Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Irony Is Dead in Silicon Valley

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald joined the chorus of those who have denounced Big Tech for its abuse of its monopoly powers. As he noted, and as we wrote about here yesterday, Silicon Valley’s tech behemoths crushed an upstart site called Parler, the better to save the world. (via Maggie's Farm)

The only remaining question is: who is going to save the world from Big Tech?

Greenwald explained:

The day after a united Apple and Google acted against Parler, Amazon delivered the fatal blow. The company founded and run by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, used virtually identical language as Apple to inform Parler that its web hosting service (AWS) was terminating Parler’s ability to have AWS host its site: “Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.” Because Amazon is such a dominant force in web hosting, Parler has thus far not found a hosting service for its platform, which is why it has disappeared not only from app stores and phones but also from the internet.

On Thursday, Parler was the most popular app in the United States. By Monday, three of the four Silicon Valley monopolies united to destroy it.

With virtual unanimity, leading U.S. liberals celebrated this use of Silicon Valley monopoly power to shut down Parler, just as they overwhelmingly cheered the prior two extraordinary assertions of tech power to control U.S. political discourse: censorship of The New York Post’s reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the banning of the U.S. President from major platforms. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a single national liberal-left politician even expressing concerns about any of this, let alone opposing it.

Precious few leftist politicians have opposed this action-- exception made for Greenwald-- but many of them had been pressuring the companies to shut down conservative speech. 

Not only did leading left-wing politicians not object but some of them were the ones who pleaded with Silicon Valley to use their power this way. After the internet-policing site Sleeping Giants flagged several Parler posts that called for violence, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked: “What are @Apple and @GooglePlay doing about this?” Once Apple responded by removing Parler from its App Store — a move that House Democrats just three months earlier warned was dangerous anti-trust behavior — she praised Apple and then demanded to know: “Good to see this development from @Apple. @GooglePlay what are you going to do about apps being used to organize violence on your platform?”

After flooding the airways with calls to destroy Donald Trump and his administration these leftist morons want to live in a world where they do not need to hear any opinions that differ from theirs. They have always lived in an echo chamber and wish to continue to do so. Suppressing dissent is a good step in that direction.

It is worth noting that these mini-minds on the left believe that speech produces action, and that if we shut down the wrong kind of speech we will stop violent actions. As has often been noted, Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that political violence was the language of the unheard. We might question the idea, but still, the notion that certain kinds of speech produce political violence was never applied to the leftist Democrats who were cheering on the summer’s Black Lives Matter insurrection.

When censorship only goes in one direction, we are not dealing with an effort to reduce violence, but we are seeing a hostile takeover of the American mind.

Why should this be so? Well, try this for an hypothesis. If you behave badly you gain a bad reputation. You can mumble something mindless, to the effect that no one has a right to judge you and that you need not feel any shame for doing anything wrong. But, the problem lies in the other minds who look askance at your antics. Here I am thinking of any kind of publicly recognized failure, from dropping a pass to going on a walk of shame.

If your inability to pretend that you have done nothing wrong depends on how others see you, then the solution must lie in your ability to take over other minds. Liberals who believe that any behavior is good and wholesome believe that if they gain complete control over other minds they will instantly feel morally purified.

Admittedly, this brief reflection has more to do with personal behavior than with political speech, but, who is to say that the issues are not the same. It might seem strange to say that a permissive, anything-goes culture would feel so much suppressed shame that it needs to pretend to take over other minds, but that seems clearly to be the case.

Anyway, Greenwald continues that liberalism, no longer has anything to do with what used to be called liberality. It is now simply a form of leftist authoritarian despotism:

That is because the dominant strain of American liberalism is not economic socialism but political authoritarianism. Liberals now want to use the force of corporate power to silence those with different ideologies. They are eager for tech monopolies not just to ban accounts they dislike but to remove entire platforms from the internet. They want to imprison people they believe helped their party lose elections, such as Julian Assange, even if it means creating precedents to criminalize journalism.

Of course, there is more:

Yet American liberals swoon for this authoritarianism. And they are now calling for the use of the most repressive War on Terror measures against their domestic opponents. On Tuesday, House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) urged that GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley “be put on the no-fly list,” while The Wall Street Journal reported that “Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.”

But, Greenwald points out, Parler was not run by Trump supporters. It was a libertarian site, which used to have a close relationship with liberalism. One notes, with some chagrin, that Ron Paul, a champion of libertarian values, can no longer write on his Facebook page. The reason: he committed the crime of criticizing social media.

The tech oligarchs are very touchy indeed. They must see the writing on the wall-- and they are not seeing love notes.

Parler was not founded, nor is it run, by pro-Trump, MAGA supporters. The platform was created based in libertarian values of privacy, anti-surveillance, anti-data collection, and free speech. Most of the key executives are more associated with the politics of Ron Paul and the CATO Institute than Steve Bannon or the Trump family. One is a Never Trump Republican, while another is the former campaign manager of Ron Paul and Rand Paul. Among the few MAGA-affiliated figures is Dan Bongino, an investor. One of the key original investors was Rebekah Mercer.

As for social media sites that were used to plan the protests of January 6, they were Twitter, Facebook and YouTube:

As Recode reported, while some protesters participated in both Parler and Gab, many of the calls to attend the Capitol were from YouTube videos, while many of the key planners “have continued to use mainstream platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.” The article quoted Fadi Quran, campaign director at the human rights group Avaaz, as saying: “In DC, we saw QAnon conspiracists and other militias that would never have grown to this size without being turbo-charged by Facebook and Twitter.”

Obviously, none of these companies are really against political extremism. They are simply against Republicans:

And that’s to say nothing of the endless number of hypocrisies with Silicon Valley giants feigning opposition to violent rhetoric or political extremism. Amazon, for instance, is one of the CIA’s most profitable partners, with a $600 million contract to provide services to the agency, and it is constantly bidding for more. On Facebook and Twitter, one finds official accounts from the most repressive and violent regimes on earth, including Saudi Arabia, and pages devoted to propaganda on behalf of the Egyptian regime. Does anyone think these tech giants have a genuine concern about violence and extremism?

Naturally, the tech titans believe that they are doing God’s work:

No authoritarians believe they are authoritarians. No matter how repressive are the measures they support — censorship, monopoly power, no-fly lists for American citizens without due process — they tell themselves that those they are silencing and attacking are so evil, are terrorists, that anything done against them is noble and benevolent, not despotic and repressive. That is how American liberals currently think, as they fortify the control of Silicon Valley monopolies over our political lives, exemplified by the overnight destruction of a new and popular competitor.

As I have suggested, Twitter and the other tech companies have overreached. Not only are they losing market cap, but they are alienating nations around the world. 

But, they are defending democracy in Uganda. In a proof that irony is dead or that Twitter is run by complete imbeciles, yesterday the platform decried any effort by social media to interfere in the election in Uganda. No kidding.

As noted above, leftists are so profoundly stupid that they have no idea what they are doing. Having suppressed opposing viewpoints they live in a thought bubble, aka, an echo chamber, where whatever they say is right and virtuous-- regardless of how much they contradict themselves. In their brave new world, hypocrisy counts as a sign of superior virtue.

The Washington Examiner reported:

Twitter is openly condemning internet service providers blocking social media apps in the run-up to an election in Uganda as it takes criticism for alleged censorship on its own platform.

“Ahead of the Ugandan election, we're hearing reports that Internet service providers are being ordered to block social media and messaging apps,” the social media giant posted in a statement on Tuesday.

“We strongly condemn internet shutdowns – they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet,” the statement continued.

The company argued that “access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections.”

See above, Greenwald’s brief account of the way that Twitter interfered in the recent presidential election by denying access to information.

As I said, irony is dead in Silicon Valley-- if it was ever alive.


Sam L. said...

Can anyone tell me what Qanon is, other than the BUGBEAR the left claims it is?

The Left, Apple, and Google are are totalitarians.

Greenwald: I used to suspect him as untrustworthy. Not so of late, though.

Illuninati said...

"If your inability to pretend that you have done nothing wrong depends on how others see you, then the solution must lie in your ability to take over other minds."

This is one of those flashes of brilliance that I appreciate about Schneiderman. Of course! Because the left has rejected the traditional Western moral virtues of Christianity and Judaism, they have simultaneously destroyed the guilt culture with internal moral values and replaced it with a shame culture in which morality is determined by how others think.

Sam L. said...

Annnnnnnd, they think badly, poorly, and lousilly.