From Trump’s recent class-action lawsuits to antitrust legislation, what are the different legal avenues currently in play to challenge Big Tech? And what can the average person do to deal with big tech censorship?
At the CPAC conference in Texas, American Thought Leaders sat down with ACU Foundation Senior Fellow Mercedes Schlapp, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), and HJR Global founder Harrison Rogers.
Jan Jekielek: Mercedes Schlapps, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Mercedes Schlapp: Thank you for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: Of course, the theme of all this is America UnCanceled again, and the ACU [American Conservative Union] is actually joining a pretty major class action lawsuit. This is why I wanted to dig into this because this is the overlying theme of everything right now, isn’t it?
Ms. Schlapp: That’s right. Just this week, President Trump along with American Conservative Union and several groups filed a major class action lawsuit against the big tech.
The big conversation here is that we’ve seen Big Tech—would call them the oligarchs, basically censor conservatives. They’ve aligned themselves with the left in saying some of these voices can not be heard. For example, you even look at the issues of the COVID misinformation where they would ban certain information because it didn’t fit what their opinions were.
Plus, you’re talking about banning President Trump. Yet when it comes to allowing, for example, the Iranian dictator, Hamas or Chinese propaganda, Facebook and Twitter, and all these places, they allow it. It’s a selective freedom of speech. That’s when you run into problems is the fact that they keep shifting what you’re allowed to read or not read.
I know for example, there is a doctor who basically has put up warnings against the mRNA gene therapy; that doctor has been censored. You’ve seen this time and time again and it’s so unfair to not allow for information to be provided to the people and let the people decide what they should or should not read. Not the big tech. Not the oligarchs who are serving as these moral gatekeepers deciding which content should go on or not go on.
I think that we’ve got a real major backing, especially with the lawyers that we have in place to make this case. To get it to the Supreme Court at some point and really define what freedom of speech is and our first amendment rights.
Mr. Jekielek: You are, I think, referring to Dr. Robert Malone earlier. We had him on the show recently and the thing is that his argument is—it’s not just that the people can decide, but it’s actually the way that this type of censorship works. Not necessarily just through big tech, but also in the scientific community. It renders them unable to pursue scientific inquiry in a reasonable way.
Ms. Schlapp: That’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: For example, what are the harms really that are caused by these particular vaccines because we’re not gathering the data? This is what he argues, right? We’re not gathering the data to truly understand that, but we should know. It’s an experimental therapy, but it’s being shown—it’s being pushed for a moment.
Ms. Schlapp: It’s propaganda. It’s propaganda. What we’re seeing is that we’re allowing this propaganda to not allow the full information out there so that we, the individual, can make that decision.
When you’re talking about the fact that Dr. Fauci said, “Well, you got to get over it,” this political argument, or you have HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra come out and say, “It is the government’s business.” That is the biggest turnoff to Americans.
It’s like we don’t want government in our business. We need to be able to make the best choices that we can make for our families, for the individuals, as opposed to pushing and bullying on this— “you have to get the vaccine.”
The more you push and bully, the less you’re going to get people to say, “Yes. Let me get the vaccine.” Because that’s just not the way we work in America.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump to this lawsuit. Can you give me a sense of who has participated? This isn’t just ACU and President Trump and so forth. There’s many groups.
Ms. Schlapp: Yes, everyday Americans. There’s other groups as well. John Cole who actually… He was actually a Democrat for a very long time—now a Trump supporter. He is the mastermind. He’s brilliant and he really talked about this for quite some time by saying, “Wait a second, this does not make sense. How can the big tech make this decision on whether who can and cannot be on?”
Now, of course, it’s a private company, so it makes it very tricky. It does present the argument of what first amendment rights look like for an individual and for these groups and the double standard that’s being placed where you have a large group of individuals with the same type of philosophy and ideology that are being censored and being treated differently.
That’s, I think, where we’re going to see the case take on. It’s interesting because on social media, the narrative has been that the case is going to go nowhere. That’s already what they’re pushing out there.
I got to tell you, John Cole, he is one of the best trial lawyers out there. He was part of the tobacco lawsuit years ago. He’s well renowned for the work that he did and he wouldn’t take on this case if he didn’t think we had a chance.
Mr. Jekielek: There is this private company argument. There’s a few arguments that I’m aware of that say, that’s not quite the case. Because one, this is a report that’s extremely bipartisan that talks about quite simply, these are monopolies.
Ms. Schlapp: That’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: Many of these companies are in every, just about every way you could possibly measure, a monopoly.
Ms. Schlapp: Yes. Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Which seems to change the equation.
Ms. Schlapp: That’s interesting that you brought that up. On the legislative side, it’s why, for example, a lot of these Republicans have come together. Jim Jordan has been leading the charge as well as several other of these Republicans and Congress to basically end Section 230, which is that legal immunity argument. Basically where Big Tech is saying, “You know what, people can’t sue us. So we’re fine. If we censor you, you can’t sue us.”
The goal is, and President Trump talked about it during his administration and this is continuing through this conversation is getting rid of Section 230—where these big techs don’t have the legal immunity allowing for these legal lawsuits to go through and building these antitrust cases as well.
Mr. Jekielek: Because under Section 230, they’re supposed to be allowing for content in general. They’re not supposed to be acting as publishers determining what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Ms. Schlapp: Yes. That’s completely accurate.
Mr. Jekielek: Right now they use, I guess you’re saying they have the cake and are eating it.
Ms. Schlapp: They are definitely having the cake and eating it—serving as publishers, as editors deciding what can and cannot go on their platforms—obviously suppressing the voices of many conservatives. I say conservatives, but it’s also just everyday Americans that just have an opinion.
Mr. Jekielek: What has happened to the ACU that allows it to join this class action lawsuit? There have to be specific harms, right?
Ms. Schlapp: Well, we’ve seen for example, that when President Trump spoke here at CPAC in Orlando, it got about 31 million views. What YouTube did, for example, is you can’t find the speech anywhere. It’s the fact that they…
That’s one of the cases, for example, we saw with Twitter where Matt lost over 46,000 followers just in a matter of days without an explanation.
We’ve seen these cases time and time again happen at CPAC and where we were like, “Do we need to be involved in this fight?” We want to support those individuals as well that have been censored.
Obviously for the president where we know he has been the one—the biggest victim of it all. He’ll never call himself a victim, but he is the biggest victim of it all. He’s the one that has the biggest voice to say, “Look what they did to me.” It starts with President Trump, but it ends with Sally from Arkansas.
It really starts there because they want to suppress the conservative thoughts. They don’t want to allow for diversity of debate and conversation. I think that’s why it was so important to get involved. As we’ve seen, there have been several instances at ACU and CPAC that we felt made it for being part of a strong class action lawsuit.
Mr. Jekielek: It just feels like there’s a very high bar—I can imagine. I’m just imagining what the defense lawyers will say, we have all sorts of other reasons for doing what we did. It feels like it’s something that’s just tough to prove in a court. For many of us, it’s really clear there’s censorship happening.
Ms. Schlapp: Yes. It is censorship. It’s so vague and so wishy-washy how they make these decisions. There’s no rhyme or reason to it other than the same type of people time and time again with the same ideology are being censored.
I think in and of itself is a huge problem. It’s like if you were to say, “Okay, well, if it’s one thought process versus another.” This is a continual problem that we’re seeing only on one side—only on one side of the individuals who have any conservative thought process or opinions. That’s the target for them.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts before we finish up?
Ms. Schlapp: I got to tell you, this is a moment in time in our country. We have to stop socialism and communism. That is our goal.
It has seeped into our nation. It is destroying our youth where they themselves are thinking that socialism and communism are the right way to think.
It’s our goal to continue to speak up against it and our goal to explain why we have to stop trying to destroy this country. Allow the left to destroy the country. Allow the left to dictate the terms.
It left more and more hates America and they want to fundamentally change it. They’ve said it themselves. Our goal is to say, “No. America is a beautiful country. We are the beacon of hope and we are there to stand for all freedom loving people.” Not only in America, but across the globe and that’s what we’re going to be focused on—we will not be canceled.
Narration: Besides Trump’s new class action lawsuits, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress are also pushing for a suite of antitrust bills. How might these bills transform the big tech landscape? To find out, I sat down with Colorado Congressman, Ken Buck, who is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee.
Mr. Jekielek: Congressman Ken Buck, just a few days ago, we have this new class action lawsuit. You’re looking at big tech from a very different perspective and I actually saw that there was a Verge article calling you the new face of Republican antitrust.
Rep. Buck: That’s kind of scary, isn’t it? They could do a lot better than this face.
Mr. Jekielek: No, but in all seriousness. That’s interesting. This is not your PR shop that’s saying this. So what are you up to?
Rep. Buck: Well, I think it’s really important that we have all of the above strategy. The biggest challenge with these companies is stopping censorship and increasing competition.
I believe that it is just like we have in cable TV where we have five or six different choices. We know that some of them are biased, but they don’t censor. If we have five or six different choices of search engines, or five or six different choices of social media platforms, as conservatives, we will benefit.
I’m all in favor of dealing with the censorship issue—dealing with the privacy issue. But at the same time, we have to make sure that we deal with the antitrust issues, the monopoly issues and encourage competition in the marketplace.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re the ranking member on a committee. I’m going to actually read it out because I can never remember exactly, but it’s the House Judiciary Committee, Sub-committee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law—you’re the ranking member.
Rep. Buck: Ranking Republican.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. Right. There was this huge report that was put out by the subcommittee recently, saying that these biggest of the big tech giants are monopolies in so many different ways, which is something they can test heavily.
Rep. Buck: They don’t want the result of that. They don’t contest the fact that their profits are huge. They don’t contest the fact that they dominate the marketplace. When all of a sudden Congress takes notice and wants to implement some antitrust laws that will help increase competition, they object strenuously.
Mr. Jekielek: What are the big problems you see? How are they monopolies in so many different ways?
Rep. Buck: Take Google, for example. They control 94 percent of the searches. So Google did change their algorithm six months before the election and that change benefited Joe Biden and harmed Donald Trump.
When you change an algorithm like that, you are affecting millions of voters. And I’m not saying they changed millions of votes, but what they did was when people searched, they would find bad articles on Donald Trump higher and good articles on Joe Biden higher in their search results.
That tends to impact public opinion. If you’ve got five or six different search engines, people will go to different search engines and find the information that they’re looking for to make an intelligent decision.
Same thing with Amazon. Amazon runs a platform. They see a product developing and they go in and they either buy that product at a low price, or they create their own product and then drop that product on the search and increase the visibility of their own product. And by dominating in the platform area, these companies are able to monopolize other aspects—other products in the economy.
Mr. Jekielek: This report, it also documents not just the fact that they do dominate basically in the consumer market, but actively it prevents competitors from coming into the space.
Rep. Buck: Absolutely, they do that. Who wants to invest in a company if you know that Amazon is going to come in and knock off your company? So they stopped investment in companies that would compete with their products at the same time that they are dominating the marketplace.
If you look at Apple, they have Apple Music. Spotify is trying to compete on the Apple platform with Apple Music. Well, they charged Spotify a 30 percent increase in fees in order to be on the App Store. Well, Apple Music sells. You can get that monthly subscription at $9.99, Spotify at $12.99. You know exactly where that money is going and it’s just an unfair way to manipulate the marketplace.
Mr. Jekielek: You kind of alluded to this a little bit earlier. You’re getting a bit of pushback from fellow Republicans. The substance of it I’m seeing is that the censorship is the massive issue. You don’t seem to be focused on this sufficiently.
Rep. Buck: As I said before, I believe in an olive valve strategy, but as the ranking Republican on the antitrust subcommittee, my focus is antitrust.
I absolutely support those on the energy and commerce committee who are focused on this Section 230 and the censorship issue. And I will do everything I can to support them in that area. But we can’t just say, “I don’t like this antitrust solution because it doesn’t do enough on censorship.” We’ve got to make sure that we’re pushing in every area.
These companies are dangerous. They are absolutely dangerous. They are doing exactly what our constitution prohibits the government from doing. They have taken the role of government and they’re engaged in activities that are just un-American.
Democrats don’t like these big tech companies for one set of reasons. Republicans don’t like them for another set of reasons. We’re unified in not liking them.
Anytime that happens, you can pass legislation. As opposed to the censorship issue, it will be very difficult for the energy commerce committee Republicans to move legislation forward past the Democrats. Even if we take the majority in a year and a half, the energy and commerce Republicans may pass a bill and it may go to the floor and it may pass. But unless we have 60 votes in the Senate, it won’t pass the Senate.
If it did pass the Senate, President Biden wouldn’t sign it. You’re talking about four or five years before anything happens on the censorship issue. That’s why it’s so important that we work in a bipartisan manner in the antitrust area to get this legislation passed.
Mr. Jekielek: Pretend I don’t know anything about this and just tell me, what do the Democrats like or not like? Let’s do, not like. What do the Republicans not like? Again, how is that different?
Rep. Buck: About these four companies?
Mr. Jekielek: Yes.
Rep. Buck: The Democrats believe that being that big is evil. These companies make too much money. The Republicans believe that if we’re going to stay ahead in the world economy, we need to create innovation. If these companies weren’t huge, if they’re suppressing innovation and manipulating the market, that would be bad.
The Republicans also believe that censorship is bad because we’re the ones being censored. We want more of these search engines or more of these social media platforms, so that we have that opportunity to stop the censorship.
Mr. Jekielek: The democratic party position, and this isn’t everybody. That seems to be roughly that there’s certain types of censorship that’s being supported.
It strikes me that enacting this antitrust legislation, we should actually go through it a bit in a moment because there’s I think six bills that are in play. It actually will impact the ability of these companies to censor. It almost seems to be working against those Democrats. So how does that work? Have you heard this argument?
Rep. Buck: Oh, yes. I think the Democrats also recognize that what a company does today to censor Republicans, they may do tomorrow to sensitive Democrats. It’s not a by-product that concerns them because it could very well be used against them in the future.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s actually go through the bills here just briefly—I think it’s important. They all have complicated sounding names, but I want to…
Rep. Buck: I can zip through them really fast for you.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. Just so kind of people or audience can get a sense of what each one is seeking to accomplish in the simplest possible terms.
Rep. Buck: The first bill is a merger filing fee bill. What it does is it increases the merger filing fees on the very biggest mergers and it takes those fees and it funds an increase in the Federal Trade Commission and the antitrust division at the Department of Justice.
So it’s not taxpayer money that’s increasing the personnel, it’s actually a fee from the people who are using the system or are engaging in mergers and acquisitions. Those fees have not been increased in 20 years and, in some cases, there are less resources being used now than there were 10 years ago. The second bill…
Mr. Jekielek: I just want to ask a little bit about this. Essentially, this is an increase in the regulatory mechanism that’s funded by industry. Am I reading this right?
Rep. Buck: That’s correct.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay.
Rep. Buck: Well, it’s not regulatory, it’s actually law enforcement—this is a law enforcement function. Congress creates the laws and the agency enforces those laws.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump to the second one.
Rep. Buck: The second bill is a bill that the attorney generals came to me and asked me to run. What happened in the Clayton Act, which was passed in 1913 in Congress more than 100 years ago. The United States can sue under the Clayton Act, which involves mergers and acquisitions again in any district in the United States.
If the attorney generals sue the company that’s being sued, perhaps Google, can move the case to the Northern district of California, which is what is happening now. Texas was involved in a lawsuit—Google is trying to move it to the Northern district of California. This bill would give the same status to attorney general, state attorney generals that the United States has.
Mr. Jekielek: I see. You can’t move the case to the most friendly court possible?
Rep. Buck: Of the defendant corporation, that’s correct.
Mr. Jekielek: Right. Yes. I see.
Rep. Buck: Yes. Then the third bill is a borough bill involving mergers. Which just says that the company has to show—one of these four companies has to show that the merger is pro-competitive as opposed to the government showing it’s anti-competitive.
The next bill is a bill that allows—this is really an important bill under the telecommunications act—you got your cell phone number and you could move it to a different cell phone company. That created competition.
Well, this bill would allow you to take your digital data, the search history that you’re engaged in, or the interaction you have on a social media platform and you could move that to a different competitor. And by doing that, we’re creating again, competition in the marketplace.
We have a bill that would force companies to choose between running a platform and running the products that they sell—their own products on the platform.
And the last bill is a bill that prohibits a company from self-preferencing their own products. In this case, Apple self-preferencing Apple Music over Spotify. It has to treat Spotify the same way it treats Apple Music or Amazon from having its own diaper company and self-preferencing that diaper company over other diaper companies.
Mr. Jekielek: When do you expect all these bills? Now, it’s very interesting because on the surface reading through them, you think to yourself, this feels very legalistic, but these things actually have teeth. They’re actually quite significant, especially the last one you just mentioned.
Rep. Buck: And practical. They’re designed to create competition. They’re not designed to be a heavy hand of the government. But rather as competitors appear in the marketplace, it allows those competitors to compete on a fair and level playing field.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re not doing this alone. There’s quite a number of congressional members that have signed onto this, right? Again, when are these votes taking place and how do you expect them to play out?
Rep. Buck: One of the important things, Jan, is that it’s being done in the Senate at the same time it’s being done in the House. So Mike Lee is leading the charge on one bill and there are other members.
One of the bills, Ted Cruz, Josh Holly and Marsha Blackburn all voted for that in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s receiving bipartisan support on the Senate side as well as the House side. But we have well over a dozen Republicans who have signed up for some of these bills to make sure that they help move those forward.
Mr. Jekielek: But what about the Democrats?
Rep. Buck: Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of these. The only Democrats who aren’t big on these bills are the California Democrats where most of these companies either have headquarters or have a primary business there.
Mr. Jekielek: Have the big tech companies been trying to contact you or other members involved in this?
Rep. Buck: I think they’ve given up on me. They do contact the others. There is a very strong lobbying effort concerning other members. They know where I stand on this and they’re not wasting their time at my door.
Mr. Jekielek: Can this be connected in any way to actually breaking up some of these mega companies?
Rep. Buck: I don’t see it as breaking up because that sounds an awful lot like a top-down solution. I really see it as a bottom up solution in creating competition and allowing a level playing field so that competitors can be successful.
Narration: While recent antitrust legislation has bipartisan support, the two sides of the aisle disagree strongly about censorship. What avenues do lawmakers, business owners, and people in general have to deal with big tech censorship? At the recent CPAC conference in Texas, I hosted a panel discussion on precisely this question with Florida Congressmen, Greg Stuebe and Harrison Rogers, founder of HJR Global.
Harrison Rogers: If we would have talked about this a week ago, I would have been like, where the heck is the outrage, actual action takers? Of course, luckily we have a leader in President Trump who said, “I’m going to be the train. Everybody hop on.” Because on the business owner side, so many of us business owners on the small business side have been able to remain ignorantly blissful or blissfully ignorant, however, it is to politics.
Us conservatives especially say, “We’re going to keep our head down, we’re going to work, we’re going to build businesses, and we’re going to leave politics to the politicians.” We can’t do that anymore. That time has gone, unfortunately or fortunately because it was more evident than ever in 2020.
Government, they’re saying your business might not care about politics, but politics cares about your business.
It was so true when the government is able to pick who’s essential, who’s not, who’s too big to fail and who’s not.
No more. We need to educate ourselves enough as business owners, as individuals to… Even if we don’t have the time because we’re actually working to be activists—to go out. We need to self-educate ourselves enough to be able to know how to hold our representatives accountable— to be our voice. It’s amazing to see the sleeping giant that has been poked and we’re now waking up and that’s why I’m here.
Mr. Jekielek: Congressman Steube, one big question that I think a lot of people in the audience and I certainly have as well is—we hear about this big tech lobby. There’s apparently a lot of big tech money in Congress and in DC in general. How does that actually look like on the inside?
Rep. Greg Steube: Well, I like not as much as I would like of my colleagues, I have completely denied taking any money whatsoever from the big tech companies—any PAC donations from any big tech companies. I call upon my Republican colleagues to do the same because not all of them are doing that.
I think if we finally say, “We’re not going to take your money, we’re going to fight against you in every way that we can”, is going to send a very strong signal, but it is what we have to do. I have a bill that addresses this very issue.
I sit on the judiciary committee, we just went through a whole host of bills with Democrats support of their kind of approach as to what they think needs to happen to go after big tech. You will not impact big tech until you deal with Section 230 in their liability protection—100 percent.
You can break them up and there’s been talk about breaking them up. Let’s take Google for example. Break them up in 10 individual companies. If those 10 individual companies still have liability protection, then you haven’t accomplished anything, but made 10 more bigger companies that then can have liability protection.
So, until we reform Section 230 and allow citizens like you, the New York Post and otherwise to sue big tech if they are violating your first amendment rights, we’ve got to do that to get to the point where we need to be.
Mr. Jekielek: So Harrison, how have your companies, the companies you’re involved with, been affected exactly?
Mr. Rogers: During the lockdowns, we had to innovate. A lot of our businesses just like everybody else had to learn how do we do things virtually. How do we market ourselves more virtually?
Unfortunately, if you’re a conservative business owner, it seemed that you were at a huge disadvantage. I’m actually putting together a little bit of an analysis that across multiple industries, how many pay per clicks advertisement budgets would a company that is a conservative-owned company have paid, how far, would say $1OO,OOO budget a month have reached, have gone to their audience compared to a liberal or Democrat-owned company.
But that would be another class action lawsuit that would be a big eye opener. I love that Trump started this first one, but hey, let’s get some damages. We have a lot of conservative business owners who have been stolen from by these big tech companies by taking their ad spend money or by demonetizing this. This could be a huge recovery of damages.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s very interesting. You’re basically saying, take what is anecdotal at this point and quantify it.
Mr. Rogers: Yes. Exactly.
Mr. Jekielek: How can people get you information about this?
Mr. Rogers: Yes. I don’t want to let the floodgates open and this is a very new thing. Email me at harrison@hjrglobal and hjrglobal.com and be part of this analysis. Because we’re called conspiracy theorists, we’re called paranoid, we’re—called all these things.
Let’s take the next step and say, here’s evidence, here’s stuff that you cannot disagree or you can’t argue with; call me whatever you want, but pay up.
Rep. Steube: And see if we could sue them, which you can’t right now. But if we could sue them, you could do a discovery and get all the information that he’s talking about.
Right now we know that this is going on, but we don’t have actual evidence that this is going on because they have liability protection and we can’t sue them. We need to discover to get the evidence that we need to show it.
If we open up Section 230, allow people to sue these companies that have violated their first amendment rights and they asked for all this data and information. You can then show that they were volitionally and intentionally feeding people and feeding news reports that were leftist in nature and then pushing down and tamping down news reports that were conservative in nature. You can absolutely show that if you’re able to do a discovery on some of these companies.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. Congressman Steube, it seems like there isn’t as much of an appetite on the democratic side to deal with Section 230, for example. So how do you address that? How do you make these things go through?
Rep. Steube: Well, the first thing is we take the House back in 2022 and retire Nancy Pelosi. That’s the first step.
And then after we do that and the Republicans are in charge, I’ve talked about it. Kevin McCarthy, our leader has talked about it. Jim Jordan has talked about it. We all have bills as it relates to Section 230 in addressing this very issue.
And you’re right, the Democrats aren’t going to address this. You know why? Because right now big tech is helping them. But what they don’t realize is that big tech is just looking out for themselves and trying to protect themselves. Once the pendulum swings the other way, you’re going to see their behavior change.
What I’ve been trying to convince my democratic colleagues is that you can be censored just as fast as we can be censored depending on what big tech wants to do.
When we take the House back in 2022, one of the first bills you’re going to see come out of the judiciary committee where Jim Jordan is chair is going after these liability protections in Section 230. But until then, you’re going to see a bunch of talk about it from Democrats.
Mr. Jekielek: As we finish up here a little bit, let’s talk about what individual folks can do. That’s a big question here at CPAC. Let’s start with you, Harrison.
Mr. Rogers: We got to stand up and we got to join together because the left, any extremist that is using cancel culture or anything to silence us, they are a minority, but they are a tight unit where they will bully together.
Since us conservatives, we’re so used to putting our heads down, minding our own business, taking care of ourselves—we’re individual units. Even though they’re a minority, they’re say 3000 to 100,000, just for numbers sake—they’re one 3000 picking off our 100,000 ones.
What we need to do is make sure that we’re willing to stand up and defend our partners just as fiercely as they are. Because man, they come and they intimidate and they scare and we need to be just as ferocious.
Another thing we conservatives do is we’re entrepreneurs. We are problem solvers. We’re all capitalists here. We’re trying to find a solution, but we’re fractured. We’re trying to get a million users here—a couple of hundred thousand here—that’s not going to be an alternative to Facebook.
We need to come together and just put our normal capitalistic hats aside for a second so that we can actually be 100 million users or whatever. And then we can actually have competing solutions. Right now. we just can’t gain any ground because then it’s like, “Oh, I’m with Gab, I’m with Parler, I’m with Cloud hub. Well, I’m not on one of those, so let’s just go back to Facebook.”
The other thing real quick is we need to think about the next technology. We could spend years trying to be a perfect replacement or alternative to Facebook, but we need to start thinking about the next technology where people just come to us anyway.
What’s the next problem? Maybe we have virtual social media like Ready Player One type interaction thing. Facebook’s not going to be able to compete with that. I’m a high fiver, so if we can virtually high five people and fill it, let’s get everybody over and then we can start having social media done correctly.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. Congressman Steube.
Rep. Steube: Well, one of the things I like to say is Facebook has power and Google has power because we’ve given them power. So, don’t give them power anymore. I’m not personally on Facebook, I’m not personally on Twitter. We are on the official side.
Until you start taking action for yourself and taking the power away, there are other options out there, so I encourage people to take a stand personally. Then if you’ve individually seen evidence where it’s happened to you, where you’ve been censored, let your member of Congress know.
I sent out an email to my district about a year ago and I said, “If you’ve been censored, if you have examples like pictures of what they did to you to censor you, or they didn’t let you post something, or you posted something and they forced you to take it down, send that information to us so we have it.”
I got a litany list of all these examples that I now can use the next time the Facebook CEO is sitting in front of the judiciary committee answering questions under oath—I can start asking him all of these questions.
Make sure your member of Congress knows that there’s instances like that that have affected you. But again, don’t give them power that they shouldn’t have. We collectively have the power to take the power that they’ve gained away from them.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you. Thank you all.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.