Government Compulsion: Big Techs Latest Red Herring

Government Compulsion: Big Techs Latest Red Herring
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In response to President Biden and Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders' (R-Ark.) State of the Union, Big Tech's control over our data and digital marketplaces is undeniable.

Twitter files, the results of various government cases, and now Facebook files show what we've long suspected: corporations aren't responsible for all of their decisions. This is especially true when platforms favor certain political content over others. It appears that both sides are willing to settle the matter. Biden and former Attorney General Bill Barr have also called for important reforms.

However, Big Tech has a game for that - using government coercion (such as Jawbones) as a convenient red crank to prevent Congress from pursuing any worthwhile ideas that might dilute their monopolies. In fact, that's what a leaked email from a prominent tech lobbyist says.

But this does not mean that there are no government crackdowns. Reason's Robby Soave reports that the government has put "pressure" on the Facebook Meta platform to release information about Covid-19. Apple has also been under political pressure to remove its content, but not from our government. Apple has argued that the Chinese government has weakened encryption measures in China, forcing the company to act as the censorship arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

But continuing to fight the problem through government pressure will not help. It makes more sense for big tech companies to accept the positions and opinions of political parties with which they are strongly associated.

It's no secret that Big Tech prefers Democrats to Republicans. CNBC reported that Alphabet (which owns Google) has donated $5.4 million (88% of its political donation) to Democrats since 2020. 77 percent of Meta and Amazon donations have gone to Democrats.

To be fair, neither the Biden administration nor big tech have dropped the ball on their agenda. Biden's former press secretary, Jen Psaki, has stated publicly that the administration has "repeatedly emphasized that the latest stories from social media companies are dangerous to public health..." especially in the context of COVID-19 vaccine information.

Additionally, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed on the Joe Rogan podcast that the FBI advised Facebook to investigate Russian disinformation. According to Zuckerberg, that prompted the social media giant to slow the spread of Hunter Biden's laptop story because, Zuckerberg said, the story "fits into a pattern" that the agency reportedly passed on to Facebook.

Twitter profiles show that Big Tech made most policy decisions itself. For example, Twitter files from 2010. Twenty days before the 2020 election, the New York Post cited Hunter Biden's story and blocked White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McKenna from her Twitter account, suggesting the government was not involved. Even in the complaint clause, there is no clear evidence that Facebook was coerced into participating in the government's bid. In this regard, there is no government intervention to force Google, Apple, and Amazon to release free chatting apps like Parlor.

We all agree that every government, whether Democratic or Republican, should be condemned and prevented from silencing opponents of these corporations' digital public space. We need to shed more light on the ambiguous relationship Big Tech has with governments (domestic and foreign). For this reason, recent legislation aimed at preventing such incidents is encouraging.

Both sides must be careful not to be distracted by this, but to continue to push the centralization of information by big technology companies. Although big tech now favors Democrats, most big tech companies make no apologies for their ability to piss off political voters at any time. In NetChoice v. In her oral argument against Paxton, she suggested that Twitter "has the power to reverse and block all pro-LGBT speech without cause because its employees want to discriminate members of that community."

Thus, addressing the problem of government does not fully address the fundamental problems associated with big technology. These companies do not need government pressure to download apps from app stores, download websites from the cloud, or use algorithms to promote apps. Indeed, the way most of these alleged files are read on Twitter and Facebook is more reminiscent of government officials invited as guests than the Gestapo.

No amount of circumstance can stop them from doing what they want, but antitrust laws and Section 230 amendments can. Congress should not get caught up in the government enforcement crisis created by Big Tech themselves. Instead, it must make real improvements to our digital marketplaces and public spaces that fulfill its daunting mission.

In short, yes, we need to stop the government from using technology platforms as a means of censorship. But to close the loop, we need to put market barriers up front.

Joel Thayer is president of the Institute for Digital Advancement and a technology and communications attorney in Washington, DC.

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