Big Tech censorship is nothing new. In recent years, social media firms have tightened the bounds of acceptable thought and speech under the guise of tackling hate speech and misinformation. This purge has swept up not just the Tommy Robinsons and David Ickes of this world, but also broadcasters that question lockdown and feminists concerned about the excesses of trans politics. But with the Trump ban, the Rubicon has well and truly been crossed.
For years, Twitter and Facebook have resisted demands to delete Trump’s tweets or suspend his account, given that he is the leader of the US and people probably should know what he’s getting up to. In the past year, Trump has had his posts about Covid, voter fraud and Black Lives Matter protests slapped with warning labels and fact-checks. But until now Twitter and Facebook were hesitant to suspend him.
That Big Tech has decided to move before Trump is even out of office sets a terrifying precedent. Silicon Valley believes it has the right to stand between a president and his people. And if the American president can be censored, it really can happen to anyone.
Those saying this isn’t censorship because Twitter and Facebook are private companies are unconvincing, not least because many of those levelling this staunch defence of billionaires’ rights are on the left. The tech oligarchs essentially own the digital public square.
Worse, they are now trying to bring to heel companies that have tried to launch alternatives. Parler — a free-speech alternative to Twitter — has just been suspended from Google’s app store. And Apple has said it will do the same unless Parler introduces content-moderation policies.
This will not end with Trump. In the name of felling one right-wing authoritarian, liberals have ushered in a genuine tyranny.