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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

OPINION:

“Newjack” is slang for a new prison guard. So for Americans held hostage by Big Tech, it’s a perfect term to describe a replacement warden of the digital panopticon.

Just one day after Parag Agrawal became CEO of Twitter, his company announced a new, sweeping edict: Henceforth, photos of private individuals posted without their permission can be taken down. Mr. Agrawal then tweeted a photo of himself with his predecessor, Jack Dorsey. But there were some private individuals in the background. Did Mr. Agrawal track them down to get their permission? Almost certainly not. And why would he? He now sits upon the throne. The rules only apply to us peons.


You are allowed any reaction except surprise. The only principles that govern Silicon Valley are those considered fashionable in San Francisco. Since Big Tech’s woke oligarchs despise the Constitution, it should be expected that we witness boundless power and arbitrary action increasingly manifesting as authoritarianism.

Nor should anyone be surprised Mr. Agrawal will almost certainly be less concerned with protecting our individual rights than Jack. Big Tech told us what it wanted — and where it’s heading — on Jan. 7 when it booted the sitting president of the United States from Twitter, and, soon after, shut down Parler, an entire platform.

Many Americans took this threat to our core freedoms seriously and teamed up with dissidents across business, politics and tech. Looking ahead, we feared that whatever Big Tech was willing to do the most powerful person in the world (and get away with it), it would be perfectly willing to do to regular Americans. Unfortunately, our fears were realized.

The internet is one of the greatest examples of American ingenuity and innovation. It has allowed businesses of all sizes to launch and grow. It has also improved the livelihoods of countless citizens. It has expanded educational opportunities and spurred dramatic advancements in science. It’s a depressing irony then that Silicon Valley, once hailed as a jewel in our nation’s crown, has become the biggest threat to American liberty.

Over the last several years, Big Tech has expanded its reach to such a spectacular extent that virtually every aspect of American life is under the thumb of its so-called “community guidelines.” Hardly anyone can go more than a day without having to use Big Tech’s products and services to communicate, find information, engage in commerce, pay bills or read the news.

The handful of companies that comprise Big Tech controls who speaks, what is spoken and what is spoken when. Such power has resulted in a new ruling class in Silicon Valley and has little love for America. It, along with its progressive minions in media, academia and beyond have replaced our U.S. Constitution with their own terms and conditions, betraying the very principles of freedom that allowed for their inception and unprecedented success.

The danger of Big Tech goes beyond its content moderation practices. Hiding behind the immunities of Section 230, companies like Twitter have enacted policies and developed algorithms to undermine our constitutional liberties.

The true purpose of Twitter’s new policy is to give itself and its comrades even more power to determine what is “True,” and, likewise, to suppress and, if necessary, disappear what is “disinformation.” It’s time to wake up. We are one order away from having all of our freedoms eliminated. If you think that’s hyperbole, consider what King Agrawal said the other day about Twitter: “Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment.”

Big Tech isn’t crazy about the Second Amendment either. YouTube routinely removes, suppresses or demonetizes gun-related videos. Similarly, Google considers firearm-related content to be “non-family safe.” Twitter policy “prohibits the promotion of weapons and weapon accessories globally.”

What about the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial? Big Tech doesn’t respect that either. For months, it slandered Kyle Rittenhouse, calling him a “mass murderer” and a “white supremacist” (which echoed the outrageous allegations that President Biden made on the campaign trail). Big Tech injected itself right into the middle of the case via the court of public opinion, dispensing with any pretense of respecting the presumption of innocence, the sacrosanct foundation of the American criminal justice system.

Not content to eviscerate our civil liberties, Big Tech took aim at the right to vote. Social media propped up the Russia collusion hoax to undermine the duly elected president. It censored and undermined the Hunter Biden laptop story so that voters would not have the information necessary to cast a fully informed vote for the next president.

In case that wasn’t enough to ensure the outcome Big Tech wanted, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the behemoth formerly known as Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan donated roughly $400 million to organizations that gave grants to counties to conduct the 2020 election. Translation: The couple literally got involved in running the election. Unsurprisingly, studies revealed that “Zuckerbucks” were targeted to increase voter access in liberal areas.

If none of this strikes you as disturbing — if you are fine with having Big Tech literally in every aspect of your life, including possibly an Alexa in your bedroom — then continue on your way. If, however, you still cherish your liberties, then you must act. Starting today, and despite the initial and admittedly annoying inconvenience, just do everything possible to conduct business, communicate and exercise your rights in new ways. You won’t regret it.

• Christopher Bedford is a founding partner at RightForge.


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