The questions we have to ask of Big Tech, Silicon Valley or whatever you want to call it following the latest, unprecedented intrusion into a presidential election are both deeply profound but also urgent in nature.
On Tuesday, I was mortified to see that Twitter had decided to start “fact-checking” President Donald Trump’s tweets.
“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed…” the president tweeted earlier in the day.
The tweet now comes with a little blue exclamation point and a sign that reads: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” The link takes the reader to a subsite that cites Bloomberg, CNN and the Washington Post.
Embedded amongst the mess of links is a “What You Need to Know” section, which claims:
– Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.
– Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.
– Five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting, according to NBC News.
There is plenty of evidence for President Trump’s claim. The same as we are now finding out about his claims that the Obama administration spied on his campaign.
With reference to his comments about California, I refer you to a CBS (hardly right-wing news) investigation that found a significant number of deceased people voting, as well a Los Angeles Times (also not right-wing) report on illegal immigrants voting in elections.
It’s hardly a great leap, nor is it “fake news” for the president to hold an opinion on what the next steps are for the political left in its crusade to tip an election in its favor.
But here we are, the President of the United States – the leader of the free world – being “fact-checked” by some anonymous toerag in Silicon Valley.
It’s time for a real investigation into precisely who is proclaiming the authority to “watch the watchmen” or “guard the guardians” — what Roman writer Juvenal first referred to in political context as “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”
Other major organizations in public life and indeed private enterprise have to be totally transparent about who their decision-makers and stockholders are.
With the power to influence the most important elections on planet Earth, Big Tech companies must disclose who their watchmen are. And indeed what their political biases are.
Only then will we know the truth about the motivations behind censoring conservatives and “fact-checking” the president.
A Big Tech Transparency Commission would ensure every single person with the ability to censor an elected official or U.S. citizen would be named publicly. We should seek to know their own political affiliations, biases and donation records. And if possible, while ensuring their safety, we should be aware of their previous employment history and subcontracts.
Much like the moderators of a local sports team forum or Facebook page, we should also know just by looking at a post who interfered with it, and in what way.
Because just like Alexander Hamilton wrote the Report on the Subject of Manufactures to ensure the United States and its defense was not reliant on a foreign power, we must also guard our Constitution and the rights bestowed upon us by God against corporations which are increasingly opaque and foreign-funded.
If nothing else, this is a national security issue.
But in truth, it’s an age-old philosophical consideration that dates back to the first century AD.
Who watches the watchmen?
We all have to.
Bobby Schilling represented Illinois’ 17th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013.