No, The Internet Didn't Murder The First Amendment. It Finally Grew The Hell Up.
Team Bullsh*t Took A Hell Of A Hit This Weekend
This morning Fox News idiot Judge Jeanine Pirro described this weekend's tech crackdown on extremism as "akin to a Kristallnacht." Because Judge Jeanine is hot, stinking garbage.
But there's a reason Mama Box Wine dragged herself out of bed and put a wig on before nine o'clock this morning to croak out vile lies about the Holocaust. Team Bullshit got knocked back on its heels after last week's insurrection, and it's clear there's a new digital sheriff in town.
Twitter has booted Donald Trump permanently, and is busily mopping up QAnon accounts. (Bye Sid 'n' Mikey!) Facebook and Instagram have blocked Trump from posting to his own accounts until after the inauguration. Reddit axed r/DonaldTrump, a notorious haven for Trump conspiracy theorists. Stripe stopped processing payments for the Trump campaign, while Shopify nixed the Trump Organization and the campaign websites from their site. And after Google and Apple kicked Parler in the nuts and told it to start moderating its platform or else, Amazon delivered the coup de grace, knocking the service off its web servers for failing to adhere to the terms of service.
That's not to mention your Twitches and your Snapchats and assorted Pinterests, et cetera.
Honestly, it was all worth it just to watch Dan Bongino's absolute meltdown on Fox and Friends this morning.
Local website investor: "They have effectively tried to bankrupt me and my investors on Parler. And you know what?… https://t.co/MJ5gWpqKQh— Bobby Lewis (@Bobby Lewis) 1610371047.0
Thank heaven an enterprising hacker archived every Parler post from the day of the attack on Congress, including location data, the better to assist law enforcement in rounding up those patriots. But poor Bingo Bango and Rebekah Mercer, gonna lose all their hatebucks when their digital wingnut Eden turns out to be a barren wasteland.
Yes, yes, it is very sad. But what does it all MEAN?
Well, we are not a media critic, but we think it means the tech bros are finally starting to grow up. Time to transition from the internet's techno-utopian childhood, where not shitting on the floor counts as a good day, to an awkward adolescence. What do we do now that we've moved fast and broken all the things?
"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote last week, acknowledging the danger to American democracy from a desperate madman wielding the biggest megaphone in history. "Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."
Which isn't exactly a mea culpa for making billions of dollars crushing the professional media infrastructure and replacing it with a machine to feed ever more lunatic conspiracy theories to users until they're no longer capable of telling fact from fiction. But it's a start.
At one time, Zuckerberg defended the propriety of leaving Holocaust denials up on his site, saying, "I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong." Last year he said it would be inappropriate to factcheck politicians or prevent them from running ads containing false statements. He's now reversed course on both.
Clearly, the big tech companies are shook after witnessing their sites be used to plan and foment an attack on the seat of government. And the concerted action by every tech provider at once strongly suggests that they discovered further plots in the planning stage on their platforms.
But more than that, we have been spinning in a vortex of bullshit for four horrible years. And Trump may have been at the center of it, but the media "matrix" provided the centripetal force. The tech giants monetized our eyeballs, and they didn't care if the sticky content was true or not. Of course this led to half the country believing absolute nonsense about a rigged election. And when the ten percent of Americans who have all the guns start whipping themselves up into a fervor, shit goes sideways fast.
We've reached an inflection point. Facebook and Google are facing antitrust suits on both sides of the Atlantic, conservative lawmakers are screaming bloody murder about evil tech companies and Section 230, and the rest of us are just fucking exhausted after four years of this shit.
After an election marred by foreign interference in 2016, we barely dragged ourselves across the finish line into 2021 with democracy intact. Clearly the solution to "bad information" was not "more information." Particularly when that information was being fed to us by an algorithm that deliberately selected for the exciting lie over the boring truth.
I, too, was mildly disappointed to learn that guy didn't tase himself in the balls at the Capitol. I'd love nothing more than to see those terrorists booted off planes for being on the No Fly List. If only Trump were leaving office at 7:40 this evening!
But we can't live like this anymore, because we are suffocating under a mountain of bullshit, and it is killing us.
It's time for the internet to grow up.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.