Communication Monopolies Broaden Censorship Tactics

Will browsers start censoring content?

Major platforms cancelling individual accounts is old news – that’s a steadily escalating crackdown that’s been going on since 2016. It now extends into silencing dissenting views on elections, race, gender, medicine, and anything they call “Q.” Expect climate “deniers” to be next.

Meanwhile, throttling down channels, killing their comments sections, or simply obliterating them, is not enough. The censorship tactics have moved well beyond that, and now extend into denying objectionable voices access to online financial services.

In a major escalation, the major hosts have even destroyed entire platforms, starting when WordPress deplatformed Conservative Treehouse, and going to a whole new level when Amazon deplatformed Parler. But this war is just getting started.

As many people are driven back to the major platforms, the “rules and policies” governing speech are being tightened further, as “misinformation” becomes a new criteria for silencing people. Twitter’s new guidelines threaten censorship for speech that is “manipulated,” “deceptive,” or likely to “impact public safety.” On the surface, none of these criteria sound unreasonable, which is why they are so dangerous. They are entirely arbitrary.

Exploiting these arbitrary guidelines are complaint mobs, organized and funded by left-wing activist groups. They launch coordinated, high-volume complaints on targeted social media accounts, and knock them off, one after another.

These guidelines and these pressure groups are also attempting to convert those alternative media platforms to the same expansive and arbitrary rules and policies restricting speech that have been adopted by sites like Twitter. Responding to this intimidation, platforms like DLive have recently canceled the accounts of content creators who had migrated there after being thrown off YouTube.

This is full spectrum warfare on free speech, and it gets worse. The cancel mobs are putting pressure on Podcasts, a mode of expression that is difficult to monitor because it is audio only and the material is usually broadcast in long-form segments. The war on free speech now extends as well to book publishers, as evidenced by this appalling letter from “publishing professionals” demanding publishers reject book deals with anyone who ever worked for President Trump.

And should anyone doubt the high-tech oligarchs aren’t willing and able to root out free speech they don’t think should be free, by any means necessary, consider these recent comments by Marc Andreesen, the man who founded Netscape (remember Netscape?), and who is now a well-heeled Silicon Valley venture capitalist:

“Marc Andreessen believes a new wave of content blocking could come from internet service providers, browser makers and email operators.” Don’t doubt this. Mail Chimp and Mail Lite are actively cancelling conservative accounts. ISPs have blocked websites and could easily become more aggressive. And as for browsers, or even ICANN, why not?

This is going to be a long and exhausting war. Big tech really ought to back off. By suppressing dissent, they are fanning the flames of extremism, not putting them out.

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