what is happening to Trump and his supporters today.
Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future? I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 6, 2020
“In the next few days and next few weeks, part of this process is going to be about accountability and about truth. When you hear about Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, you don’t get to the reconciliation without truth.” -@RepLBR https://t.co/Hr5X44D5iF
- Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) January 13, 2021
You may be wondering how, exactly, this makes a case for Parler under the First Amendment. In the aftermath of McCarthy, The Supreme Court add to the interpretation of the First Amendment by weighing the consequences of McCarthy’s witchhunt against the protections afforded by the First Amendment:
…the Court recognized the potentially drastic effects of indirect gambits directed to vulnerable pressure points, and declared that First Amendment freedoms “are protected not only against heavy-handed frontal attack, but also from being stifled by more subtle governmental interference.”
During the Red Scare, those accused of being a part of communism were often fired or ostracized in their private lives, or what we would call “canceled”, today. McCarthy, using the power of the government, pressured the public to disassociate and censor itself or risk being accused next. McCarthy indirectly used the power of government to pressure private citizens to censor speech and ideas he found disfavorable.
There is a strong case to be made, that like McCarthy before them, tech companies are censoring disfavorable ideological opponents at the behest and pressure of government officials. First, consider the tech giants donations in the last election:
Asana CEO Dustin Moskovitz, who made his fortunes as a Facebook co-founder, spent about $24 million. Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson and his wife, Erica, donated about $7 million. Along with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who donated about $6 million, they’re some of the leading contributors to Future Forward USA, a super PAC behind Joe Biden’s presidential effort. Of current CEOs at large-cap tech companies, Netflix’s Reed Hastings opened his wallet the widest. Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, donated more than $5 million. Between funds to campaigns and outside groups, employees from internet companies committed 98% of their contributions to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Clearly, these tech giants lean left in their politics. This may be circumstantial on its face, but when combined with other factors-it paints a convincing picture of a new era of inverted McCarthyism.
In order for this theory to have legs, you must be able to connect this to political pressure:
Big Tech alums flow into Biden administration amid crackdown on Trump allies The New York Post
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., congratulated Twitter for the ban, while Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called it “long overdue.” Sen. Mazzie Hirono, D-Hawaii, with the only cultural reference she could muster nearly 20 years old, mocked Trump by tweeting, “Gollum has lost his precious.” Guess tweets inciting violence aren’t all that serious to the senator. Fox News
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) urged Dorsey to go further in his platform’s efforts to fight “misinformation,” urging the CEO to clamp down on communication linked to “climate denialism.” Senator Chris Coons
Mr. Zuckerberg, I’m really wondering at what point you will stop giving in to baseless claims of anti-conservative bias and start exercising your control over Facebook to stop driving division…
Sen. Macie Hirono
There is zero doubt that certain sitting members of Congress have zero reservations about censoring speech that they disagree with and the incoming Administration will be littered with former Big-Tech employees, These are not positions one gets by ideologically opposing the new POTUS or the Democratic Party.
In the McCarthy era, Communists were the villains. The censoring and blackballing were justified under the pretext that communism and more broadly, The USSR, were such a threat to the safety and security of Americans, that violating Americans’ First Amendment rights was a necessary evil. Today, America’s villain is the White Supremacist. White Supremacy, we’re told, is so pervasive that it has seeped into every corner of American life. As such, every disparity in group outcome can be traced back to White Supremacy. Every American Institution is corrupted with racism; nevermind that two of the three branches of government are now controlled by the Democratic Party, White Supremacy is alive, well, and an imminent threat. The primary quality of the white supremacist is any person, regardless of color, that fails to monolithically subscribe to the Left’s view.
This is a view consistently pushed by traditional media outlets; who, by no coincidence, lean left in their politics. Examining the “contributors” of these outlets show a troubling pattern where former high-ranking government officials dance back and forth between working in politics and working in the media. While there is a greater number of these people left-leaning outlets, right-leaning outlets like Fox News, do this as well. But for purposes of this post, it is important to point out that it is left-leaning outlets that are justifying censorship.
These discussions by the press are happening concurrently with sitting members of Congress openly calling for government regulation of public media. AOC recently went on record to say:
I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is part of what happened here,” Ocasio-Cortez went on. “We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,”
When taken together, the totality of the facts presents a clear and convincing picture of a Government exerting indirect influence to censor its citizens. To those who think it’s blanketly okay for private companies to censor Americans: Not if they are clearly working hand and glove with the Government. This sort of informal government sanction leads down a road where, as AOC clearly desires, the Government controls all information and suppresses free speech. In short, these tyrants seek to destroy a god-given right that the Founders thought so important-they put it above all others.