The fight for free speech online has taken a number of wild turns in the 21st century, as our digital rights continue to be stripped away by the technocracy of “private” social media companies.
The way this works is simple: Companies such as Facebook have worked their way into our everyday lives, as a hub that connects us to the people and activities that we prefer to spend time around. But, in order for us to use these social media platforms, we sign away a great many of our rights and freedoms through the “terms and conditions” that most of us just click “yes I’ve read…” in order to move onto the fun stuff.
That means that the user-generated content that you place on social media no longer belongs to you. Furthermore, you are often consenting to wild breaches of your own privacy in which these apps collect all manner of data about their users; data that is quite valuable to advertisers looking to separate you from your hard-earned cash.
Worse still than all of this is the blatant bias against conservatism that seems to run rampant on these platforms.
The latest example of this social media skew comes to us from Reddit.
Several moderators of The Donald, Reddit’s largest pro-Trump community, have been purged by the site’s administrators, who aim to replace them with moderators approved by the San Francisco company. The Donald’s creators say this is the latest in Reddit’s “thousand cuts” campaign to kill off its massively successful pro-Trump community.
The Donald is one of largest and influential hubs of pro-Trump activity on the web, with over 790,000 subscribed Reddit users. In 2016, the community’s users were responsible for the creation and proliferation of numerous pro-Trump tropes and memes across the Internet, in what has colloquially become known as the “great meme war.”
The Reddit administrators announced their purge in a post on The Donald, offering to “help” recruit new moderators, and implying a list of conditions on applicants.
This is far from the first time that Reddit has attempted to quell the popularity of “The Donald”, and at least one Congressman is none too pleased with it.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) has condemned Reddit for censoring the pro-Trump page, accusing the site of trying to tilt the scales against Republicans in 2020.
“I can’t think of a more obvious and effective way to ‘sway elections’ than to hide the largest conservative forum on your site a year ahead of the 2020 elections,” wrote Rep. Banks, in a letter to Reddit CEO Steve Huffman in October.
Given that companies such as Facebook and Reddit are technically “private” organizations, there appears to be no recourse available for those who have been slighted as such online.