Big Tech Makes War on the Right

That is an evergreen headline. Here are a couple of instances from today’s news. First, Facebook has pulled Trump campaign ads under its “organized hate” policy. Sounds serious, right? No: the Trump ads were anti-Antifa, and, since Antifa is an organized hate group, you might think Facebook would approve of them.

Just kidding. Still, what was the problem? The Trump campaign ads included a red inverted triangle. A Trump campaign spokesman explained:

“The inverted red triangle is a symbol used by Antifa, so it was included in an ad about Antifa,” Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said in an email.

He is right:

What was Facebook’s reasoning? The Nazis sometimes used red triangles:

“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said a Facebook company spokesperson.

Antifa is a fascist organization, so maybe the Nazis inspired their use of the triangle. In any event, there is certainly nothing wrong with showing an Antifa symbol in an ad attacking Antifa. And I suspect you could easily find thousands of red triangles all over Facebook. Obviously, Facebook employees are trying to put their thumbs on the scales in favor of Joe Biden.

Case No. 2: Google Ads demonetizes ZeroHedge, and threatens to demonetize the Federalist, because of allegedly offensive comments on their sites. There is more to the story, which involves a disreputable web site in the U.K. and an NBC reporter who apparently was involved in promoting the investigation of ZeroHedge and the Federalist.

Ted Cruz is looking for answers:

As Sen. Ted Cruz noted in a letter to Google CEO Sander Pichai on Wednesday, “on any given day, there are thousands of profane, racist and indefensible comments posted on YouTube, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google.”

Cruz wants Pichai to explain just what Google’s “longstanding” policy is when it comes to advertising and reader comments, and how the company enforces it. Does Google, he asks, “apply the same standards to all media organizations, or just those with which it has political disagreements.” (We hope Cruz isn’t waiting for an honest answer to that one.)

There’s also the fact Google itself, along with every other social media company actively trying to silence conservatives, enjoys immunity from lawsuits involving user-created content – thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

As Cruz notes, “while Google holds that it cannot be held financially accountable for unlawful speech on its own platform, it is all too willing to use its market power to hold a conservative media outlet financially responsible for allowing disfavored speech on its platforms.”

No wonder that Google’s privileged position is under attack:

The Department of Justice is preparing proposals to roll back the legal immunities enjoyed by Big Tech companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), in measures that will be announced as early as Wednesday, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

The Justice Department is set to propose a rollback of legal protections that online platforms have enjoyed for more than two decades, in an effort to make tech companies more responsible in how they police their content, according to a Trump administration official.

Section 230 gives Big Tech companies immunity from lawsuits arising from user-generated content. If a person is defamed on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other big tech platforms like Reddit, those platforms are not legally liable for the content like a traditional publisher might be. This allows social media platforms to host billions of posts from users without a potentially crippling legal risk.

As Big Tech platforms have grown increasingly interested in censoring content posted by their users, however, many lawmakers have argued that they are behaving like traditional publishers, censoring and editing and approving their users’ posts. As such, a growing number of lawmakers have argued that the legal immunities of Section 230 should be contingent on platforms maintaining a hands-off approach to the speech of their users.

One way or another, it is intolerable for the principal means of communication in our world to be controlled by a highly politicized cadre that misuses its power to advance the interests of its favored party.

Responses