The risks of unlimited Big Tech power on free speech and democracy
Writing for realclearpolitics.com, Kalev Leetaru, a senior fellow at the George Washington University for Cyber & Homeland Security, argues that the evolution of Big Tech organizations from being ambassadors of free and open speech to an “Orwellian world in which unpopular speech can simply vanish” poses a genuine risk to democracy.
Leetaru, one of three external experts consulted on for Google’s now-infamous “Good Censor” document, argues that the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President marked a watershed moment for the major social media organizations. According to Leetaru, the response was to embrace censorship, seeing it as the “best way to tame a changing electorate”.
Reflecting on the problematic question of what constitutes “hate speech”, Leetaru suggests that Silicon Valley has become increasingly committed to the idea that all hate online is conservative speech. As a result, “the social platforms have transformed a bipartisan fight against hatred into an ideological battle against our societal differences.”
Leetaru concludes by reflecting on the recent, problematic, role of Facebook in shaping political discourse in the U.S. He writes:
Perhaps most dangerous of all, Facebook has increasingly begun to leverage its power to directly interfere in the voting process itself. Across the world, the company now sends get-out-the-vote reminders that it has shown to have a significant impact on voting behavior, yet it is unable to explain why not all voters see the messages or prove that the reminders do not result in a partisan skew.
To read the full article by Kalev Leetaru, click here.
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