Pop Culture

Fox News Is Freaking Out Over Big Tech “Tyranny”

In the wake of both Twitter’s permanent suspension of Donald Trump and the shutdown of the social network Parler, Glenn Beck appeared on Fox News to accuse Silicon Valley of creating a “digital ghetto” for conservatives, whom he likened to Jews living under Nazi persecution. “You can’t have freedom of speech if you can’t express yourself in a meaningful place. This is like the Germans [putting] the Jews behind the wall—they would put them in the ghetto,” he told Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night during a segment on “the end of free speech” for online conservatives. “Well, this is the digital ghetto. Jews, you do whatever you want behind the wall. Well, that’s not meaningful and that’s where we are, that’s where millions of Americans will be.” 

While Beck reaching peak Godwin’s law might be the most hyperbolic moment in Fox’s emotional spiral following Trump losing his social media megaphone, it was just one of many over-the-top rants from Fox hosts and guests against the supposed evils of Big Tech. Twitter’s move against the president, who was also banned permanently or temporarily by Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Shopify, Instagram, Stripe, and Twitch, occurred after he riled up his supporters at a Washington, D.C. rally last week, which led to the mob successfully storming the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory—and also triggered a House vote to impeach him Wednesday for inciting the insurrection. Additionally, the new Twitter competitor Parler, which is a favorite site for Trump supporters who are either banned from mainstream social media sites or are boycotting them, was shut down after it was both taken off the Apple and Android app stores and had its server deal with Amazon voided.

In a weekend statement, Apple explained the Parler decision by stating, “We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity. Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety. We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues.” Amazon, which is being sued by Parler for dropping the app, explained in a Tuesday court filing that it had “notified Parler repeatedly” over the past several months about content on the site that violated Amazon’s terms of service. “[Parler] demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of [Amazon Web Services] content that threatens public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens,” stated Amazon, concluding that Parler’s refusal to follow the rules “left AWS little choice but to suspend Parler’s account.” In statement last week, Google said it dropped the app from its Android app store due to Parler’s refusal to enforce policies regarding violent content, stating, “We recognize that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content.”

Without providing any evidence, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy claimed the “mega monster monopoly from Silicon Valley” had “colluded” to take Parler offline. Doocy then advised Parler to “construct their own servers. They need to build their own infrastructure, because…if they owned it all, from the basement to the penthouse, then they wouldn’t have that problem.” However, as his exasperated cohost Brian Kilmeade pointed out, that is a task that’s easier said than done and would require financial backing from “a gazillionaire.” Kilmeade added, “Amazon controls it all, and what they don’t have Google has, and what they don’t have Apple has. How in America did we let this happen?” The Fox & Friends cohost also complained that Trump, who was banned after repeatedly spreading disinformation about the Democratic Party stealing the presidency for Biden, was given the boot by Twitter for the same claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supposedly got away with following the 2016 general election, as she tweeted that “our election was hijacked.” However, he failed to note that none of Hillary Clinton’s supporters attempted to take over the Capitol. 

Throughout this week’s editions of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the program has run a number of dramatic chyrons, including one warning of “Tech Tyranny: Big Tech is cruelly authoritarian and dishonest,” and another claiming there is an “immoral assault on innocent Americans underway“ via the takedown of Parler. To discuss this national crisis, Carlson recently hosted Glenn Greenwald, the ex-Intercept writer who has defended Parler by claiming that “zero” of its active users were “arrested in connection with the Capitol invasion.” Using GPS tracking data of Parler users—obtained from the metadata found in videos posted by Parler accounts—Gizmodo reported Tuesday that a number of users of the social network appeared to be among those who stormed their way into the Capitol building. According to the site, the 618 Parler videos shared by users who were involved in the attack last Wednesday will be used by the FBI in its nationwide search for suspects, of which 20 have been taken into custody. 

As for Facebook, the site’s executive Sheryl Sandberg insisted on Monday that the Capitol riot was not “largely organized” on Facebook, but on other platforms “that don’t have our abilities to stop hate, don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency.” Sandberg has been sharply criticized for her downplaying of Facebook’s culpability, given that the site was used to help plan the protest-turned-uprising, which included posts shared by several Republican Party Facebook groups advertising the January 6 Trump rally and promoting it as the “Operation Occupy the Capitol”—complete with a “1776Rebel” hashtag. As NBC News’ Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny reported, “Operation Occupy the Capitol” advertisements appeared on Facebook and Instagram, which is also a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s tech empire.

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