“At this stage, reining into Big Tech should be a litmus-test in the Republican Party. If you’re not with Us, You’re against Us.”
A new tool called Big Tech funding was launched on Monday at the Chrome web store. Twitter users can now see disclosures about the tweets and profiles of those who are “affiliated with think tanks, academic centres, and advocacy organizations that are funded through Big Tech.” However, many users won’t realize it’s being funded primarily by far-right political operatives.
The American Principles Project, a far-right advocacy organization funded by dark money, is behind the project. It has the main goal of making the family the most powerful, represented special interest group in Washington, D.C. To achieve that end, it supports a range of family-oriented political objectives, including opposing Black Lives Matter, abortion accessibility, LGBTQ rights, and critical race theory.
The extension adds people’s Twitter profiles along with a disclaimer: Disclosure: This person is affiliated to an organization funded by.” Followed by the organizations they are purportedly involved in. The American Principles Project was not known to most of those who shared the tool online at first.
“The extension is based on publicly available data sources, which were compiled by staff from American Principles Project including company funding disclosures, IRS documents and nonprofit annual reports. According to the app’s store page, this information is also available at BigTechFunding.org.
The motherboard did not receive a response from the American Principles Project to our request for comment.
Big Tech Funding is a recent example of right-wing interests glomming on criticism of large tech firms, although this is usually due to concerns about censorship and not the substantive issues raised by progressives over the years. While Republicans like Senator Jim Jordan make a mockery of Big Tech companies’ power, they also get into conspiracies whenever someone (i.e. Lina Khan, FTC Chair, tries to address real competition issues.
Other interests of the American Principles Project read like a list of current obsessions of the conspiratorial right. The organization claims Black Lives Matter is a “rhetorical Trojan Horse” that injects dangerous ideas into the country and fomenting revolution.
“Black Lives Matter” isn’t about saving Black people, it’s about launching a political revolution. One report from the group says. It’s about destroying the Constitution and overthrowing our Republican government. It’s about abolishing law and replacing it with an identitarian caste-based system.
Other issues such as abortion are not addressed by the organization. Robert P. George , founder of the organization, wrote in 1994 as part of a symposium called Killing Abortionists. “However inasmuch my personal opposition is rooted in sectarian (Catholic), religious belief in the sacredness of human life, it is not possible to impose this on others who may, as matter of conscience, have a different view.” George continues with a tongue in cheek contribution that compares abortion with the murder of doctors who perform the abortion.
The group and its PAC proudly announced a $4million ad campaign in September to expose the “transgender extremism” of Democratic candidate. “Three digital ads were published this week in Michigan, drawing attention to Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters” the group’s press release at the time.
Another concern for conspiracy-minded right-wingers is the proliferation of critical race theory. It supported Tom Cotton’s Stop CRT Act, which would prohibit federal funding for schools that promote CRT or force its adoption. Federal agencies and contractors also would be prohibited from “indoctrinating” employees in CRT.
Terry Schilling, president of APP, stated that CRT is a pernicious ideology that states Americans should not view each other as equals. Instead, it suggests that Americans should see each other as fundamentally different. Some are oppressors while others are victims based on their skin color. It also denies that America’s founding ideals are truly central to the country and instead tells us that the U.S. is and will continue to be an inherently racist nation.
What makes a group like this so passionate about speaking out on “Big Tech?” It turns out that most of the opposition to Big Tech stemmed from concerns about Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives, specifically Section 230 reform. This group and any other major right-wing network have not condemned monopolies as such, except for those that are very rhetorical targets.
Consider the telecom industry. It is dominated by anticompetitive companies that wield enormous power to eliminate public alternatives, steal prices, lay off hundreds of workers, and degrade the quality and value of their products. This is the behavior that the telecom industry regularly engages in. While the media has been focusing on the dangers of big tech mergers and social media, waves upon waves of anti-competitive, high-priced telecom mergers have passed through the bipartisan approval process,” Karl Bode , a telecom reporter, wrote in 2019 for Motherboard. “Some examples include Comcast’s merger with NBC, Spectrum’s acquisition Time Warner Cable, AT&T’s acquisition DirecTV and T-Mobile’s looming merger.
Indeed, Jon Schweppe (the group’s top lobbyist) reiterated in its press release announcing a new tool that the main issue of contention was the group’s alleged censorship against conservatives.
Schweppe stated in a statement that “Last autumn, powerful Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google waged a full-blown attack on our democracy by suppressing stories, banning users and blocking advertisements and manipulating algorithms for one political party over the other.” America won’t last long if large sections of the population are denied participation in public life. This is why reining in Big Tech should be a litmus-test for the Republican Party. If you don’t agree with us, then you are against us.
It’s difficult to see why anyone would want to join the American Principles Project, given the type of society it is fighting for, which is a deeply reactionary and exclusionary one.