It’s time for a Big Tech tea party
Toss Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter in the harbor
IN LIFE AND IN POLITICS, there are lines of behavior that, when crossed, an equilibrium previously tolerated now becomes insufferable. Once that line is broken, action must be taken to reset the disrupted balance, or the new unacceptable conditions remain unchallenged.
In the period before and after the 2020 national election, the major “big tech” internet and social media corporations breached a tacit societal agreement. They openly interfered with the national political process by purposely directing their huge digital platforms to benefit a single political party and their presidential candidate.
Though technically private companies, the major internet players such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook have been given federal protection unlike all other media companies to ensure that the internet in the US remains open to support the basic fundamental promise of the First Amendment right of free speech.
The federal law known as Section 230 protects these internet companies from being responsible for the material posted by users. The law shields any website or service that hosts content such as news outlets’ comment sections, video services like YouTube, and social media services like Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits over content posted by users. In return for these unmatched protections, the digital platforms are to maintain neutrality and allow for the open exchange of ideas.
In late 2020 and early 2021, several of these internet giants transgressed by censoring speech and content posted by Republicans and conservatives. Twitter blocked posts made by the sitting, duly-elected, American president. Google, Facebook, and Twitter censored content relative to the investigative journalism of the New York Post about the content of Hunter Biden’s laptop and crucial information regarding his presidential nominee father and thereby directly interfered with a presidential election.
After the election, Amazon shut down an alternative to Twitter, Parler, from its servers, effectively cancelling a major avenue in the world of conservative social media.
These tech giants broke their implicit compact with the American people to protect freedom of speech embodied by Section 230, and they actively put an enormous finger on the scale of a presidential election. One recourse available to the American people is to let the wheels of Congress turn in reconsidering the power given to these tech oligarchs in our public life.
However, Congressional action is slow, and the resolve of Congress to address these trespasses is suspect.
The other option for redress remains directly in the hands of the American public, that of direct action. It is, after all, the responsibility of a free people to safeguard their right of free speech.
The MassGOP is sponsoring demonstrations throughout the state for the preservation of free speech against its subversion by Big Tech, and the assault by cancel culture as wielded by the major media outlets as well as our universities and schools. Our signs convey our message: among them, Free Speech Has a Home Here, Who Elected Twitter?, Cancel Cancel Culture, and Free Speech Matters, to name several.
In 1773, a party of American colonists dumped a shipload of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the arbitrary violation of their sovereignty by the British government through the imposition of the Tea Act of 1773.
These companies like Google and Amazon would have us believe that you cannot access the internet or enjoy its services without their programs. This is definitely not true, and it is easy and often beneficial to find alternatives.
Chrome as a web browser is a Google product. It is easily replaced by downloading for free Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Explorer, and it is easy to export your saved favorites from Chrome to one of these other browsers. Now you can delete Chrome.
Google as your search engine is also easily replaced: from whichever of the above browsers you have picked, in settings you will find a place to choose your default search engine. It will almost certainly be set to Google, but all you have to do is choose another, such as DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, or Brave.
Google makes much money from collecting data from your searches and selling it to advertisers. DuckDuckGo protects your privacy and doesn’t collect your data. Now you can delete Google.
There is a universe of choices to shop on the internet other than Amazon. You can buy on Walmart, Staples, BestBuy, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, or search the web for the exact product you are looking to buy and you will find a host of smaller retailers that will likely give you a wider inventory.
Get off of Twitter: it is empty calories, and if you aren’t unabashedly leftist, Twitter has disdain for you. Sign onto Parler if you wish to follow many of the conservative personalities and thinkers.Our foundational privilege of free speech and thought has come under unprecedented assault. If the common American citizen does not take action in its defense, then we don’t deserve to keep it.
Jay Fleitman is the Massachusetts Republican State Committeeman from Northampton.