When Twitter per­ma­nently sus­pended then-Pres­ident Donald Trump’s account on Jan. 8, one truth became evident: Big Tech has monop­o­listic power over the public forum in America.

The ensuing crackdown on thou­sands of accounts fol­lowing Trump’s removal saw non-estab­lishment thinkers and groups, both con­ser­v­ative and pro­gressive, removed from the main plat­forms of communication. 

Anyone outside of the “elite class” running media, is cen­sored, said Assistant Pro­fessor of Rhetoric and Public Address Ethan Stoneman. 

“The media has always been in the hands of the elite,” Stoneman said. “No one seems to be happy with the current tech­no­logical dispensation.” 

Ideas outside the estab­lishment con­sensus face the threat of cen­sorship by the few media com­panies con­trolling the public forum — but this is not new, Stoneman said. History has shown monop­olies form with every new tech­no­logical devel­opment in media. 

“This is the norm in the history of media history and tech­nologies — there has always been a priestly class,” Stoneman said. “When a new tech­nology comes onto the scene in a more emergent phase, things start to get commercialized.You’re going to see the con­cen­tration, and then a con­glom­er­ation of these dif­ferent media industries.”

Precedent shows monop­o­lization happens and then, a longing for a “Wild West” free-for-all, which can never be a per­manent state, according to Stoneman, who refers to our current era as “tech­no­logical modernity” as opposed to post-modernity. 

“In terms of who has access — this one person one voice — that’s just not going to be the case,” Stoneman said. “That’s never been the norm.”

What remains dif­ferent about Big Tech from past monop­olies, however, is the threat to free speech and the precedent being set, which could soon extend into sectors outside communication. 

Even Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk rec­og­nizes the threat, tweeting earlier this month that “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech.”

Big Tech has fol­lowed the his­torical path of enacting cen­sorship, starting with “going after the most noxious pos­sible people,” according to Assistant Pro­fessor and Research Fellow David Azerrad.

“Starting with, you know, the white suprema­cists,” he said. “And then you’re like ‘Well, OK, what if they’ve been removed?’”

This precedent slowly, but delib­er­ately, widens its scope until Big Tech’s agenda is obvious.

“They came after the pres­ident of the United States of America,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about imposing an orthodoxy and silencing dissent.”

This desire to silence is going to extend outside of social media sites into nearly any industry, Azerrad argues. 

“It goes beyond com­mu­ni­cation because once the precedent is set, you can be denied access to certain ser­vices,” he said. “Then what about banking? Why should racists be allowed to have bank accounts or credit cards, or to fly, or to rent cars?”

Stoneman pointed out that there is no pro­tection of the right to digital services. 

“There’s no right to being able to access or use online payment systems,” he said. “If you run afoul of the tech­no­cratic elite, they can make it impos­sible for you to dig­i­tally transfer money. They can just choke you off.”

These blatant attacks by Big Tech on free speech and digital com­mu­ni­cation have been a long time coming, and Repub­licans have failed to reign in cor­po­ra­tions such as Twitter, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple. 

“The right doesn’t have much of an agenda. This has been a huge blind spot,” Azerrad  said. “The right fails to acknowledge any form of cor­porate wrong­doing because they assume that markets will take care of it.”

The common rebuttal by right-wing talking heads is “start your own Google,” which Azerrad calls “silly and not helpful,” espe­cially in light of Amazon Web Ser­vices taking Parler, a con­ser­v­ative alter­native to Twitter, off its internet servers.

“There is such fear on the right of getting the gov­ernment involved in any­thing that it’s gotten to the point where it’s almost become an axiom that the private sector can do no wrong,” Azerrad said. “At least begin with a calm and lucid assessment of the sit­u­ation and not downplay the threat that this poses.”

Repub­licans, Azerrad argues, should devote more time to the issue, if it’s not already too late.

“De-reg­u­lating African hair braiding seems to be more of a pri­ority on the right than dealing with Big Tech,” he said.