A few companies have the power to banish entire websites and applications from the web. They have begun caving to activist pressure.
"Of course, as private companies, Amazon, Apple, Cloudflare, and Google are well within their rights to make decisions like these. I'm certainly not suggesting that tech companies should be forced to provide services to entities or individuals they find questionable. Nor do I think that the government should mandate that these companies accept any and all potential customers engaged in legal activity. "
I fully support regulation (government) in these cases. The Post Office and the phone company don't get to decide if I can get mail or a phone number based on my politics.
Amazon, Apple, Cloudflare, and Google should be treated as common carriers and not allowed to engage in any discrimination. If it works for the Post Office/phone company, it will work for them to. If someone posts illegal content, they should be prosecuted for it. Otherwise, tech companies should not engage in any form of censorship. That includes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.. by the way.
So, are we just going to end up with two (more?) distinct politically segregated internet infrastructures? I don't have any idea what the implications of that are, but it would be a grimly amusing end to the techno-optimism that many of us once felt. Who would have thought one could be wistful thinking about the halcyon days of 2014 🤣. How fuckin depressing.
I agree with most of this, save...
"Most, if not all, of the policies proposed by politicians aimed at addressing censorship online—new tech-targeted antitrust laws, banning algorithmic recommendations, or rescinding the law that helps protect tech companies from liability for user and customer speech—would make the internet less pleasant for the vast majority of us."
How more antitrust laws, which would bring more players on the market, would make the internet less pleasant for us?
How banning the algorithmic recommendations, which are the major culprit of the present exacerbation of hostility as they help create echo-chambers and push the further "spectacularization" of everything that draws attention (because it does not matter the content, only the likes count, because the likes mean that people may have looked at the attached ad, and companies pay for ads), how, I ask, banning this noxious mechanism would make the internet less pleasant? Do we so much love having a column of text interrupted by ads every two paragraphs?
The last is the only one I'll give you -- simplest for the politicians, no doubt, at it passes the hot potato again to the providers of services -- it would just make law of something that is now done through pressure and personal choices, making it more common.
But, another point. Do we really think that this is new behaviour, just because it is being engaged in by the vocal, extreme part of a left once famed for protecting freedom of speech and opinion?
The militant right has done it for years, where it could reach... mostly through the wallet. And today, bigotry unites the reactionary right and the new gospel left on so many topics.
I would like to remind you and everybody else, since you mentioned the decriminalization of sex work, that sexual matters have been the first victims of this new wave of censorship. Credit card companies have been refusing service for years to people with businesses or websites that offer what is considered "adult content". Most web hosts may tolerate hate speech, but will not tolerate human sexual expression. Even art sites have hysterical rules about the representation of nudity and sexuality.
Is it so strange that it would expand? The principles are already there. We have gone backwards eons from the judgement that reflected the upholding of freedom of expression in The People against Larry Flynt. We are in a new era of moral righteousness. The moral righteousness of the left and that of the right may differ on many topics, but on one they very much agree: sexual freedom is bad. They will agree on more, or play at who is better at censoring on every possible aspect of human behaviour and thought.
There is no great difference between the machines of a Communist state, a Fascist state, or a Religious Fundamentalist state. The purpose is the same: preserve consensus through fear and thought control, for the righteous "better good". This is just the beginning.
It appears that @keffals has been involved in all manner of illegal/immoral activity. See "Kiwis vs. Predator" in Redux. Check the screenshots. It looks like @keffals boasts about engaging in illegal/immoral activity.
We need new institutions that aren't beholden to left or right. That includes tech platforming companies.