By Kyle Sammin January 15, 2021 The Federalist
Allum Bokhari's book, '#DELETED,' warns of the insidious ties between the incoming Biden administration and the tech oligarchs who want to shape our politics and run our lives.
Until recently, worrying about the power of large corporations was the left’s job. It makes sense. Conservatives have historically been champions of the market, and large corporations have usually stayed out of the culture wars. They once reflected American culture, rather than shaping it. Big government was always the bigger threat to our liberty.
Now, as social media giant Twitter bans the personal account of the president of the United States and even deletes tweets from @POTUS, the account owned by the U.S. government, one is forced to wonder who is more powerful, Washington or Silicon Valley? Twitter, acting in routine combination with Facebook, now claims the power to decide whether the people should be able to read the words of their own government.
Although it was published in September, Allum Bokhari’s prescient book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal the Election, explains how the relationship between corporate power and the American people has changed for the worse. As Big Tech companies have grown to monopoly strength, they have abandoned what pretenses they ever held of neutrality and are now, in Bokhari’s telling, trying to determine the results of the nation’s elections.
Companies typically have profit as their goal. That tends to mean they stay out of politics, reflecting a broad middle ground designed to alienate the fewest people and get business from the most.
But the customers of Facebook, Twitter, and Google are not you; you and your personal data are their product. Their customers are the advertisers to whom they sell that data. That, combined with their internet oligopoly, creates weird, never-before-seen incentives. They have no need to care about your opinion. Instead, they will use their power to shape it.
The Revolving Door
Bokhari lays out the rise of Big Tech in 16 briskly paced chapters, beginning with the close relationships between tech leaders and the wing of the Democratic Party concentrated in New York, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley. There has always been a revolving door between industries and the branch of government that regulates them, but the growth of government regulation, coinciding with the consolidation of power in a few left-leaning constituencies, elevated the practice to a high art.
During Barack Obama’s term of office, Bokhari found that 55 employees from Google alone joined the administration, while 197 government employees left to join Google. Other tech companies could not compete with Google’s numbers, but the pattern was the same. And it still is. Kamala Harris’s brother-in-law is Uber’s top lawyer. Her former press secretary is a senior communications manager at Twitter. A former senior counsel in her Senate office is now a lobbyist for Amazon. The list goes on.
The revolving door is not, as was once the case, an expedient alliance between regulator and regulated that, if morally fraught, at least makes business sense. The Big Tech-Big Government alliance is different. They have the same goals—molding people into a more leftist mindset—and share a common culture. Young, highly educated, wealthy, and above all liberal, they all hold a similar vision for the country and the world, one often at odds with American tradition and history.
That convergence of vision is not necessarily a conspiracy. For many, it is likely the predictable result of living in a bubble. If nearly all of the people you talk to and work with every day hold similar views, it is natural to believe they represent a majority of the country. People who hold contrary opinions seem weird and aberrant.
For more culturally isolated people, any variance from their version of the mainstream is bizarre, even sinister. It becomes hard to imagine and benign motive for disagreement. Those who do become a threat to be converted or, failing that, isolated and made irrelevant.