“Content Moderation Isn’t “Censorship.” It’s What Built The Internet,” is another bad faith argument courtesy of The Bulwark: the home of anti-conservatives pretending to be conservatives while being funded by a radical leftist.
Bad faith arguments are the only kind that The Bulwark specializes in.
The difference between content moderation and censorship is scale. When I decide that some comments posted to my blog shouldn’t go up, that’s moderation. If I were to try to control all the comments across the internet, that would be censorship.
A newspaper deciding which letters to print is excercising control over its own forum. A syndicate that gained control over all the papers in order to suppress dissenting political views and promote its slate of candidates, and then colluded to shut down all opposition outlets, would be engaged in censorship.
And that’s roughly what’s going on now in terms from a century ago.
Moderation is local. Censorship is global. The purpose of moderation is to weed your own garden. Censorship seeks to stamp out contrary opinions everywhere.
Robert Tracinski at The Bulwark argues that Apple, Google, and Amazon, among other Big Tech monopolies, colluding to shut down Parler is content moderation. Cutting off service to a third party because you don’t like the fact that its moderating policy isn’t the one you politically favor isn’t content moderation. It’s a boycott.
Amazon deleting reviews on its site is content moderation. Amazon cutting off AWS services is a boycott.
Calling it content moderation doesn’t even qualify as laughably bad trolling.
Amazon has a right to cut off its services. But that’s a more dubious proposition with monopolies like Apple and Google that maintain a walled garden of apps. And when three members of the FAANG join forces to suppress a service because it isn’t engaged in censorship, that’s not content moderation. It’s suppression.
Content moderation is Parler deciding what to moderate. A handful of monopolies allied with a ruling party and its ruling class deciding to shut down any service that isn’t moderating content their way is how Communist China “moderates content”.
We don’t call it content moderation when China shuts down any mention of its habit of running over protesters with tanks. That’s not what we’re going to call it here either.