For the almost 25 years that it’s been on the air, I’ve always done my best to steer The Kim Komando Show away from all things political.
After all, I talk about consumer technology. Religious, political and other polarizing issues were unnecessary. Besides, there have always been plenty of other talk show hosts who were busy with politics 24/7.
When today’s form of the internet came along, it was instantly called “The Great Equalizer.” Suddenly, everyone had a way to be heard. For a time, all of the technology was above the political fray.
At first, social media seemed rather benign. Facebook was merely a place to say “hello,” post a few photos and write about our lives. Twitter, a place to share a random thought.
The voices get louder
Naturally, everyone began Tweeting louder and louder, about everything and nothing, until the platforms he or she used, from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Instagram to Big Tech in general, became politicized: Fake news, Russian trolls, politicians, terrorists, celebrities.
Of course, the owners of Big Tech soon became uncomfortable with the level of the discourse. They had never seemed to be too uncomfortable with terrorists online raising money and recruiting.
For whatever the reason, all have displayed an abysmal track record of dealing with the objectionable online material. From live stream murders to riots, shootings and rapes, they never seem to know what to do.
Except to blame it on some algorithm.
What happened next was predictable. With no real experience to guide them, Big Tech began to clumsily ban certain voices and viewpoints. Many months after the Russians (if there were any Russians), Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube and all the others seemed to wake with a jerk and started banning people and ideas.
But whose ideas?
Are they suppressing primarily conservative viewpoints, while allowing those on the left to say anything? Perhaps. Perhaps not. One media report claims that Google’s algorithm is “prioritizing left-leaning news outlets” in searches for “Trump.” It said 96% of the searches result answers were from more liberal sites, with no conservative sites showing up on the first page of results.
However, against that solid wall, President Trump has ignited another firestorm with a Tweet saying that Google searches and the results that Google supplies to those searches should be “regulated because of fake news.”
What about the First Amendment?
Just a few days ago, I was right here, explaining how, if Big Tech wishes to silence those with whom they disagree, liberal or conservative, there was no First Amendment violation.
The First Amendment prohibits only government — and no one else — from restricting free speech. Newspapers, magazines, Facebook, Twitter, Google, radio and TV networks, talk shows, Cable and Satellite news, are all free to disallow and dissociate from anyone or anything they chose, for any reason whatsoever.
And the United States government has nothing to say about it. Read it for yourself, here’s the Constitution’s First Amendment (everyone loves to discuss it, but few read it):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
How things have changed
Long before the internet, newspapers reigned supreme. Throughout their entire history, American newspapers have been labeled as being “Pro Democrat,” “Pro Republican,” “Pro Labor, Pro Farmer, Pro Business,” you name it.
We need a balance.
To get a balance of news, the reader simply needed to get their news from a number of different sources.
Which brings us back to today. If you are getting all your news through Facebook, and nowhere else, the chances are high that your view of the world is not complete.
A hard reality is that you must work to stay informed. You would think that the internet would make all that easier.
Just the opposite: Even with all the blogs, tweets and postings, people are closing themselves off to other viewpoints. The more noise, the less they hear.
So now, President Trump’s administration says that it’s “looking at” placing some controls over what kind of search results Google returns, all in the name of “fake news.”
This is not the American way.
Don’t get me wrong. If Facebook or Google or Amazon breaks the law, the company should be prosecuted. In some cases, we’ve forced companies to be broken up, fearing that the company carried too much power and that its unbridled use of that power could damage the national good.
But this is something else.
President Trump, nor any government entity, has no business talking about controlling Google or Facebook content or the content any of the social media platforms. This is an issue of free speech.
This kind of comment from a sitting president is simply breathtaking. It is extraordinary.
No president — except Nixon — has ever seriously discussed controlling the media. And you see how well it worked for him.
Whether you love the president or loathe him, resist him or embrace him, regulating what Google or Facebook or Twitter can publish is not the way. It’s not legal, and even more so, it’s not right.
Think for yourself
In a flash (it seems), Big Tech and government are now on a collision course. And The Kim Komando Show is now forced, from time to time, to drag in the political implications of Big Tech, and its products, its services and its disservices to America and the world, as we simply try to discuss technology and our lives.
Our country is now in a state of flux. It is a dangerous time. But it is not the time to lose our composure.
We all have a responsibility to stay informed. We must depend on multiple people and multiple outlets for our news. We must resist the “comfort zone.” Listen to all sides, not just those who reflect your views.
Maintain your own standards.
Take the necessary time to determine where you stand and what you are. Why are you a Democrat? Why are you a Libertarian? Why are you a Republican? Why are you voting? Or why not?
Always stop and think.
And if (and when), my comments on consumer tech touch on one of the nation’s political or social hot buttons, remember, this is what our nation has become and that I cannot tell the entire story by focusing only on the tech itself.
As for President Trump, the answer is NO, Mr. President.
Search results and online content are NOT the property of the government nor are they subject to its oversight. What Big Tech says and what it covers and who it allows on its platforms and who it does not, is NOT a First Amendment violation.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and all of the other may be unfair, and they may be biased. They may, indeed, be rigged. But it’s not the job of the government to fix it.
It’s up to us.
If we EVER allow the government to control what can be said and published, the very fabric of this country will be forever damaged beyond repair — whether you agree with this president or not.