We are in the midst of a global pandemic. With ‘vaccine passports’ lockdowns, QR codes, rolling curfews, et cetera being hot topics for discussion.
Underneath that though, another creeping concern lurks. The migration of enforcement from government to corporations.
Over the course of the last 4-5 years, corporations have started de-platforming wrong-think, starting with the likes of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and rabble-rousing journalists Laura Loomer and Milo Yiannopoulos in the US. Within just 24 hours nearly a dozen social media, FinTech and streaming platforms deleted their wildly popular profiles and banned them for life. Collusion was adamantly denied by the platforms, however the stench of something being off remained.
This has seemingly had a knock-on effect of encouraging organised mobs, often consisting of bot farms to accelerate and heighten voices to shrill levels. Weak corporations and people either bow under pressure, or seek to embrace the hate-filled rhetoric of those seeking to destroy others. Cancel culture became ‘a thing’. Earlier this year it culminated in Facebook, Twitter and others banning the duly elected sitting President of the United States. His crime remains somewhat unclear.
Then, just last month, it is revealed that one of the world’s largest corporations was monitoring and filtering your SMS messages and content for what it considers ‘hate’, or abuse. Moral arguments can be made for enforcing both, but why now?
Today comes the news, albeit seemingly half-heartedly denied that Amazon’s AWS is going to be taking a more proactive approach to what ‘belongs’ on its cloud servers. Translation: Amazon will dictate what it deems acceptable. To do this it will likely employ ‘fact-checkers’ such as Snopes, or others to make programmatic rules and judgement calls on its behalf. It’s always the same story. The fact checkers are almost always activists for one cause, or another, grifting for money and influence.
Remember, Amazon’s AWS accounts for approximately 40% of the cloud hosting market. It is now intrinsic to the viability of the World Wide Web and works directly with (and for) Intelligence agencies around the world. It could be argued that these facts alone negate the ‘Amazon is a private company and it can do what it wants’ stock answer given by my fellow libertarians.
Is this trend to control just a series of serendipitous answers to content challenges? Are corporations merely self-policing to removing genuinely problematic content? Or are Western governments actively using corporations to bypass often Centuries old (constitutional) rights in order to control public discourse?
My own opinion is that the Overton window is being purposefully narrowed and an artificial consensus seems to be forming around one controlled perspective. To my mind, that is not healthy for a democracy. Chinese, or North Korean levels of control are not a model to be admired.
Some view this issue very differently to me. I can accept and respect that. Opposing views in the marketplace of ideas are to be encouraged. They are a driver of innovation. Discussion pushes society forward and reduces the risk of conflict. However, if you are still sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the issue, the trend… and its dire implications for western society, then you are not paying attention.