Less than a week after the disgraceful scenes at the U.S. Capitol in January, Twitter took the extraordinary decision to banish the sitting president from their platform. Even those who despise Donald Trump should be able to admit that this was an extraordinary act of censorship by a company enthralled to the demands of the authoritarian left.
Since that date, Trump appears to have suffered a sort of identity crisis, having lost his direct line of communication with his sum 80 million followers that characterized his presidency. Rather than tweeting his thoughts out about the failures of the current administration, he has been forced to put out statements through surrogates that have had far less of an impact than before.
This is a major problem and indicates the enormous power our progressive Silicon Valley overlords have on politics not just in America, but around the world. Of course, such bans are not just limited to Donald Trump; dozens of major conservative personalities from political operative Roger Stone to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell have been purged from the platform. Yet such censorship is not just limited to Twitter. Companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple are all actively engaged in efforts to influence the political debate through tactics ranging from demonetization to outright censorship.
Following Trump’s suspension from Twitter, I wrote a column outlining why he needed to join and embrace an alternate platform such as Parler in order to lead the fightback against Big Tech censorship. Just hours after publishing it, as if to prove my point, Amazon confirmed that they would no longer host the website via its cloud service while Apple and Google announced they would remove Parler from their respective app stores.
After a month offline, Parler was finally reinstated last month, although all the momentum for its launch appears to have been lost. The user experience has also declined, with the site at one point being effectively unusable. Yet the debacle should have taught all conservatives and libertarians a lesson; that they cannot depend on powerful corporate entities and must build their own unalterable technical infrastructure in order to survive.
Supporters of such censorship have long misappropriated the laissez-faire argument by pointing out that these are private companies and that they, therefore, maintain the right to choose who uses their platform. This argument and the libertarian ideals on which it is supposedly predicated, can easily be deconstructed given the overwhelming evidence that companies such as Facebook and Twitter are effective monopolies.
In recent years, the likes of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have made the case for regulating the Silicon Valley giants on the grounds that they have become monopolies and are undermining American democracy. This position is now mainstream among Republican Party lawmakers. However, this does not change the fact that any meaningful regulation stands no chance of passing through Congress or the president’s desk, especially given Democrats’ only issue with social media platforms is that they don’t censor people enough.
Given this sorry predicament, there is only one effective solution those of a conservative or libertarian mindset can focus on. The right must learn to innovate their own products and platforms that cannot be censored. There are already encouraging signs. Last week, it was reported that Trump himself is planning to launch his own Twitter-style platform. There are also reports of an upcoming “Freedom Phone” designed by teenage Bitcoin millionaire Erik Finman as an alternative to Apple and Android. Meanwhile, increased adoption of cryptocurrencies will also provide an exciting opportunity for bypassing the financial blacklisting carried out by companies such as PayPal and Patreon.
Lord Matthew Ridley, a Conservative peer in the British House of Lords and author of How Innovation Works: And How it Flourishes in Freedom, has similarly argued that those who support freedom must “innovate their way back to the public square.”
“It is now clear that the invention of an advertising-led model of online search and social media led to the dominance of a few near-monopolies,” Ridley told El American. “The left was quick to exploit this and move to declare even moderate free-enterprise or conservative viewpoints as fake news while giving a free pass to more and more extreme versions of critical race theory, Marxist economics, and climate catastrophism.”
“These platforms having been captured and those who support free enterprise, common sense and social responsibility need to innovate their way back to the public square, because complaining won’t work,” he added.
It is abundantly clear that those who refuse to abide by the ever more aggressive liberal consensus, or even those who merely wish to challenge the status quo, are ultimately not welcome customers on any of the major social media platforms. The best, and seemingly the only solution, is to start building our own.