Online censorship is becoming increasingly normalized as growing restrictions, deplatforming and its other manifestations have become so pervasive that many have simply come to accept it.
Online censorship is becoming increasingly normalized as growing restrictions, deplatforming and its other manifestations have become so pervasive that many have simply come to accept it. This “new normal” for free speech is as insidious as it has been gradual, as we are increasingly being trained to accept unconstitutional limitations on what we can express on the websites that dominate online socialization. Like so much of our lives, social interaction has moved online at a rapid pace in the last decade, meaning that restrictions imposed upon online speech have a disproportionate effect on speech in general.
The argument that is often deployed to dismiss concerns regarding online censorship is the claim that the dominant social media companies are private, not public, entities. However, in reality, the Big Tech firms that dominate our online lives, particularly Google and Facebook, were either created with some involvement of the U.S. national security state or have become major U.S. government and/or military contractors over the past two decades.(i,ii,iii,iv,v) When it comes to censoring and deplatforming individuals for claims that run counter to U.S. government narratives, it should be clear that Google-owned YouTube, and other tech platforms owned by contractors to the U.S. military and intelligence communities, have a major conflict of interest in their stifling of speech.
The line between “private” Silicon Valley and the public sector has become increasingly blurred and it is now a matter of record that these companies have illegally passed information onto intelligence services, like the National Security Agency (NSA), for blatantly unconstitutional surveillance programs aimed at American civilians.(vi) All indications point to the military-industrial complex having expanded into the military-technology-industrial complex.
These days, one need only look at important government commissions — such as the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), headed by former Google/Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt — to see how this de facto public-private partnership between Silicon Valley and the national security state functions, and its outsized role in setting important tech-related policies for both the private and public sectors. For example, that commission, largely comprised of representatives of the military, intelligence community and the scions of Big Tech, has helped set policy on “countering disinformation” online. More specifically, it has recommended weaponizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the express purpose of identifying online accounts to deplatform and speech to censor, framing this recommendation as essential to U.S. national security as it relates to “information warfare.”(vii,viii)