Trump’s Win is the Reichstag Fire of Internet Censorship

Trump’s Win is the Reichstag Fire of Internet Censorship, by Daniel Greenfield.

It’s no coincidence that the central conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election involves free speech or that the solution is internet censorship. The claim that Russian trolls and bots rigged the election has zero actual evidence behind it. But it’s a convenient tool for not only delegitimizing Trump, but the very idea of a free and open internet where anyone can say anything they choose. …

The bulk of the remedies … involve internet censorship. The campaign began with alarmists warnings about Fake News. President Trump successfully seized the phrase and turned it against CNN, but the program to purge conservative material from Facebook, Google, and other services and sites is still going strong.

Before the election, Obama had urged, “We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function.” The talking point that the internet has become a dangerously unregulated environment is at the heart of the internet censorship campaign. The First Amendment prevented direct government action, so the regulation had to take another form.

The “curating” was managed by pressuring Facebook, Google and others to embed a middle layer of lefty non-profits, from media fact checkers to activist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, to determine what belonged and who didn’t belong on their services. The middle curation layer would promote “trustworthiness” and curtail “divisiveness”: Orwellian euphemisms for political censorship. …

Putting the left in charge of determining the “trustworthiness” of content is political censorship. And Google and Facebook’s control over huge swathes of the internet meant that the censors would gain control over the eyeballs of more people than any single government could possibly manage. …

There are a handful of big companies that provide cable or satellite internet access in the United States. But there’s nothing like Google, which controls 88% of search and 42% of the digital ad market, or Facebook, which has a comparable grip on social media. Between them they control 70% of the digital ad market. No cable company enjoys an internet monopoly remotely comparable to that of Google. …

Without the banner of “Fake News”, the censorship is harder to track. Some of it gets reported. And much of the rest is anecdotal.  It’s the shadowbannings, demonetizations and suspensions that have become part of life for vocal conservatives as part of the political repression after the 2016 election.

Some of the results were obvious. Others were algorithmic. Visits, hits, views and retweets dropped. Some users and sites were banned. Others vanished into the shadowban twilight. The many grades of censorship ranged from full bans to demonitzation. But all shared a common leftist political agenda. …

Euphemisms like “trustworthy” or “divisive” are markers for the left and the right. A Washington Post editorial or CNN tweet, no matter how abrasive, will never be seen as divisive. Lefty organizations that advocate for illegal aliens are making a “positive contribution” and conservatives ones that oppose them are “divisive”. The ability to determine what is “positive” or “divisive”, will not only drive viewers and money to left-wing sites while destroying conservative sites, but create red lines for conservative sites.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific, Stephen Neil