The Digital Gatekeepers And The Quandary Of Online Speech

     Your humble author, who posts to Reddit many insightful, informative, and otherwise interesting articles seen the News of the Week, was given a rule violation for “Promoting Hate” against “marginalized or vulnerable groups of people”.

     And just what was this horrendous hate that Reddit found to be beyond the pale? It was an article by Walt Heyer, a former “trans-woman” who “de-transitioned”, who warns of the dishonesty from the advocates of transgendering children and singles out the Marxist derived framework of the transgender movement.

     That’s it. The very idea that someone who went through a transgener phase wanting to spare others from the same fate is “hate” so degrades the meaning of the word that the accusation ends up meaning nothing more than “I disagree with you”. There was no promotion of any “hate” not one iota of marginalization or incitement of violence or hate against people who are transgender, but simply a strong criticism of an ideology.

     This isn’t the first time your humble author has faced a warning, or even suspension, for absolutely ridiculous reason which seem nothing more than a pretext for harassment and silencing that at best is arbitrary and capricious and at worst intentional targeting of expressions of thoughtcrime.

     But this sudden expulsion of any criticism or disagreement with transgender ideology by the digital gatekeepers of online speech is not limited to Reddit. It would seem that many of the dominant propitiatory social media platforms, such as Facebook, are all suddenly marching in lockstep—either by outright oligarchic agreement or by silent and mutual assent to an intellectual conformity.

     The major reason why these Left-wing social media platforms have so much power is because people gave them that power. Hosting videos, developing a websites, and the cost of streaming have made the “free” social media platforms so attractive that people have become dependent on them… and then complain about the consequences of that dependency. And this isn’t just about the “normies” or “casuals” either: How many people make a living off of YouTube videos, or otherwise use the “free” services to connect with other people, don’t even have their own webpage that they can control free from the social media platforms, even if that websites just lists contact info and links to alternate platforms?

     There are alternatives to the major social media overlords but these alternatives do not serve as replacements for the major social media platforms because they do not have a wide enough usage that “casuals” and “normies” automatically use them. People who eschew the major social media platforms end up self-ghettoizing, which actually helps the Left increase their dominance and control of the gateways of speech that the vast majority of people use.

     To make matters worse, many of these services, such as Gab and Parler, go out of their way to advertise themselves as “free speech” platforms. This results in these services attracting not just dissenting voices, but the truly obnoxious, insane, and the actual hatemongers of the internet—which but furthers the Left’s narrative that those who disagree with them are evil.

     It is those individuals who the Left will use an excuse to further suspend, exclude, and otherwise ban reasonable center-right voices. This is why is is so important for the Right to self-police.

     Yes, the Left doesn’t seem to have to and in fact can get away with so much more.

     It isn’t fair.

     But then, life isn’t fair.

     The double standards were not created by conservatives being timid, it is conservatives who trod lightly and carefully because that double standard already existed. The other side could get away with it because they were in a position of “privilege and power”, to steal the Left’s phrasing, while conservatives couldn’t because they were not fighting from a position of strength. But far too many were so tired of self-restraint that they just had to “fight” like the Left does, no matter what the consequences were or how much damage to their own side they caused. They had to scratch that itch, even if it meant getting gangrene and sepsis.

     The increasingly Left-wing monoculture of social media can not and will not be defeated by “punching back twice as hard”—lest one be considered a “soy boy beta cuck”—because that asymmetry of power precludes the capacity to fight like the Left. The option that must be taken is to fight asymmetrically. This means metaphorically smiling as you nonchalantly walk by and dirk ‘em in the kidneys—but that isn’t emotionally satisfying.

     Some people have so convinced themselves that conservatives only act courteously as an act of supplication and only surrender, tat they have deluded themselves into believing that the only alternative is to act obnoxiously and fight, and thus win, or at least unwaveringly side with those who act obnoxiously. It is manichean view that acting courteously equates with surrender, an thus the opposite of that is to act obnoxiously and thus win.   Yes, social media monopoly is bad, but going out of your way to poke the hornets nest is not the best way to get rid of it. Sites can and ought to be allowed to ban odious and obnoxious people, and people acting like ends up giving cover for companies to ban anyone who has a tangentially relate thought, or simply disagrees about the same thing.

     Even if one finds such self-ghettoization acceptable and one is fine with being “canceled” by by Facebook, Twitter, &c., using these alternative social media platforms can get you canceled in real life, such as with the case where a woman was fired not for posting something disagreeable on one of these alternative social media platforms but merely for simply using those alternative social media platforms at all!

     What then, can be done if “punching back twice as hard” and just walking away do not help solve this problem?

     Some people, like Sen. Hawley (R – Mo.) believe that the problem is “Section 230” which they believes allows these social media platforms to “censor” the digital “public square”, but in reality protects not only smaller platforms but any site with user interaction and content from liability for the content in question and thus fosters free speech online. If repealed this could, at best, lead to social media platforms being unable to ban anyone for anything; at worst it could make the draconian controls of the European Union seem libertine.

     The threat of a small monoculture bent on waging cultural warfare is very, very real. However using such blunt tactics that they Left can and will use far more effectively than the Right ever could is not the answer.   Whatever solution to this problem we come up with must be one which we ourselves can live under when administered by our enemies. Simple and broadly applicable, yet fair, laws that shift the power back to the user of these services are what ought to be aimed for.

     Perhaps recognizing that these aren’t “free services” but a quid pro quo arrangement with terms of service that bind the social media platforms in an enforceable way is an option. I would defer to a lawyer about the particulars and how far such an approach could go, but perhaps this raises an alternate line of approach at the very least. After all, the services ought to be free to exclude or include only whoever they want, but they must be upfront about that their exclusivity.   If they offer their services generally to the public with exclusions only for illegal activities or for obnoxious/harassing behavior they ought not be allowed to hide behind the “safe and hate-free environment” to silence any and all dissent in violation of the quid pro quo terms of use.

     Ultimately, it is the proprietary nature that allows for such concentration of power and gatekeeping of speech. E-mail and IRC allows for interoperability and communication while both preserving freedom of speech for the user and the right of content hosts to determine what 3rd parties can or can not use their service or what can or can not be hosted. Gab and GNU social are two such set-ups where you could for example (if you were so inclined) have an account with Gab, which doesn’t allow pornography on their server, and still use it to access pornography on a server that does.

     How, or even if, such preferable alternative to the status quo can be achieved remains an open question.

     Until then there are ways to the impact of these social media giants, including: Having many alternative social media accounts and back-up means of communicating, even if you are not actively using them right now; using non-propitiatory means of communication to at the very least keep in touch, such as e-mail, IRC, and similar means of communication; and having your own website with its own URL—even if you are kicked off by your hosting service the domain is yours and can be transferred with little interruption along with all your content.

     My various social media accounts and ways of contacting me, aside from interacting with me on this blog, can be found on the contact page, which will likely be continuously updated with new accounts on different platforms, even if those accounts are simply back-ups with yet little content.

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One Response to The Digital Gatekeepers And The Quandary Of Online Speech

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