A shorter version of this article was posted by Newsmax.
Big Tech lords it over our lives, locking us out, shutting down our profiles, and impeding our virtual business or political operations at will. The regular folks fight back by leaving; techies and alt-venture capitalists by setting up alternative media venues; and states, like Florida, Iowa, and North Dakota, by passing legislation that would end the Big Tech impunity and penalize its hubris.
Guess what? The Big Tech treats many outside of the U.S. in a similar manner, perhaps even worse. At home, it is constrained by the Constitution and public opinion, at least to a certain extent. Abroad, Big Tech differentiates between rich and powerful, on the one hand, and poor and weak, on the other. This really means that Facetwittdom tackles wealthy tyrannies differently than developing democracies, for instance. Consequently, it fawns on China, Saudi Arabia, and other such states, because of present and future profits. However, elsewhere, it behaves with pushy impunity.
Until recently, Facetwittdom positively has lorded it over the underdog states in the Intermarium, like Poland. In the process, Big Tech shoves its toxic woke ideology down everyone’s throats. Examples abound.
Poland’s Rothbardian politician Janusz Korwin Mikke was removed permanently from Facebook, leaving his 900,000 followers in shock. Google removed “I believe: A Catholic Magazine” from the internet. YouTube suspended Polonia Christiana TV for its affirmative stance on traditional marriage. A Catholic hospice for children, run by the Franciscan Brothers, had its application for placing ads denied by Facebook as “inappropriate.” The very same Facebook failed to show vigilance when a Polish conman set up a fake account full of pictures of sick children illicitly to solicit donations. That effort was secular, so it escaped the scrutiny of cyber-censors for a long time. Fortunately, the local law enforcement reacted quickly, and the offender is serving time.
A Polish journalist friend of mine told me about the travails of his own paper, It’s the Highest Time!. When his libertarian-conservative news website started getting over 3.5 million individual visits per month (that is nearly 10% of the nation’s population), Google demonetized it.
The hammer did not come down all at once. Rather, it was incremental. One time, the website was flagged because it published a condemnatory article about a busted pedophile with a picture included. The virtual censors judged it to be pornography and changed the algorithm to indicate that the libertarian-conservative news outlet was an adult venue. That immediately limited its distribution and access. After much ado, the adult designation was lifted. Soon, however, the censors were back at it again, and this time most ads disappeared. Analogous left-wing outfits have never suffered anything similar.
Next, the libertarian and conservative YouTube channel was, in turn, sanctioned, demonetized, suspended, and shot down. That forced the journalists to open up individual channels, but they know their days are numbered.
The worst thing is that the official way to deal with harassment and obstruction by Big Tech is characterized by anonymity. The experience is truly Kafkaesque. An anonymous Facetwittdom agent simply hands down the verdict and there is no fair way to appeal it. Sometimes the tyrant is a real person; often it is an algorithm. Once in a blue moon, you can get a live agent who introduces himself as “Steve” (or, alternatively, herself as “Eve”), but, again, the interpretations of one’s transgression are highly arbitrary and so are the divine techy verdicts. To object to anonymous injustice, a conservative-libertarian picket periodically demonstrates in front of the headquarters of Facebook in Warsaw. Too bad they do not lurk around to take pictures of anyone who enters and exits to post on the internet with requests to identify such people so that the Anonymous Cyber-Empire would be no more. Transparency and accountability are indispensable in a free society.
One time, a couple of aggrieved representatives of a deplatformed business from Poland traveled all the way to New York to meet with Big Tech arbitrators. They met a bad cybercop and a good cybercop, or “Uncle Steve” and “Aunt Eve,” who behaved like the humorless commissars of political correctness that they were. Orwell galore.
Since such abuse has become quite ubiquitous, the Polish government has undertaken several steps. First, it subsidized a private business connected to a populist daily to set up the nation’s own internet venture, Albicla, which, alas, proved to be a disappointment ridden with cyberbugs. Second, more felicitously, the Ministry of Justice has introduced new legislation in the Parliament, proposing to fine Big Tech two million dollars for each violation of the freedom of speech. Facetwittdom will thus be fined for each post it censors. The message is clear: If Big Tech wants to operate in the Intermarium, it must obey its laws. No one is above the law.
Hungary has followed Poland’s suit. Budapest vows to introduce appropriate law to rein in Big Tech and to create the nation’s own social media. Intermarium’s governments and folks are fighting back. In the process, they also oppose leftist cancel culture.
Yet, it is obvious that cancel culture would be impossible without the collusion, and perhaps inspiration, of Big Tech. Its high point came, of course, when social media platforms Twitter and Facebook booted President Donald Trump from them. Banning him was both a crowning achievement and a brazen replication at the highest level of the sanctions previously applied to millions of average social media users, including hundreds of thousands of businesses globally.
This was a logical outcome of an increasingly monocultural trajectory of the degeneration of Big Tech toward a nightmarish reality envisioned by George Orwell. This must stop for freedom’s sake.
Always ready to fish in murky waters, Russia winks to the Intermarium and announces that it is ready to disconnect itself from the global net because it has its own cyberinfrastructure. Moscow implies that it would welcome others to join its cyber grid. Aleksandr Lukashenka darkly warns about a cyberplot to destroy traditional media and, thus, he “predicts” that the internet will have to wither away.
That is why we need freedom-loving American social media platforms to expand to the Intermarium to provide a salubrious alternative to Facetwittdom and to deny cyberspace to Vladimir Putin and his allies.
Let us also remember that Big Media is just glorified advertising firms, a sort of Madison Avenue online. They need us more than we need them. We made them what they are; we can unmake them. We made them indispensable for our lives; we can just as easily turn on them and get rid of them. They really need us; we treat them as a toy and a convenience. And they throw their weight around. What happened to the good old “client is always right”? Instead, Big Tech gives us speech codes, it dictates what “hate” is, and it slaps us with censorship at its whim. Enough is enough both in America and over the pond, including the Intermarium.
Like during the Cold War, America should assist freedom fighters resisting a radical ideology and its purveyors, now in cyberspace. Freedom of speech is at the stake.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, DC, 5 February 2020