Viewpoint: Time to Break up the Tech Monopolies

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by Kerry Dougherty

Just how serious were last weekend’s coordinated actions by Big Tech giants to ban conservative voices from social media?

So serious that even the ACLU – which has largely been indifferent as civil liberties were sacrificed in the name of Covid – expressed concern:

For months, President Trump has been using social media platforms to seed doubt about the results of the election and to undermine the will of voters. We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier.

This is not a First Amendment issue, even though many see it as such. The Constitution prohibits the government from infringing on free speech, not individual companies. The issue now is one of monopolies.

Using the siege at the U.S. Capitol as an excuse, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon worked together over the weekend to ban President Donald Trump and others from their platforms, to remove apps and block Parler, a Twitter alternative that’s increasingly popular with conservatives. These powerful corporations do indeed have the “unchecked power” to muzzle voices of those with whom they do not agree, while exercising control over the primary sources of communication.

It’s time for anti-trust actions against these arrogant arbiters of American speech.

Silencing the opposition — one way or another — is the the sort of thing that happens routinely in China and North Korea. Not in America. In fact, there was a time when it was popular to say,
“I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

You don’t hear much of THAT in today’s cancel culture.

As someone who uses Twitter, I’ve watched in disbelief over the years as the platform arbitrarily applied its so-called community standards, blocking conservatives, slapping the wrists of leftists who violated their policies.

Recently, non-funny comedian Kathy Griffin, emboldened by Trump’s defeat, posted her infamous photo of herself holding Trump’s severed head on Twitter. Eventually, she was ordered to remove it. But not before 46,000 of her followers had “hearted” the violent image. She still has her account.

 

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