Silicon Valley last week silenced the president. In unison, the social media giants, with help from Amazon and Apple, too eliminated their most popular conservative competitor and announced that their own moderation policies would now extend to other companies. Meanwhile, CNN openly called for Fox News to be prohibited of the cable, while a large talk radio network was newly released speech rules to its hosts, by extending tech's moderation policy to the offline world. In addition to all this, Congress and the European Union called for powerful new regulation of online speech.
As a handful of unselected billionaires declare sovereignty about digital speech, where can we take the coming months?
Twitter once touted itself as & # 39; the party's freedom of speech for free speech & # 39; and rebuked Congressional calls to ban terrorists, proclaim that "the ability of users to freely share their views – including those that many people disagree with or find repugnant" – was her mission. Indeed, most early social platforms emphasized unobstructed speech over all other considerations. Over the years, this utopian dream has given way to the emphasis on “healthy conversation"And ever changing enforcement.
Yet for most of their existence, social media platforms have largely avoided censoring elected officials in the US, just as they have done deleted the accounts of foreign leaders. That all changed last year when Silicon Valley first contested President Trump's tweets as & # 39; contesting & # 39; and & # 39; false & # 39; labeled. As progressive segments of the public embraced this new censorship, platforms moved from merely checking messages to removing them completely and threatening to prohibition some legislators.
The courts have repeatedly ruled Trump's Twitter account is an official government selling point and therefore he is prohibited from blocking users with whom he disagrees. How, then, can a private company establish "acceptable speaking" rules for a government publication or silence it completely?
Perhaps more disturbingly, speech rules no longer just rule social spaces. Uber, Lyft and Airbnb have it all prohibited their services are not used by That whose online and offline political speech was considered unacceptable. Facebook expanded its reach into the offline world last year by banning certain types of calls to protest and allowing others.
It was a remarkable sight to see Democratic legislators and the Press regretting that Congress does not have the power to silence voices it disagrees with, and instead urging Silicon Valley to wield the power that only owns: the ability to get every vote out of the digital world to silence. And this plea came from the lawmakers who once condemned social platforms as dangerous monopolies.
Moreover, the companies are announcements that they were permanent suspend the president was not referring to possible illegal activities prohibited by law, but rather to the decision of the companies that allowed him to continue to communicate with the nation, which was too great risk to democracy.
The companies themselves had little choice but to remove Trump or face even greater anger from the new Democratic majority in Congress. Even the ACLU, which condemns Trump's suspension by Twitter, recognized the "political reality" of the coming government. Activist groups rushed to claim credit to silence Trump and praise the high-level discussions they had with Twitter leadership.
While there is widespread support for Silicon Valley's actions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warned of the dangers of silencing a democratically elected head of state. Additionally, while Democrats focus narrowly on the present, in a world where lawmakers and activist groups can exercise the monopolistic power of social media to muffle dissent, what is preventing a future Republican Congress from using the same powers to silence Democrats. to impose? That's the slippery slope we're on.
And what about alternatives to Silicon Valley's platforms? Social media companies have long argued that they are not monopolies because it is possible for competitors to challenge them.
Twitter clone Parler had emerged as such a competitor and reached out number one in Apple's App Store this week as conservatives flocked to the minimally moderated platform. But within days Apple and Google had prohibited selling them through their respective app stores and banned it from mobile devices. Parler's cloud hosting provider, Amazon Web Services, turned off taking the site offline until a conservative cloud provider agreed to host it. But even if it can be rebuilt somehow, without a smartphone app and blacklisted through most service providers, Parler will be but a shadow of its former self.
In taking these steps, Silicon Valley cited Parler's lack of strong content moderation as a reason for elimination. In their letters against Parler, the companies demanded that it adopt an acceptable speech policy identical to theirs.
Even offline media is not immune. Television channels must contract with cable companies to broadcast them at home, syndicated radio shows must be hosted by stations, and even independent newspapers must have websites and mobile apps. With local news outlets declining, it is important to note that, as editorially independent some may be, they all still rely on cloud providers, app stores, Internet service providers, etc. In the wake of Wednesday's events at the Capitol, CNN openly called for cable carriers to drop Fox News, while Cumulus Media made another acceptable speech regulations to his conservative talk radio hosts.
Where does this leave us?
The country's founders chose not to give Congress the power to silence even a madman in the Oval Office, except to remove him by impeachment. This week taught us that a handful of billionaires in California essentially have that power. Trump's near-total disappearance from the digital world since his ban serves as a strong reminder of this.
The almost unanimous support of the new Democratic majority for this ban means that Silicon Valley is now encouraged to eliminate every vote, no matter how powerful. It creates a dangerous normalization of silencing dissent.
The willingness of Uber, Lyft and Airbnb to ban some users from making political speeches shows that as the tentacles of tech companies reach other industries, a new era of permanent social exclusion is emerging, much like the Chinese program for & # 39 ; social credit & # 39 ;.
For some, the renewed emphasis is on combating “misinformation, ”With private companies as receivers of permissible speech and definitions of“ truth, ”may seem like a positive development. After all, threats of violence, racism, sexism, doxing, incitement, harmful medical advice and the like are harmful to society. But billionaires who can silence presidents, a congress that can silence dissent, and private companies who decide what's best. is for the nation and what & # 39; truth & # 39; is an existential threat to democracy. Ultimately, the future of our shared society depends on Silicon Valley's ability to balance thoughtful moderation with freedom of speech. Perhaps the answer is that the tech companies themselves become democracies and let society decide what's best.
. (tagsToTranslate) censorship (t) freedom of speech (t) Parler (t) Twitter (t) Facebook (t) social media (t) Donald Trump