How big Tech Seduced The Left

Silicon Valley has always been the home of corporate control freakery, IT coprporations somehow seem to be the natural business activity of sociopathic billionaires who, sharing a complete lack of humanity and its associated qualities, compassion and emapthy are capable of convincing themselves that their efforts to gather to themselves ever more wealth, power and influence.

In the early days of the Internet it was naively believed by the founding stoners of web culture that the net would be the final barrier that would stop the big tech corporations taking over the world.

Where did it all go wrong?

BY Geoff Shullenberger, Unherd, 27 Ocotber 2020:

Picture via

These days, scandals tend to morph into meta-scandals, and the New York Post’s recent report on Hunter Biden’s links to a Ukrainian energy company was no exception. In the end, the content of the controversial Post story received far less attention than Facebook and Twitter’s moves to block its circulation on their sites, based on the claim that it constituted “disinformation”. While plenty of Democratic partisans applauded this move, others saw it as an alarming case of overt censorship on the part of the platforms that now exert broad control over the spread of information.

The journalist Glenn Greenwald, one of the most vocal Left-wing critics of the tech companies’ actions, asserted that they “never wanted this role.” Instead, he said, “[i]t was foisted on them by people, led by journalists, demanding they censor.” And indeed, since the 2016 election, much of the Left-of-centre media has faulted social media platforms for what they see as overly permissive policies on political speech.

As many have previously pointed out, support for restricting speech is a sharp pivot away from principles once common on the Left. Notably, one of the most iconic protest events of the 1960s was the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, a revolt against the University of California’s limitations on political speech. (In recent years, in contrast, student radicals have been more likely to protest their universities’ unwillingness to restrict expression on campus.)

What’s less well-remembered about the Berkeley Free Speech Movement is that then, as now, debates about the freedom of expression revolved around technology — specifically, information technology. A hint of this emphasis is apparent in the movement’s best-known statement: the famous speech in which activist Mario Savio proclaimed: “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part” … Continue reading >>>

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