The end of the internet

There's a lot of good stuff in this Quillette post by Allen Farrington about Big Tech's anti-conservative bias:

Bizarrely, conservatives reacted to this development by lamenting the lack of arbitrary government intervention in private enterprise, while their liberal opponents celebrated corporate squashing of individual expression. If you don’t like it, build your own app.

Arguably more important, if less sensational, has been the coordinated nuking of the efforts of those Trump fans who did, in fact, build their own app. Google and Apple banned conservative social media aspirant Parler from their app stores, effectively throttling its only viable distribution channels. Amazon then went a step further and revoked Parler’s right to host its site on its web service, AWS. For good measure, authentication service Okta and internet-to-telecoms interface platform Twilio withdrew their infrastructure too. If you don’t like it, build your own internet.
Culminating in (of note considering what happened with V-Dare's founder):
Operation Choke Point. This was a Department of Justice initiative that ran from 2013 to 2015 and which involved pressuring banks and payment processors with threats of costly compliance measures. These sanctions were extra-legal punishment for facilitating the financing of legal but ideologically disfavoured businesses such as payday lenders, firearms and ammunition dealers, escort services, and more. Of course, there is no recourse, legal or even practical, to being cut off from banking. If banks won’t serve you, you cannot access modern payment rails, and so you cannot run a business at all. If you don’t like it, build your own money.
He even ends with a Lord of the Rings analogy:
We might call the solution of the Quillette editors the Uncle Ben approach: that with great power comes great responsibility, and that if this power exists, it should be dealt with as responsibly as possible. My proposed solution, on the other hand, is that of Elrond: nobody can wield this power, and those most confident they would use it for good are precisely those who must not be allowed to have it. While I’m sure Claire Lehmann would make a decent Galadriel and would not succumb to the temptation to abuse this power, there are far too many Boromirs for the possibility to be an acceptable risk. The ring must be destroyed.

But the real meat comes from the comment by "Mysterion", and his frankly honest and concerning look at the future:

Key point here. Everyone outside the US, no matter what their position on censorship, must now believe there is now a huge problem with free speech and the internet.

Either you believe

  1. that the banning of Trump was essential to democracy, or
  2. you believe it was a threat to democracy

If you believe 1, you have to ask yourself whether a ban would be forthcoming from Twitter if you had a Trump_2 in your own country. Twitter hasn’t banned the Chinese government from its service, or any authoritarian leaders abroad as far as I know.

If you think that it is essential to democracy that an authoritarian in your country should be banned, can you really defend the idea that decision should be in the hands of a foreign corporation?

It just isn’t a viable position to believe that a ban should in place and that Twitter should decide, if you live outside the US.

If you believe 2, then the position is, of course, even worse. A transnational commons is now being policed by a US corporate with the ability to decide what can be said in the public square in other countries. It is not even under the potential/notional control of foreign voters (as it is in the US).

Remember the dictionary entry that was updated to render the phrase “sexual preference” offensive moments after Amy Barratt said it. Anyone and anything could be misrepresented as a violation of some unspecified code in unpredictable ways and banned. In the words of the Sex Pistols - no one is innocent.

This seems to be the line taken by Merkel and EU leaders. We should expect an EU initiative to split Twitter and Facebook into separate legal entities, with the EU legal entity under the suasion of the EU. The internet is likely to balkanise as a result.

This logic is implacable. Whatever your position on censorship or free speech, we are heading towards regionally controlled areas of the internet.