Dr. Robert Epstein, the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and a veteran of Breitbart News’ “Masters of the Universe” town hall on Internet freedom, joined SiriusXM hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Monday’s Breitbart News Tonight to discuss the simultaneous banning of Infowars host Alex Jones by most major social media platforms.
Epstein stressed that he is not a political conservative and “certainly no fan of Alex Jones,” but he saw the Jones’ banning as a disturbing threat to the free speech and vibrant democracy he loves. “I think the big issue here is not even a free speech issue. The issue is: Who should be making these decisions about what people see and don’t see? That’s the question.”
“In some ways, the problem [for Jones] is better than you think. It’s not as bad as you think,” he qualified. “For example, Alex Jones’ apps are still available through, I guess, Apple and Google Play, so he hasn’t been completely shut down.”
“In some ways, things are worse than you think,” he continued. “Jones himself responded by saying, ‘Well, you know people, you can still livestream me at…’ and then he gave the links to go to so you can livestream him. But what apparently he doesn’t realize is that these companies, Google in particular, they have the power to limit access to websites, which most people know nothing about.”
Epstein cited a piece he wrote for U.S. News and World Report entitled “The New Censorship” in which he explained that Google is “literally every day blocking access to millions of websites.”
“Sometime last year, I believe it was, they for ten minutes blocked access to every single website in Japan. On January 31, 2009, Google blocked access to virtually the entire Internet all over the world for 40 minutes,” he recalled.
“The bottom line is, in some ways what’s happened to Jones is not as bad as you think. In other ways, it’s actually much worse than you think. There are some big issues here that we need to explore, and talk about, and understand,” he said.
Pollak presented the Big Tech argument that the companies acting in concert to ban Jones are “private companies” that should be allowed to “exclude whoever they want,” so the case “has no implication for freedom of speech.”
“It’s complete nonsense and it’s quite a dangerous argument,” Epstein responded. “By the way, they only make that argument when it’s convenient. There are times when they argue just the opposite, saying they’re just passive platforms and they don’t make editorial decisions. Of course, this is an extreme example of them not acting as passive platforms and making extreme decisions about content.”
“The big issue here, no matter what one thinks of Alex Jones, is: Who on Earth gave these private companies the power to make decisions about what everyone in the world is going to see or not see,” he said.
“That is the key issue here. Who gave this power to these companies? And the answer is, nobody. Nobody has thought this through. There are no relevant laws or regulations in place, at least in the United States. If people really started thinking about this, they would realize – again, no matter what their feelings are about Donald Trump, or Alex Jones, or anyone else – wait a minute, these companies shouldn’t have that power, period,” he said.
Mansour pointed to the Facebook banning of a….