After writing my column for Christian Today on the Big Tech ban on Trump, Premier Christianity asked me to write on the same subject. This gave me the chance to approach it from a different angle – the first article looked at the danger to American democracy – this one looks at the danger to the church. The article I wrote was too long so the editor Sam Hailes edited it….which is entirely right for him to do so. This is the published article –
(I find it interesting that one Christian leader stated that it should not have been published and that it repeated ‘Alt-Right’ theories. I hate this kind of binary simplistic narrative – and the attempt to silence people by name calling. It’s even worse (and ironic) that an article which warns about Christians being silenced and prevented from publishing – results in a Christian leader asking for it not to be published!
The following is the original….
First they Came for the Trumpists…
This week I was banned. Together with millions of others. All my posts, responses, likes and information on one social media platform, were summarily removed because of a decision of an oligarch in California. Some Christians tweeted how delighted they were – I fear that they are not seeing the dangers of what is going on. Especially for the Church.
Let’s ask where we are, how we got here, and where we seem to be heading. What are now known as the Big Tech corporations; Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet (Google), have amassed wealth, power and influence greater than any previous companies in human history. Much of this has developed due to the 230 exemption in US law. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 –provides legal protection for any website provider – and ensures that they are not responsible for the content. In effect the big tech giants were handed legal immunity. They cast themselves as providers not publishers. In old world terms, they provide the paper and the ink, they do not publish the books.
Now that they have amassed billions in resources and a virtual monopoly on social media on the Internet, they have changed their tune. Suddenly they have decided that they are responsible for at least some of the content – although conveniently for them – not legally. YouTube for example blocks any video which dares to question the efficacy of lockdown as a measure to combat Covid 19. This has all come to the forefront when these companies all decided to ban President Trump and then go even further by blocking one of their smaller rivals, the Parler platform.
I have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I am an Amazon Prime member, have an Apple laptop and phone, and a Google e-mail address. I also have a Parler account, as a back-up because twice I was suspended from Twitter. I came to realise that giving one company the right to censor your speech, reading and thoughts was not a great idea! Now Big Tech has decided that I don’t have the right to access Parler – they have just simply removed them. (I am astounded at how many Christians who know nothing about Parler and have no experience of it – are prepared to state that it is a Far Right platform on the basis of something they read on the Internet or in the media. Of course Far Right people are on Parler – they are also on Facebook, Twitter and numerous others – I have just read an article about one of the organisers of the Capitol Hill who organised his particular part on Facebook – should it be banned?)…
The reason given is facetious and hypocritical. They say that Parler facilitated violence because some posts advocated support for the Capitol Hill riots. That is undoubtedly true – but given that they argue they cannot be held legally responsible for what is published on their platforms, why are they holding Parler responsible? Other platforms and media providers (i.e., mobile phone companies) were also used. Furthermore, all of them host people who advocate violence. It is incredible that US Big Tech bans the US President whilst giving free rein to the Chinese Communist Party who regularly tweet support for the suppression of the Hong Kong people and the genocide of the Uighur Muslims. One of their latest tweets argued that Muslim women in concentration camps have been liberated and have had ‘gender equality and reproductive health promoted’!
Trump and Parler were banned because they do not meet ‘community standards. These are the same standards that permit Ayatollah Khamenei to tweet “Israel is a malignant cancerous tumour in the West Asia region that has to be removed and eradicated. It is possible and it will happen.” As for advocating violence, earlier this year the online magazine Slate tweeted “Non-violence is an important tool for protests, but so is violence.” This was typical of hundreds of tweets for Antifa and BLM which justified violence against people and destruction of property – none of which resulted in either the perpetrators or platforms being banned.
Twitter this week, in a tweet which shows both a breathtaking lack of self-awareness and a stunning hypocrisy, expressed concern about the same thing happening in Uganda – “We strongly condemn internet shutdowns – they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet.”
The Christian Response?
Whilst the German, French and Australian governments, as well as numerous opposition politicians in authoritarian countries like Russia, see the danger in this extreme approach – it appears as though many Christians are seeking to justify it. After all we don’t like Donald Trump and his approach, so this must be a good thing? It’s strange how people are in favour of censorship when they think it is them or the friends who are doing the censoring. They tend not to be so keen when they are the ones censored!
You can see where this will lead. The Californian Woke Maoists decide that saying men cannot become women is ‘violence’ – so any organisation or platform that does so is banned. Ditto those who argue that marriage is between a man and a woman, abortion is killing human babies or whatever other Woke position has been determined as absolute truth by those who don’t believe that there is absolute truth!
New World Dictators
In the old world all dictators could do was burn books – or the people who printed them. The book burning equivalents of today – the progressive politician’s hand in hand with the corporate Tech oligarchs – not only burn the books, but now can they destroy the paper, the printing press and all the distributors. It is a hellish power to have. As Amol Rajan BBC journalist asked; “They are the editors of the Internet. They have more power than any politician or journalist in history. The question that matters is not have they made the right editorial call but rather is it right that a handful of Californian billionaires should hold such sway over the 21st century public domain?”
We are entering a dangerous time in the history of Western democracies – and that danger is not primarily from a mob of redneck conspiracy theorists. Rather it is a handful of Californian billionaires with an unparalleled power in human history, who pose the biggest threat. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s time for that monopoly to be broken up and citizens and governments to regain their freedom.
13th January 2021
PS. Since I wrote this Twitter and Facebook have lost $51 billion in value.
PPS, If you want to hear Amol Rajan’s report listen to the latest podcast – Quantum 129 – Big Tech; IRA; Sturgeon; Cliff Richard; Kyrygyzstan; Covid; Atheist Children; Indian Persecution; The National Trust Personhood of Water and Gerry Marsden