The technology companies that provide social media platforms have grown to gargantuan size and now possess an ominous power over the ability of citizens to express and communicate ideas.
This control over free expression, which is held by a few tech oligarchs, is unprecedented at any time in human history.
The most widely used social media platform, Facebook, claims 2 billion users globally and is the preferred source for news for 45 percent of American adults. Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to Google-owned YouTube every minute of the day. And Twitter indicates that it has 330 million monthly active users. It was inevitable that these three monolithic social media platforms would be replete with users who seek to influence public opinion.
At one time all three seemed to reflect the notion that the general Internet should be treated as a free and open forum for any and all points of view.
The three have now shown themselves to be untrustworthy with data. They have proven to be biased, and of late have made it clear that they are willing to utilize the same kind of censorship that authoritarian regimes impose.
The ability of conservatives to reach people through the use of social media is being slowly and steadily diminished by the implemented policies of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This is occurring under the guise of eliminating false information.
Videos, posts, and other expressions are routinely being taken down, accounts are surreptitiously being limited in scope, and in some cases users are even being exiled from the Internet.
Tech giants have consistently demonstrated hostility toward the convictions of Americans who dare to hold contrary views to the pre-ordained liberal script. This all seemed to have begun with the revelation in the spring of 2016 that news curators at Facebook were suppressing news stories from right-of-center outlets. The resultant negative publicity caused Facebook to actually remove its human editors.
Last summer Twitter blocked pro-life advertisements, labeling them “sensitive content.” Early this year Twitter claimed that it was purging the platform of suspected Russian bot accounts, but it ended up causing conservative Twitter users, including podcaster Dan Bongino, to suffer a loss of followers.
In what it claimed to be a hunt for “fake news,” YouTube shut down highly viewed non-liberal channels on its platform. It ultimately had to apologize for what it called “mistaken removals,” just one more admission that a video platform had engaged in ideological censorship. The organization’s use of an extreme left-wing group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, to determine what is “offensive” speech is a major tell of YouTube’s true intentions.
Oddly, the highly entrepreneurial Silicon Valley community has allowed itself to become a slavish patron of anti-business liberalism. As is typical of much of Wall Street and many major corporations, the tech world is devoted to leftist immigration policies that allow tech companies to access inexpensive labor.
Perhaps because the technology world considers itself to be scientifically minded, a huge portion of the tech community has become enamored with faux scientists such as Al Gore and have simply bought the notions of radical environmentalists hook, line, and sinker.
Those outside of the liberal circle, who happen to constitute a sizable segment of society, have made great strides in the past using digital technology to persuade the public. Presently, though, they are justifiably concerned about losing access to social media platforms at such a critical juncture in U.S. politics.
Where do divergent thinkers go to find a way to fight back against the free expression redactors? Here are some options for consideration:
Lawsuits launched by those who feel as if they have experienced interference with their free expression on social media may find themselves in an uphill battle. However, it may be worth the struggle.
At the trial level, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh recently indicated that Prager University, a non-profit project by author, educator, and national radio talk show host Dennis Prager, failed to show in a lawsuit that YouTube infringed upon its free speech rights by placing age restrictions on its content.
The suit was filed over YouTube’s “Restricted Mode” setting on such topics it deemed offensive. The judge held that YouTube was not a “state actor,” but rather a “private entity” and as such was not subject to First Amendment protections.
The judge also dismissed a claim on another legal theory that YouTube engaged in false advertising by implying that Prager University’s videos were “inappropriate.”
The judge did encourage Prager University to amend its lawsuit to explore whether California’s state constitution would provide protection “in the age of social media and the Internet.” The decision can, of course, be appealed.
The cumulative actions of social media giants have resulted in otherwise free market thinking individuals to begin eyeing the prospects of some kind of limited government regulation of the social media space.
One approach would be to classify social media platforms as “common carriers” and require that all users be treated equally. This is a variant of the much touted “net neutrality” about which tech blogs often rant.
A specific proposal that seems to have some merit involves mandating that users who are dissatisfied with either Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter be allowed to freely transfer their data to another platform, much in the same way consumers transfer their cell phone numbers from one carrier to another.
It is long overdue that a freedom loving social media provider appear on the scene.
Similar to the way in which the bias of the mainstream media gave birth to the alternative media, i.e., Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the like, those who hold non-liberal beliefs must create an alternative social media and do so before its too late.