The major technology firms known today as “Big Tech”—Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft and others—are massively powerful entities with the capacity to influence the digital information ecosystem and control how information reaches the public, including religious speech. A panel of thought leaders in media and technology gathered at the NRB 2022 Christian Media Convention on Wednesday, March 9, to discuss Big Tech’s hostility toward religious free speech.
“The assault that we have seen on religious liberty and freedom of speech embedded in our media outlets bears considerable inspection,” said Charles Hurt, opinion editor of The Washington Times and the moderator of Wednesday afternoon’s forum, titled “Big Tech’s Attack on Religious Freedom.” To begin the conversation, Hurt asked each panelist to give the audience a glimpse into the invasion of Big Tech.
“Oftentimes we don’t see the threats of censorship,” responded Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Foundation and Convention of States Action (COSA). “The crackdown on social media targets people of religious traditional values–ultimately conservatism—and we must take action quickly against these trends.”
Jeff Brain, founder of CloutHub, pointed out that Big Tech deplatforming began with very controversial commentators and has steadily evolved to censorship of major voices that represent wide cultural sentiment. “We should all be concerned because it’s a slippery slope of the silent treatment and it isn’t going in the right direction,” Brain said.
“What has been missing is a platform that brings people together and enables them to connect, organize and address the issues that impact their lives, communities, society, and country,” said Brain.
Under the slogan “media that matters,” Brain said his company is seeking to be both proactive and reactive to the interests and needs of their audience. Brain also said he created CloutHub as a social network designed for “meaningful” civic and social engagement because he believed existing social networks have become abusive, invasive, and unhealthy.
“They win when you feel alone. It’s a battle for our children’s future, our future, and the soul of our nation,” said Kaelan Dorr, Senior Vice President of Global Engagement and Marketing of GETTR, the fastest-growing social media company in history. “There is an orchestrated effort to shut us down by mobilizing censorship, and censorship is all our young people know.”
According to these panelists, the next critical step is to encourage entrepreneurship as Christian communicators and dissenting cultural voices seek out alternative platforms and viable solutions to overcome censorship. Platforms like GETTR and CloutHub actively mobilize free speech instead of hindering it. “Without the fear of censorship, you can relentlessly pursue being yourself, and on platforms like GETTR, you can live stream Bible studies without the risk of being shut down,” Dorr stated.
“We have addressed censorship and freedom of speech, but what we haven’t addressed is the health risks that media creates,” Brain added. “It detriments our children’s mental health by embedding addiction mills into major platforms. We created CloutHub to be a healthy alternative by partnering with neuroscientists to create a social outlet that allows our users to not be as anxious and addictive and to provide an environment that is safe for our children.”
Hurt asked the panel where and how they consume news and determine what sources of information are reliable. Commentators encouraged the audience to read from a variety of sources, participate in multiple information-sharing platforms, and focus on learning about topics relevant to your real-life priorities.
“Social media should give you the tools to organize, influence, and interact with the issues you care about,” Brain stated. According to Brain, social media technology is only sixteen years old, and we have much to learn from the first generation of social media. “You don’t invade people’s privacy, you don’t silence them, and you don’t divide people, you bring them together and get them back to solving problems,” Brain added.
Hurt concluded the forum by stating, “These are frustrating times, but there are people who are doing something about it. And three of them are sitting right here.”