As the past year has borne out, Big Tech companies are not afraid to exercise their power in the service of leftist ideology. And they are using it to manipulate the flow of information to American body politic.
When we talk about Big Tech, we are referring to a loose compilation of companies that include the “Big Five” tech companies—Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook), and Microsoft—along with other tech companies that actively shape public discourse. Together, they wield their power as global oligopolies—dominating the modern technology market in a state of limited competition—to transform the cultural and political shape of American society.
Every American should be concerned about Big Tech’s willingness to shut off direct access to digital information, its demonstrated pattern of information manipulation, and its impact on America’s culture of free speech.
Beyond this, the growing symbiosis between Big Tech and government, the constriction of digital life, the pernicious targeting and exploitation of the next generation, and the expansion of digital surveillance will accelerate the stratification of American society. If current patterns are not disrupted, conservatives will bear the brunt of this tech-enabled classification system implemented hand-in-glove with the government.
It’s time for conservatives—and any thinkers willing to challenge prevailing leftist narratives—to push back against the trend toward totalitarianism in America that is being ushered in with the help of Big Tech.
Big Tech’s Information Monopoly
A handful of Big Tech corporations now manipulate the flow of information in such an expansive way as to fundamentally reshape the public discourse. The past year demonstrated that suppression of conservative viewpoints by technology companies can materially impact the body politic. For example, tech corporations actively insert themselves between “the user and content” in increasingly ideological ways.
- An October 2021 poll by research firm McLaughlin and Associates found that 52% of Americans believe Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites’ censorship of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story constituted interference in the election.
- A November 2020 study by the Media Research Center found that 1 in 6 Biden voters claimed they would have changed their vote had they been aware of information such as the Hunter Biden laptop story that was actively suppressed by tech companies.
- More than 17 platforms muzzled the then-sitting president of the United States within two weeks in January 2021. At the same time, three tech companies acted in concert (within approximately 48 hours of each other) to eliminate a conservative-friendly competitor as it sat atop the Apple store.
- In October 2021, the Media Research Center determined that Twitter and Facebook censor Republican members of Congress at a rate of 53-to-1 compared to Democrats in Congress.
Also in October 2021, leaked documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook created and used two internal tools in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory that suppressed right-wing content, media traffic, and reach on the site.
Additional evidence is pouring in. YouTube censors content that contradicts left-wing orthodoxy. Facebook suppresses access to information critical of Democrat politicians. Sitting Republican members of Congress are regularly sanctioned by multiple platforms. Christian commentators, preachers, and even mothers are penalized for posting “misinformation.”
The works of authors and filmmakers are suppressed or removed entirely due to critical stances on the Black Lives Matter organization or biological views on the sex differences between men and women. And run-of-the-mill outlets expressing a right-leaning position, including Sky News and the New York Post, America’s oldest daily newspaper, are curbed for violating Big Tech’s ever-changing policies.
Conservatives Must Act Now
Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his 1835 treatise “Democracy in America” that tyranny in democratic republics manifests differently from tyranny in monarchies. But tyranny in the free world exists nonetheless, and it takes on a specific character—one not altogether unfamiliar to what conservatives are beginning to experience today. Despotism in the United States, Tocqueville wrote,
ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do…. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you…. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity…. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
To avoid this fate, conservatives should act now—to fight, to build, and to restore the principles of free expression and the democratic promise of technology. The stakes are rising by the day.
In my latest report published by The Heritage Foundation, I recommend steps that Congress and federal agencies; private businesses; state-level legislatures, executives, and attorney generals; and American citizens can do to counter Big Tech totalitarianism. You can read more here.
If we do not confront this tech-enabled stratification now, conservatives will be relegated to the status of second-class citizens, constrained within a patchwork of technical restrictions or cut off entirely from the new digital world.
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