One of the driving factors behind Donald Trump’s surprising victory in 2016 was his campaign’s use of social media. Indeed, since the rise of the Internet and social media, the conservative movement has found a new broad platform from which to advocate in favor of its central principles after being largely marginalized on the “mainstream” stage now held firmly by the legacy media.
There are many reasons why conservatives found their new home on the Internet, including its original “free speech” foundation, the unprecedented ability to reach new audiences and — perhaps most importantly — the removal of generational informational “gatekeepers” which were previously controlled by the media elite. While in years past, only a select privileged few were given the microphone, the Internet suddenly gave everyone on the planet a voice.
The Left did not like this at all.
In a complex and gradual reaction, the powerful cohort of political Leftists and the legacy media — but I repeat myself — have conspired to push conservatives as a whole from their new home. After relentless and steady pressure, this push culminated in President Donald Trump being censored from Twitter for laughably invalid reasons.
Such a response from one of the world’s largest and — therefore — most powerful social media companies sparked a response we have seen before from conservatives. “Time to build our own,” starting with social media alternatives. However, as the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles pointed out, this strategy becomes increasingly implausible as the Left work to expel conservatives from every level of the technology stack.
Don't like it? Build your own Twitter!
Don't like it? Build your own App Store!
Don't like it? Build your own cell phone!
Don't like it? Build your own payment processor!
Don't like it? Build your own Internet!
Don't like it? Build your own…
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) January 9, 2021
With the same attitude towards the censorship or overt intolerance of conservatives appearing throughout our society, it’s not difficult to envisage a future where everything is split along ideological lines — lines drawn by the Left. One set of utilities for the Left, and another for those they despise. One media for the Left, and another for those they despise. Restaurants, cinemas, airlines for the Left, and others for those they despise. This is far from hyperbolic — conservatives have already been targeted by all these business industries, and many more.
Given that the Left are unlikely to have a change of heart and reverse their attempt to shrink the Overton window to disqualify even the most liberal of conservatives, the question becomes “what should conservatives do about it?”
While independent social media sites — such as Parler — are important in the general effort to provide customers with a platform which respects free speech, it’s crucial that we understand the difference between providing competition and enabling intolerance while evading the actual battle at hand.
In many ways, providing a “conservative” alternative to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any of the other tech giants will only serve to aid the Left in the first step of their plan — get conservatives to leave “their” platforms. The second step — get conservatives to leave all platforms — becomes much easier given that the challenge is no longer an internal one.
With conservatives on Twitter, for example, expelling them becomes somewhat of a headache for the company’s leadership. Yes, they can ban radical “conservative” voices, but when it comes to other conservatives, they are often too cowardly to act decisively. After all, they only removed President Donald Trump — something they have wanted to do for years — after the 2020 election was over in order to — partly — cower before their chosen victor, the incoming Biden administration. Policies had to be written, rewritten, and deliberately misinterpreted, with companies like Twitter and Facebook — who are otherwise aligned politically — engaging in ideological feuds over what is and isn’t valid censorship.
Those who jumped ship to join alternatives like Parler solved Big Tech’s problem for them. Instead of worrying about specific policies, or line-drawing, or embarrassing PR fires, they could simply coordinate to censor conservatives en masse, while – as a consequence – also taking out an independent competitor to the Big Tech giants. This is the Big Tech equivalent of killing two birds with the press of one button.
This battle — not just over censorship but also the “right” of conservatives to exist in the online society we now inhabit — is far from over. Instead of accepting Big Tech’s comparatively low-level infringements on their “private platforms” and building our own alternative “conservative” platforms — thereby subtly accepting their premise — we must instead dig our heels in and fight for a voice in the room where things are happening. Separating ourselves voluntarily from the mainstream not only makes it easier for Big Tech to silence us more efficiently, but also makes it harder for us to achieve what should be our movement’s central goal — to promote American conservatism.
Accepting Big Tech’s intolerant premise and building our own echo chambers will surrender the mainstream Internet to the Left. When voluntarily leaving in favor of “conservative” alternatives will inevitably result in requiring the impossible task of building “our own” global infrastructure, we have only one choice.
Don’t go anywhere.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.