The main Internet gatekeepers and causes for concern are Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and Microsoft (MSFT) – together, GFTM.
Internet Gatekeepers’ Misconduct
Google locked conservative University of Toronto professor Jordan B. Peterson out of all his Google accounts. The probable cause is his dissent with the identity politics of the Left, especially his opposition to the mandatory use of “gender neutral pronouns.” Daily Caller reported on August 1:
“Please tell me what principle I have violated,” said Peterson in his email to Google upon discovering that he was locked out of his account. “I have not violated any terms that I am aware of and have not misused my account.” The psychology professor has over 350,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, which he uses as a platform to post his lectures, interviews, and Q&As. “We understand you’ve recently been unable to access your Google account, and we appreciate you contacting us,” said Google in a response. “After review, your account is not eligible to be reinstated due to a violation of our Terms of Service.” …
When emailed at his Google address, Google returns an “Address not found” error message. “I’ve had that account for the last, say, 15 years,” said Peterson to TheDCNF. “All of my correspondence is in that account. It’s hundreds of thousands of emails from people all over the world.”
Yes, you read that right. Google locked not only his YouTube account, but also his email and other services. There is no reason to think this is a coincidence. Google refused to publicly comment on its actions. FSM has blacked out this news.
Most smartphones run on Google’s Android operating system, which receives frequent updates. Many of us rely on Google Maps navigation. Some of us use Gmail accounts for all our documents (Google Docs), data (GDrive), appointments (Google Calendar), logging into third party websites, and other essential purposes. Google has the potential to destroy lives. This is on top of the deceitful Google Search, which has already been discussed (2).
Facebook was caught manually selecting and removing news stories, which it displayed as Trending. The users were told that the stories were trending among other Facebook viewers and were placed automatically, although the stories were hand-picked by mostly leftist editors. Later, the editorial team doing selection was laid off, most likely because Facebook has developed algorithms to emulate its choices.
After Hillary Clinton blamed her loss of elections on “fake news,” Facebook joined her and announced a major initiative to suppress “fake news.” It assembled a group of international “fact checkers” and declared the steps it would take against news disputed by these “fact checkers.” All of them are left-leaning and accept climate alarmism lies and distortions as facts. Claims such as “settled science” and the 97% meme are touted as truth. Recently, this censorship system, originally requested by Frau Merkel, has been put in action in the U.S. Users trying to share stories not liked by the “fact checkers” are told that the story is disputed by 3rd parties (which is false, because the “fact checkers” hand-picked by Facebook are not a 3rd party), and must go through up to four additional steps to share the story (3, 4). Even worse, Facebook shows some users “related articles” written or suggested by the “fact checkers” (4a). These actions look like fraud and abuse of monopoly.
Twitter has been shadow banning accounts of non-conforming authors, including our friend Scott Adams, since at least October 2016. See his posts Twitter and Periscope Shadowban Update and Am I Shadowbanned on Twitter? Adams’ only “controversial” opinions are dissent from climate alarmism and support of Donald Trump. Shadow banning is an especially nasty way of silencing dissent because neither viewers nor the author are notified of the ban. The posts are not shown to viewers while the author remains unaware of it.
Twitter is in the business of delivering tweets, just like UPS is in the business of delivering parcels. Shadow banning is the equivalent of UPS accepting parcels then intentionally delaying or disposing of parcels from senders whose religious or political views it does not like. Even worse, Twitter falsely notifies the senders that the hidden tweets (the stolen parcels) have been delivered, and tells the intended recipients that the sender did not tweet (sent parcels) as they expected. These actions look like theft and fraud.
Twitter has banned several highly visible anti-Left authors (4b). Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey publicly toyed with the idea to ban President Trump from Twitter. Nevertheless, the Democratic Party and the media continues calling on him to do it. “Deputy Chair of the DNC Keith Ellison recently called on Twitter to ban Donald Trump once and for all, joining countless publications who have made the same demand.” (5)
Facebook, Twitter, and Google are monopolies in their respective markets. They were allowed to achieve and maintain this position through sweetheart deals with the Obama administration.
Microsoft’s Bing Search is no better than Google Search on the climate debate, indicating that Microsoft artificially down-ranked climate realist content. Microsoft also abuses its screensaver rotation feature to send us leftist political messages. A couple weeks ago, Microsoft announced “creating a carbon-free headquarters in the Puget Sound region” (6). Microsoft Windows runs our desktops and laptops, and the company can brick most of them with a single update.
Besides being apparently illegal, these actions violate the principle of net neutrality. All four companies operate network platforms and shall not discriminate against users or content. Ironically, they violate net neutrality while claiming they fight to protect net neutrality.
Causes and Intent of the Gatekeepers’ Misconduct
But the reasons for the recent Gatekeepers’ misconduct are even worse than its effect. They suppress speech in the U.S. in response to the demand by foreign governments and supranational organizations. These companies see the Internet as borderless space. China asserted its sovereignty by building a Great Chinese Firewall, but the European Union started with minor demands and GFTM acquiesced. In May 2016, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft signed a code of conduct promising to combat “hate speech,” as defined by the EU from time to time (7). Even worse:
“… the IT companies [GFTM] commit to continuing their efforts to tackle illegal hate speech online … The IT companies and the European Commission also aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives, and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.“
Here, “critical thinking” probably stands for uncritical acceptance of climate alarmism dogma. In early 2017, the unpopular governments of France and Germany, facing hard elections, demanded the social networks to remove “fake news.” Recently, Germany even passed a law to that effect. GFTM were happy to oblige (8). Thus, GFTM respected the sovereignty and laws of foreign countries and regional blocks while fighting Trump’s efforts to protect U.S laws and borders.
The European Union wields a lot of power over U.S. “tech” companies and has very little incentives not to abuse this power. The EU governance structure also empowers transnational agendas and organizations such as the climate alarmism governance. No doubt, the European Union bureaucracy used and continues to use its influence to covertly and illegally influence U.S. elections and other domestic affairs. The appointment of Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA has sent enviros into a panic, and the rejection of the Paris pact might have burnt all fuses there. Less than a month after this historical rejection, and possibly in retaliation for it, the EU fined Google $2.7B.
Whether GFTM succumbed to the pressure from foreign governments or enthusiastically sided with them against this country, their behavior is inexcusable. The EU can ban or promote whatever speech it wants in the EU countries. U.S. companies operating in foreign countries must follow the laws of those countries, as long as that does not violate applicable U.S. laws. But U.S. companies are not allowed to “import” foreign laws into the U.S. And this is what they have been doing. The following quote from an article by Robert Spencer on an unrelated subject contains evidence that Twitter and Facebook implement the EU policies against U.S. authors on American soil, in violation of American laws.
“Did thousands of people who used to click through to Jihad Watch articles from Facebook and Twitter suddenly lose interest on February 10, 2017? Of course not. What happened on that day was that Facebook and Twitter began to censor Jihad Watch as “hate speech,” in accordance with the assurances they had given to the European Union.”
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. A hard ban, as in the case of Prof. Peterson, used to be rather a rarer case. The techniques used by these gatekeepers to hide anti-Left opinions, including climate realism, usually range from shadow banning to demoting or de-ranking undesirable content. We know about some of these efforts mainly from the companies themselves. The typical excuses are a fight against fake news, hate speech, and the spread of terrorism. The first two monikers are familiar. The term “fake news” includes any news which the Left does not believe. The “hate speech” is speech by anybody whom the Left hates. But fighting against the spread of terrorism is as good a pretext to suppress dissenting opinion as any other. Few days ago, Google’s YouTube announced that it would take actions against “videos [that] don’t violate our policies but contain controversial religious or supremacist content” (9). Google YouTube is a monopoly, created in collusion with Obama administration.
Connecting the Dots
The “tech” companies rejected courtship by Trump and refused to participate in the councils set up by the administration. They viciously attacked him over the travel ban, Paris pact rejection, restoration of Internet access freedom, and juts about everything else. Their leaders publicly side with foreign powers and domestic “resistance” against the Trump administration, and use their platforms and stockholders’ money to silence Trump supporters.
Why is the “tech” industry trying so hard to antagonize President Trump? It makes no sense. It needs governmental support and forbearance all the time. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are monopolies. They need the government to tolerate them, or to be “gentle” when dismantling or regulating them. They need the government to protect them against fines, tariffs, and confiscations abroad. Many of them have extremely fragile business models that may be ruined by minor changes in copyright, privacy, and tort laws and regulations. Internet behemoths have no friends. Their accomplices among trial lawyers and their symbionts would tear them apart with the same joy with which they intended to tear apart oil companies.
Such antagonistic behavior by a large industry towards the elected government is unprecedented in modern time. Further, it comes in a time when ability of commercial interests to oppose the government is at an all-time low. The “tech” industry leaders themselves have contributed to the decline of what they call “corporate power.” They are just a strike of an AG pen away from a RICO investigation. The only thing needed for a RICO conviction is finding two counts of fraud by more than one of them (plus some conditions that are already met). And many of them commit thousands of frauds each day. On the opposite side, the Trump government is unusually strong. President Trump has majorities in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and even the Supreme Court. Even Roosevelt didn’t have such a strong hand.
The only explanation is that the “tech” industry is trying to overthrow the government, in collusion with known actors. And many industry leaders have invested in this attempt not only their personal wealth, but also the money of shareholders to whom they owe fiduciary duty. Even if sedition charges don’t stick, the breach of fiduciary duty might put them behind bars for decades. They have burnt bridges behind themselves, and are unlikely to stop on their own. They must be stopped by law enforcement.
Implications & Suggested Action
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft have amassed enough control over the critical informational infrastructure to seriously threaten national security. I believe they are abusing this power and intend to escalate this abuse with no limit in sight. For example, they can use their control of the networked operating systems and other platforms to start riots, to direct attacks on critical infrastructure, to spread panic, and to confuse police and security services at a nationwide level and at the time they choose. Because of their hiring and promotion policies, they might be infiltrated by saboteurs who would do such things even without company approval.
I would suggest the FBI should start an investigation in these matters and should use technical talent with security clearance. The FBI should investigate even if it does not suspect sedition. I ask the readers who are familiar with the procedure to notify the FBI, the DOJ, and SEC, and to file complaints with fair state Attorneys General. Also, these corporations are national assets that must be protected against harm and misuse by their officers.
GFTM might be required to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
An unusually prominent feature of climate alarmism was targeting scientific organizations (such as the Marshall Institute) and individual scientists who advocated the development of an anti-missile shield, including Frederick Seitz and William Happer. This connection was acknowledged (although in a perverse form) by Naomi Oreskes. The Marshall Institute’s budget has never exceeded more than a few hundreds of thousands of dollars – a tiny fraction of the budgets of Greenpeace or WWF. Somebody has to ask an already answered question about the reasons for such actions. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made an unexplained visit to North Korea in 2013. Today, four years after that visit, North Korea has nearly completed the development of a nuclear-capable ICBM. Eric Schmidt, one of the most active supporters and funders of climate alarmism and a member of Obama’s Council on Science and Technology, seems a perfect person of interest on these matters.
I suggest readers to also take legal action against GFTM for civil rights violations, fraud, and tort under federal and state laws. Those who are going to pursue private action should notice that “Good Samaritan” protections of 47 U.S. Code § 230(c) do not apply to GFTM’s silencing of anti-Left speech because of lack of good faith in this behavior by GFTM.
Current and former employees and contractors of these companies, who might be privy of any suspected misconduct that might be prosecuted under the False Claims Act, should contact attorneys who specialize in this area of law.
Disclosure: I hold short positions in GOOG, FB, TWTR, and MSFT.
Thanks to H.J. for collaborating on this article.