The news this week in the world internetero has been the concerted action of several of the large internet –specifically Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify– to expel Alex Jones and his controversial Infowars of their platforms. All of them have been insured to do so because it did not comply with the conditions of use, but it is pretty unlikely that you have come to that conclusion simultaneously and without there existed a video or podcast specifically especially outrageous to blame. Does not seem like the best way to discredit a well-known conspiranoico that feed in this way, the conviction that there is a conspiracy against him. Twitter has been the only major platform to keep it up it almost seems done on purpose to have an excuse
The explanation seems to be in reality much more simple. Alex Jones gives a lot of disgust. Live (very well) to exploit the paranoia and the fear of his listeners without the slightest scruple. Especially disgusting was his theory that nobody actually died in the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012, that the alleged victims were children actors and you could see in the face of his fake parents at the funeral that in reality they were pretending. I would not want to build an internet platform to then have to accommodate types as well. The removal of this gentleman takes time rumiándose in the collective of Silicon Valley. So as soon as YouTube decided to take the plunge, all the others took advantage of. I don’t think that there is more.
The problem is that this is not going to stop here. The excuse that they have sought is that it spreads “hate speech”. The problem is that this characterization does not exist in u.s. law and leads to be used for a long, long time to justify a lot of attacks on freedom of expression, always from the same political side. The mobs universities use it to prevent by force any right to speak on campus. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which was born as a commendable whose work was key to reducing the KKK to ashes, has spent years abusing that reputation to be labeled as groups and individuals who promote hatred to any that disagree with a certain success of the leftist discourse as dominant, to the point of having included in this list a Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Maajid Nawaz, who has managed to get more than $ 3 million for difamarle. And you know who you trust the big technology for get the definition of what is a discourse of hate and know who practice it? Well, yes, the SPLC.
So, although it is virtually impossible to find anyone in the right american to go to miss Alex Jones, this decision on the part of the big platforms has created a great concern. One thing is that the large of the internet have all the right in the world to deny their services to whomever they want, and quite another that they may not be criticized for how they do it. And since it has long been clear that they are not for the work to be transparent in its decision making and acting with political bias evident. A few companies that practically the whole of its directors and employees donate to the Democrat Party and that have their headquarters in one of the regions that are politically more to the left of the country, they can try to make us believe that they are neutral politically, but you have to be very stupid to believe it.
Added to this is another problem that took decades by dragging: the huge difference with it comes to the extremism of right-wing and left-wing. While the former are universally denigrated, the seconds are standardized. Alex Jones is the worst thing: you say from the New York Times to the National Review. But Ash Sarkar can say that it is “literally communist” on television and becomes a heroine of the left in britain. So, now that Silicon Valley has decided that it can close the door to who you consider “hateful” not by anything specific but by your opinions in general, there is little doubt that, as has happened in the university, that concept will be gradually expanding to reach a good part of the right conventional, while the extremists of the left will continue to enjoy full freedom on YouTube or Twitter, to harass and spread their own messages of hate. As happens in the campus.
The problem is that, even though they are private companies, companies like Google or Facebook have achieved a good part of the internet traffic to go through their services or, even, to be hosted by them. So that, after a first decade of the XXI century with a huge diversity of platforms, where a special emphasis on the freedom of expression we have entered the second decade where being kicked out of YouTube or Twitter condemns you to a sort of exterior darkness, where everything is cold and only you can hear the echo of your voice. It is curious that, in general, advocates of the concept of “network neutrality” have been those who have applauded the expulsion of Alex Jones. Because under your theory that “all the bits have to be equal” and that the mediators –in your case the operators– should not have the right to prioritize or penalize the traffic on the network, should it not also intervene these platforms, whose decisions definitely prioritize or penalize greatly the one or the other opinion is accessible for the majority of users?
Some, at least, we are consistent and we don’t want net neutrality or intervention of the great internet. But perhaps these companies should remember that not everyone in the world is just as consistent and that there are people who have the ability to initiate complex processes, anti-monopoly, few scruples and incentives to attack a few companies that are increasingly being perceived as political enemies. Perhaps the solution would be limited to act against those who consider that they are violating the law, which in the U.S. would be limited to crimes of defamation and slander, instead of clinging to concepts arbitrary and unbalanced politically. But I don’t have many hopes.