Op-Ed: Big Tech’s Deception 


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Peter Armstrong, Contributing Writer

There is no question that an informed populace is vital to maintaining the integrity of our democracy. Our media was once spread primarily through newspapers and nightly news reports, it is now increasingly being spread through a few tech giants such as Twitter and Facebook. While the change in how we receive our news may not be concerning at a glance, the past few months have put a spotlight on just how dangerous it may be. The New York Post, which has been operating in some form or another since 1801 was recently censored completely from Twitter to apparently prevent its users from being exposed to potentially damaging information about a political candidate during an election year. Regardless of your own political leanings, I think we can all agree that this sets a dangerous precedent for our democracy. The consolidation and politicization of the tech giants is a direct threat to countries around the world and must be addressed.  

Censorship in social media is only one part of the problem. When most people fire up their browsers to search for information, Google is their primary access point. We would expect and hope that when we search the internet for information we would be provided with the most relevant results without bias, but that is often not the case. Now one could argue that people are free to use a different search option, and while valid, does not take into account how many are oblivious to censorship by big tech, Google certainly isn’t going to notify it’s users that it may be manipulating the results. The rise of large tech companies has placed us in a precarious situation, but not entirely unknown to us.  

While the digital front of the problem is new, we’ve faced similar problems in the past in the US. Telecommunications companies were once the evil giants that utilized shady practices for their own benefit until they were classified common carriers which put an abrupt end to much of the malpractice. Common carrier laws ensure that the company or utility in question provide the same service to all of its customers without discrimination unless there are solid grounds for denial or face regulatory action. While I myself am often hesitant to suggest heavy regulation, common carrier laws have proven to be a net benefit for the people and therefore our democracy in the past.  

The threat presented to us by big tech is very real and should concern nations around the world. Allowing a few tech companies to control the flow of information to the people around the world, which could be used as a weapon or to hide or censor whatever information they feel. Perhaps even more concerning is that many modern companies hold no true allegiance to their own countries, going out of their way to avoid taxes or moving offices offshores to save on labor. Giving companies that mingle with hostile nations so much power with little regulation is a mistake that will backfire if it hasn’t already in one way or another.  

The time to act is now before any further damage can be done. Allowing big companies to play the role of “The Ministry of Truth” will allow hostile nations a payed gateway to control another’s information flow, inevitably leading to the downfall of democracies around the world  and mass confusion. Our elected leaders need to put aside their differences and speak clearly through regulation that we will not allow the snakes in the grass to come any closer and we the people need to ensure that they do.