Posted by: Dr Churchill | February 6, 2021

Big Tech’s squat of the Village Commons, the theft of Control of the Worldwide Web and the sad Betrayal of our Society…

Earlier this year, in the midst of our political leadership change in Washington DC — a junta was taking over our Society’s principle means of communication…

An oligarchical trust was created when the major companies of Tech and Communications all gathered together and agreed to limit access to the Internet for all dissenters, dissidents, and those voicing opinions that were not fit for their Theory of Control.

This was the rise of the quiet dictatorship known as Big Tech, made up of California dreaming jack-booted thugs pretending to be “woke” while they placed a stranglehold on all of our Public Spaces, our Emotional Expressions and our Political Discourse without nary a thought…

This awful single minded, totalitarian and Orwellian suppression of the Web, will live in infamy, because the World Wide Web — the Internet — is a thing that we all hold dear as our Free Will, and yet it was taken away from all of us, when every major Silicon Valley tech company permanently banned the President of the United States from its platform, as it also banned any and all free speech platforms from the worldwide web.

Sadly most of us — didn’t even notice.

Yet, there was a visceral backlash around the world — but the Silicon Valley Tech Oligarchs, these Trust Funders and their legions of minions, never listened nor did they care….

Yet, one after another, government and party leaders from across the World — many of them ideologically opposed to the policies of President Trump or to the PARLER platforms and GAB and all others — raised their voices against the dictatorial evilness, the unwarranted public power and the societal arrogance of the American tech giants’ deluded minions that performed and enforced this fascist putczh, this dictatorship and this grotesquerie, like new age Hitlerites and NAZI brownshirts of the new millennium.

Worldwide protestations were heard from literary voices, from political leaders as well as from social leaders and from all those People who called this betrayal of trust of the public space that is the internet or more accurately the World Wide Web — a NeoFascist monopoly.

And although many voices of dissent and amazement kept streaming in, from all corners of the world and these included the President of Mexico, the Chancellor of Germany, the government of Poland, ministers in the French and Australian governments, the neoliberal center-right bloc in the European Parliament, the national populist bloc in the European Parliament, the leader of the Russian opposition — who recently survived an assassination attempt, and the Russian government, which may well have been behind that attempt — no one in Silicon valley reversed their errant course.

Yet it is worth remembering that common threats create strange bedfellows, and that is why you now have LGBTQ, Democratic Socialists, Communists, Conservatives, Nationalists, Neoliberals, Autocrats, and Anti-Autocrats coming together and protesting on behalf of this issue against the Tech-Junta, because although they may not agree on much else — they all recognize that the tech giants have accumulated far too much power and have now unleashed a destructive barrage against all Human Beings.

And of course no free thinking human being, likes the idea that a pack of hyenas, like these small minded American hipsters amid Silicon Valley’s California dreaming “woke folk” and beard sporting socially & morally corrupt losers — can at any moment, cordon-off the internet, cut off all the digital lines of communications and deprive people of their voices, like all the dictators have always done.

Take as an example the recent actions of the Myanmar junta that cut off all the internet and wireless communications of all Burmese people as they went on arresting tens of thousands of people and throwing them in concentration camps and you can see where the next steps of this fascist policy will lead in America as well…

Democracy is on the retreat world wide but nowhere so much as in California’s Tech Valley and by extension in the whole of America.

Many many publicly available interviews of Silicon Valley insiders, tech leaders and social media tycoons, have showed time and again, their hostility against democracy, liberty and free speech, as they demonstrate their love of all totalitarian ideas, fascist positions and NAZI actions that pose a grave threat as a risible betrayal of the vision of the World Wide Web to be a free and open platform and the PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS COMMONS of all the Peoples of this Earth, of the rainbow of Voices, Works and Expressions.

This inversion of the ideas that brought about the Internet and the World’s community as a “Do No Evil” PUBLIC COMMONS is based on the free movement of ideas, viewpoints and even goods, in this very public sphere of the GLOBAL PUBLIC COMMONS that some large websites and social media mavens have been squatting upon depriving all the rest of the people form their share of this Green Open Space that is meant to be shared equitably, justly and honorably.

This Silicon Valley junta has been taking over our Public Commons in a wholesale totalitarian fashion, commencing from removing the freedom of speech, to choosing what information will be allowed to be trafficked within the information highway, and leading to the total control of what information can be allowed on the World Wide Web Information Highway.

Indeed this has been the big Tech story of the past thirty years, because when the Web was created in the 1990s, the idea was, that everyone who wanted to express a voice on the WEB — could have an open call, and indeed all a person had to do in order to access the global marketplace of ideas, was to go online and set up a website. Once created, the website belonged to that person. Especially if the person owned his own server, no one could “de-platform” that person, because that was the design, since the Web, when it was invented, was competing with other types of online services that were not free and open.

It is important to remember that the Web, as we know it today — a network of websites accessed through browsers, was not the first online service ever created, since it was predated by the Arpa-Net, the University web, as well as the French Minitel (1980) and of course the military interweb and all of the pre-existing intra-webs. So when in the early 1990s, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee innovated on the technology that underpins interconnected digital websites and web browsers, creating the Web as we know it today — it was ordered to be a Free Public Space — the Village Commons.

And since there were many other online services, which predated Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web, that were all owned by corporations like CompuServe and Prodigy who ran their own online networks in the 1990s — these networks that were separate from the Web and had access points that were different from web browsers — were wholly controlled and micro-managed by the “owner” be it an enterprise, a university, a government, or a military command unit. And of course some of these privately-owned networks were open to the public, but CompuServe and Prodigy owned every bit of information on them and could kick people off their networks for any reason, at any time and without any oversight from anyone outside their hierarchy… 

Now, the newfangled World Wide Web was different. Very different. No one owned it. Not a single person owned the information on it. And no body could kick anyone off. That was the founding DNA and the whole premise of the COMMONS, up until the moment that the Web was captured by a handful of corporations that made it an industrial farm of their own without consulting anyone in the “Global Village” governance structure, or the Citizens and the Peoples of this Earth, or even the Internet governing body…

These totalitarian corporations are hiding behind a veneer of wealth and power — yet since we all know their names: Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft, TenCent, AliBAba, and a few others — they have all started behaving like Prodigy, AmericaOnline and CompuServe back in the ’90s — erroneously thinking that they own everything on their platforms, and that they have the Gestapo-police power over what can be said, by whom it is heard and who can participate.

That not only sucks, but it is an illegal suppression and squatting of our Village Commons because it matters a whole lot more today than it did in the ’90s, since back then, very few people used online services, whereas today everyone uses them, because it is practically impossible not to use them and still have a productive social and healthy life. Businesses depend on them. News publishers depend on them. Politicians and political activists depend on them. And perhaps far more crucially — all of our Citizens depend on the World Wide Web for information management, accentuation and simple access. 

Thus today, Big Tech’s control over online information, means control over the news. It means control over commerce. It means control over politics. And most importantly it means control over our leaders…

Let us now see, how are the corporate tech giants using their control.

Judging by the three biggest moves they have made — such as the censoring of the New York Post in October when it published its blockbuster stories on Biden family corruption, the censorship and eventual banning from the Web of President Trump, and the coordinated takedown of the upstart social media site Parler — it is obvious that Big Tech’s priority today is to support the Communist China and her interests to install friendly people and “useful idiots” within the American government and the Washington DC establishment.

Since Big Tech has become the most powerful election-influencing machine in American history. It is not an exaggeration to say that if the technologies of Silicon Valley are allowed to develop to their fullest extent, without any oversight or checks and balances, then we will never have another free and fair election. But the power of Big Tech goes beyond the manipulation of political behavior. As one of the famed Facebook sources said in a public interview: “We have thousands of people on the platform who have gone from right to center in the past year, so we can build a model from those people and try to make everyone else on the American side, follow the same path.” Let that sink in. They don’t just want to control information or even voting behavior — instead they want to manipulate people’s emotional, personal and political ideology and even worldview. 

So now, would it be too much to say that Big Tech has prioritized this kind of manipulation?

Considering that Twitter is currently facing a lawsuit from a victim of child sexual abuse who says that the company repeatedly failed to take down a video depicting his assault, and that it eventually agreed to do so only after the intervention of an agent from the Department of Homeland Security — proves that Twitter will take it upon itself to ban the President of the United States, but refused to take down child pornography. And it only did the right thing only after being forced to do so, by federal law enforcement agents…

How do you feel about that?

Awful — I know…

So let us examine how does Big Tech go about manipulating our thoughts, our actins and our future behavior?

It begins with the fact that these tech companies strive to know everything about us, such as our likes and dislikes, the issues we are interested in, the websites we visit, the videos we watch, who we voted for, and our party affiliation.

If you search for a Hannukah recipe — they’ll know you’re likely Jewish.

If you’re running down the Yankees, they’ll figure out if you’re a Red Sox fan.

Even if your smart phone is turned off, they’ll track your location.

They know who you work for, who your friends are, when you’re walking your dog, whether you go to church, when you’re standing in line to vote, and on and on. 

As I already mentioned, Big Tech also monitors how our beliefs and behaviors change over time.

They identify the types of content that can change our beliefs and behavior, and they put that knowledge to use. They’ve done this openly for a long time because they want to manipulate consumer behavior, in order to get us to like certain people, click on certain ads and buy certain products from their long list of secret owners, patrons and advertisers.

As a matter of fact, anyone who has used these platforms for an extended period of time has no doubt encountered the creepy phenomenon where you’re searching for information about a product or a service, and then minutes later advertisements for the exact same thing, start appearing on your screen.

These same techniques can be used to manipulate political opinions. 

Big Tech has demonstrated ideological bias, because these companies have huge economic interests at stake in politics, since their ownership structure is particularly partisan and ideologically aligned with China’s interests far more than those of the US. And because the political party that holds power will determine whether Big Tech is going to get government contracts, whether they’re going to get tax breaks, and whether and how their industry will be regulated — they clearly have a commercial interest in political control and unsurprisingly currently, no one is even considering to prevent them from exerting or behaving honorably, justly and honestly…

To understand how effective Big Tech’s manipulation could become, consider the feedback loop. 

As Big Tech constantly collects data about us, they run tests to see what information has an impact on us. Let’s say they put a negative news story about someone or something in front of us, and we don’t click on it or read it. They keep at it until they find content that has the desired effect. The feedback loop constantly improves, and it does so in a way that’s undetectable. 

What determines what appears at the top of a person’s Facebook feed, Twitter feed, or Google search results? Does it appear there because it’s popular or because it’s gone viral? Is it there because it’s what you’re interested in? Or is there another reason Big Tech wants it to be there? Is it there because Big Tech has gathered data that suggests it’s likely to nudge your thinking or your behavior in a certain direction? How can we know? 

What we do know is that Big Tech openly manipulates the content people see. We know, for example, that Google reduced the visibility of Breitbart News links in search results by 99 percent in 2020 compared to the same period in 2016. We know that after Google introduced an update last summer, clicks on Breitbart News stories from Google searches for “Joe Biden” went to zero and stayed at zero through the election. This didn’t happen gradually, but in one fell swoop—as if Google flipped a switch. And this was discoverable through the use of Google’s own traffic analysis tools, so it isn’t as if Google cared that we knew about it. 

Speaking of flipping switches, I have noted that President Trump was collectively banned by Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and every other social media platform you can think of. But even before that, there was manipulation going on. Twitter, for instance, reduced engagement on the President’s tweets by over eighty percent. Facebook deleted posts by the President for spreading so-called disinformation.

But even more troubling, I think, are the invisible things these companies do. Consider “quality ratings.” Every Big Tech platform has some version of this, though some of them use different names. The quality rating is what determines what appears at the top of your search results, or your Twitter or Facebook feed, etc. It’s a numerical value based on what Big Tech’s algorithms determine in terms of “quality.” In the past, this score was determined by criteria that were somewhat objective: if a website or post contained viruses, malware, spam, or copyrighted material, that would negatively impact its quality score. If a video or post was gaining in popularity, the quality score would increase. Fair enough.

Over the past several years, however—and one can trace the beginning of the change to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016—Big Tech has introduced all sorts of new criteria into the mix that determines quality scores. Today, the algorithms on Google and Facebook have been trained to detect “hate speech,” “misinformation,” and “authoritative” (as opposed to “non-authoritative”) sources. Algorithms analyze a user’s network, so that whatever users follow on social media—e.g., “non-authoritative” news outlets—affects the user’s quality score. Algorithms also detect the use of language frowned on by Big Tech—e.g., “illegal immigrant” (bad) in place of “undocumented immigrant” (good)—and adjust quality scores accordingly. And so on.

This is not to say that you are informed of this or that you can look up your quality score. All of this happens invisibly. It is Silicon Valley’s version of the social credit system overseen by the Chinese Communist Party. As in China, if you defy the values of the ruling elite or challenge narratives that the elite labels “authoritative,” your score will be reduced and your voice suppressed. And it will happen silently, without your knowledge. 

This technology is even scarier when combined with Big Tech’s ability to detect and monitor entire networks of people. A field of computer science called “network analysis” is dedicated to identifying groups of people with shared interests, who read similar websites, who talk about similar things, who have similar habits, who follow similar people on social media, and who share similar political viewpoints. Big Tech companies are able to detect when particular information is flowing through a particular network—if there’s a news story or a post or a video, for instance, that’s going viral among conservatives or among voters as a whole. This gives them the ability to shut down a story they don’t like before it gets out of hand. And these systems are growing more sophisticated all the time. 

If Big Tech’s capabilities are allowed to develop unchecked and unregulated, these companies will eventually have the power not only to suppress existing political movements, but to anticipate and prevent the emergence of new ones. This would mean the end of democracy as we know it, because it would place us forever under the thumb of an unaccountable oligarchy. 

The good news is, there is a way to rein in the tyrannical tech giants: Start anti-trust litigation against all of them.

Break them up through Anti-Trust regulation by separating their advertising business revenue and their editorial powers from the core business of being the regulated and highly neutral, telecommunication “pipes” like the utilities of old.

And of course as always the easiest way is “Caveat Emptor” as the simple “Buyer Beware” principle of our personal agency, that will help us take away their power to own our data, and thus be able to filter information and filter all data on our behalf.

And most importantly we should ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on this pivotal issue for our Democracy.

Because the Supreme Court always seems to bring about some sense of balance, harmony and protection for our Democracy and Constitutional Republic.

And it is the bright light that we ought to celebrate as the Supreme Court just struck down all lockdowns against the practice of indoor worship bans in California and by extension in all other States of our Union — by stating clearly that the State or other governments, may not limit the Houses of Faith, Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples of Worship, in any way more, than all other indoor activities, such as supermarket shopping or anything else.

Chief Justice Roberts summed up the legal situation:

“The State’s present determination—that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero—appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”

I thought you’d want to know. 

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

All of Big Tech’s power comes from their content filters—the filters on “hate speech,” the filters on “misinformation,” the filters that distinguish “authoritative” from “non-authoritative” sources, etc. Right now these filters are switched on by default. We as individuals can’t turn them off. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The most important demand we can make of lawmakers and regulators is that Big Tech be forbidden from activating these filters without our knowledge and consent. They should be prohibited from doing this—and even from nudging us to turn on a filter—under penalty of losing their Section 230 immunity as publishers of third party content. This policy should be strictly enforced, and it should extend even to seemingly non-political filters like relevance and popularity. Anything less opens the door to manipulation. 

This should be the standard we demand, and it should be industry-wide. The alternative is a kind of digital serfdom. We don’t allow old-fashioned serfdom anymore—individuals and businesses have due process and can’t be evicted because their landlord doesn’t like their politics. Why shouldn’t we also have these rights if our business or livelihood depends on a Facebook page or a Twitter or YouTube account? 

This is an issue that goes beyond partisanship. What the tech giants are doing is so transparently unjust that all Americans should start caring about it—because under the current arrangement, we are all at their mercy. The World Wide Web was meant to liberate us. It is now doing the opposite. Big Tech is increasingly in control. The most pressing question today is: how are we going to take control back? 


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