One thing is abundantly clear with the continual releases of the “Twitter Files” — the federal government is knee-deep in utilizing Big Tech to do its bidding. And Big Tech is marching in lockstep.
Even as civil libertarians rage against violations of the 1st Amendment, it is unclear whether government actions and those of their business partners indeed run afoul of constitutional protections. Waiting for the courts to step in may well be a lost cause.
The cure for these transgressions, as The Federalist suggested, may rest in the American public reclaiming its zest for free speech and the free press.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s releases of troves of internal documents over the past several weeks revealed the startling scope of interaction between the government and Big Tech. However, it is not just his new company that complies with Washington’s wishes.
Independent reporter Matt Taibbi noted that the collaboration is far more widespread than one social media platform and one government agency.
On Washington’s side, players “from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA” are involved. As for the industry, everyone from Facebook to “Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest” have “regular meetings” with government officials.
Twitter Files: FBI Paid Twitter to Spy on YOU! pic.twitter.com/xXalH4BcXF
— Judicial Watch ⚖️ (@JudicialWatch) December 21, 2022
Domestically, it is now well known that the FBI successfully smeared the Hunter Biden laptop investigation as “Russian misinformation.” This deplorable action came within days of the 2020 presidential election, and who can know what influence it had on the outcome?
Globally, the U.S. government undertook a propaganda campaign to shape Americans’ views of the Middle East, particularly Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Kuwait.
There is no guarantee or even high probability that the courts will see these actions as contradictions of 1st Amendment rights. Would they find that Washington threatened “adverse actions” as defined recently by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas? It is doubtful.
The FBI consistently defended its contacts with Twitter by noting that it only pointed out possible violations of terms of service to the platform. Actual actions were left up to content moderators.
The final decision on the limits of government intrusion into social media will be decided by the American people. How much do we treasure our constitutional freedoms of speech and of the press? This will determine how long the collusion between Washington and Big Tech lasts.