We’re all feeding into big-tech control
Big Tech is waging a disgraceful war on the political right. Big Tech includes Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Leading up to the election, Big Tech colluded with the Deep State and the Democratic Party to censor stories reporting that the Biden family, including Joe Biden, illegally peddled influence. These stories were most likely true. The evidence for these stories rested on Hunter Biden’s emails, the fact that the FBI is investigating him for money laundering, and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma’s paying him $83,000 per month despite his lacking any relevant expertise. Leading up to the election, Big Tech shut down the New York Post’s Twitter site over the story as well as other people’s attempts to discuss it.
Providing a laughable rationalization for the censorship, more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a ridiculous letter claiming that the story was likely a Russian disinformation campaign. This included intelligence officials such as John Brennan and James Clapper. Both merit prison for lying to Congress and, perhaps also, Russian Hoax felonies. So ridiculous was the letter that the DOJ, FBI, and Director of National Intelligence were forced to publicly announce that this was not Russian disinformation. Big Tech still used the letter to bury the story.
In response to the Capitol Hill riot, Twitter permanently banned Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and Donald Trump. Amazon, Apple, and Google shut down Twitter’s competitor, Parler, because it did not censor those whom it wanted censored. Before the election, Google largely and temporarily eliminated Breitbart News from its search results. Blacklisting Breitbart News is a big deal because it is one of the most influential conservative sites.
Other deplatformed people include Dan Bongino, The Conservative Treehouse, Diamond and Silk, Laura Loomer, LifeSiteNews, Candace Owens, PragerU, and the WalkAway campaign. Each of these is a high-profile conservative commentator, politician, or website. For example, Diamond and Silk have 1.4 million Facebook followers.
In January, Project Veritas reported that Twitter shadow-banned conservative profiles. In so doing, it blocked users from their platform without notifying them. The shadow-banned user’s followers do not know they have been banned, as the user site will appear to exist, even though it will not show up in search results or anywhere else on Twitter. Twitter later permanently banned Project Veritas.
Amazon removed the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson’s book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (2018). Apparently, its coverage of the tragedies that sometimes accompany gender-transitions is beyond the pale. Amazon continued to sell a book responding to it, Kelly Novak’s book, Let Harry Become Sally: Responding to the Anti-Transgender Moment (2018). Apparently, Amazon thinks its consumers cannot be trusted to decide for themselves how to think about gender dysphoria. Writing in The Bookseller, Alice Revel notes that in 2017, Amazon sold 50% of the books and 83% of the e-books in the U.S. When Amazon cancels your book, it matters.
Cell phone companies are also out of control. Writing for The Intercept, Ken Klippenstein and Eric Lichtblau point out that within hours of the Capitol Hill riot, the FBI got thousands of private cellphone records and other communications of people near the scene of the riot. This included members of Congress’ records. The FBI used an emergency order rather than a warrant. This outrageous search was followed by another one.
Writing in the New York Post, Isabel Vincent reports that following the Capitol Hill riot, Bank of America handed over financial data on 211 clients who used credit and debit cards for lodging, food, and other purchases in Washington in the days before and after the riot. This was yet another warrantless dragnet search. Vincent reports that only one person among the 211 who had their information disclosed has been interviewed by the feds, and none have been arrested. Bank of America refused to say whether they had been given a federal subpoena.
This sort of abuse did not come out of thin air. Writing in The New York Times, Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan reported on The Hemisphere Project in which, years ago, AT&T handed over a massive amount of phone records to the government and the White House paid for it as part of its liberty-trampling drug war. AT&T employees worked alongside DEA and local law enforcement agencies to supply data on phone calls, including the caller’s location and number. The data was handed over without a search warrant. The DEA claimed the power to issue administrative subpoenas without court approval. The government collected all calls handled by AT&T, including those by people who were not AT&T customers. One wonders whether the Fourth Amendment is still good law.
Of course, the government did not notify the American people of this program. It was discovered when an activist found a file on it in response to material supplied via a FOIA request. The size of the database AT&T gave to the government dwarfs any collection of data done by the National Security Agency. Consider, for example, PRISM. The Obama administration – the sleaziest in American history – claimed the dragnet searches raised no privacy concern.
According to CNBC’s Jessica Bursztynsky, the Big Tech companies – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – have market values ranging from $500 billion to around $2 trillion. The cowardly Republicans – including Donald Trump – did nothing about these abuses and limited themselves to intermittent and tepid criticism of these practices. The left – an increasing embarrassment to this nation – has called for even more censorship and is busy making a concerted effort to cancel Fox News.
As one commentator put it, ever wonder how academics, lawyers, and your neighbors would have responded to abusive behavior such as World War I Sedition Act prosecutions, growing abuses in 1930s Germany, political blacklists in the 1940s and 1950’s, and the FBI’s illegal surveillance and infiltration of political groups in the 1950s and 1960s? We now know.
Stephen Kershnar is a State University of New York at Fredonia philosophy professor. His views do not represent those of the university. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org