The lines of authority in our nation seem to be blurring as private corporations grow too large for their own good, and gatekeeping tactics become the new norm.
I’m speaking, of course, about the world wide web of the internet, which you and I largely navigate through the lens of a few enormous corporations. Google, Facebook, and Twitter tend to gobble up a huge portion of the national bandwidth, making these platforms the de facto controllers of information. When they reach into the fascism playbook, however, is when we have to examine what we’re willing to allow them to get away with.
Take the recent blacklisting of Alex Jones, for instance. While his despicable beliefs on the subject of the Sandy Hook school shooting are abhorrent and offensive, they are in no way illegal. They are the same as a crazed man on the street corner shouting that the end is nigh. It is up to us if we wish to listen.
Facebook and others decided, however, that you don’t get to make that decision. You, for your own good, apparently, aren’t going to see or hear anything Alex Jones has to say. It’s a First Amendment issue, without a doubt, but what’s even scarier is what may have brought this purge of Jones about in the first place.
BuzzFeed senior technology writer Charlie Warzel acknowledged that he sent emails to Twitter enquiring about tweets from Infowars founder Alex Jones ahead of the social media company’s decision to ban Jones from its platform.
“I reached out to twitter — independently of anyone — to inquire about one of yesterday’s tweets from [Alex Jones]” Warzel said on Twitter.
After a short delay, Twitter told Warzel, along with other establishment media (but no conservative sources), that it would ban Jones and InfoWars permanently. Twitter’s justification? The fact that Jones had insulted a CNN reporter.
Reaching out to social media companies asking them to comment on allegedly offensive content on their platforms is a tried-and-tested method for establishment media reporters seeking to censor their competitors.
CNN repeatedly reached out to social companies ahead of the rapid-fire bans of Alex Jones on web platforms, including YouTube, Apple podcasts and Facebook, relentlessly running articles on the “controversy” of social media platforms hosting Jones until he was banned.
That’s right: Other media companies were lobbying these platforms to ban Jones before it happened. Literally, his competition went and tattled on him for saying “mean words” and then he’s banished from the realm of free speech based on some misguided and unethical sense of corporate responsibility.
This, folks, is good, old fashioned fascism at its finest, whether you agree with anything Alex Jones says or not.