21.4 C
Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Why Big Tech’s purge of President Trump will only make everything worse

Political polarization and hyperpartisanship are tearing America apart. Big Tech’s purge of President Trump and other right-wing voices will only make this problem worse.

YouTube is the latest tech giant to ban or suspend the president. On Wednesday, it announced the removal of new content from Trump’s account, which has more than 2 million subscribers. The company also explained that it will be locking comments on Trump’s videos, suspending the president for at least seven days, and issuing him a warning for “inciting violence.”

This comes after Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even smaller niche services like Pinterest have all banned the president. For justification, they have all cited Trump’s behavior falsely claiming the November presidential election was stolen and encouraging supporters to gather in the protest that eventually turned into a violent riot and attack on the Capitol.

- Advertisement -

To be clear, these companies are all within their legal rights to ban political figures, even the president, from their platforms. They are private entities and not bound by the First Amendment, which only applies to the government.

Yet there’s a big difference between can and should. And far from stopping the spread of misinformation or preventing violence, Big Tech’s sweeping crackdown on political digital speech will only exacerbate the division of our discourse that has caused so many of our problems.

Academic research shows that when people gather in echo chambers, they quickly grow more extreme and radical. Banning Trump will not change the fact that he is the defining political leader for tens of millions of people. They will follow him to the fringes of the internet or niche right-wing media outlets such as One America News. All this mass deplatforming will do is segregate a significant portion of the Right, the very ones who need to be brought back toward the center, into fringe digital echo chambers, where they will quickly grow more radical.

When Trump makes his arguments on Twitter, voices from across the political spectrum can challenge or fact-check him. (Twitter can even add fact checks or information labels to his content). In whatever forums fill the vacuum after his removal from the mainstream digital discourse, there will be no such moderating or restraining impulses.

This is a recipe for more disasters like the Capitol attack, not fewer.

After all, fringe voters are drawn to far-right candidates and conspiracies like QAnon in part because they feel marginalized and disdained by mainstream culture — they feel that the elites view them as “deplorables,” in Hillary Clinton’s famous phrasing. The tech industry declaring the politician who must closely embody its worldview unfit for public discourse only further fuels the narrative of victimization that pushes people to the fringe.

On the flip side, liberals will only become further removed from what their countrymen actually think. Polling shows that Democrats severely overestimate the extremity of Republicans’ beliefs. Why? In large part, because they do not actually directly engage with them but only see them through distorted media caricatures and echo-chamber depictions.

Banning Trump will only make this distortion, which is gravely toxic for our body politic, much worse.

Critics argue that no one, not even the president, should be allowed on social media if they are going to “incite violence.” This objection fails for multiple reasons.

For one, as many legal scholars have explained, Trump’s speech regarding the Capitol attacks, while grossly irresponsible, almost certainly does not reach the level of “incitement” as defined by First Amendment law. Critics who bandy this term about mislead more than they inform.

Even if one grants this argument, it is only a justification for removing or deleting individual posts that engage in this behavior — not perma-banning one of the single most prominent figures in politics from the digital public square.

Moreover, this censorship campaign deals a serious blow to the cultural value of open discourse and exchange of ideas that originally defined social media companies’ operating ethos and gave vibrancy to their platforms. This is why even the liberal American Civil Liberties Union has spoken out with concerns about Trump’s purge.

“We understand the desire to permanently suspend [Trump] now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” the ACLU said in a statement. “President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others — like the many Black, Brown, and LGBTQ activists who have been censored by social media companies — will not have that luxury.”

If Big Tech can ban our most powerful political figures at will, it can most certainly silence you next.

All of this censorship only invites new regulations that would lead to dysfunction or even destruction of social media as we know it. There is already bipartisan support for anti-tech policy proposals, such as eliminating the Section 230 liability shield that allows social media platforms to exist.

This foolish regulatory proposal would mean that social media platforms have to screen every single piece of content posted as they could potentially be sued for anything. This would almost certainly lead to massive queues and delays for posts and vast amounts of content being blocked for potential legal concerns.

In short order, social media as we know it would cease to exist, or at least become a shadow of itself. Big Tech’s decision to ban Trump only fuels the momentum for this type of regulatory backlash and thus its own demise — which would be a detriment to the hundreds of millions of people who rely on its services.

As worrying as this display of concentrated power may be, Big Tech does have the legal right to remove voices such as Trump’s from the major digital platforms, where so much of modern political discourse occurs. But the consequences of these actions are countless. From fueling echo chamber-driven polarization to inviting regulatory disaster, social media companies are making an unmitigated mistake.

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a Washington Examiner contributor and host of the Breaking Boundaries podcast.

Read More at Washingtonexaminer

Latest news

Amazon suddenly HATES mail-in voting during the pandemic!

Amazon has just come out AGAINST mail-in voting. Seriously. Because it’s being used against them: CNN – Amazon is once again asking the National Labor...

House officially delivers impeachment article to Senate for second trial against Trump

The nine House Democrats tapped as prosecutors in the second Senate trial against former President Donald Trump have officially delivered an article of impeachment...

President Trump Announces ‘Office of the Former President’

President Trump announced he created the “Office of the Former President”.  He will use this office to carry on the agenda of the Trump...

Superstar Robinhood Traders Are Turning To Paid Financial Advice

It's starting to look like the new ultra-high net worth individuals are formerly twenty-somethings that got their start trading on Robinhood. Some of those...

Related news

Hollywood Has An Iron Grip On Movie Culture, But Will It Last Forever?

On this episode of “The Federalist Radio Hour,” movie producer Dallas Sonnier joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to talk about his recent project “Run...

How our National Guard troops are being fed at the Capitol

National Guard troops stationed at the Capitol famously have had to nap on the...

Biden administration uses misleading intelligence excuse to delay Navalny poison response

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday declared that when it comes to...

The Left’s Anti-Science School Closures Are Killing More Kids Than COVID

Almost a year after COVID-19 reached the United States and government-mandated lockdowns began shutting down nearly every aspect of American life, many schools across...

Marty Walsh puts worker flexibility at risk

The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of American representative government for the...

If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t employed as much

About 1% of the U.S. population claims Dutch ancestry. Compared to the average American,...