- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says Silicon Valley is fomenting division and planting seeds for future wars thanks to members of Congress who can’t resist Big Tech’s big bucks.

The Hawaii Democrat told The Daily Caller this week that many politicians give lip service to changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act up until the moment they’re face-to-face with Google or Facebook’s lobbyists.

“If you look at the history of wars and conflicts in the world, both the ones the United States has been involved with, as well as the ones that other countries have been involved with, in every one that I can think of, there is always this precursor of dehumanizing the State or people or the entity that you intend to wage war or conflict against in order to make it somehow more appetizing or more plausible to your base or your support because then people will have less empathy for those who will fall victim to this conflict or war because you have already dehumanized them to say that they’re less than or they are not anyone that you can relate to at any level,” Ms. Gabbard said Monday.

She said legislation she proposed last year seeks to curb the tech industry’s power by stripping companies of a status quo in which they can essentially “do whatever it is they want.”

“There’s a very direct connection to foreign policy and decisions that are made related to national security and wars, but also very directly connected to, as you rightly pointed out, what we are seeing playing out online, on social media in particular,” Ms. Gabbard said. “And the role and responsibility that must be taken by these big tech monopolies. It’s not even saying ‘allowing’ it. They’re fueling — they’re fueling it. And how they have been able to get to this point of being so big that there there is no other viable alternative. There is no free challenge available on the free market. They’ve been able to get to this place because of Section 230. And Section 230 gives them this legal immunity to allow them to act with impunity. To do whatever it is they want.”

The Democrat then listed a few means in which social media giants act as information gatekeepers who can elevate or bury voices “through their algorithms.”

“[They’re used] to censor or squash the voices that they don’t want to be heard or that they disagree with,” she said. “The power that they have to influence our society, to influence our democracy [is too great.]”

Ms. Gabbard then directed her hosts to the root of Silicon Valley’s influence over members of Congress: money.

“It goes to money,” she said. “Google will have a bit reception and members of congress will go and pick up their checks. Facebook will have a big reception and they’ll go and ‘hey, where’s my check?’”

Ms. Gabbard‘s comments come against a political and cultural backdrop in which Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have banned President Trump and targeted popular groups that are friendly to his policy agenda.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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