Trump Must Fight Back Against Big Tech Corporate Control—or Risk Losing a Winnable Election
It comes as no surprise that Trump is constantly assaulted by the media, the Democrats, desultory members of his own party, the churches, the “Deep State,” late-night comics, the entertainment industry and by those euphemistically known as the “coastal elites.” After all, he is a member of that rare breed of political personage who put the nation before themselves; in other words, he is a principled president, which is anathema to the host of ideologues and sycophants who constitute the political class and the cultural establishment.
This has been the case since his early candidacy, continuing into the present moment in which his successes concerning the economy, trade, a refractory or hostile international community and border insurgency are regarded as errors of judgment or signs of personal hubris. Notwithstanding, just as Obama is correctly perceived by the more honest and astute observers on the current scene as the worst president in the history of the republic, intent on dismantling a great nation, Trump is seen by many as the best president since Reagan and among the best since Abraham Lincoln.
I would hazard that Trump actually won the popular vote in 2016 despite the reprehensible conduct of the Democrats whose electoral numbers arguably owed much to the unscrupulous rigging of the voting process. Clearly, Trump did not win the dead vote, the multiple vote, the uncounted vote and the unreported vote, yet managed to triumph despite the odds. I have no doubt that he would succeed again, perhaps handily, in the coming election, once more proving the biased and conniving pollsters catastrophically wrong—but only assuming that he recognizes where the real threat to a second term is coming from.
The source of this threat is social media and the Big Tech conglomerates that control platforms such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Vimeo, Reddit, PayPal, Patreon, Amazon and others. Trump must be aware that a bald-faced campaign against conservative or populist thinkers, writers and bloggers is now in full swing. Such individuals are almost daily being demonetized, deplatformed and banned, rejected by publishers, stripped of customer reviews, and denounced as haters, bigots, racists, toxic males, agents of the “alt-right,” white supremacists and apologists for evil.
The practice of collaborative deplatforming and selective banning cannot be doubted. Witness Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, Bosch Fawstin, Faith Goldy, Gavin McInnes, Stefan Molineux, Paul Elam, Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, James O’Keefe and Tommy Robinson, among others who have been banned or suspended, some intermittently, some permanently, by one or another of the social media giants.
The result is that the voting public is deprived of the information it needs on which to make informed, balanced and comprehensive judgments respecting the suitability of presidential contenders. The intention is to ensure that a “Trump situation” does not happen again, i.e., that Trump is not re-elected. Google executive Jen Gennai makes it clear that Google is bent on sidelining those who support Donald Trump.
If Trump does not act against this perversion of electoral justice and journalistic ethics, then there is a strong possibility that he will go down to a defeat he does not deserve. Even Elizabeth Warren, of all people, advises breaking up the tech monoliths. The president has the procedural means to frustrate this conspiracy—and make no mistake, it is a genuine conspiracy—against both the democratic process and his own legitimate prospects.
The fact that these entities are private businesses does not exempt them from the application of anti-trust laws since they operate as virtual monopolies, effectively cornering the market on a public resource—the consumption of information. They are no different from companies that raise their prices because they have a lock on the market and are capable of preventing competition. The mechanics of the free market have seized and are no longer functional. Enterprises that regulate the flow of information are in effect fixing the price of their services, which, so to speak, only those who can afford them may access, that is, privileged users preponderantly on the left for whom the end justifies the means. The strategy is to eliminate the full expression of the public voice while both limiting and forcing the choices of consumers. Information is a product no less than pharmaceuticals, food stuffs, and domestic and industrial goods are products—and no less essential.
As I pointed out in a previous article on the subject, rectifying such abuse of the public weal runs into a serious problem. Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code protects an internet service provider, blog host or online forum operator from liability for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
Obviously, 230 liability protection renders charges of bad faith, discrimination and censorship hard to verify. The problem, however, can be avoided by redefining these large social media syndicates with vast market share and de facto control of the public square either as publishers legally responsible for featured content or as public utilities to which federal regulations could apply. A private company that distorts and manipulates its data in order to maximize gain and/or promote a political program is in default of licit business practice. It is, in effect, defrauding the public that has few outlets at its disposal to communicate with others and to market its goods and services. Indeed, as Joshua Foxworth observes, the infogiants will often sacrifice profit “in an effort to affect a political outcome.”
Antitrust laws and amendments date from the1890 Sherman Act but retain their significance to this day, in particular the Federal Trade Commission Act (or FTC). The general intent according to the FTC guide is “to protect the process of competition for the benefit of consumers” and to ban “unfair methods of competition” and “unfair or deceptive acts or practices." As I argued, if President Trump were to avail himself of anti-trust legislation, he would not have to solicit a hostile House but could, as the law permits, approach the courts, in particular, the Department of Justice, to disband an information monopoly serving narrow private interests rather than fair business practice and the common good.
The fact remains that if Trump does not move to break up these informational monopolies—systems that are motivated not only and not always by profit but also by a pronounced political agenda—he stands a distinct possibility of losing an election he would otherwise fairly win. At the same time, the nation grows increasingly polarized and fragmented as it edges toward a totalitarian condition.
The time to act is now.