Big Tech's censorship in 2021

The year was 2019, and Democrats in the United States Senate, led by then–Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), stood before the Supreme Court to announce they were backing Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)'s proposal to amend the First Amendment.  As our Founding Fathers rolled in their graves, Schumer and Udall made it abundantly clear they did not approve of the First Amendment's text.

Specifically, they called attention to "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech."  The senators expressed their disdain for this restraint on their power and thus their attack on Americans' right to free speech was launched.

Thankfully, the sheer ridiculousness of the notion of revising our first and foremost right was quickly squashed.  However, in 2021, we the people are playing defense against another entity that wants to attack our right to free speech.  This time, the assailants are Big Tech, whose lobbyists conveniently pad the back pockets of Democrats at both the state and federal levels.

Although the 2019 episode differs from today's war on free speech, the main point remains the same: those in power, whether it be political or corporate, believe they have the authority to encroach on the fundamental rights of Americans. 

Unfortunately, given the sheer dominance of social media in today's societal discourse, it is more possible than ever for these illiberal forces to stifle speech.  After all, just three companies currently control 97 percent of social media traffic.

According to Datareportal, the average time a person spends on social media per day is two hours and 24 minutes.  At that rate, if someone were to sign up for social media accounts at the age of 16, he would spend 5.7 years on social media platforms by the time he reached his 70th birthday.

In terms of the United States, 70 percent of the population (231.5 million Americans) is active on social media.  Clearly, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become the primary sources of communication in the twenty-first century. 

Moreover, these social media giants have also become their own "fact-checkers."  This means that Americans posting views that Big Tech disagrees with is now akin to spreading "misinformation."  At the minimum, that content is throttled, if not fully removed. 

To make matters more Orwellian, Big Tech companies are actively colluding with Democrats to push whatever narratives serve their interests.  The most egregious example of this occurred in July, when White House press secretary Jen Psaki openly admitted that the White House was working in tandem with social media companies to censor any "disinformation" surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the associated vaccines.

Facebook openly admitted that it had removed more than 18 million posts from Facebook and Instagram for violating their COVID-19 misinformation policy.  Apparently, Americans' rights to free speech on these platforms apply only when they espouse views that the White House hasn't put a choke order on. 

Thankfully, most Americans can read the writing on the Facebook wall.  According to the Pew Research Center, roughly three quarters of U.S. adults believe that it is likely that social media sites intentionally censor opinions and viewpoints that do not fall in line with Big Tech's preferred ideology and political positions.

The duo of Big Tech and the Biden administration is not an unlikely one.  During the 2020 election cycle, approximately 98 percent of political contributions from internet companies went to Democrats, according to CNBC

So while Democrats in the Senate have given up their approach to rewrite the First Amendment, it is clear their desire to quell the speech of Americans who do not agree with them has not waned.

The fight for free speech is going on at the state level.  To date, 33 states have proposed legislation that challenges Big Tech censorship.

If any American is concerned about the power Big Tech wields or has been the subject of undue censorship, he should reach out to his state legislator and make it known that the freedom of speech on social media platforms is sacrosanct and should be fought for with every fiber of one's being.

Samantha Fillmore (sfillmore@heartland.org) is a government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.

Image: Steve Jurvetson.

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