We’re knee-deep in the suppression of speech by massive tech companies. Because of recent bannings and otherwise shady behavior from YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest, renewed zeal for the regulation, dissolution or investigation of “Big Tech”has gripped the online “conservasphere.”
The problem is that no one can decide what we are supposed to do.
Carlos Maza, an employee of Vox, is almost single-handedly responsible for the newest in a long series of monetization crackdowns from YouTube. Content creators rely on the platform to serve ads on their videos and then pay the creators based on the traffic videos create. It is important to note that even when a channel is demonetized, YouTube can still run ads on a creator’s videos and keep all of the profit.
During the “Golden Age” of YouTube, it was easy to make a living off the website, ads were plentiful, and the curbing of speech was almost nonexistent. One could dress up in a pink jumpsuit and run around Central Park harassing passersby while an explicit rap trap played in the background and make tens of thousands of dollars off of it. Truly, this is what the internet was invented for.
That’s an extreme example. The internet was supposed to be a pillar of free speech and expression. Government entities shied away from regulating the internet in its early stages to let it flourish and grow, a bit of a social experiment in and of itself. After 2016, the entity cracking down on speech isn’t the big bad government; it’s websites themselves.
And therein lies the conundrum. How do we, as conservatives, handle a group of corporations — whose rules we agreed to — who are now stepping on our right to free speech and the generation of profit? Few “solutions” have been offered, and the majority favor a big government answer that betrays conservative principles.
Do we just have to swallow the pill on this one and force these companies to allow all users and speech? Or do we acquiesce to the terms and conditions and let the new “big brother” walk all over us?
The answer may lie somewhere in the middle.
These social media companies — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter — rely on their users to generate profit. Users are the product. They sell ads and our personal data to generate revenue. Each of us signed our rights away when we checked the box to accept the terms and conditions. (Honestly, if you never want to sleep at night again, read Facebook’s terms document.)
Since we are the product, it is not out of line to say that we should be in some way compensated for our services.
Legislation that forces tech companies to give users full control over their data is not impossible.
Here’s one simple solution to hit tech companies where it hurts. Any person who is banned from a platform must be paid whatever money that platform made from their activity, and the banned user must also be provided with a list of places their data was sold.
If these social media companies are banning people out of some moral “indignation,” then they should have no problem giving back the money they made off of them.
This legislation would circumvent any terms document and give users more insight into the money-making aspect of social media. It would also allow companies to continue banning users but at a tangible cost.
This policy is inherently bipartisan. Anyone who is banned would be entitled to compensation.
This proposal could kick-start a campaign to introduce real solutions. That would be better than just whining about deplatforming.
Alec Sears (@SearsAL) is a conservative author and political consultant.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.