Twitter silences Trump (source picture: CNN)

The soliloquy of big tech

The jeopardy of free speech is legally defined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency act. It states that it is allowed to remove ‘objectionable’ content if it is done in good faith. The fate of Parler, the social media platform, has bumped into America’s political polarization in a way that bans from Facebook and Twitter have not. The platform is the unlikely candidate for liberal sympathy and popular for right wing enthusiasts to flee the left wing tendencies on Facebook and Twitter. On January 8th, its downloads quadrupled before being taken down by Google and later Apple for its ‘weak moderation policy’. AWS finally pulled the plug leaving 12 million subscribers in the dark. These actions imply the lie that users might go elsewhere if they don’t like social network’s policies.

Still, the economy is commanded by banks, politicans by the shareholder class and big tech reigns over it all. The idolatry of tech billionaires equates wealth with virtue and doesn’t hold the innovator class to the same standards as old economy firms. Twenty-four hours after the failed coup on the U.S Capitol, the lead story on Twitter was Elon Musk becoming the wealthiest man in the world. In general, the pillorying and focus were on Facebook and Twitter but now more sites and more obscure reasons are popping up to moderate incentivized behavior. Shopify removes all MAGA stores from its platform, Stripe stops working with the Trump campaign and Salesforce blocked mails sent from the National Committee. Few tears are shed for sites known to support far right actors (such as the “Daily Stormer”, a neo-Nazi website, where the founder Matthew Prince wrote at the time that no one should have that power to cancel voices). Nevertheless nobody is celebrating the corporate power which determines who can say what. Congress has recently agree to reform Section 230 which became law 25 years ago when the internet was still in its infancy. Other measures start to dripple in.

The soliloquy that big tech is the new government is reasonable. Those are definitely the entities whose actions seem to have a meaningful impact. You can ask yourself what has more impact: futile discussions about the 25th Amendment or Facebook and Twitter banning all Donald Trump’s accounts. It’s the latter that called out dismay from leaders all around the world implying that no privately held company should determine the accountability or detention of individuals whether you applaud these acts or not. A clearer set of rules, set by legislatures rather than Silicon Valley executives, would be enthusiastically welcomed — not just in America, but everywhere else too.

What next for Trump?

As for Trump, his prospects are being pinched. Running for president or holding the office in the future will be prevented by a section of the 14th Amendment to the constitution that permanently bans those who violated their oaths of office. Initially, that clause was used to inhibit the election of Confederate rebels after the civil war and now it is the high-res Go Directly to Jail card of the Democrats. On the other hand, Trump is losing his support from his supporters in Congress, his Twitter account has been banned and recent public-opinion polling isn’t in his favour anymore. YouGov reported one in six voters who now say that they supporterd the assault on the Capitol which is much less than the 45% of Republicans who thought it was justifiable immediate after the news broke. Conspicuously, 74% of Trump voters believe that Antifa was behind the Capitol assault and a whopping 81% of his supporters don’t believe the fairness of his election. Trump needs to reassess.

Trump’s own myopia and brashness might embark on some spiritual trip to see his shaman in the Hamptoms and self-reflect with a bundle of Carl Jung. Before returning again and start writing a weekly newsletter on Medium (which would definetely be ‘huge’). Or at least, that’s what I would do…

See you next week,

Laurent

PS: Thank you for the 6,000 unique reads so far!

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