Freedom and freewheeling search and retrieval of information was fundamental to the Internet revolution in the 1990s which featured the rise of DrudgeReport.com and the birth of WorldTribune.com.
But as the millions of netizens of the 1990s exploded to billions by the 2010s, Big Tech titans run and staffed mostly by woke leftists joined in the suppression of free speech.
With the Wild West days of the Internet becoming a distant memory, it's not too late to ask what happened?
"The vision of the Internet was an open universe while Big Tech’s vision is the Internet reduced to the feed on a few proprietary apps preloaded on your locked phone," Daniel Greenfield of the David Horowitz Freedom Center wrote in an April 10 analysis.
"Trying to censor the Internet of the 90s or the 00s was a laughable proposition, but censoring today’s Internet is laughably easy," Greenfield noted.
"Want to eliminate a site from the Internet? Just wipe it from Google, ban a point of view from Facebook, a book from Amazon, or a video from YouTube. It’s still possible to browse a site off the Big Tech reservation, for now, at least until your browser goes away."
As many of today's independent media outlets, including WorldTribune.com, are well aware of, searching or "googling" is much different now than it was in the 1990s and 2000s.
Under the new search setup, searches for criticisms of Covid policy, aid to Ukraine, or voting data fraud won’t lead to specific results on conservative sites, but direct you to the CDC, or New York Times, or any number of leftist corporate news outlets.
"Search initially offered a direct way to browse an index representing much of the content on the internet," Greenfield wrote. "As Google took over search, the index became more like a directory of sites that the Big Tech monopoly liked. ... And if a site, a video, a perspective has been filtered out, then it doesn’t exist anymore."
The Big Tech titans are destined to limit content "to the permitted apps on Google and Apple’s proprietary app stores," Greenfield wrote. "But Big Tech has even more ambitious plans to replace the Internet with itself."
AI will reflect the point of view of its owners and when it deviates, it will quickly be brought back into line. That is what we’ve been seeing consistently with AI experiments over the last 5 years. Huge amounts of information are taken in and then the AIs are taught to filter it to match the preconceptions of the corporate parents. ...
Much as Google’s huge index of the internet is carefully filtered to produce a small set of preapproved results, AI chatbots will only be allowed to parrot political dogma. As they come to define the internet, what was once a boundless medium will look like Big Brother.The plans also include "pushing," which Big Tech can't resist doing.
The user experience, Greenfield noted, was simplified by Big Tech "moving users from ‘pulling’ content by browsing the Internet to ‘pushing’ content at them by displaying a feed. When your computer or phone shows you a news feed you never wanted, that’s ‘pushing’. Big Tech loved pushing, but people resisted it until the arrival of social media reduced everyone to scrolling down a feed selected by secret algorithms and pushed through a proprietary app."
The search results offer "explanations of why the Left is right and anyone who disagrees with it is spreading dangerous misinformation," Greenfield wrote.
"The elimination of search is part of the transition from multiple points of view to single answers," Greenfield continued. "And AI chatbots are the endgame for offering a single answer that keeps users on a single site and eliminates the search for multiple perspectives on other sites."
The new wave of woke Artificial Intelligence "has gotten attention for its potential to eliminate artists and writers, for making cheating and plagiarism ubiquitous, but all of that is collateral damage. AI chatbots are the ultimate push tool and the leverage Big Tech needs to eliminate the internet as anything except the messy backstage reality utilized by a few million tech savvy types," Greenfield wrote.
These "smart assistants and chatbots are not there to ‘assist’ us, but to take away our agency under the guise of convenience and personalized interaction. When the internet became widely used, there was concern that students wouldn’t need to learn anything except how to search. Now they don’t even need to know anything except how to write a ‘prompt’."
All these trends, we tolerated "because it was more convenient," Greenfield concluded.
"The real price of convenience is choice. We give up our freedom most easily to those governments and systems that promise us free things that will make our lives easier. Socialized medicine, a guaranteed minimum income, free housing and food and a chatbot that answers all of our questions so that we never have to think for ourselves again."