Infotech and Rights

On June 26, Reddit - one of the largest social media companies in the world - announced that it was placing a forum with more than 750,000 subscribers in “quarantine”. This meant that it could no longer be found by users searching for it, would not appear as a recommended topic of interest, and would have a warning displayed each time a user accessed it. The name of this particular “subreddit” was “The_Donald” and it is one of the largest and most active forums supporting the Trump presidency.

The official reason given for the move was the existence of threats to law enforcement and ICE officials within the discussions on the forum. That reason is not taken seriously even by Reddit and is viewed more as a thumb in the eye of the users -- who routinely sing the praises of law enforcement officers and immigration agents. Reddit is also known to contain other forums that openly call for violence against ICE agents.

This censorship is the latest in a long line of actions taken by Google, Paypal, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and others to restrict specific genres of speech. Mainline commentators have routinely argued both that this is an unfair restriction of conservative speech and that it is legal as these are private corporations. Both of these arguments are highly flawed. 

With no other motivating factors, private corporations always act to maximize profits. Each time YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook removes content because the company opposes the political views represented in that content, it is reducing its profits and expanding its overhead costs to push a political outcome. Each time Paypal or Patreon denies service to a customer in an effort to economically punish a person for their political views, they do so at a direct cost to them. Each time, Amazon delists a book, they remove an item that they could make money selling.

This is not about corporations acting to maximize profit. These are companies that are spending and losing money in an effort to affect a political outcome.

In addition to this, the left routinely attacks companies that do not share their political views. Masterpiece Creations bakery is now being sued for a third time for its refusal to bake a “transition” cake for a transgender person. Lawsuits were used to force Christian Mingle and EHarmony to alter their business models to serve gay couples -- a violation of their religious views as well as their rights as a business.

This isn’t about the freedom of businesses to act on their own. This is about groups of people using the power of their businesses and the power of the legal system to force ideals and practices onto the American people that they are otherwise unwilling to accept. In many cases, these corporations use their platforms to deny people the ability to earn money in ways unrelated to their political activity. They then team with news organizations to attack their employers and the employers of their families.

The presence of only one side of view on all media platforms coupled with the chilling effect that comes from destroying the economic potential of those who speak in opposition to these views has very real effects on elections and on society. The fact that many of these corporations have taken massive investments from foreign companies and people means that foreign nationals and even foreign governments are able to use these platforms to alter the outcome of U.S. elections and to economically and socially punish Americans that speak out against them.

This is why it is important to vocalize that the target of this meddling is not “conservative” viewpoints. No one is being banned from social media, denied payment processors, or harassed by foreign-owned papers because they support lower taxes and balanced budgets. The primary views that will result is action by these corporations are opposition to mass immigration and opposition to same-sex marriage. Recently, opposition to abortion has entered this realm as well.

It should come as no surprise when Reddit takes in $150 million from a Chinese company and then takes action against groups opposed to mass immigration and birthright citizenship. One cannot be  dumbfounded at the realization that newspapers owned by a Mexican billionaire act in concert with these companies to punish people opposed to these practices. In effect, foreign nationals and foreign governments are preventing U.S. citizens from speaking against the destruction of the culture and the mass immigration of people from those lands.

These same companies already agree to abide by specific rules to operate in nations like China. The policy of those nations is that to operate there, you must abide by their rules. The United States should adopt this same principle. However, where the rules of those nations are meant to squash freedom and dissent, our rules will ensure our freedom. Any company that wishes to operate in the U.S. must not deny access or apply any conditions or restrictions on the basis of political or religious views. This includes efforts to make forums or channels more difficult to find or demonetizing channels on the basis of the political views that they espouse.

Every American citizen has the right to voice his opinion in the public square and these platforms are the modern public square. Every American has the right to accept payments and run a business. This right does not end at the line between physical payments and credit cards. These are rights that all Americans have and they should be enshrined in a new Technology Bill of Rights.

On June 26, Reddit - one of the largest social media companies in the world - announced that it was placing a forum with more than 750,000 subscribers in “quarantine”. This meant that it could no longer be found by users searching for it, would not appear as a recommended topic of interest, and would have a warning displayed each time a user accessed it. The name of this particular “subreddit” was “The_Donald” and it is one of the largest and most active forums supporting the Trump presidency.

The official reason given for the move was the existence of threats to law enforcement and ICE officials within the discussions on the forum. That reason is not taken seriously even by Reddit and is viewed more as a thumb in the eye of the users -- who routinely sing the praises of law enforcement officers and immigration agents. Reddit is also known to contain other forums that openly call for violence against ICE agents.

This censorship is the latest in a long line of actions taken by Google, Paypal, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and others to restrict specific genres of speech. Mainline commentators have routinely argued both that this is an unfair restriction of conservative speech and that it is legal as these are private corporations. Both of these arguments are highly flawed. 

With no other motivating factors, private corporations always act to maximize profits. Each time YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook removes content because the company opposes the political views represented in that content, it is reducing its profits and expanding its overhead costs to push a political outcome. Each time Paypal or Patreon denies service to a customer in an effort to economically punish a person for their political views, they do so at a direct cost to them. Each time, Amazon delists a book, they remove an item that they could make money selling.

This is not about corporations acting to maximize profit. These are companies that are spending and losing money in an effort to affect a political outcome.

In addition to this, the left routinely attacks companies that do not share their political views. Masterpiece Creations bakery is now being sued for a third time for its refusal to bake a “transition” cake for a transgender person. Lawsuits were used to force Christian Mingle and EHarmony to alter their business models to serve gay couples -- a violation of their religious views as well as their rights as a business.

This isn’t about the freedom of businesses to act on their own. This is about groups of people using the power of their businesses and the power of the legal system to force ideals and practices onto the American people that they are otherwise unwilling to accept. In many cases, these corporations use their platforms to deny people the ability to earn money in ways unrelated to their political activity. They then team with news organizations to attack their employers and the employers of their families.

The presence of only one side of view on all media platforms coupled with the chilling effect that comes from destroying the economic potential of those who speak in opposition to these views has very real effects on elections and on society. The fact that many of these corporations have taken massive investments from foreign companies and people means that foreign nationals and even foreign governments are able to use these platforms to alter the outcome of U.S. elections and to economically and socially punish Americans that speak out against them.

This is why it is important to vocalize that the target of this meddling is not “conservative” viewpoints. No one is being banned from social media, denied payment processors, or harassed by foreign-owned papers because they support lower taxes and balanced budgets. The primary views that will result is action by these corporations are opposition to mass immigration and opposition to same-sex marriage. Recently, opposition to abortion has entered this realm as well.

It should come as no surprise when Reddit takes in $150 million from a Chinese company and then takes action against groups opposed to mass immigration and birthright citizenship. One cannot be  dumbfounded at the realization that newspapers owned by a Mexican billionaire act in concert with these companies to punish people opposed to these practices. In effect, foreign nationals and foreign governments are preventing U.S. citizens from speaking against the destruction of the culture and the mass immigration of people from those lands.

These same companies already agree to abide by specific rules to operate in nations like China. The policy of those nations is that to operate there, you must abide by their rules. The United States should adopt this same principle. However, where the rules of those nations are meant to squash freedom and dissent, our rules will ensure our freedom. Any company that wishes to operate in the U.S. must not deny access or apply any conditions or restrictions on the basis of political or religious views. This includes efforts to make forums or channels more difficult to find or demonetizing channels on the basis of the political views that they espouse.

Every American citizen has the right to voice his opinion in the public square and these platforms are the modern public square. Every American has the right to accept payments and run a business. This right does not end at the line between physical payments and credit cards. These are rights that all Americans have and they should be enshrined in a new Technology Bill of Rights.