Op-Ed: Corporations Are Policing Americans' Speech, But Their Days in the Shadows Are Over
“Stakeholder capitalism” married ESG and, with their baby, cancel culture, jeopardizes Americans’ freedoms, security, standard of living, and opportunity.
These ideologies politicizing corporations threaten small businesses, nonprofits and freedom-loving people. At the extremes, they drive energy suicide in the U.S. and Europe, increase costs, decrease reliability and choke investment — a situation that fueled Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and China’s expansion into Africa and Latin America to finance oil and gas production.
However, one of the more pernicious weapons of the “S” in ESG (“social”) is the targeting and cancellation of religious or conservative customers, suppliers and voices under the guise of corporate “reputational risk” or defending the public from “disinformation.”
Last week, it was revealed that the State Department funded the British-based “Global Disinformation Index,” an organization providing corporations tools to censor opinions and views that may be labeled by one political side as “disinformation.”
Many are rightfully scandalized by the government’s sponsorship of an organization creating these tools — but their corporate applications should be equally appalling.
Xandr, a Microsoft-owned digital advertising company, used GDI’s “exclusion list” only months before the midterm election to suppress conservative news websites, including Newsmax, the Blaze and The Epoch Times. Functionally, the tool was used to deny advertising revenue to news organizations with differing editorial opinions from organizations represented by members of GDI’s advisory panel, including Pew Research Center and the Reuters Institute for Journalism.
Though we can’t conclusively measure the political impact of the exclusion list, at its best, it looks like GDI helps already dominant media organizations engage in collusive rent-seeking behaviors. At its worst, it allows corporations to suppress speech and First Amendment rights in a way that could arguably influence elections.
The public is still in the dark about whether non-media companies have used GDI’s tools. Have banks, insurance companies and tech companies used GDI’s exclusion list to deny services or penalize individuals who share content they claim is disinformation?
After all, discriminatory cancellation and denial of service have already become commonplace in woke corporations.
JPMorgan Chase’s WePay stopped serving a political organization when its event featured Donald Trump Jr., forcing organizers to cancel. Its current terms of service prohibit “posting, transmitting or distributing content that is false.” What person, department or contracted organization evaluates the validity of content for the bank?
When PayPal published a policy that stated it would fine users $2,500 for spreading “misinformation,” it was unclear how it would determine whether users were engaging in this activity aside from user reports. Unfortunately, we still don’t know.
At 1792 Exchange, we believe it’s critical to educate and equip small businesses and nonprofits with the tools they need to make informed choices about which companies leave them at risk of cancellation or denial of service — particularly for the exercise of their First Amendment rights.
To start, we launched our Corporate Bias Ratings of over 1,000 American companies that are analyzed and categorized according to their likelihood of canceling or denying service to their customers based on political, ideological or religious beliefs. The ratings consider companies’ actions, policies and public statements.
Our immediate goal is to empower small businesses, nonprofits, employees and consumers to understand the risks presented by certain corporations and give them a voice when they encounter ideological and anti-religious bias.
In a world where organizations like GDI are providing tools to corporations to suppress speech, these Corporate Bias Ratings are a necessary response to the politicization of corporate America. I hope this information moves many corporations back toward neutral and a renewed focus on providing innovative products and services — not suppressing speech.
For companies behaving badly, make no mistake: Concerned citizens are now watching and won’t hesitate to report what you’re doing. Your days in the shadows are over. And as more whistleblowers reach out and share their stories, I will gladly add any suppression of free speech or religious discrimination to our database.
Corporations disenfranchising people for their views — religious or political, mainstream or contrarian — is far more dangerous to our nation’s health than occasional “disinformation” online.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.
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