The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2019
From the track record of Trump and his administration, it’s reasonable to surmise that the sweeping campaign of censorship against dissident voices will not be rolled back. In fact, the safest bet is that if doing nothing will come to the detriment of those who helped put him across the finish line in 2016, then nothing of substance will be done. Even if some action were miraculously taken it would be met with endless litigation and malicious compliance such as shadow banning.
The Democrats are doing their damnedest to get him re-elected. Meanwhile, he’s striving to lose by infuriating key constituencies. Neither team seems to be cognizant of how badly they’re scoring goals on themselves. It’s really quite bizarre.
Worse yet, Trump has finally appointed an “Antisemitism Czar” at the State Department in order to persecute people worldwide with the wrong opinions, like opposition to endless war in the service of Zionism. Meanwhile, WordPress is ramping up censorship. Chateau Heartiste was the most prominent commentator taken down this week. Google has announced it’s working to implement an AI programmed with data that the SPLC seems to have archived wholesale from dissident websites. The objective is to “moderate” comments, presumably across the entirety of its platforms.
On the Facebook front, de-platforming is proceeding apace, including against this site. In what will inevitably prove a test run for a much larger operation in 2020, FB has established a command center in Dublin to “protect” the upcoming EU elections from right wing parties. Amazon is banning a growing array of dissident books, payment processors are dropping crime-speakers, and others are getting personally de-banked.
Of course, all of this is being done in the name of combating “hate”, “misinformation” and “Russian interference”. This is extremely bad and likely to get worse as we approach to the fall of next year. Thwarting Trump’s reelection is the preeminent concern for the tech companies. It doesn’t matter that he’s capitulated on the issues they consider contentious. They probably don’t even understand what’s happened since this isn’t a narrative pushed in the MSM.
At this point, it’s worth attempting to envision scenarios where this situation could start getting reversed to some extent. Let’s start with American legislation. This is highly unlikely. Forget about the Democrats in the Senate. Republican leaders have zero reason to make it easier for people to voice criticism that’s been making their lives difficult. They’re determined not to deliver for their base on every issue that matters. In terms of improbability, this is on par with the notion of the Trump Administration actually doing something effective.
Therefore, the most realistic possibility to consider is something happening outside the United States. In Europe, right wing movements are only going to get stronger for the foreseeable future as existing demographic issues, the migrant invasion, and the structural problems of the EU continue to worsen. As the EU establishment and the tech companies continue to fight back against democratic elections, politicians in countries such as Italy might enact countermeasures to prevent the voices of their constituents from being suppressed. There’s a decent chance of this occurring, and a more tenuous probability that it would benefit American dissidents whose web and financial services are being choked off domestically.
Everyone getting allowed back on FB and Twitter to politely express their opinions is unrealistic, and that’s putting it mildly. The reality is that free discourse in all venues, from the street to the internet, has been sliding downhill since Trump was elected in 2016. At this point it’s a very real possibility that most dissidents will eventually be forced to put their content onto the dark web and solicit financial support through crypto contributions.
It’s not a death sentence. However, it certainly makes it far more difficult to spread one’s message to a wider audience if you can’t reach normal people on the browsers and platforms they use to consume information. While this is a very nasty possibility, it does no good to ignore what’s been floating in the back of many of our heads for quite some time.
The potential upside is that they won’t stop with banishing us. For instance, this campaign is already being waged against the NRA. As it continues to expand, perhaps new opposition will arise. However, it’s not really useful to speculate too much on acceleration. The best course of action is to make contingency plans in case the worst happens and continue building social networks in real life outside the public gaze. That’s an area in which we’ve been effective and can’t be suppressed.
Whatever happens, we can’t stop moving forward. There’s nothing more politically and emotionally enervating than inertia.