I increasingly find myself reading liberal or centrist blogs. I think the problem is that the presence of the alt/dissident-right has been almost completely banished from the internet, save for a few sites such as 4chan and Unz.com
The alt/dissident right has been purged from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Reddit, and even some alt-tech platforms. It does not really exist anymore on those sites but instead driven underground. Was the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville to blame, which in the aftermath saw tech censorship against the alt/dissident-right surge? Who knows. I do know though that Trump winning was an existential threat to the left, and that all resources were summoned to ensure it would not happen again.
So in the span of four or so years ‘the left’ more or less ‘won’ in pushing a sizable number of individuals and ideas to fringe platforms like Telegram or 4chan, and it was not a pyrrhic victory either, but a lopsided one, thanks to coordinated efforts and an extreme imbalance of power. It’s still going on. Just a few days ago, Dr. Robert Malone, a Covid and vaccine skeptic, was suspended from Twitter shortly before his appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast, losing his half million followers for good. And also last week, Twitter permanently suspended Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s account for alleged ‘vaccine misinformation’.
Dr. Malone plans to sue Twitter, having “…filed a lawsuit against Twitter over the ban, arguing that the tweet for which he was banned was undeniably true.” Good luck with that. These companies are famously impervious to litigation, by having some of the best lawyers in the world, refusing to ever settle, and having an iron clad ‘terms of service’, as well as regulation (such as section 230), that absolves them of any accountability or liability. Trump and Roger Stone sued Twitter to rectify their bans and predictably failed, and Trump has way more resources and clout than this doctor.
This is why big tech is so so powerful when it comes to controlling discourse: legal immunity and no good alternatives. If Kroger bans you for wearing a MAGA hat, you can always choose from one of dozens of other food stores that more or less fulfill the same functionality of selling food (or just remove the hat), but such remediation or good alternatives does not exist with big tech, particularly for social networks. In theory, in invoking libertarianism, you would have ‘choice’, but this does not apply to huge, dominant companies with network effects and impassible intellectual property moats (it’s way easier to make yet another brand of designer shoes than it is to get 2 billion people on your social network or 97% of computers having your operating system preinstalled), nor does it apply if such companies collude to ban people.
It’s not like there are as many good Facebook alternatives as there are toothbrush brands. The alternatives to Facebook that do exist are analogous to buying a toothbrush with the handle missing or having no bristles. Being banned from Twitter , Facebook, or YouTube doesn’t just apply to the account but also the individual, which means if you make a new account or have multiple accounts Twitter will eventually link it with the banned one, and will also ban all related accounts (like what happened with Alex Jones ,who got banned along with all his ‘Info Wars’ and ‘Prison Planet’ accounts). It may take time, but it always happens eventually.
Gab is the closest thing to a Twitter alternative, which for reasons that seem illogical, Gab keeps trying to market itself as a right-wing Twitter alternative, which means it’s alienating a huge potential number of users. My advice to Gab management is to copy Twitter in every way, but no arbitrary bans, like before 2013 or so.
Few join Gab because they prefer it to Twitter. Rather, they join after being banned from Twitter, or they have a Gab and a Twitter account. If the far-right having to share the platform with the far-left is so unbearable, they would have quit Twitter and joined Gab instead of using Gab as a lifeboat after being suspended from Twitter. Even the most far-right ideologue wants to see his ideas viewed by as many people as possible, even as far out as the metaphorical oort cloud of one’s own own ideological bubble, because nothing signifies one’s ideas as having ‘memetic value’ and having struck a nerve quite like having them well-received by a large and diverse audience, which is not possible in an echo chamber.
That’s why Ron Unz made such a big fuss after his website, unz.com, was banned from Facebook and Google, despite both of those sites being of ‘the left’, is because, politics notwithstanding, the only hope Unz has of finding new readers receptive to his ideas is by venturing outside of his own bubble. Someone like Ben Shapiro, who is no friend of the left, wants his tweets to be seen by liberals, because that means some of them will click and view more of his tweets out of curiosity and may even become subscribers or retweet, which means more traffic/viralness.
Some say you cannot kill ideas, but if the ability to express certain ideas is very limited or such ideas are segregated or quarantined to such an extent that they are invisible, is there any practical difference between an idea being killed off in its entirety, versus it not existing at all?
A common argument is that left-wing policies are inherently unpopular, such as masks, cancel culture, vaccine mandates, censorship, etc. And that, therefore, by campaigning against those things, defeating the left should be easy. This may be true, but quality tends to beat quantity. You see with presidential elections: undecided voters in battleground states matter more than voters in California. Mandates and CRT are not popular within the ‘Joe Rogan crowd,’ but such individuals hold much less power collectively compared to the leaders of business, law, and technology. Just as the Electoral College benefits conservatives in terms of quality over quantity, so does the left’s control and infiltration of powerful intuitions and individuals, and also of the courts. Is there a fundamental difference between a single-party system of government vs. a single-party system of information? Losing elections or having unpopular beliefs is not the important if the left can control how information is propagated or what opinions are allowed to be shared.