There once was a time when Democrats convincingly claimed they backed the little guy against corporate giants. Those days are long gone.
Today, the Democratic Party is flush with corporate funding, receives major in-kind campaign contributions from Silicon Valley, and gets considerable Big Tech assistance, whether its silencing their political enemies or depriving them from communicating on alternative platforms.
Of course, a liberal judge appointed by Jimmy Carter would be the last to grant reprieve to social media start-up Parler, which sought to give non-progressives a safe harbor to voice their dissatisfaction with the bullying and censorship being carried out by the Democrats’ Big Tech allies.
On Thursday, Judge Barbara Rothstein denied Parler’s motion to legally compel Amazon to restore its server usage. Parler’s attorneys argued that the tech giant was in breach of contract, was engaging in anti-competitive behavior, and was interfering in their legitimate business activity.
“Parler has not at this stage demonstrated a likelihood that it will prevail on its breach of contract, Sherman Act, or tortious interference claims,” Judge Rothstein decided. “It therefore necessarily follows that the claims do not support a finding that the public interest weighs in favor of granting the injunction.”
In other words, Amazon is free to discriminate against Parler and shut off its server access at a moment’s notice, even potentially doing irreparable harm to the company, as its Big Tech competitors were far more responsible for the “storming of the capitol” than Parler was.
Although Parler was mentioned in a number of pieces that tied it to the Capitol riots, significant evidence shows that Facebook was pivotal in the event’s planning.
“Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has sought to deflect blame, noting the role of smaller, right-leaning services such as Parler and Gab,” the Washington Post noted.
“A growing body of evidence shows Facebook played a much larger role than Sandberg suggested,” the publication added. Vice was more pointed.
“No, Facebook, You Didn’t Stop Capitol Rioters From Planning an Insurrection,” its headline read. But no one should mistake the argument being made: It’s that Facebook and other big tech companies should more heavily censor right-wing groups, not that they are being ‘hypocritical.’
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out the danger of such fallacious thinking, which stems from the hard left’s confidence that censorship would never be turned against them.
Censorship, once you ratify its framework and legitimacy, will never be confined to the targets you dislikes. https://t.co/bRIWmwErDn
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 22, 2021
Twitter, perhaps unexpectedly, recently banned Antifa-associated accounts. The timing of the actions, concurrent with the inception of the Biden presidency, also follows Antifa’s attack on the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters.
Twitter, for its own part, also allowed the same kind of activity that Parler is being scapegoated for on its platform (and much worse, it might be added).
“Far-right extremists have publicly voiced their plans both on niche right-wing forums as well as on mainstream social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter,” Business Insider reported a day after the Capitol siege.
After the riots began, Trump released a video in which he espoused baseless election fraud claims and told rioters “go home, we love you, you are very special.”
Twitter removed the video along with two other tweets and locked Trump’s account, telling him he had to delete the tweets or else he wouldn’t get his account back. Trump has now deleted them, and has 12 hours from when he removed the tweets until he can get full access to his account.
The president tweeting a video telling protesters to “go home” is an odd choice for getting him banned, all other arguments aside that telling Trump supporters to “fight” for their country is tantamount to “incitement.” If that’s the low threshold, then every politician in Washington D.C. is guilty of “incitement.”
Far from being Big Tech companies going rogue, they have worked hand-in-glove with Democrats, even conspicuously so. Greenwald continued:
Here's the letter of @RepMaloney — Chair of the powerful House Oversight — demanding the FBI investigate a US citizen, the founder of Parler, for ties to Russia, citing – among other things – that his wife is Russian.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 21, 2021
“The chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday asked the FBI to conduct a ‘robust examination’ of the alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege of Parler, the now-disabled social media site that bristled with violent chatter before and after a mob stormed the Capitol in a rampage that left one police officer and four rioters dead,” the Washington Post noted.
Greenwald was blunt with his questioning:
There is absolutely no question that more planning of and advocacy for the Capitol protest was done on Facebook and YouTube than on Parler.
Why isn't @RepMaloney demanding the FBI investigate these companies, which give tens of millions to the Dem Party & their candidates?
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 21, 2021
President Biden is deeply in bed with Big Tech. His transition team was loaded with advisers from Silicon Valley firms.
“Joe Biden’s transition is absolutely stacked with tech industry players,” Protocol reported, while naming numerous execs from firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. This obviously sets up a precarious situation where Big Tech’s power could be abused to carry out one political party’s ends.
European nations have been a lot more vigorous than the United States regulating Big Tech firms. It is not, however, because the political leaders uniformly have virtuous motives.
France has ordered that social media firms take down posts within 24 hours that violate the country’s stringent political speech rules or face heavy fines. While this is consistent with treating Facebook and Twitter like publishers and not merely platforms, since they often bend the rules and get special treatment in regards to liability for speech, there are extremely vague standards, such as the subjective determination that speech is “hateful.”
Poland, on the other hand, reportedly plans to make censoring citizens’ speech on tech platforms illegal and would be accompanied by fines up to nearly $10 million for failing to comply.
Most recently, the United Kingdom is investigating the use of tech companies’ algorithms in manipulating citizens.
“The investigation is rather narrowly focused on the way algorithms employed by Google, Facebook and Amazon work, and the way they may influence – or, as the announcement put it, ‘potentially manipulate’ – the way people shop, work, live, and even think, in terms of current events,” one report stated.
The power of Big Tech companies to manipulate the flow of information in the mass media is unprecedented. New paradigms need to be sought in order to deal with tech companies’ disproportionate influence being used on behalf of political actors and their anti-competitive practices in the commercial marketplace, and ideally, in the open marketplace of ideas.
Americans are going to have to explore a host of options to ensure their speech will remain protected in public venues such as the Internet. Because if liberal judges are going to continue to rule on behalf of tech giants like Amazon to suppress upstart competitors like Parler, then arguments about people who dislike censorship simply going onto alternative platforms are going to be effectively obsolete.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.