Tyler wrong about social media censorship

Tyler Cowen has some interesting insights from time to time, but in a recent article Roissy has been deplatformed is out of touch regarding social media censorship and de-platforming. As many are aware, Roissy, the author of the popular blog Chateau Heartiste had his WordPress account terminated for supposed TOS violations, which meant that his blog and and all its content was deleted and is permanently inaccessible. This is probably not the first time WordPress has deleted a blog for politically-motivated reasons, and will not be the last, and sets a precedent for further deletions.

Tyler writes:

I worry about deplatforming much less than many of you do. I remember the “good old days,” when even an anodyne blog such as Marginal Revolution, had it existed, had no platform whatsoever. All of a sudden millions of new niches were available, and many of us moved into those spaces.

Yeah, that because baring exceptional circumstances tenured professors cannot be de-platformed. People who use social media accounts to convey their ideas don’t have that luxury. When someone as popular as CH, who is read by 1000’s of ppl, vanishes overnight, ppl will notice.

In recent times, a number of the major tech companies have dumped some contributors, due to a mix of customer and employee protest. So we have gained say 99 instead of say 100, and of course I am personally happy to see many of the deplatformed sites go, or move to other carriers.

Misleading language. They are not contributors, they are users of a service. What if all the platforms coordinate to de-platform someone (such as we saw with Alex Jones)? Google and Facebook have an online ad duopoly. PayPal, still, has a total monopoly on online remittances and small-volume commerce. People’s businesses have been ruined or severely setback by losing their PayPal accounts, and there are few good, if any, viable alternatives.

When all the networks are aligned with a certain ideology, there are no alternatives.

Did you ever try to crack the New York publishing scene in the 1990s, or submit an Op-Ed to the New York Times before the internet was “a thing”? Now that was deplatforming, and most of it was due to the size of the slush pile rather than to evil intentions, though undoubtedly there was bias in both settings.

False comparison. Submitting an oped to the NYTs is not the same as signing up service or platform. In the latter, the expectation is that your content will be published and stay published; no such expectation exists for submitting to the NYTs.

Developments such as VR, AR, 5G — or whatever — will reshuffle the deck further yet. There will be big winners, many of which are not yet on the scene, and some considerable carnage on the downside. Maybe you won’t be forced off, but many of you will find it worthwhile to quit rather than adapt.

Again, Tyler keeps trying to evade the main point, redefine terms. Online and in the media, Tyler is held up as some sort of great genius, but he is just flat-out wrong here.

It’s not just social media censorship and WordPress, but also censorship of the alt-right and dissident-right by Reddit and other websites. Any attempt at creating a sub that is ideologically to the right of the_Donald or that rejects mainstream conservative politics and political parties, gets deleted or quarantined once it attains a certain threshold of popularity. This leaves only a handful of options such as 4chan. Of course, anarchists and communists are allowed to keep their subs without any censorship.

The advice to “build your own platforms” is a good start but may be impractical for small niches. Some of these niches are too small to justify the large time and cost required to build a new social network, and even if successful, will never have the audience and reach that YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter have. Banned by payment companies? Build your own MasterCard or Visa. How hard can that be. There are only 5 or so of them.