BY SHANE WENZEL
Throughout human history, people at various times have said technology has been both a blessing and a curse. It has definitely made life easier; it has obsoleted old systems and led to a higher standard of living for many. But, needless to say, it has also been disruptive at times with more to follow. It also gave people in power new ways for gaining, maintaining and expanding that power. While technology itself is morally neutral, how it gets used and the people behind it can often have a less-than-honest intent.
While conspiracy theories are nothing new to history, after Bill C-11 passed with relative ease, concrete clues began to indicate this wasn’t the end of the path that is undoubtedly leading to more forms of censorship. And, while final details are still being worked out on C-11, Bill C-18 has quickly followed.
The whole idea of pushing Bill C-18 quickly through, with the usual meek objection by some senate seaters, the passing of bills with implications of censorship is becoming more than a mild concern for many. The need for this Bill has been sold on the idea that our Canadian news – whether voiced, in print or digitized – is failing and losing subscribers. The ‘asks’ for government subsidies continue.
Under C-18 there is a stated need for tech giants Facebook, Instagram and Google to ‘cough up’ advertising revenues to help maintain Canadian news. So, when did we stop supporting Canadian mainstream media based on advertiser dollars competing for the choice spots? Did all their salespeople quit? Who knew this bold request of the tech giants would turn out the way it appears to be going. It seems they aren’t willing to share revenues, nor do they have a need to make Canadian news available on their platforms.
Can Canadians be faulted for wanting news that hasn’t potentially been ‘hand-picked’ for the purpose of opinion-molding? Questions with concerns if this is just the beginning of an emergence of a new high-tech regime of censorship and preferred messaging to an extent beyond what we could have imagined lingers?
There has always been a feeling that an unholy alliance exists between influential tech giants and mainstream media elites. When adults are often ‘shadow-banned’, or postings appear tagged as misinformation and other obvious misinformation is allowed to stand, we naturally are concerned.
So, I come back to the question: is this the beginning of a new high-tech regime of censorship and thought control due to an alliance between government and influential well-funded tech giants? Will we look back with fond remembrance of its inception in the 1990s at what was briefly one of the greatest advancements in communication of its time? Yet here we are, decades later, finding ourselves in a tightly regulated – and ‘yes’ – another weaponized tool by ‘big government’ against print, radio and television. What about all of the independent media groups who produce some of the best researched news available to Canadians and often are mistreated along the way? Where do they fit in – or do they?
So far there remains some ‘faint hope’. The internet is still open to us, and we still have Elon Musk and Twitter.