A Digital Iron Curtain Descends Over the Internet

A Digital Iron Curtain Descends Over the Internet, by Daniel Greenfield.

“An iron curtain has descended across the Continent,” Winston Churchill once warned. A digital iron curtain is now descending over the internet. Free speech as we once knew it will be over in a decade. The internet will still be a noisy place, but it will be a managed noise of echo chambers, a moderated system in which dissenting views will be treated as trolling and purged as quickly as they are identified.

The political causes of both curtain falls are the same. The Soviet Union and the American Left had both triumphed and inherited a large chaotic region that they had to consolidate under their control. The Soviet Union’s triumph had been a military one over physical territories while the American Left had conquered the messaging territories of the old cultural realm, media, entertainment and advertising.

Having won those, it’s expanding its control over big corporations and big government. And to do that, it has to eliminate the independent voices on the internet that pose a threat to its messaging monopoly.

The consolidation of the internet by a handful of monopolies, the politicization of corporate leadership and the panic over Trump and Brexit created a once in a lifetime opportunity. The official pretext for the power grab was “fake news”: a loosely defined term taken to mean misinformation. The fake news panic relied on familiar panics over the internet’s unregulated ability to influence society. But this time it was attached to the Russians, a classic foreign threat, that made free speech too dangerous to maintain.

The fake news crisis argued that foreign influence over the public square was a national security threat. This was a dangerous argument with roots in everything from the Alien and Sedition Acts to the Cold War. A few years ago, the idea of internet censorship to meet a national security threat would have seemed an implausible movie plotline. But the growing cultural power of the American Left allows it to quickly take a bizarre idea and mainstream it into a policy mandate in a matter of months or years. …

Social media companies that had formerly been open were being redefined as publishers tasked to fight “fake news”. …

The platforms would be transformed into publishers, and tasked with the obligation, not of serving their free users or even their paid advertisers, but the social good, as defined by the media echo chamber.

Their job would be to promote politically good content, such as that of the media, and penalize politically bad content, such as that produced by conservatives. And then the digital curtain falls.

hat-tip Stephen Neil