The Big Tech companies that virtually control online American commerce and the distribution of news and information took another step toward ending free speech and the free exchange of ideas as the cornerstone of their platforms.
Last week, Facebook, the leftist social-media giant, wiped more than 800 accounts with millions of followers. But even more frightening than Facebook’s attempt to censor the users who have come to rely on its reach — including hard-left social-justice warriors — was the publication of a document from Google, “The Good Censor,” that essentially said the days of free speech on the Internet must come to an end.
Both moves mean that the Big Tech platforms are moving away from being neutral platforms for users to express themselves or sell their products, to being editors and publishers who choose what to publish as a newspaper or television network would.
And that might diminish the legal protections the platforms enjoy as “neutral” bulletin boards.
Facebook’s Blue Pencillers
Facebook’s zealous enforcers nailed more than 800 users, it said, because they pushed spam and drove viewers to advertising sites. CNN reported that the social-media behemoth zeroed 559 pages and 251 accounts.
“Facebook demonstrated its increased willingness to wade into the thorny territory of policing domestic political activity,” the Washington Post observed. “Some of the accounts had been in existence for years, had amassed millions of followers, and professed support for conservative or liberal ideas, such as one page that billed itself as ‘the first publication to endorse President Donald J. Trump.’”
But Facebook disclosed only five of the pages it sent down the memory hole, the Post reported, and “two of the page operators said that they were legitimate political activists, not profit-driven operators of clickbait ‘ad farms,’ as Facebook claimed in a blog post. They said were still unsure which Facebook rules they had violated or why they had been singled out for behavior that is standard in online organizing.”
One of the targets was the leftist “Reasonable People Unite,” which had 2.25 million followers. A leftist page that had called Republicans “cheating scumbags” and had 700,000 followers also got the boot.
But the Left, of course, wasn’t the only target. “Nation In Distress, which claimed to be the early Trump supporter,” the Post reported, “recently shared a link to a story that had called Rep. Maxine Waters ‘demented.’ Founded in 2012, it had amassed more than 3.2 million likes and over 3 million followers, as of Thursday morning, before it was taken down.”
Facebook’s move follows months of turmoil about its attempts to silence conservatives, particularly conspiracy retailer Alex Jones. Facebook has been dealing with an internal rebellion of conservatives who can’t stand the intolerance of its leftist workforce, and in September, top executives of Facebook and Twitter appeared on Capitol Hill. To the Senate, they explained how foreign entities used their platforms to influence the 2016 election, and to the House, why they are biased against conservatives.
Google: “The Good Censor”
Meanwhile, Breitbart.com unearthed an internal report at Google advocating the end of free speech on the Internet.
Reported Bretibart tech writer Allum Bokhari, “the 85-page briefing, titled ‘The Good Censor,’ admits that Google and other tech platforms now ‘control the majority of online conversations’ and have undertaken a ‘shift towards censorship’ in response to unwelcome political events around the world.”
Frighteningly, it appears that Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter will police speech. Reported Bokhari, the platforms “are caught between two incompatible positions, the ‘unmediated marketplace of ideas’ vs. ‘well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.’”
The conflict is between the “American tradition” that “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility,” and the “European tradition” that “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.”
“The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition,” he wrote, and says Google will be the new guarantor of “civility” as “editor” and “publisher.”
If so, the tech giants had better be careful. They enjoy legal immunity from defamation lawsuits and other potential legal problems because they are supposed to be neutral community bulletin boards. They might lose that shield if they operate as editors and publishers.
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