Featured image by Lisa Parker. Follow the link for more of this artist’s work.
As a Libertarian, I would very much like to have the market sort itself out. Companies, in principle and/or theory, should be self-regulating and following market principles of voluntary association, ethical integrity, and focus upon maintaining the mutual benefit of all parties that engage in those voluntary interactions. I believe very much in the idea that people, given the proper information, will make rational and reasonable decisions.
However, I don’t live in a theoretical world, and people aren’t given proper information. I, like many who are distrusting of the establishment and government in general, don’t settle for the information that is presented to us. I like to verify my information, using multiple sources, from varying points of view, and strip out all of the editorial commentary that has become part of the modern narrative media.
Big Tech and the Corporate Media have become, in essence, proxies for the federal government, and are acting on their behalf to advocate for positions that would benefit either the federal government, their donors, and other large corporations, and not the people. These companies, in order to ensure their continued existence, and profits, are no longer in the business of competing. They would much rather promote the story.
As a Libertarian, I cringe internally at the notion of passing legislation in order to achieve an end. But this apparent hypocrisy is justified (sigh and roll eyes here). I wish to live in a world where integrity, liberty, and ethics are commonplace, and the world is able to operate without the threat of coercion from the government. We live in a world where vice is virtue, and virtue is vice. Non-governmental agencies that wish to act as proxies for the government and would curtail our rights without redress of grievance must be treated the same as the government. If Facebook is allowed to ban groups, progressive and conservative alike for violating an ever shifting definition of “misinformation” and “disinformation,” then they should be held to the same level of accountability as if the government itself was banning people. Freedom of speech protects lying and false statements. In New York Times v Sullivan, “The Court suggested that, while false statements contribute nothing of value to political discourse, they need protection to allow “breathing room” for statements that are true.” (From The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s project “Exploring Constitutional Law“).
Why should Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, or any other corporation that controls the distribution of information be more powerful than the government? Why should they be so unrestrained? We don’t live in a world of saints. The majority of us are human, and are capable of both great good and evil. Power only magnifies that battle, and even those with the best of intentions can become corrupted by the power they wield. We’ve seen example after example in history, literature, myth, and legend. As Lord Acton writes,
We are seeing this revealed in real time. And it will only get worse before we realize that government must be restricted, enumerated, and curtailed at every turn, lest they grab more power and become more corrupt.