If it is true that “the bigger they are, the harder they fall,” then the present trajectory of America’s Internet giants may knock the earth a little off its axis. Or at least, that is if you follow the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ.
For stock watchers, wobbly tech stocks are cause for concern. For those of us who are concerned about the safety of American citizens, it is welcome and overdue. The past few weeks have laid bare what many of us who regard America’s tech sector with a jaundiced eye have long suspected, and even feared—that far from being the bulwarks of innovation that their defenders imagine, the most dominant tech companies are plagued by anti-American sentiment, riddled with technical and security failures, or completely dishonest with consumers—and often all three at once.
In short, Silicon Valley’s Snowflake Barons are increasingly looking not just like a danger to American principles but also to the United States itself.
Let’s start with Amazon. Now, to its credit, the retail giant at least provides items of value to its consumers, unlike some of the other offenders I’ll discuss. The problem with Amazon, however, is the extent to which it abuses its market power for the purposes of acting as a political cudgel. And no, I’m not just talking about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ decision to turn the Washington Post into a vehicle for anti-Trump jeremiads, without regard for their quality or even sanity. I’m talking about the behavior of Amazon itself, which shows not just a bias against conservative voices, but an active disregard for the promotion of anti-American causes abroad.
It was not so long ago that Amazon banned the Alliance for Defending Freedom from its Amazon Smile program, which enables users to donate to their favorite charities. Their reasoning was that the group had been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its opposition to gay marriage-related causes. This alone was troubling, seeing as it showed that Amazon was willing to outsource its ethics to an industrial strength left-wing smear manufacturer. But it didn’t actively threaten national security.
Now we know that at the same time Amazon was trying to kick Christian groups off its platform, its Amazon Smile program was simultaneously facilitating donations to the radical Islamist preacher Haitham al-Haddad. Needless to say, Haddad’s religious views make the Alliance for Defending Freedom look like GLAAD, and that’s not even getting into his rabid anti-Semitism, support for female genital mutilation, and defenses of pedophilia.
It says something that even in the United Kingdom, where political correctness is so extreme that mild anti-Muslim satire can get one banned from entering the country for life, Haddad is regarded as beyond the pale and dangerous. Despite thin denials of support for ISIS and al-Qaeda, Haddad is almost certainly also responsible for radicalizing young Muslims in Britain, where he is based. And this is the person Amazon has been funding without the slightest ounce of regret.
This matters, and not just because it shows an utter lack of moral clarity on Amazon’s part. It matters because Amazon increasingly has begun migrating the U.S. government’s data onto its cloud computing servers, and has been so aggressive in trying to gain government contracts that it may have broken the law in at least one case.
A company so blasé about inadvertently funding anti-Western extremists should be nowhere near classified information, let alone Department of Defense data, which (among other things) enables America’s military drones to stay afloat and effective. Amazon has the right to pass on customer dollars to whomever it likes, but it has no right to massive government subsidies. Period.
Compared to Amazon, the other big tech firms look like malware sites with delusions of grandeur.
Google, as I have noted in the past, is probably the worst offender in terms of its Snowflake political ideology, and thus its leaders are arguably the OG Snowflake Barons. If you can name another company where employees are invited to give talks on what it means to sexually identify as a yellow-scaled Dragonkin, I’ll frankly be shocked.
But worse than this has been Google’s behavior over the past month. Consider its refusal even to try to work with the United States Department of Defense because of its long commitment (which dates from roughly five minutes ago) to not building AI that can be used for weapons; or, its decision to build a censored and privacy destroying search engine for the totalitarian Chinese government; or, its having to shutter Google+, its widely mocked social media site, because of a bug that exposed the data of hundreds of thousands of users; or, its open admission in an internal company document that it plans to use its market power to censor the internet in order to be more attractive to authoritarian regimes as a business partner.
Given all these problems, Americans should thank their lucky stars that Google isn’t willing to work with the Department of Defense, because heaven knows the company’s institutional values are anti-American, its products shoddy, and its company culture a virtual black box of non-transparency. Its willingness to work with major American rivals marks it as a clear security risk for the United States, as does the . . . well, insecurity of its data.
And then there’s Facebook. It would be unnecessarily cruel to rehearse the myriad ways in which Facebook’s data repeatedly and humiliatingly has been compromised over the past few months, but what is more shocking is that Facebook also actively lies to its users and advertisers about where traffic numbers go.
In particular, the company tried to claim that Facebook video traffic numbers were far higher than they were, driving a huge shift toward video among media companies, and arguably killing huge swathes of the journalism industry in the process. I’m not usually one to be sympathetic to journalists, but when it comes to tech literally manipulating their craft in order to pad their own bottom line, I think there is no argument whatsoever that even the Fake News media has reason to be upset.
In short, not only is Facebook’s data laughably insecure, but its own reporting about that data is plagued with fundamental and protracted dishonesty. This is the kind of thing that normally only happens when dealing with mysteriously well-heeled Nigerian princes, yet Facebook is somehow still regarded as a pillar of America’s tech sector, even as it goes out of its way to conspire to kick political enemies off the internet.
In some ways, these embarrassing failures by Facebook and Google are to be expected. The sites charge nothing to use them, after all, because what they provide is largely either valueless or actively harmful to the point of mimicking the effects of illegal drugs. But that is no excuse, and certainly no reason they should avoid scrutiny.
The Snowflake Barons are, as one, running anti-American operations, and endangering the privacy and security of the American people. It’s time they got treated not as pillars of American capitalism, but as scams by a group of overgrown children mouthing left-wing pieties to avoid scrutiny. Maybe then we’ll have not just a freer and more secure internet, but a freer and more secure America as well.
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