They've Stopped Pretending Now

I could give a shit about what the New York Post actually wrote.  (Here's NPR's version of the same story, just for the sake of balance.) The various sins, both real and imagined of Hunter Biden rank pretty low on the list of things I care about. But what should concern you- and certainly concerns me is that Facebook and Twitter went to such lengths to squash the article, to begin with. And maybe some of this is due to the fact that I watched both The Great Hack and The Social Dilemma on Netflix recently, so I will concede that perhaps I'm a little more paranoid about this than I was last week- but it's not paranoia if they're actually coming to get you.

Most of the Liberal/Prog Commentariat on Twitter is okay with this. After all, it's speech they don't like and Orange Man Bad after all- but you've got to look beyond the now for half a second. If this was a Vox article or a Washington Post article or a NY Times article, the Liberal/Prog Commentariat, the cream of our elite intelligentsia would be setting things on fire. Because it's the right-leaning New York Post, they just assume it's more perfidious Russians or just Conservative conspiracy-mongering and just sort of blow it off with my all-time favorite refrain of Establishment Hacks everywhere: "Now is not the time to care about this sort of thing."

Well, when is the time? Outside of Tim Pool, Glenn Greenwald, and a few other indy media types, no one seems to be grasping just how fucked what happened yesterday actually is. The government holds all the leverage over Big Tech now. And Big Tech makes obscene amounts of money from maintaining the status quo-- what do you think will happen if the government quietly asks them to squash something they don't want going viral on social media now? The Pentagon Papers. The Panama Papers. Jeffrey Epstein. Hell, probably Harvey Weinstein- these are all stories that would get buried now. Because if you think Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are going to stand up for truth, justice, and the American Way and tell the government to get fucked, you've got an unpleasant surprise headed your way. 

There is a certain amount of irony here, I know. I use all these social media platforms- and I know you probably do too and while the free speech absolutist in me wasn't crazy about them putting the kybosh on things like Infowars and QAnon, I could live with it because of the amount of batshit insanity that gets pushed out onto the internet demands some form of quality control. As someone who is convinced that free speech is absolutely essential for a free society moving forward, that was a compromise I was willing to make. Or at least grumble about and take an antacid or two to deal with in the privacy of my own home.

This is not that. This is different. This is Facebook and Twitter deciding two weeks before a Presidential election to quash a story* that can reflect badly on one Presidential candidate.  A key sentence from Twitter's own policies is suddenly quite relevant today:

"The policy established in 2018, prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization"

So...  Trump's tax returns? The secret recordings of the First Lady? I am no fan of the current President and certainly not planning on voting for him, but if Twitter/Facebook/Big Tech is going to wade into the business of squashing stories, then they have to apply their policies equally and fairly across the ideological spectrum. This, of course, doesn't even begin to touch the international aspect of all this. What if someone uploads a video of, say, war crimes being committed in, I don't know, the Nagorno-Karabakh? Or footage of the camps in Xingjiang? What will Twitter do then?

They say that they're not publishers. But if they're going to be the arbiter of what we get to see on their platforms, then breaking up Big Tech needs to go from priority whatever it currently is to Priority One for the next Congress, regardless of who's in control. Everybody needs to understand this: you might be okay with this today because it's the speech you don't like, but if you let them do it to the New York Post- regardless of the quality and content of the article- then it will 100% happen to speech you do like. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not even be next year or five years from now. But it will happen.

And when it does, the cream of the Liberal/Progressive commentariat, the elite of our Establishment Intelligentsia will undoubtedly wring their hands and rend their garments in horror- but by then it will undoubtedly be too late. And I'll be somewhere offline, sipping a glass of whiskey and saying, "I told you so."

They've stopped pretending now. This should be the biggest story of the last two weeks of the Presidential Election. It won't be, of course. But it should be. 

*There's a double dose of irony here: by doing this, the Streisand Effect kicks in and everyone who is halfway curious about this will go out of their way to find the article and read it. Their actions also don't make the batshit insanity problem of the internet and social media content better, they just push it somewhere else. If society decides that "you can trust what you see on these platforms, man" then it will erode them just as it's eroded every other media institution you can think of.

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