How Big Tech censorship can get more personal, and hairier
I don't worry much about tech deplatforming. I don't and never have relied on social media for news stories. I don't find it onerous to type in the URL for a website rather than download an app. Part of that is that I'm old, but also that it seems to me that some apps chew up CPU cycles on my phone, even if the app is supposedly not running.
I have found that "uninstall" doesn't always mean "get every trace of this thing off my phone/computer." The Facebook app on my phone, for example, is still there. The icon is missing from the screen, and it is listed as "disabled," but it isn't gone. And since I don't have control or knowledge of what Android is doing, for all I know, my paranoid suspicions might fall short of reality rather than exceed it.
Servers are still available for purchase, so Amazon kicking Parler to the curb isn't a particular issue. Someone will fill that market niche — perhaps my favorite former president, perhaps someone else. The market abhors a vacuum, too, and the presence of "black markets" in many parts of the world proves it. If you want something and someone can figure out how to get it to you for a price you can pay, it will be made available. Parler will find hosting. I will type in the URL.
The more insidious problem that occurs to me is whether my browser and other tools can be made to be uncooperative. Lately, my Windows system seems to be getting sluggish. The wifi signal is unreliable, disappearing and reporting that it is connected to the router but does not have internet access. My phone's app freezes when I open my Bible for the daily reading. One of my email accounts is through Yahoo, which gives me a phone notification that I have email — e.g. the Geller Report — but it doesn't show up when I open the Yahoo app.
If the browser starts being a source of censorship, then typing in a URL will not help me. If email apps won't let me read my email, then signing up for daily updates where possible will not be effective. If the Kindle app I use to get to digital books bought on Amazon is modified to allow the reading of only certain books, then I am denied access to my purchases. This seems illegal, but maybe it's "just the algorithms." And maybe the algorithms will sporadically allow and then deny access, making the attempt to read anything too annoying to support.
For those who don't know, algorithms do not fall out of the sky like some sort of code avalanche. They are implemented in code by human beings, they are generally reviewed by other human beings with code expertise, and they eventually "go live" in the interface and begin whatever processing they were designed to implement. Do Twitter and Facebook have "wild, feral algorithms" that invade their code base and change things? Are they trying to blame a cyber-virus when they attribute issues to algorithms? It won't wash, since even if someone was hacking Big Tech (which you would expect them to have found ways to prevent), the responsibility is theirs to ensure that such incursions do not affect their customers.
Typing in a URL can be followed by bookmarking the page. Apps aren't needed, but an agnostic browser is. I think there's a market niche there. Someone will fill it.
Image via Pxhere.