Company towns … are mostly a thing of the past in this country, and not all were as exploitative as the one in “Sixteen Tons.” By the standards of the time, some were even good, if paternalistic, places for workers to live. The defining feature was not abuse and exploitation, but control. Economic power merged with cultural and political power to control workers.
Big Tech is turning America into a giant company town. The parts of the internet everyone uses are controlled by a small number of companies. In an information economy and online culture, that ubiquity gives them dominion, and they are using it.
We expect business interests to be self-serving in their political involvement, but what sets the tech moguls apart is their desire to direct our lives, even if that draws them into political and cultural conflicts that might imperil their bottom line. The robber barons of yore wanted your money; the lords of Silicon Valley want your heart, mind, and soul.
The promise of the internet was openness and freedom, but Big Tech is imposing its views on the rest of us. This goes far beyond outrage mobs using social media to target people and organizations; the tech companies themselves are deploying their power to influence our culture and politics.
Instead of being open platforms for expression, social media giants act like partisan publishers, limiting and even shutting down conversations on political topics. Sometimes, such as with reporting on the allegedly corrupt dealings of the Biden family, they overreach and get caught, but many times their efforts succeed.
acebook even has Chinese nationals working on its censorship team. The Department of Justice has just filed an antitrust suit against Google. If Google doesn’t show something to you, does it even exist?