Many if not most politically conservative users of search engines like Google and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter feel like the biggest players on the internet are biased towards a progressive worldview. The evidence they give has been sharp and quite compelling in many cases, though there are plenty of tinfoil hat concepts floating around to muddy the waters as well.
The response from the right should be aggressive and unified. We should seek clear evidence that these private companies are expressing their political perspectives through the services they offer and apply pressure. That pressure can come in the form of boycotts, support for unbiased competing services, communications with advertisers, or any of the various tactics used by individuals and private organizations to force change.
The last thing we should do is ask for or expect the federal government to get involved, but that’s exactly what President Trump and Breitbart’s Steve Bannon are insinuating.
“I think what Google and what others are doing, if you look at what is going on with Twitter and if you look at what’s going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people,” Trump said, adding, “I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.“
The president’s comments come amid growing talk in some conservative circles, led primarily by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, that Google and other online platforms should be regulated like public utilities, bringing them under government oversight.
Search engines and social media are privilege services. They offer venues through which people can find what they seek or interact with others in their digital sphere. The main players in these two online disciplines, Google in search and Facebook and Twitter in social, are private companies. It may be unsettling that they demonstrate bias against conservative principles or right-leaning political figures and organizations, but that doesn’t mean conservatives or Federalists should dismiss their core values of limited government intervention just for the sake of making things fair online.
They’re never going to be fair online no matter what DC does. The only DC’s intervention could possibly do is make the whole situation much worse.
It’s easier said than done to force these companies to change without the government. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what must happen. If we start calling for regulations or government oversight in order to make these platforms operated by private businesses fair, then we’d be adopting the progressive values these companies protect.
There is no easy way to fix search engines or social media. Any expectations that they should be compelled to be fair is just adding to the problem. However, it’s the only righteous path available to us right now. We cannot try for the “easy” fix of government intervention. That invariably makes situations like this even worse than they already are.