We have become well acquainted with the autocratic, unchecked power of Big Tech and their censorship. It was just last month that the President of the United States was deplatformed from every social media platform – once one pulled the trigger, the dominos fell and within hours President Trump was removed from the internet.
Poland is considering bold actions against the unchecked power multi-billion dollar corporations have obtained in deciding what speech is acceptable and what is not, comparing the actions of these platforms to what they experienced during the communist era. Here in America, where freedom of speech is understood as a fundamental, inalienable right of a free people, Big Tech takes advantage of their section 230 protections, while continuing to censor, deplatform, or shadow ban users with whom they disagree, garnering outrage from politicians, but no action.
Beyond their deplatforming, shadow banning and censorship, the 2020 election gave rise to a new influence Big Tech has in our democracy with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg alone giving hundreds of millions to election offices to influence or change the way local elections offices conducted the election.
The idea that Zuckerberg and Big Tech would give away their millions simply out of the goodness of their heart to protect democracy without trying to exert influence for one candidate or ideology is at the least questionable. And we need not simply theorize about their plan, corporations are outright bragging about their master plan of coordinating the results of the election now that it is over:
“Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time.”
One focus of this election influence is the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) which in 2018 spent a mere $1.4 million, but in 2020 received over $350 million from Zuckerberg and his wife alone. This influence was seen throughout the country – right here in Arizona too.
Capital Research has looked into CTCL and found that it spent $5 million in Arizona, $3 million of which went to Maricopa County led by Democrat County Recorder Adrian Fontes – essentially the electorally decisive county. And what happened in Maricopa County? Though Trump went from 590,465 votes in 2016 to 995,665 in 2020, he lost the county to Biden who somehow doubled Clinton’s 2016 performance, receiving 1,040,774 votes in 2020. This equaled $1.80 from the CTCL per Biden vote in Maricopa County.
But what kind of effect did Big Tech money, and especially Zuckerberg and the CTCL, actually have? It’s just as the Times article brags – “they got states to change voting systems and laws…” In Wisconsin, the Zuckerberg backed grant stipulated the submittal to CTCL and implementation of the “Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan” circumventing the role of the legislature and other elected bodies in the development of elections procedures. In Pennsylvania, the grants aided in the placement of a ballot drop box every four-square miles or for every 4,000 voters in Democrat strongholds compared to one drop box every 1,100 square miles or for every 72,000 voters in Republican strongholds.
This is the new Big Tech censorship. Though not removing someone from their platform, they drown out conservative votes by giving money to elections offices to drive up turnout in select locations while ignoring others. This creates a two-tier election system suppressing the turnout of voters Zuckerberg doesn’t like.
The left has complained about the role of money in elections. The hundreds of millions spent at local elections offices wasn’t philanthropy, it was a strategic investment with an expected return. The best approach to ensuring election integrity is a proactive one, but this election is over and we can’t go back, so it is time that states pass strong legislation prohibiting private, outside funding of election offices. Even the appearance of impropriety in elections is dangerous, so elections should be funded, directed, and guided by state governments not private organizations and especially not Big Tech.