If conservatives want to preserve access to the online infrastructure of commerce and speech, they’re going to have to break up Big Tech.
In a passage in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character named Mike is asked how he went bankrupt. “Gradually,” he replies. “Then all at once.”
Such a framing could also describe the raw power of Big Tech, which has been evolving over the last two decades into what can accurately be described as an oligopoly (when a market is dominated entirely by a handful of firms). That power was fully unleashed last month. After playing footsie for the last decade with their massive market and narrative control over America, Big Tech finally shed any pretext of restraint or deference to the norms of speech, diversity of viewpoints, or pluralism.
While the platforms hide behind the excuse of Trump, it’s clear these bans are not solely about him. After all, Trump has left office. Rather, it is a sincere effort by Big Tech and woke corporations to punish, de-platform, delegitimize, marginalize, and silence the millions of Americans who hold viewpoints and beliefs that differ from the alliance of corporate media, the establishment Democratic party, and the lords of Silicon Valley.
The stated pretext of banning content and actors who “incite violence” is a laughable and transparently fake excuse from platforms where violent threats and content circulate daily. Facebook can ban #stopthesteal from trending, but somehow cannot prevent ISIS from disseminating its recruitment propaganda, or the government of Myanmar from using its services to incite a genocide (following a successful military coup there earlier this week, state-run MRTV was posting propaganda to its Facebook page). Images of child sexual abuse circulate daily, but the platforms fight efforts to make them more responsible for it, laying the blame on law enforcement.