Our Tech Overlords Are Causing Some Unease
It is very easy in our present state of ideological balkanization to view those on the “other side” as an amorphous blob. For example, it seems to me as if everyone on the American Left is cheering on Big Tech as it seeks to silence, well, all conservative voices. I’m not the kind of person who is opposed to blanket generalizations — I used them all of the time — but even I know that everyone of a given political persuasion isn’t exactly alike. They can’t all be comfortable with what has played out the past four or so days.
New York Times tech writer Shira Ovide is questioning whether all of this Big Tech muscle-flexing is good:
The tech companies had the right to block President Trump from their sites this past week, and to stop doing business with an app where some people were urging violence. And I believe they made the right decision to do so.
But it should still make us uncomfortable that the choices of a handful of unelected technology executives have so much influence on public discourse.
OK, so she’s not really questioning too hard yet. She still gives a hand to what they did to Trump and Parler, the latter being inexcusable. She’s not quite grasping the creepy thought police angle there but we have to take our positives in the MSM where we can find them.
No doubt because she knows that she writes for an organization that will cancel her for too much wrongthink, Ovide goes on to cover her you-know-what for several more paragraphs before dropping this bit of reason:
I can think all these tech companies made the right decision in the last few days but still feel extremely uncomfortable that they are in the position of acting as a Supreme Court — deciding for billions of people what is appropriate or legal expression and behavior.
My McDonald’s example above isn’t really equivalent. Facebook and Twitter have become so influential that the choices they make about appropriate public discourse matter far more than whom McDonald’s lets in to buy a burger.
And while these companies’ rules are extensive, they are also capriciously applied and revised solely at their whim.
Plus, as the free expression activist Jillian York wrote, most people have little “right to remedy when wrong decisions are made.”
There is the real problem: the arbitrary application of rules that are constantly being changed. Those of us who need social media for professional reasons have no problem playing by the rules. We just want to know what those rules are. Working with Facebook and Twitter is like playing a football game where the goal posts not only move, but the parameters of the field can change mid-play and tackling is legal or illegal at various times in the game but no one is informed exactly when.
If any of these companies were serious about merely making the content on their platforms conform to what they want it to be they would let you know what that was. The reason most of the rules remain cloaked in ever-shifting mystery is that Dorsey and Co. want to be able to apply them differently. More precisely: they want to be able to shut down conservatives with them while letting violence-inducing miscreants who riot in the Land of the Woke literally get away with murder.
Ovide doesn’t come to any conclusions about what should be done. If she were honest about that it would probably be perilous for her continued employment at the Times. Big Tech is running on blood lust right now and it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. There is a very real possibility that the ivory tower occupied by the tech overlords is so high that they’ll begin targeting some “friendlies” on the left in the not-too-distant future.
If they do that, there will finally be some mainstream noise complaining about them.
Whether they do or not, it’s time for those of us on the Right to really start thinking outside of the box.
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PJ Media Senior Columnist and Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.” His columns appear twice a week.
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