The start of 2021 saw something unprecedented take place in the online world. Twitter banned the President of the United States from using their platform. Big Tech has banned those with dissenting views before, but this is the first time they took on the supposedly most powerful man in the world. The big question that it raises is: Do private companies have a right to ban whoever they wish, or is it an attack on that person’s right to freedom of speech?
Yes, they’re private companies.
On the one hand yes, private companies can ban people from using their platform. There are no laws against it. At most, you could find it morally corrupt to ban people for having dissenting opinions that do not incite violence or break other national laws. Still, that means you have the choice to use the platform or not. Twitter may ban Trump, but you may wish to stop using Twitter. That is the theory that justifies the Big Tech Censorship.
On the other hand, we live in a digital world. Big Tech has near-monopoly positions due to network externalities. Nobody uses a social platform where there isn’t anyone else. Facebook became dominant, and MySpace vanished. Their positions are so powerful, and these companies have so much cash available, that outright competition is near impossible.
Enter a niche and… Get banned.
Still, you could build a niche social network. That’s what Parler tried. Because they offered free speech, they attracted the people that were dissatisfied with Twitter and who saw their dissenting views banned there. The right-wing. Yet, Parler does not exist in a vacuum. A fact that became clear when Google and Apple banned the app from their app-stores, instantly making the app unavailable for the majority of global phone users. On top of that, Amazon, whose AWS hosted Parler, kicked them out.
Power is centralized
So, why doesn’t Parler just go to another hosting provider? Well, the world of big online hosting does not have that many providers. Amazon and Microsoft are the biggest, with a few other providers that would be capable of hosting Parler’s traffic. Because of the media storm around Parler, all of them refused their business. Not that strange, since accepting Parler would get them unwanted media attention. They would be the host to right-wing rhetoric, and nobody else would wish to be associated with them.
The Chair-Maker Supply Chain
Imagine there is a monopolist chair-maker, but you don’t like the chairs they make. You’re a carpenter and you can make chairs. However, there is one problem. Suddenly, nobody is willing to sell you wood. Nobody is willing to sell you nails. Nobody is willing to sell you a hammer. You would have to buy a plot of land, grow the trees, cut them down, make them into planks. You would have to buy an iron mine, mine the iron ore, melt it, and create nails. You would have to make an improv-hammer. And the same applies for everything else you would need. You need to be completely self-sufficient. An autarchy. Own the supply chain from start to finish. And if you lack any of the skills, well, then tough luck.
This is not the idea of a ‘free market’
That is not a free market. That is not free competition. You can’t compete when every company you are in the supply chain with, chooses to boycot you. And why? Because otherwise the media will not only attack you, but also them, for cooperating with you. Because they wish to virtue signal to their customers. Or perhaps, because Big Tech has strong beliefs and values, and wishes to suppress all those that disagree with them. Whichever the real reason, the real result is that you cannot compete.
What about Gab?
Sure, Gab is trying, but they are facing all the difficulties that come along with owning the entire supply chain. And still, they could be blacklisted from Google’s search results. There are further ways where they can be stopped, or prevented from growing, prevented from making money, or getting visitors. We can be hopeful that they’ll succeed, but we have to be realistic that the difficulties they face are immense. Gab hasn’t faced the greatest attacks yet. The internet is no longer a free for all, no longer the wild, wild, west that it once was.
The Big Tech Oligarchy
Our free speech is not restricted by our government. It is restricted by a small group of Social Justice Warriors that happen to be the billionaire founders and CEO’s that form the Big Tech Oligarchy. And most governments condone it, at least the side that has the same socialist beliefs as these Big Tech Oligarchs.
Despite free speech facing more and more restrictions, these groups somehow claim they are on the right side of history.
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