Another day, another flood of impulsive Trump tweets.
This time, Trump doubled down on Google’s rigged search engine. Its algorithm discriminates against conservatives, fumed Trump, and promotes stories critical of him and his administration.
Trump said the situation will be “addressed” by the government. His economic guy Larry Kudlow said they were “looking into” Google’s discriminatory algorithm and will perform “investigations” and “analysis.”
Next week Twitter and Facebook will face Congress to answer questions about “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election and the hyped threat Russia will somehow—through Facebook clickbait—swing the midterms. Republicans want to question the CEOs of the social media behemoths about discrimination practiced against conservatives while Democrats focus on “far right” extremists pinpointed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Facebook and Twitter have suspended hundreds of accounts ahead of the November midterm elections to avoid interference from foreign actors. Facebook last week said it had removed 652 pages, groups and accounts linked to Iran over “coordinated inauthentic behavior” targeting people in the U.S., the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East. As of Tuesday, Twitter has removed 770 accounts over “coordinated manipulation” ahead of the midterms.
Here’s what is omitted from the argument. The average American voter has little to no influence on government policy. The state is owned by the financial elite and its interlocking corporations and when policy is made, it serves their interests, not the American people.
In 2013, research conducted by Harvard and the University of Sydney found that the average American has virtually zero influence on the behavior of government.
Compared to economic elites, average voters have a low to nonexistent influence on public policies. “Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions, they have little or no independent influence on policy at all,” the authors conclude.
According to OpenSecrets, the top PACs influencing government policy include Northrup Grumman, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Boeing, and the American Bankers Association. ABA members include banks of all sizes and charters, and between them they represent over 95 percent of the industry’s $13.5 trillion in assets.
It’s been like this for a long time and isn’t anything new.
We hear little about the influence of these banks and corporations. Instead we hear about the Russians, the “far right” presenting “alternative facts” with “fake news.” This somehow inexplicably swayed the American voter, millions who are dismissed as redneck deplorables and garbage people by the elite, its micromanaged political class, and a stenographic corporate media reading from government scripts.
Donald Trump is not your advocate. He’s angry with corporate media because it trashes him—every day, usually over the top and highly partisan—not because it violates the long lost concept of free speech and open debate.
Trump wants the use the presidency to crack down on CNN and other ostensibly liberal media corporations. I say ostensibly because the corporate and financial interests that control media are not liberal or conservative. They are masters of disguise and adeptly exploit social and political movements. The original Tea Party (not the modified Republican version), the Occupy Wall Street movement, and others stretching back to the Palmer Raids and COINTELPRO have been either systematically destroyed or domesticated, usually with gatekeeper foundation money.
Instead of demanding “fairness” from centralized corporate social media corporations, we need to deny our business. Do you really want to support a corporation that plays tricks in the dark, employing algorithms and shadow bans that discriminate?
If enough people opted out of corporate social media and the user base of these corporations shrank to a significant degree, this wouldn’t be an issue.
I doubt this will happen. Americans are addicted to their devices and freedom of speech is not high on their priorities list. Additionally, they usually follow the directives of government without serious opposition, although complaints are everywhere.
We have two viable options.
Either get off social media entirely, or build and support or own social media platforms.
Short of that, we really have no reason to complain.
In a crony capitalist system like ours, large corporations naturally team up with the government to establish monopolies and gain preferential treatment over competitors. In return, these corporations will do the bidding of the state.
The internet and social media are vital components of an emerging total surveillance state. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s tech investment group, seeded the social media sphere. Facebook in particular is a national security state asset. The NSA and associated agencies and contractors harvest widely and continuously, making the Cambridge Analytica revelation nearly insignificant by comparison.
If you’re on social media your tweets and messages are collected, stored, and analyzed by the state along with your phone calls, internet web traffic, financial and medical records records, and emails. Encryption software protects some of this traffic and that is why we see the government effort to outlaw both encryption and online anonymity.
The greatest surveillance apparatus devised by man and its significant impact on our liberties comes in second or third behind the drama of social media with its lurking Russian bots and shrill cries our democracy is under a frontal assault by words.