JERUSALEM – The Jan. 6 storming of the United States Capitol Building by activists and rioters is being used as a justification by Big Tech companies to declare themselves the sole arbiters of truth and to constrain the ability of other voices – particularly conservative voices – to make their case.
This is wrong and is a dangerous overreach by the leading Big-Tech companies.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have claimed for years to be neutral and open platforms — not “publishers,” not “editors,” not “arbiters of the truth.
Although President Donald Trump released a video condemning the attack in the halls of Congress, it wasn’t enough for Silicon Valley. The Big Tech leaders have issued their own overreaching verdict. They banned the president of the United States from publishing his views and statements on Facebook and Twitter.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, stated on Jan. 7 that Trump was banned indefinitely from Facebook to prevent “the use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
Twitter followed several days later on Jan. 9 and announced a permanent suspension of Trump’s @realDonaldTrump twitter account, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”
Let’s be clear, the breaking into of the Capitol Building by an angry and violent mob was a very serious crime, and all those who were directly involved in breaching the Capitol should be arrested and prosecuted. But let's also keep in mind that the attack involved a relatively small number of Americans. Thus, the punishment should fit the crime.
Instead, Big Tech is exhibiting “excessive force.” It is overreaching in its response to Trump. The mainstream media often uses the phrase “excessive force” when describing the Israeli army’s response to missile fire from Gaza on Israeli cities. I haven’t heard yet “excessive force” in the mainstream media’s reporting on this week’s events.
This overreach by Big Tech is a dangerous and hypocritical precedent, not just for the U.S., but for all countries, including Israel.
I’ll get to the hypocrisy in a moment. First, the danger.
Many Israeli politicians including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid communicate in Hebrew to the Israeli public through Facebook posts. Will Facebook executives suddenly decide one day soon to ban Israeli politicians from speaking to their people on their platform if they don’t like what Israeli leaders have to say?
What if there is an illegal and deadly riot in Israel in response to a speech by an Israeli politician? Will Facebook impose a ban on that leader?
The free speech implications for the U.S. – a nation of 320 million people – are chilling enough. How much more for a small country of less than 10 million? Should faceless executives in Silicon Valley be able to silence the voices of free citizens and democratically-elected leaders around the world?
Now, here’s the hypocrisy.
Neither Facebook nor Twitter have permanently banned Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from their platforms, even though Khamenei actively and repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel and incites violence against the U.S., Israel and other nations in the Middle East. Why not? Is it not a massive overreach to ban a democratically-elected leader from social media, yet allow the leader of the world’s most dangerous terrorist state to keep voicing his hateful messages on these platforms?
Here's the problem. The Big-Tech leaders in Silicon Valley believe it is their job to deem what is “good speech” and what is “bad speech” and how seriously to deal with (or ignore) offenders. They also believe it is their job to determine which information you should have and not have access to.
But how do they decide? What moral compass do they use to determine? In this modern age of diversity and free thinking, do we really believe it is right that the powers that be who run Big-Tech, the mainstream media, and all social media platforms to force their worldview on you and me? Are we really comfortable letting Big-Tech silence every “fact” and every “view” they don’t like?
That said, silencing Trump apparently wasn’t enough for Big Tech.
This article was originally posted here.
Joseph Magen is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. He has more than 20 years of experience in high-tech, software development, and the Israeli venture capital industry. Joseph lives in the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem with his wife and four young children.