The internet once offered a promise of free speech for everyone; Big Tech has since turned it into a prison
Thursday May 6, 2021
I once thought the internet would have the same effect on corporate media gatekeepers as the AK-47 had on colonial empires in Africa. That was before Big Tech turned that promise of freedom into the second coming of feudalism.
Wednesday’s decision by Facebook’s “oversight board” – a transparent attempt to outsource responsibility for censorship to an international committee – to extend the ban on 45th US President Donald Trump is just the latest example, but by no means the most egregious. Earlier this week, the banhammer descended on RT’s digital project Redfish over posts criticizing… Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini and the Holocaust, of all things.
How did it come to this? Years ago, in an argument over media censorship, I had brought up the internet as the modern version of the AK-47. While the European colonial armies were able to conquer Africa in the 19th century, using machine guns and repeating rifles, they became unable to hold it once the Kalashnikov automatic rifle put the peasants in places like Congo, Angola and Vietnam on equal footing with Western armies seeking to keep them down.
Or, if you want a more peaceful metaphor, it was the promise of open pasture extended to people who had previously been treated like cattle, penned up in factory barns and fed slop from a trough.