“Big Tech” has become one of the most contentious issues in American politics since social media was born.
Outlets such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook started "shadow banning" conservatives immediately after President Donald Trump’s election in 2016. Shadow banning is colloquially defined on the internet as “the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community so that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned,” according to Wikipedia.
They began by targeting more people who are frequently characterized as “fringe commentators.” The so-called “deplatforming tactics” have now come for anyone whose views differ from those of the CEOs of Silicon Valley — Trump and numerous Republican U.S. senators and representatives among them. Deplatforming is described on Wikipedia as “a form of political activism or prior restraint by an individual, group, or organization with the goal of shutting down controversial speakers or speech, or denying them access to a venue in which to express their opinion."
Sympathetic conservatives were told from pundits on high that to rail against these tactics would be tantamount to slaying the sacred cow of unbridled capitalism.
Those who would dare to call for the enforcement of laws already on the books dealing with deplatforming were nothing more than statists who wanted to infringe on the free marketplace of ideas.
But, in recent weeks, this may be changing — in a big way.
Project Veritas’ recent exposé on Facebook may be the push that finally gets the reluctant Republicans in Congress to start attacking censorship from Big Tech — in effect, to simply not care that this may endanger Big Tech's contributions to their reelection war chests.
Project Veritas’ new video is entitled “Facebook Content Moderator: 'If Someone’s Wearing MAGA Hat, I'm Going to Delete Them for Terrorism.’”
The new video speaks volumes, with fresh information coming from a whistleblower working on the inside of Big Tech. Zach McElroy is the whistleblower who worked at the company Cognizant, which performs content moderation for Facebook, and went to Project Veritas to go public with the flagrant abuse of power that he saw while serving as a content moderator for the tech giant.
He is currently hosting a GoFundMe campaign to finish the fight with Facebook: https://www.gofundme.com/f/exposefacebook.
McElroy told Newsmax that his feeling of corporate bias “started during the training when they disseminated their policies. I knew right away that something was wrong. I felt that I had to do something, but I did not know how I would do it. It was apparent that to stick my neck out legally would be the hardest because I thought nobody would notice.”
One of the worst parts of McElroy's ordeal was that he felt so uneasy and unsafe going to major news outlets to get this story out. He specifically mentioned that he could not trust The New York Times and The Washington Post “because I had this feeling that they won’t take my story seriously and they would rat me out to Facebook.”
In the eye of the author, the censorship at Facebook is best characterized as a deliberate attempt to suppress Trump supporters from proselytizing progressives and liberals about Joe Biden’s voting record.
As the video shows, the moderators built up a personal sense of "justice" in exacting their vengeance against conservatives.
If anyone looks particularly bad in the video, it is inarguably Facebook’s proverbial father, Mark Zuckerberg. He has routinely espoused that Facebook will “be able to stop a lot of harm while fighting back against putting additional restrictions on speech. ... Focusing on authenticity and verifying accounts is a much better solution than an ever-expanding definition of what speech is harmful.”
Clearly, Zuckerberg’s grandiose vision of protecting free speech does not apply to conservatives who use Facebook in the hopes of voicing their opinions.
While McElroy did not work directly at Facebook headquarters, he described his third-party company atmosphere as “having the same systemic issues. You have an employee base that is majority Democratic and left-leaning because these companies are based all in blue cities, blue states, or both.”
McElroy has yet to be targeted by Facebook, but he did say he “was worried about that happening when [he] decided to go public and still is concerned about that. However, the need for the story to come to light and ensuring it gets out is the most important thing to [him].”
As he put it, “telling the truth is going to get me through this.
Toward the end of the interview, McElroy told Newsmax how his story would add to the mounting evidence that Big Tech companies are doing everything in their power to stymie speech online.
“We have seen how dark the Big Tech censorship is,” he said, “and I hope that things will be different this time. President Trump has moved on Twitter with Section 230 so maybe he will be proactive with this. Nobody is doing the kind of investigative work that Project Veritas does."
Section 230 refers to that specific section of the Communications Decency Act that states “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
In layman’s terms, it is an exemption that these social media platforms use to protect both the content of what is written on their website as well as the company from legal liability. However, if the these tech giants are picking and choosing which content can be on their website, then they are in effect violating this exemption by acting as a "publisher," as the Communications Decency Act defines it.
Moving forward into the future, it may very well be the case that courts decide that the acts perpetrated by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. are grounds to revoke their coveted legal protection, making their demise all the more likely.
(Michael Cozzi is a Ph.D. candidate at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.)
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