Modern Censorship Is Voluntary


In the early days of the browser based internet, Google came to prominence as a search engine because it was able to feature the most relevant websites at the top of its search results. Google measured relevancy by determining how many websites were linking to a particular website or article. The website with the most links back to it was deemed the authority on a topic and placed at the top of the search results. This was a huge step up from manually cataloged websites and is what set Google up to become what it is today.

Google gained a huge audience in the early 2000’s and eventually became the de facto standard for internet search. Initially, many analysts questioned how Google was going to monetize their offering. Its website was incredibly clean, had no banner advertisements and its rankings were strictly based on relevance. As Google grew, it leveraged its search capabilities to offer dozens of products and over time it created and advertising model called Google Ad Sense. It did this very elegantly and users were comfortable with the trade off between the service they received and the new advertisements they had to deal with.

Over time, Google became hugely profitable and also became the gateway to internet content for the vast majority of users. Since then, Google no longer appears to be committed to “not being evil” and has begun managing which websites appear at the top of searches. It also acquired web properties like Youtube and started monetizing user data. Google today along with other players like FaceBook has recreated an old internet concept called the “walled garden”. If your onramp to the internet is a search engine and that search engine returns results primarily to its web properties and begins to control which search results are highest ranked, then it fundamentally has control over what content users see and how much content creators have to pay in order to be seen.

A great example of how far we have come down this road of corporate control of content is the “fact checking” website Snopes. When users search any topic which is even slightly controversial it never fails that Snopes will appear at the top of the search rankings. Surely this is not an algorithm hard at work but a technique used to control dissenting opinion.

Google, FaceBook, Youtube, Twitter and others have evolved from being presenters of user created content to the judge and jury for the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. Internet conglomerates have in effect become modern day censorship boards. What is most alarming is that these conglomerates are clearly partnering with Governmental agencies in what can only be described as modern day corporatism or fascism.

This corporatist or fascist censorship board is silencing dissenting voices and limiting the free flow of ideas. Compounding this problem is that the complicity of the mainstream media. Anyone doing a search on a topic that is promoted in the mockingbird media is now provided with internet content that fits nicely in the window which the censors have created.

This situation is extremely concerning but like most of the major problems in life it is a situation in our direct control. In order to resolve this problem all that must be done is to move off the platforms that have been captured by the State and move towards platforms that offer us the ability to exercise free speech.

Moving to new platforms is not a painless process. Robert Metcalfe, the founder of 3Com was instrumental in developing computer networking technology. It is to him that is attributed the law that states that the effect of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users to the system. Today, the vast majority of our friends and family are using the leading social media sites. Migrating off of those sites implies moving to a network of lesser value. Yet, is the price being exacted by those prevailing social media sites worth the benefit? If the price is freedom of speech and the ability to freely share ideas, then those sites are no longer valuable and increasingly becoming a detriment to us and to society at large. Censorship is acting as “noise” on the telecommunication network and significantly impacting its value.

So, what are our options? Instead of FaceBook and Twitter we should be using Gab.aiwhich is built around the concepts of freedom of speech. Instead of the Google Chrome Browser we should be using Brave which blocks advertisements and offers a Tor browser option. Instead of Youtube we should be using Hooktube which pulls Youtube content without adding view counts, tracking and country restrictions. Rather than use Gmail, why not use ProtonMail? Instead of searching with Google we can search using alternative tools like Search Encrypt, Start Page, Duck Duck Go, Gibiru, Swiss Cows or even the Russian search engine Yandex.

Censorship is an enormous problem that the internet temporarily freed us from. Now we’re seeing the State leverage the tech giants to once again control the flow of information. All of us that are aware of this problem have the solution in our hands. Instead of worrying about it and complaining about it we should migrate off the websites that are being used as blinders and discover new platforms that are building a business around privacy and openness. These tools are available and the more quickly we all migrate to them the move value we will all receive from them. It’s time we all did our part. Just be prepared to read, see and hear ideas that one might not like.

Figure 1: Metcalfe’s Law.