Political commentator Dave Rubin of the Rubin Report recently sat down with economist Eric Weinstein for a dialogue on the future of the intellectual dark web. Immediately, one is drawn in to the exciting discussion across party lines, both belonging to entirely different schools of thought. They highlight the importance of public attention, and responsibility, when looking at tech giants and their control over platforms of speech. Particularly, the two discuss YouTube, what is supposed to be a haven for all voices, and how the simplicity of a Google search or a post on Facebook seems second nature to most of us millennials. When, though, do we start to second guess it?  

What stuck out to me most was the simple question: why aren’t conservatives concerned?

As far back as Aristotle, we see warnings of demagoguery ruling the people. We do not want to sacrifice our online freedoms because we are too distracted by just winning arguments for the sake of winning. Perhaps something can be learned from this and the de-platforming of popular conservatives from various popular sites like Twitter and Facebook. Both Rubin and Weinstein tell us this is not going to go away anytime soon. It happens behind the scenes. Not only should we be skeptical, but proactive about addressing what is nothing short of strategic censorship.

Censorship is not a new concept for the conservative movement. We saw James Damore being fired from Google for politically inconsistent opinions with the politicized workplace. Dennis Prager of PragerU even went to court over the content of the organization’s videos, which then received the same shunning treatment from Facebook. This deplatforming only incited a domino effect of voice after voice being removed from the world wide web of ideas for not fitting into the status quo of sensitive content. There’s a reason we have the First Amendment. A similar domino effect of recoiling our speech absolutely cannot ensue. These business interests have a one-track mind, according to Rubin and Weinstein. Its placing society on a dangerous path.

Though many conservatives see this as potential evidence of a progressive utopia on the way, Rubin thinks it is already here. As a conservative, I would like to adhere as closely as possible to well and tested theories of free market solutions. In the age of Trump, however, when everything is hyper-politicized, private companies that deem what is acceptable and who can access it is becoming too powerful for our own good. Blind allegiance to market solutions is not the best way to let tech corporations curate our speech. This isn’t a Left-Right problem anymore, nor is it solely a matter of private versus public rights; this is a matter of securing our freedom of information.

With regard to the Rubin Report video, Rubin questions if technological innovation moves faster than the government can keep up with. For most of us college students, we are familiar with the whole notion of ‘safe spaces’ and speech being altered to appease administrations. How quickly are these problems solved? Not very quickly! Now apply that to the international realm of the intellectual dark web. It feels like we are at the mercy of what these tech giants decide, including their timelines.

Finally, most are aware that algorithms organize our online lives and probably will continue to do so. While they themselves may be neutral actors, the minds behind them must still be questioned. Conservatives need to take a more alarmist attitude to the shunning of unpopular political opinions on the Internet, not just on campus or in public. Without these precautions, if we turn a blind eye to this unprecedented curated culture, it won’t be long before we see the intellectual web becoming what Rubin and Weinstein warn is the intellectual dark web. Check out their video here.

Kelly H
CONTRIBUTOR