Information flows globally when rising internet speeds are matched with the supercomputers that fit in our pockets. Readers might want to keep this in mind the next time they nod their heads about the importance of breaking up “Big Tech,” or shrinking inequality. Whatever the politics of Big Tech founders and CEOs, and whatever the number of zeros in their net worth, life would be much more challenging without them, and the world’s most vulnerable much less safe absent the commercial achievements of the demonized. Again, if Cuban authorities crack down, we’ll all know. There’s a degree of safety with this. For the Cuban people. Thank goodness.
Since Biden’s administrative and paramilitary teams are working hard to ferret out wrongspeak, this goes here:
Taibbi: Why should anyone care if a hashtag is suppressed on Facebook?
Orfalea : It’s funny. I’d just been looking into how China censors their internet when that >#revolution censorship on Facebook happened. And there are just so many similarities. There’s Harvard research from 2013 that says about China: they actually let a lot of criticism of the government go through. That’s not their main concern.
Their main concern is to stop anything that will lead to “collective expression.” And that’s what hashtags are. They’re a collective expression. And they lead to real-world collective action. It just seems like we’re really mimicking Chinese censorship to a “T” now.
Taibbi: The “American Political Science Review” article you refer to says, “Some of the most highly censored events are not criticisms or even discussions of national policies, but rather highly localized collective expressions that represent or threaten group formation.” So their idea is that the Chinese are trying to prevent “group formation.” Isn’t that a fanciful read of the situation, to compare it to us? We’re not China.
Orfalea : People in the U.S. seem able to recognize that China’s censorship of the internet is bad. They say: “It’s so authoritarian, tyrannical, terrible, a human rights violation.” Everyone sees that, but then when it happens to us, here, we say, “Oh, but it’s a private company doing it.” What people don’t realize is the majority of censorship in China is being carried out by private companies.
Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN Bureau chief for Beijing and Tokyo, wrote a book called Consent of the Network that lays all this out. She says, “This is one of the features of Chinese internet censorship and surveillance—that it’s actually carried out primarily by private sector companies, by the tech platforms and services, not by the police. And that the companies that run China’s internet services and platforms are acting as an extension of state power.”
The people who make that argument don’t realize how close we are to the same model. There are two layers. Everyone’s familiar with “The Great Firewall of China,” where they’re blocking out foreign websites. Well, the US does that too. We just shut down Press TV , which is Iran’s PBS, for instance. We mimic that first layer as well, and now there’s also the second layer, internally, that involves private companies doing most of the censorship.
Our democracy is being tested. Some of us want to know (if the election were truly as secure as Biden claims!) why Democrats are doing everything in their power to prevent the people from seeing the ballots, from accessing the voting machines and from confirming the chain of custody. What are they afraid of?
“We found our rhythm, we got on a roll,” Brady said. “Not a lot of people, you know, think that we could have won. About 40% of the people still don’t think we won.”
“You understand that, Mr President?” Brady asked Biden.
“I understand that,” said Biden to laughter.
“And personally, it’s nice for me to be back here. We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing. And they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom’. Why would they do that to me?” the smiling Brady said to laughter.