First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller
Here is some news I am sure you all heard yesterday:
Top technology companies erased most of the posts and videos on their services from Alex Jones, the internet’s notorious conspiracy theorist, thrusting themselves into a fraught debate over their role in regulating what can be said online.
Apple, Google, Facebook and Spotify severely restricted the reach of Mr. Jones and Infowars, his right-wing site that has been a leading peddler of false information online. Mr. Jones and Infowars have used social media for years to spread dark and bizarre theories, such as that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax and that Democrats run a global child-sex ring. Apple made its move on Sunday and the others followed on Monday.
The actions, one of the tech companies’ most aggressive efforts against misinformation, highlighted a difficult dilemma for their businesses. They have long desired to combat misinformation online, but they have also been reluctant to be arbiters of truth.
First of all, we need to acknowledge the obvious – Alex Jones is crazier than a shithouse rat. Bonkers. Loco en el coco.
The second thing that must be acknowledged is that this does not involve the First Amendment because there is no government action here. As the “Muh principles” crowd (most of whom are or were NeverTrumpers) like to say, “Private businesses can do whatever they want.”
Except that isn’t really true – private businesses cannot discriminate against people because of their race or gender.
The problem here isn’t that they booted a raving wackadoodle off all of the biggest social media platforms, the problem is that they booted a right-wing raving wackadoodle off all of the biggest social media platforms. The accuracy and sanity of the content at Infowars cannot be any worse than CNN, but nobody is trying to deplatform the Kings of Fake News.
Alex Jones was defenestrated because he is unabashedly right-wing/conservative/Republican in his viewpoint. They went for Jones first because he was low-hanging fruit. His (well-deserved) reputation is such that very few politicians will be willing to speak up in his defense.
And thus a precedent is born.
Now when the Leftist CEO’s of Big Tech decide to deplatform Breitbart, Daily Caller or any of the other conservative blogs and websites, the outcry will be muted. In many cases the conservatives who operate those sites will self-censor in fear of getting banned.
What’s that you say? No one wants to ban those other sites?
Aw contrayr, mom frayr: