WASHINGTON. In the coming weeks and months, US Attorney John Durham will reveal the extent to which Deep State government agencies misused their overwhelming power to spy on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. But forgotten in all the “Spygate” controversies is the much larger role played in this scandal by gargantuan social media companies. While gathering private information for the biggest Federal spy agencies, they simultaneously stifled voices opposing their encroachments on the lives of American citizens. Clearly, the time has come to confront America’s increasingly authoritarian social media companies. Yes, it’s time to bring in the Federal trust busters.
It’s estimated today that some 35,000 people punch secret time clocks as they begin their workday at the National Security Agency (NSA). Interestingly, Facebook employs roughly the same number of thralls to monitor our personal photos, posts, and political views – before passing them along to their intelligence colleagues.
As Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor turned whistleblower, tweeted:
“Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies.’ Their branding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.”
You may recall that President Obama’s directors of National Intelligence and the CIA – James Clapper and John Brennan – denied in sworn testimony to Congress the role played by their respective agencies in domestic spying.
And Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg made his own contribution to this steaming pile of lies. As noted by Katlin Scirri in her book for students entitled “How Facebook Changed the World”:
“[Edward] Snowden claimed that Facebook users’ privacy was violated with Mark Zuckerberg’s knowledge and cooperation. NSA documents later claimed the same thing, that Facebook had been a willing partner in the NSA’s surveillance activities. Through the NSA, the government gained access to Facebook user’s accounts including private message and chats, private photos, and private posts. When the news story broke, Mark Zuckerberg claimed that he had no knowledge of the government surveillance that had been going on.”
At times, the wily Zuckerberg seems to be leading the anti-privacy, anti-free speech charge for the wealthy owners of Silicon Valley’s authoritarian social media giants. They are today’s 21st century Robber Barons.
Authoritarian social media companies: Leftist embeds hiding in plain sight
When you think about it, Facebook had the perfect cover. It proved a favorite platform for grandmothers anxious to share that special recipe, a showcase for exuberant parents proudly sharing milestones in their kid’s lives, and a digital gathering place for celebrities desperate to keep their fans wanting more.
In the high-stakes arena of intelligence, Facebook seemingly donned the perfect disguise. But the geeky Snowden ended all that. And, in the bargain, he launched a national debate on what gigantic social media companies can and can’t do with our private information.
Big business villains: Not much different from those late 19th-early 20th century trusts
As Snowden reminded us, big social networks are also big business. But the nausea-inducing Hollywood trope denouncing big business as a heartless, people-crushing steam roller never seems to apply to popular culture’s powerful digital megaphones.
Remember director Oliver Stone’s biting condemnation of corporate greed in his Academy Award-winning film “Wall Street”? At a 2011 screening of the movie in New York City, Stone told the audience:
“It’s the system, and I don’t think it’s just the Wall Street system. It’s the system of lobbying and money in politics that’s the problem,” The New York Times reported.
But it isn’t Wall Street or deep-pocketed lobbyists that threaten to upend “the system.” It’s Deep State-enabling social media companies who are the greatest threat to American freedom. Not only for their acquiescence to Deep State agencies who violate our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Or for their attempts to destabilize the administration of a duly-elected president. Their major threat is their growing and sustained attack on free speech.
Monopolizing speech and making sure it’s only free for Marxists
When Facebook banned right-wing voices from its social media platform, the company claimed it…
“… always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.”
Time magazine heralded the move as showing the company was “taking a firmer hand in enforcing its own service terms.”
But Facebook’s team of millennial programmers are clearly to the left of center. That’s particlarly obvious when it comes to deciding how these service terms are enforced and against whom. For them, “violence and hate” come only from the right.
It’s time for some trust busting: So let’s bring in the trust busters
So is there any doubt that institutions like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are monopolistic trusts reminiscent of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan’s Northern Securities Company? These trusts had a monopolistic stranglehold over the energy and railroad sectors of early 20th century America.
Worse, their monopolies gave them the power to crush economic competitors the same way Facebook and YouTube crush right-of-center voices in the marketplace of ideas. It’s high time this administration brought in its trust busters. And that process may already have begun.
Of monopolistic corporations, “trust buster” Theodore Roosevelt said the following.
“Corporations engaged in interstate commerce should be regulated if they are found to exercise a license working to the public injury. It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence.”
Soon, the House Judiciary Committee will hold antitrust hearings on Silicon Valley’s big tech. And both Democrats and Republicans seem predisposed to breaking up the Deep State’s social media spies. It is now crystal clear that these powerful, unaccountable monopolies are the clear enemies of free speech.
Top Image: Smart phone social media applications. Photo by Jason Howie via flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie/7910370882