The internet was created as a way to democratize information across the globe. In theory, no one would have the ability to censor the content that people had access to. Unfortunately, those days are far behind us. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube regularly decide what can and can't be seen by users in every region. Amazon, Google, and Apple can ensure that a popular platform is brought to its knees. But this week, we've seen a new side of Big Tech's power as they take sides in the Ukrainian conflict.
The early days of the internet were defined by its decentralization. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection could access any website they wanted. There was no central authority controlling what people could see. But as the internet has grown, it's become more centralized. Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become the gatekeepers of information. They control what content is seen by users in every region of the world.
But this week, we've seen a new side of Big Tech's power as they take sides in the Ukrainian conflict.
Content being blocked by Russia
YouTube has been blocked in Ukraine for several days now after the government decided that some of the videos posted were too incendiary. This decision came after pressure from Russian authorities who claimed that the videos were propaganda tools designed to incite violence.
Twitter has also been blocked in Ukraine, this time because the Ukrainian government doesn't want people to see what's happening on the ground. They've accused Twitter of being a tool of Russian propaganda.
Facebook is the only Big Tech company that hasn't been blocked in Ukraine, but that might be changing soon. The Ukrainian government is considering a ban because they believe that Facebook is helping Russia spread propaganda.
But Big Tech's power isn't just limited to blocking content. They can also help promote it.
Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement about the conflict in Ukraine on his Facebook page. The post was liked and shared by thousands of users, and it even made its way onto some news websites.
Content being blocked in Russia
Twitter has also been accused of censoring content in Ukraine. The company has blocked the account of RFE/RL, a news outlet funded by the US government after it published a tweet that was critical of Russia's actions in Ukraine.
And Facebook is no stranger to censorship either. Earlier this year, the company removed posts from several Palestinian pages after they were reported by pro-Israeli groups.
Big Tech's involvement in the Ukrainian conflict is just another example of their growing power and influence. As these companies continue to grow, they will become even more centralized and powerful. We need to be careful about who we give control over our information. We can't let Big Tech decide what we see and don't see. We need to remember the original purpose of the internet and fight for its decentralization.
Content being blocked in Ukraine
Apple has also taken a stand on the issue. They've removed several apps from their App Store that were being used by the Ukrainian military to coordinate their activities.
Google has also been accused of censoring content in Ukraine. The company has blocked the account of RFE/RL, a news outlet funded by the US government after it published a tweet that was critical of Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Obviously, this is just the beginning. As things continue to rage on, more companies will feel compelled to get involved picking a side - either in favor of Russia or Ukraine. Only time will tell if this has any positive impact on the conflict. What we do know is that it has illuminated a huge infrastructural issue with the way the internet currently runs.