#BreakThemUp: Powerful Monopolies Threaten Western Freedoms
I have been pointing out for some time now the increasing censure and political activism of social media platform dominant in their own segment: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube immediately come to mind.
The censorship frenzy, ongoing for years now, has lately reached a new level with a Soviet-Style censorship of even mere facts, when Twitter locked LifeSiteNews for posting a statistic they did not like.
One would have to be a six-years-old in order not to understand what a threat this is for the free circulation of not only opinions, but mere facts within Western Societies.
The fact that these are private companies, which can therefore make their own rules, does not apply anymore. These company detain a quasi-monopoly on certain channels of information, and there is no provision to ensure that they do not abuse it. Standard Oil was also private, and still it was broken up. Mind, though: Standard Oil was never so dangerous for the Western Democracy as these social media platforms are.
One solution would be to strictly separate the editorial from the platform function. If, say, Twitter were obliged to publish everything, with the publisher of the content made responsible for the content of his own tweets, the problem would be, at least in principle, solved. However, this platform would still be too powerful to avoid the risk of censorship sneaking in with some other pretext (are we are seeing, in fact, now).
The other solution is, in my eyes, the most obvious and, in the end, the unavoidable one: these platforms must be broken up, allowing a number and possibly a multitude of separate companies, all obliged to work merely as platforms, but still without any editorial power or editorial responsibility, and all forced to allow on each platform the publishing of content published on another platform.
If I write a blog post on this site, it must be possible for my readers to divulge it on Platform 1, and for some of the readers to echo it on platform 2, and for others on Platform 3, 4 and 5. Twatter, Twetter, Twitter, Twotter, Twutter and a dozen of other companies would therefore be interconnected by the common accessibility of message, and would be free from any legal responsibility concerning what is published on them. This responsibility would be the one of the entity that has published the original message and the person who has re-tweeted it, and it would be for the police to make the investigations of the case if criminal laws have been impinged.
If a pervert starts groping men on the underground it is not fair to make the company running the underground trains responsible for it. The underground is open to everyone, as it should be. He who commits a criminal offence using that particular transportation mode will answer for it himself.
This is no rocket science. It is solid common sense, that should be shared by everyone who has an interest in the free circulations of ideas. The quasi-monopoly of (private) newspapers in Germany greatly facilitated the rise of Nazism. The lesson should not be forgotten.
A functioning market must always be marked by healthy competition in every sector of activity. When positions of quasi-monopoly have been established, the market forces have been subverted and must be restored. In this case it is not only a matter of healthy economic development, but of maintaining the free circulation of ideas. It is naive, and actually disingenuous, to think that the private ownership of these companies should protect them when they become a danger not only for the markets, but for our Western democracy itself.
Twitter & Co. are a greater danger to Western Democracies than Saddam of North Korea could or will ever be.
If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand freedom.