Back in October, I wrote a piece titled Big Tech’s Growing Vulnerability. In it, I discussed the rapidly increasing amount of censorship on sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
No matter how you view the big tech controversy, I think most of us can agree that these platforms are angering a portion of their audiences — and likely some of their employees too.
According to Pew Research, 73% of Americans believe it’s likely that social platforms censor political views based on what they find objectionable.
“Three-quarters of U.S. adults say it is very (37%) or somewhat (36%) likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable.”
The 2019 poll by Pew showed that 90% of Republicans believe it’s likely that social companies censor based on personal views, while 59% of Democrats believe so. Rightly or wrongly, the big tech companies are upsetting a significant part of their audiences.
Since then, the trend of big tech censorship and “de-platforming” has accelerated dramatically. A recent New York Post article titled “White House working with social media giants to silence anti-vaxxers” is one example. Here’s an excerpt.
The news out of Washington is the first sign that officials are directly engaged with Silicon Valley in censoring social media users; Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain previously said the administration would try to work with major media companies on the issue.
I think this trend is disturbing. Free speech is a cornerstone of our society. And social media sites should not be the arbiters of what is true. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is undeniable that a large portion of the country also sees censorship as a major concern.
I think this issue is just beginning — and will be a major one for at least the next decade. This environment has created a huge opportunity for alternative social platforms and media sites. It’s a rare chance for alternative platforms to gain ground on their mammoth competitors.
Take a look at Substack — a platform that allows anyone to create a newsletter and blog easily. The company has seen extremely rapid growth and is backed by top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). Substack emphasizes independent writing — free from oversight from the platform itself. And I think that’s a huge part of its success.
America is going through a major period of distrust in media and big tech. And that distrust is going to create undeniable opportunities. So I continue to look for up-and-coming social media sites and alternative media sites to invest in. I’ve made a few investments in this area already — and I plan to make more as I find promising startups.