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Big Tech Is Big Brother

TRANSCRIPT: The year is 1984. One company – Microsoft – dominates the computer world. It’s their way or the highway.

Conform or die.

This snapshot in time was perfectly captured in one of the most famous commercials in TV history.

Set in a gray, dystopian future, row after row of men stare blankly at a giant screen from which Big Brother – the all-powerful leader from George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 – addresses them.

Suddenly, riot police burst into the hall, chasing a beautiful, blonde woman in a white shirt and red shorts. Before they can grab her, she hurls a sledgehammer into the screen, shattering Big Brother and his grip on the masses. The narrator informs us that Apple’s breakthrough product, the Macintosh computer, will be the device that sets us all free.

Looking back, Apple largely lived up to its promise. A new wave of companies, each in its own way, followed the example set by Apple’s legendary CEO, Steve Jobs.

Google gave us instant access to vast amounts of information.

Facebook gave us a new way to connect with friends, family, and the world.

Twitter brought this world to us in real time.

And YouTube allowed anyone with a smartphone to become a virtual broadcast network unto themselves.

It was glorious and empowering.

But that was yesterday. Today, it’s 1984 all over again. Big Brother is back – with an important twist.

Our former liberators now want to be our masters.

Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the giants of social media, are demanding conformity to their values.

It’s their way or the highway. Conform or die.

This image is perfectly captured not by an ad, but by this recent real-life scene: Row after row of men and women stare up at Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, as he makes a presentation – ironically – before a civil rights group.

“We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division, and violence: You have no place on our platforms,” Cook tells his audience. “You have no home here.”

“Hate”? “Division”? According to whom?

The answer is obvious: according to Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. They are becoming the Big Brother Orwell foresaw.

Conform or die.

Cook’s ideas are exactly the same as his fellow chief executives at Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disagree with Big Brother on, say, politics, or morality, and Big Brother will shut you up by shutting you down.

And what is it that Big Brother doesn’t like?

Well, Tim Cook, said it: anything that doesn’t conform to his left-wing worldview.

The examples are numerous and growing.

Meghan Murphy, a Canadian feminist, is permanently banned from Twitter for refusing to refer to the transgendered by their preferred pronoun, and for writing “women aren’t men.”

Google, Facebook and Twitter all at various times refused to carry political ads from Tennessee Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn, promoting her conservative views. She’s hardly the only one this has happened to.

And, as many of you know, YouTube continues to restrict over 100 of PragerU’s videos, finding them “inappropriate for children.” These include titles like, “Why Did America Fight the Korean War?”

Broad-based studies by the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and by Northwestern University have confirmed what these examples clearly suggest: bias against conservatives at Google and other Big Tech sites.

And this is the bias we can plainly see. What we don’t see, what Big Brother hides from us – what is referred to as “shadow banning” – may be even more pernicious.

If you’re on the left, maybe you’re okay with this. But if you’re not on the left, or even if you are and you revere the First Amendment, you should be concerned. Very concerned. We are advancing swiftly toward an Orwellian, 1984 world of stifling, one-way-of-thinking conformity. This time, it’s not a fictional story. It’s real.

What’s the solution? Simply return to the open market of ideas that served Big Tech so well for so long. Stop the censorship and let people make up their own minds. Otherwise America – and the rest of what has been known as the Free World – will cease to be free.

That’s how serious the Big Tech threat is.

I’m Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, for Prager University.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • tim June 7, 2019, 9:10 AM

    “This video has been restricted”.

    How freakin’ appropriate.

  • Richard June 7, 2019, 9:21 AM

    Funny how history rhymes. Old robber barons: oil, steel, and railroads. New robber barons: computer operating systems, software, and social media.
    Related: at some point your benevolent Uncle Sugar is gonna start using all that data it’s been collecting against the proles. Old article but still relevant: https://tinyurl.com/y4ntkzbw

  • Stephanie June 7, 2019, 9:37 AM

    It’s so funny that they even think they have the power to police the world down to what people think of a transvestite. They feel godlike I suppose. Meanwhile, jihadis use their platforms to spread brutal murder and rape videos that they try to ignore. You have to ask yourself just what is their game here? It’s obviously not what they say it is.

  • ghostsniper June 7, 2019, 9:37 AM

    Should have been killed in it’s infancy, but nobody knew.

  • Ray Van Dune June 7, 2019, 9:43 AM

    I think the article misidentifies the “Big Brother” in the “1984” commercial. It was IBM, not Microsoft. The first version of Windows was only announced in late 1983, and it it did not attain market dominance for many years later with Windows 95, in… 1995. Back in 1984, branding focused more on hardware, thus Macintosh versus IBM PC. Microsoft rode on the PC, but IBM owned the market. The big divide was between “PC-compatible” and everything else. That’s how I remember it anyway.

  • Anon June 7, 2019, 10:00 AM

    I know there are Apple advocates and you can’t reason with them. But I never saw Microsoft as being nearly as “big brother” or “my way or the highway” as Apple is. Also I never owned an Apple computer or iPhone because I can’t afford one. I can buy a non-Apple computer at Walmart of $200 but an Apple computer is simply too expensive for me to even consider.

    I remember that video well and I never thought of that woman as beautiful. Perhaps she was but as I remember she had a man’s haircut and I don’t think she was selling femininity.

  • Mike Anderson June 7, 2019, 10:31 AM

    A great expose of the business side of the problem is Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism. However, she pretty much ignores the Orwellian aspects. Still, a very informative book.

  • Umbriel June 7, 2019, 10:50 AM

    Anon —

    I think the dynamic you cite regarding Apple is precisely what makes it less “Big Brother”-ish — They’ve focused on the “high end” market, such that when they display their “my way or the highway” attitude, there really are alternative highways to take. The real problem arises when a business grows by being all things to all people, and then, when it’s displaced most all competitors, and prohibitively raised the entry bar for potential competitors (possibly creating legal obstacles as well), starts to dictate terms. I broadly dislike “anti-monopoly” laws as simply substituting one dictator for another, but would definitely favor removing regulatory obstacles to competition, the better to force someone who wants to keep dominating a market to actually cater to it instead of scorching the earth around itself.

    The woman in the 1984 ad was decked out as a sort of track athlete. 1984 /was/ an Olympic year, and the Soviet boycott (retaliating for ours in 1980) positioned that event as particularly anti-totalitarian. I think she was intended to be more “striking” than necessarily beautiful, though the fact that she alone was in color probably naturally made her seem particularly attractive.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axSnW-ygU5g

  • Sid Vicious June 7, 2019, 4:12 PM

    I just got permanently banned from Twitter. Not even sure why I got banned. I responded to some NPR politics Twitter account post and poof! – somebody apparently didn’t like what I said. Not even a temporary ban. Of course it has everything to do with my politics. These people are fascists. Twitter. Google. YouTube. Facebook. All of them.

  • jwm June 7, 2019, 7:26 PM

    Anyone remember LGF? For a very short while it was wild west internet, a free for all anything goes on-line environment. It was crazy, and fun. Then CJ got (in current terms) “woke”. Purges followed. The party line was enforced, and the place became a shithole. Sort of a microcosm of the whole internet these days.

    JWM

  • F2F June 8, 2019, 3:25 AM

    Good article.

    Fascism and Fascists never go out of fashion, it seems. Right when you think that absurd, ill-fated FAD, responsible for millions if not billions of deaths, has died out, it crops back up, more vicious than ever. 🙁 May we NEVER allow it in USA.

  • F2F June 8, 2019, 3:30 AM

    And by the way, it’s even worse than Mr. Bozell lays out in his article, because outfits like GOOGLE have their evil tentacles in just about EVERYTHING affecting our lives, our health, our communications, our privacy, etc. etc. The CEO of YouTube is also the founder of the DNA-outfit called “23andme.” Do you want GOOGLE having access to your DNA profile? They already have their hands in medical records in Europe and no doubt are just itching to get them onto our records here. Those megalomaniacs need to be STOPPED.

  • Jack June 8, 2019, 5:43 AM

    I have been banned for ages on a number of sites and most recently by Fox News. Not that I care all that much because my posts, among the millions of others, is just one BB in a BB factory. But I must be a dangerous man to walk against the traffic.

    But Fox takes things a step farther in that it will permit me to post a comment and the comment appears on the screen as long as I’m on the article but when I leave the page my comment is gone. No one except Fox, perhaps, ever sees it.

  • JiminAlaska June 8, 2019, 10:45 AM

    I started with the Apple II in the late ’70s with floppy disks, phone modems, etc., watched the changes, moved to Macs and, around 10 years ago to Linux operating systems. I never was a windows user, back when I was working for a living, I used Maclink+ to communicate with business colleagues immersed in windows.

    Of course I’ve noticed and reflected upon Big Brother taking over the internet and all things connected to it (which, today, means virtually everything). The only escape I see from their command and control is to move toward a meshnet, peer to peer links, with no central control, no bottlenecks through which data passes (hence no place to throttle it).

    Here is a link to Freenet, I’m not suggesting they’re the answer but a look at it shows the direction I think we need to go:

    https://freenetproject.org/fr/index.html

  • JiminAlaska June 8, 2019, 11:27 AM

    I started with the Apple II in the late ’70s with floppy disks, phone modems, etc., watched the changes, moved to Macs and, around 10 years ago to Linux operating systems. I never was a windows user, back when I was working for a living, I used Maclink+ to communicate with business colleagues immersed in windows.

    Of course I’ve noticed and reflected upon Big Brother taking over the internet and all things connected to it (which, today, means virtually everything). The only escape I see from their command and control is to move toward a meshnet, peer to peer links, with no central control, no bottlenecks through which data passes (hence no place to throttle it).

    Here is a link to Freenet, I’m not suggesting they’re the answer but a look at it shows the direction I think we need to go:

    https://freenetproject.org/fr/index.html

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