Big Tech Censorship - Is it bad?

A few days ago, big tech censorship removed an image I shared of the breach of the Capitol Building in the U.S. on 6/1/2021. Apparently the image alone goes against their community standards. I posted this image, the date and the location of the event. No commentary on the event itself.

This censorship by Facebook will cause harm to social cohesion. For people with difficult views, ostracisation by big tech is only likely to cause them to move to other platforms, which act as echo chambers. I am already aware of several people leaving Facebook for alternative networks, where they can freely express their concepts. To some this may not feel like a problem, or be a cause for celebration, but I can’t help but feel it is a tragic mistake.

If people with views we don’t agree with find themselves pushed away from the world’s most popular social networks they are only likely to find alternatives like Minds or Parler to congregate on. Surrounded by like minded individuals, ideas which seem irrational to many of us will fester and grow in the echo chambers, unquestioned and unchallenged.

We won’t be in a position to communicate with each other, to try to understand each other. The gap between us will expand and it will result in more extreme real world events as people lash out. More instances of people claiming events are false flags, or fake news, increasing tension and a widening of the divide between people. More families torn apart by their living in different worlds. A fragmented society living in incomparable worlds, incapable of cooperating on the most foundational level – our democracy.

At a time when we desperately need to come together, when people need to be able to communicate and build mutual understanding and decide how to solve some of the most pressing global issues, big tech is actively driving people away and apart diminishing our capacity to cooperate. Creating wedges between groups by silencing and compelling users to move to alternative platforms. We don’t need to agree with everything everyone is saying, in fact a diversity of ideas is important in a democracy, but we do need to be able to talk to each other without censorship. In that respect, Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of big tech have lost the plot. If we don’t stand up now censorship will only expand.

In a vain attempt to fight irrational ideas, big tech censorship is actually making things much worse. There should be very limited censorship on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it should be reserved for direct calls of physical violence. Outside of that we should be able to confront and discuss anything else, without claiming our feelings are hurt. It might not be pretty or easy but, most things worth doing are not. The best way to overcome ignorance is with information, not censorship.

Since the first draft of this post Trump has been removed from Facebook and Twitter. It’s hard to argue with this particular act of censorship, giving that Trump is inciting an insurrection. It does however raise some questions about the role of big tech in the political sphere.

Given their almost ubiquitous usage and enormous social influence, we believe that  publicly listed Facebook has forgone its right to make arbitrary decisions about how the platform is used. Mark Zuckerberg now has a responsibility to shareholders and the public to maintain a public space. We are not subject to extreme censorship when we leave our houses, or go to the pub, we should not be subject to censorship on these large social platforms. These multinational companies are bigger than nation states. More powerful than national governments. Their objective is profit, not looking out for the interests of common citizens.

Big Tech should not be allowed to decide who is heard and who is not.

We are not Trump supporters, we are not saying that Trump should not have been banned from Twitter. But we are growing concerned about a rising trend in censorship from “liberal” media.

Now the entire Parler social network has been deplatformed, facing simultaneous attacks from Apple, Amazon and Google.. The place is a Right Wing cesspool don’t get us wrong, but who is drawing the lines here? And where will these people go? They will go further underground.

Remember when this started with Alex Jones, which nobody minded because he’s crazy. Then Stefan Molyneux, which nobody minded because he’s a dick and a white supremacist. But then they banned David Icke, who, despite being completely bananas, has never actually incited any violence or hate.

Now, Ron Paul, who as far as anyone knows, had no part in the Capitol riots, has had his account activity on his Facebook page suspended. No reason has been given apart from “repeated warnings of violating community standards”, which Paul has insisted they never received.

We are being conditioned to accept these bans because they’re happening to fringe characters. The easily offended left are especially susceptible to getting out the pitchforks. While we don’t really want to hear most of the rantings of RWNJs, there are better ways to deal with it, and deplatforming is full of problems.

And lets not forget that it was these networks that created this monster in the first place. Big tech has helped engineer division with their bubble-making algorithms designed to appeal to confirmation bias and emotions, fuelling the spread of asinine philosophy and fake news.  They profited from the outrage, they grew off the back of loudmouth social influencers. Like PornHub establishing a monopoly by allowing unverified content for years, big tech are now trying to wash away the problem they created through censorship.