Everyone always talks about freedom of speech — you know, first amendment stuff. You’re allowed to speak your mind without the government persecuting you for that speech. Ok, obviously this has limits, yelling fire in a theater or perhaps requiring permits if you want to block traffic.
This works well if you want to drag out your literal soapbox to the town square and start conveying your views.
The problem we’re starting to encounter is that the commons are becoming virtual. You have companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook that are now the gatekeepers for these new commons. The concept of the first amendment does not apply to private property. (Same with my house, for instance–if you’re not playing by my rules I can ask you to leave, if you don’t then I can call the police and have you removed for trespassing) We’re getting to a point where these private companies can completely control the conversation by shutting down speech that they don’t like.
So, if you take an opinion that’s not popular, I’ll pick on guns for a moment, then you can have a company like Google change the entire conversation about guns by simply deleting all the content about guns from their platform. It’s certainly within their right to do that, but the fact that we no longer have a forum to talk about gun makes it hard to do anything to change the now non-existent conversation. You can pick anything else as well. Vaccines. Alternate energy. Marijuana. Trump. Clinton. Whatever.
We now are in a position where it’s possible for a few large monolithic companies to basically do mind control because opinions they don’t like are just disappeared from the public consciousness.