What’s a Big Tech giant to do when a popular feature on one of its leading platforms is utilized to express public opposition to the establishment politician it helped install in the White House? If you’re Google, you eliminate the feature and deal with any need for apologies down the road.
Video sharing goliath YouTube, owned by Google, has announced that it is working to hide the number of “dislikes” a video receives. The “like” and “dislike” counts are an especially valued aspect for most YT users when deciding whether a video is worth watching. YouTube fully understands that this move will be wildly unpopular.
At the same time, it would be impossible for anyone paying attention not to notice that one particular prominent account has been having a serious “dislike” problem. Since he became president in January, videos of Joe Biden posted by the Official White House YouTube channel have uniformly registered a lopsided “dislike” to “like” ratio. A March 23 video titled “President Biden Delivers Remarks on the Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act” is typical. As of this writing, it had 226 “likes” and 1.3K “dislikes.”
YouTube is thinly disguising its intentions by pretending its gesture to protect Biden is nothing more than the latest lab work in its constant efforts to improve its product. “In response to creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns, we’re testing a few new designs that don’t show the public dislike count,” YT tweeted on March 30. “If you’re part of this small experiment, you might spot one of these designs in the coming weeks.”
Nobody is buying it, of course, and that is not a problem for the company. They know it’s a bad look. And they’re okay with your snarky reaction to these kinds of things. So long as they can keep doing them. Because the manipulations, no matter how ham-fisted they may be, do serve a purpose worth pursuing. The full-court press to hide Joe Biden’s unpopularity must be maintained.
That’s How They Roll
The marriage of Big Tech and the Democratic Party has allowed these mega-corporations to inject long-standing business practice into partisan politics. Here’s an interesting paragraph from an article on Google by CBS News:
“There’s an old saying: It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Few companies embody the concept more thoroughly than Google. Boldly undertaking business and dealing later with consequences is as much a part of Google as search algorithms. However, the tactic takes as much from the company as it gives.”
The year that was written? 2010. Back then, if Google wanted to do something, such as scanning and indexing copyrighted books, it went ahead and did so and dealt with the fallout later. Applying this amoral approach to the cutthroat world of politics was as natural as putting peanuts in a chocolate bar.
Big Tech colleague Twitter exemplifies the tactic. Last October, as the 2020 presidential election neared, the social media behemoth ruthlessly cracked down on any sharing of a bombshell New York Post article revealing damning material found on a laptop owned by Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. Emails on the laptop detailed the younger Biden’s shady financial ties to Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
The material had all the makings of a classic October Surprise. Except Twitter helped bury it. Two weeks after the election, the Blue Bird was willing to chirp that it may have made a boo-boo. “We recognize it as a mistake that we made, both in terms of the intention of the policy and also the enforcement action of not allowing people to share it publicly or privately,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 17.
Act first. Apologize later.
Joe Biden is indeed in the Oval Office, so it can be argued that this hatchet strategy works. But it comes at a very high price. The cost grows every time a company like YouTube angers its customer base on behalf of its ideological interests. “Americans largely think tech giants are too big and should be regulated, and mostly don’t believe the news media is good for U.S. society, according to a poll from YouGov and the Center for Growth and Opportunity,” Axios reported in February. “Two-thirds of those polled say big tech companies are too big,” the website reported.
Big Tech’s “punch first and then offer a handkerchief” business approach stoked lawsuits and all kinds of corporate friction 10-15 years ago. Implementing these unsavory methods against the American people and their freedom of personal expression is fueling a public dislike that can’t be covered up by hiding a button.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.