Big Tech, Big Brother

Big Tech, Big Brother

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By now, it’s no secret that Big Tech (primarily Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube) companies engineer their products to manipulate and addict. Despite this knowledge, many of us continue to use these platforms, perhaps because their power over us remains subtle. In recent years, the primary question posed to big tech CEOs by members of Congress has been: What are you doing to crack down on disinformation? Yet, more recently, we have granted power to “crackdown on disinformation” to the corporate leaders, essentially asking them to be purveyors of truth.

Starting a few months prior to the elections, the spectrum of information we were allowed to see became increasingly narrower. And so when the New York Post, a well-established newspaper, ran a story about Hunter Biden, Big Tech censored it. When witnesses, elected officials, and attorneys came forward with evidence of election fraud, Big Tech blocked it. And while empty allegations of Russian interference in 2016 elections are allowed to circulate on social media still, videos alleging foreign interference in the 2020 elections are removed from YouTube and other platforms. The censorship all favors one political party, and somehow that happens to be the chosen party of Big Tech CEOs.

Moreover, these companies have exhibited profit-first behavior when engaging with hostile countries, leading to a dangerous mix of power and interest. Google, for example, cooperates with Chinese military-linked universities and sought to develop a censored version of its search engine for China until its own employees blew the whistle.

By deciding what we can and cannot see on their platforms, by deploying additive features to manipulate our emotions, and with foreign interests thrown in, Google, Facebook, and Twitter can make a news story or make it disappear, build up or destroy an individual or organization, and even determine the outcome of an entire election.

Examples

  • YouTube Decides What You Watch

    On December 9, 2020, YouTube announced it would remove videos that allege widespread election fraud. At the time of the announcement, dozens of lawsuits making this exact claim remain pending, including filings by several state attorney generals. The United States senate is planning on holding a hearing on the topic. Does this YouTube decision mean any videos of these hearings must be removed by YouTube? In the wake of the 2016 election, YouTube allowed myriad videos alleging Russian collusion, the investigation of which found no wrongdoing by the Trump administration. THE BOTTOM LINE: YouTube, a private company with a financial obligation to its shareholders to maximize profit, is deciding what ideas may or may not be expressed on its platform.

  • Twitter Decides What You See

    On October 14, 2020, Twitter limited the distribution of a New York Post article about the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop. Twitter later suspended the New York Post’s entire account, effectively shutting down reporting of the story entirely. Many major media followed suite, refusing to even discuss the story on their outlets. Weeks after the presidential election, news broke that the Justice Department is investigating Hunter Biden for illicit financial dealings with Ukraine and China—the essence of the story that Twitter had shut down before the election.

References

  • Center for Humane Technology: Congressional Hearing Testimony
  • CNN: How tech companies are addressing screen addiction
  • The Epoch Times: Google Works on AI With Top Chinese University That Has Ties to China’s Military
  • The Intercept: Google’s internal project to bring censored search back to China
  • The Federalist: What Big Tech Didn’t Want You To See On The Federalist In 2020

Videos

Tech companies control billions of minds every day
Mark Zuckerberg's testimony during hearing
Big Tech's coordinated suppression
YouTube’s War on Wrongthink
Social Media Ripping Apart Society, “You are programmed."
How real is Fake News?