Censorship has been a popular topic lately. Maybe “popular” isn’t the right word, but censorship is certainly talked about a lot, like a high rollin’ winner in an online casino. In fact, it’s a topic that has been talked about for centuries.
Rulers through all of history have burned books they dissaproved of or else killed or threatened people for saying the “wrong” things. Galileo and Copernicus were censored by the Church for stating truths that violated doctrine.
“Wherever they burn books, in the end will also burn human beings too.” said a man named Heinrich Heine. In just a few decades from that quote, the Nazi’s rose to power and did exactly that.
However, in modern times censorship has become much more insidious. In the past, it was pretty obvious when censorship was happening because, you know, there would be a giant pile of books on fire. However, with the power of social media, all the “book burning” is hidden away in layers of code on some server far, far away. News sites regularly change articles post publishing, and maybe sometimes include a note at the end explaining that the article was changed.
It’s not unlike how it happened in the book 1984, “Oceania was at war with Eurasia, therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.”
To address the issue, President Donald Trump and his administration have been drafting an executive order to investigate and combat online censorship on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. As of now, there is no official release of the draft, but various insiders have made comments in regards to it.
The document will investigate two avenues. First, it instructs the appropriate offices to check if the Big Tech companies have violated antitrust policies. If found, these offices should recommend actions to combat these violations within thirty days. Second, it will also investigate censorship and bias online, in relation to antitrust violations and no.
So what does “Antitrust” mean exactly? Antitrust policies are rules against monopolies.
The free market only works with companies competing against each other. If one company monopolizes an industry, they could, for instance, jack up their prices suddenly without worrying about losing their customers to a cheaper competitor. In the online world, the “customers” are users to their sites.
Companies like Google and Facebook don’t just own a single Search Engine or Social Media Platform. Google sells cellphones, YouTube, Chromebooks, etc. Facebook owns Instagram, WhatsApp, the Oculus Rift, etc.
If Antitrust violations are found, and these Big Tech companies are found to have been monopolizing and buying their competition, then the government could step in and break these companies up. For instance, Google and YouTube could become two separate entities.
The Smart Play
Is this a good thing? It depends. The main issue is censorship, and while investigations into antitrust might help, if the same people from each company remain, is anything going to change?
Let’s take Google and YouTube as an example. Last month, Jen Gennai, head of Responsible Innovation at Google was caught on undercover footage saying, “We all got screwed over in 2016 [because of the election]… and we were like, what happened there, and how do we prevent it from happening again?”
If that’s not bias, I don’t know what is.
YouTube, by itself, isn’t much better. Many channels across the board, mostly conservatives, have seen huge drops in traffic to their channels after various “algorithm” updates. On top of that, forget trying to find anything good on the trending tab, as it’s filled with loads of “authoritative content”, which is a fancy term for the big companies that YouTube now panders to instead of the content creators on the platform.
You’ll find Jimmy Falon, Conan, The Young Turks, etc, (all politically left-leaning and backed by million dollar companies), and occasionally you might find something from JackSepticEye.
The point is that YouTube curates and pushes the content they like and not what’s popular, while getting the benefits under the law that comes with non-biased and open platforms.
Just breaking YouTube from Google ain’tgonna fix the problem. It’s deeper than that.