The New York Times recently published an article highlighting the dramatic change in the attitude about Big Tech from conservatives over the past year as Silicon Valley giants seemed to step up their censorship efforts.
In an article titled “Big Tech, Once a CPAC Sponsor, Is Now Its Boogeyman,” the New York Times outlines how the presence of Silicon Valley tech firms such as Google and Facebook was extremely noticeable at last year’s CPAC, but this year, they were nowhere to be seen as censorship by these companies was a hot topic discussed by many attendees. Over the course of the past year, the issue of online censorship has become a hot topic amongst conservatives and now it seems that the Masters of the Universe are taking notice.
The Times notes that companies such as Google hosted large private parties at the conference last year, providing free food and drinks to the attendees invited to the event; Facebook offered a help desk where attendees could try the company’s virtual reality headset. The Times writes:
Google sponsored a lavish hospitality suite, courting conservatives with an outdoor fireplace, hors d’oeuvres and flowing cocktails. Bright young representatives from Facebook hosted a “help desk,” handing out cookies frosted with emoji icons and offering free demonstrations of its virtual reality product, Oculus.
That was then. At last week’s gathering here in a suburb of Washington, Silicon Valley’s only obvious presence was on the lips of exercised right-wing critics who whipped up the crowd by denouncing the American tech industry as an authoritarian hegemony intent on censoring their cause.
“Facebook, Google and Twitter are pushing a left-wing social agenda while marshaling their marketing power to shut conservative voices out of the marketplace,” said Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, during a featured session with the ominous title “Blocked: This Panel Has Been Removed for Conservative Content.”
The Times notes that this year, the issue of Big Tech censorship became a major topic at CPAC this year:
Here at CPAC, Mr. [James] O’Keefe, whose appearance was relegated to a cramped conference room last year, was welcomed to the main stage by raucous applause. On a panel about artificial intelligence, Jeremy Achin, chief executive of DataRobot, felt obliged to reassure his audience, “I’m not here from one of those tech companies that hates America.”
When Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump White House aide, recorded an interview with Breitbart News just outside the conference ballroom, he said that China was the “one existential threat to the United States.”
“Two, maybe,” replied Breitbart’s editor, Alex Marlow. “Silicon Valley.” Both men laughed.
Amid the mounting animus, Big Tech lay low.
When asked about its decision not to sponsor CPAC this year, Google was not particularly forthcoming with the reasoning:
Google, a leading conference sponsor in 2018 — when its logo was plastered on banners alongside groups like the National Rifle Association and the Heritage Foundation — did not participate this year. Facebook’s “help desk” was also nowhere to be found.
Representatives from both companies were not keen to explain their reasoning. “The list of events that Facebook sponsors or participates in evolves from year to year,” a Facebook spokesman, Andy Stone, wrote in an email. A spokeswoman for Google declined to comment.
That left conservative activists to fill in the blanks.
Read the full article in the New York Times here.