Don’t Trust Facebook and Google to Support a Free and Open Internet
The end of net neutrality angered a lot of Americans. Although their general concerns are justified, corporate entities like Facebook, Amazon, and Google cannot and should not be trusted to actually support a free and open internet in practice. Unfortunately, these companies are the ones leading the fight to restore net neutrality.
In this situation: no one wins.
Net Neutrality Gets Axed
No one wants censorship and no one wants the end of a free and open internet.
For this reason, millions of Americans were distraught when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturned net neutrality. Not only that, but people felt completely helpless: they pleaded, shouted, and signed petitions yet nothing worked. Their voices were silenced.
Axing net neutrality was just one small part of the Trump administration’s push to remove all leftover influence from the Obama era. This article isn’t going to explain net neutrality. You can read about that here.
Proponents of net neutrality argue that ending the rule will make internet access less accessible for low-income folks and crush independent outlets that can’t pay to keep up with the big guys.
Opponents argue the same thing: that net neutrality is actually responsible for stifling innovation and limiting internet access. This is a big deal because nearly 40% of rural America does not have access to the internet — the infrastructure doesn’t exist and internet service providers don’t have financial incentive to create it.
So, who’s right and who’s wrong?
Neither. Instead of actually supporting a “free and open internet,” this has turned into a fight between different corporations battling for control over internet censorship and accessibility.
And in this fight, the public (and independent outlets) always lose.
Corporations Like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and Google Lobby to Reinstate Net Neutrality
Tech giants like Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, and Google recently formed a new lobbying group and lawsuit crusade to reinstate net neutrality.
Can you really trust these guys to support a free and open internet? Absolutely not.
Facebook and Google already do exactly what they claim ISPs will do now that net neutrality is gone: force users to pay for different types of websites, platforms, and information.
Facebook, Amazon, and Google are no friend to independent media — or consumers.
From a consumer standpoint, they steal your personal information and sell it to advertisers. They also cooperate with the National Security Agency (NSA) for spying purposes.
From a media standpoint, they force you to pay for your audience. This is especially true considering Facebook’s recent round of censorship when they removed nearly all pages from users’ news feeds.
Anyone who runs an independent outlet or small business now has to figure out how they can reach their social media audience without paying an arm and leg. The big outlets can afford to keep up: they have the budgets to spend on sponsored posts. The little guys? Not so much.
The funny thing is, this is exactly what Facebook and Google claim ISPs will do: tier platforms and information. They’re just upset because they don’t get to control the information themselves anymore. Or rather, they don’t have a monopoly on it anymore. Instead, entities like Facebook and Google will have to contend with tiers from ISPs — just like consumers.
These companies support net neutrality because it hurts their bottom line — not because they actually support a free and open internet for all.
Facebook and Google Already Tier Information: They Don’t Support a Free and Open Internet
Far from it: not only does Facebook censor independent media and small businesses, they also silence political opponents.
I’m not just talking about the alt-right and neo-nazis. Last week, Facebook deactivated the wildly popular Latin American outlet teleSur for about 12 hours. Why? No one knows for sure. It could be their left-leaning and anti-war content, or it could be due to sanctions against Venezuela.
Either way, this action terrified other independent news outlets. I personally dealt with this last week myself when a page with over 2 million followers shared one of my articles. After nearly 10 hours, the post had only “reached” one person.
Not to mention, I also had my Facebook account deleted for over a month last year at a particularly inconvenient time. Why? No idea: they don’t tell you. Plus, the timing of my removal and reinstatement was very suspicious considering the current events taking place in a region I frequently cover.
Twitter isn’t much better. Instead of deleting accounts to silence political voices, they “shadow ban” and restrict your reach without informing you.
Google is just as bad: they’ve recently de-ranked Russia Today (RT) as well as independent outlets that promote anti-war narratives.
Although politics are a hotspot, small businesses don’t fare much better. Without a solid content marketing strategy and advertising money, good luck ranking well in Google searches.
A free and open internet — one that is accessible and uncensored — is extremely important. We just can’t trust companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google to lead the charge.