Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, a Trump appointee, says the real threat to online freedom isn’t the demise of net neutrality but the actions taken by companies like Twitter — and the alt-right is loving it, Slate reports.
“When it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem,” said Pai this week at R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank. “The company has a viewpoint, and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”
Pai recently set announced a vote to repeal net neutrality, an Obama-era regulation that designated the internet a public utility, preventing internet service providers from charging more for access to certain sites or types of content. He is apparently more concerned with Twitter’s temporary removal of an offensive ad by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican running for the Senate. “And to say the least, the company appears to have a double standard when it comes to suspending or deverifying conservative users’ accounts as opposed to those of liberal users,” he said at the R Street event. “This conduct is many things, but it isn’t fighting for an open Internet.”
That was music to the ears of the alt-right, many of whose leaders lost their “verified” status after Twitter announced it would no longer verify members of hate groups. A number of racists saw their little blue checkmarks (and priority in search results) vanish, including white nationalist Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Users of the alt-right-friendly social-networking site Gab were extremely pleased. “One of the best days ever. Only going to get better,” wrote Gab founder Andrew Torba about Pai’s speech. “We swung the entire narrative on this topic folks. Making history here!”
“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai calls out Twitter and other leftist Silicon Valley companies for supporting net neutrality while being the biggest censors in the world…. E A T S H I T F * G G O T S,” wrote Matt Forney, a verified Gab user and radio host.
The FCC vote to overturn net neutrality is set for Dec. 14, and it is widely expected to pass. The matter is also expected to be immediately challenged to the U.S. Court of Appeals.