The digital giants have taken over the world. Nobody has ever amassed this much power. Hitler would die of envy if shown the greatness of Google. Huxley and Orwell’s protagonists could only dream of what Bezos and Gates do. The latter overthrew the US President and installed one they prefer, and for good reason. The combined net worth of the top 100 ultra-rich people in the US has skyrocketed by $195 billion since Biden took office, according to Bloomberg’s calculations. These giants control the minds of billions. Nations hock their lands and industries to purchase their patent medicines. These giants know our faces, our names, all about us, even the cells we are made of, down to the last protein. Gods have been defeated, gentle Christ and mighty Sabaoth, not to mention angry Allah. Is that a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? (Eccl 1:10) No, my jaundiced ancestor was right — it has already been done in the ages before us.
Once upon a time, the giants almost pushed the gods off Olympus. Apollodorus tells us that the gods could not win, until they remembered the oracle that the giants would only be defeated if a mortal man was to help the gods. Only Man can facilitate the gods’ victory over the giants, divined the Greeks in their Gigantomachy, just as the Christians knew only a Son of Man could defeat Death. When the giants had almost defeated the gods, a mortal man, Heracles, stepped forward and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Now we are in dire need of a brave mortal to tackle giants. If there is no Heracles, anyone will do; but the giants have to be defeated. And indeed, unlikely Giant Killers have stepped forward.
The uprising began in rebellious Moscow, where the city arbitration tribunal demanded that Google restore a deleted YouTube account or pay billions of dollars in fines. Impossible, you’d say — Google is free to do whatever they want. They shadow-banned Unz.com; its brother giant Twitter banned Trump; there is no way to overturn their decisions, for such companies are private, and private property is sacred — otherwise it’s Communism and Gulag; they can do whatever they want, and their smart lawyers have already included their right to unplug you in every one-click contract agreement.
Yet Russia isn’t all that different from any other Western nation. Until this happened, the Russian legal system had refused to consider claims against the tech giants. Russian law did not allow for it. It was enough for the giants to stipulate that all claims should go to London or to some other tame court of their preference for the Russians to meekly submit. However, the giants overreached themselves when they blocked this avenue to sue them in Western jurisdiction for many Russians. The Russians responded by creating a new law that established the priority of their national law, and required the courts and tribunals to accept and judge the cases if there is no way to sue in the agreed Western jurisdiction.
This new law was applied by the Moscow Arbitration Tribunal after Google, in July 2020, deleted the account of Tsargrad, a Christian conservative TV channel and news agency belonging to Konstantin Malofeev, an unusual Russian digital media lord. Slate magazine made a profile of the man some years ago, while he was still planning to create Tsargrad. Slate grossly exaggerated Malofeev’s proximity and importance to Putin, for he is an outsider, but otherwise it gives you the general idea. Malofeev had been sanctioned by US and EU authorities in 2014, but the account of the media company he is the main owner of was blocked six years later, in the summer of 2020. Tsargrad had over one million subscribers when suddenly, and without warning, YouTube deleted its account. At first, they explained their action by asserting that Tsargrad was “breaking the community rules’, as always. Later on, Google claimed they blocked Tsargrad because its owner had been sanctioned.
The Moscow tribunal rejected both claims. (Read here the tribunal decision in full, English translation comes after Russian version) It stated that Google didn’t prove Tsargrad broke community rules; even had that been the case, Google would have had to give six months’ warning before breaking the contract. As for sanctions, the Tribunal ruled that US and EU sanctions are a part of public law of those particular countries, and cannot be applied in Russia; Google has to restore their account or suffer legal consequences.
The consequences are financial, and exponential. For the first week of non-compliance, Google would have to pay a little over one thousand dollars, nothing to speak about there. But afterwards, the fines double each week, and in half a year’s time Google would have to pay over $70 billion! Exponential fines can be very threatening. Can the Russians make Google pay? Yes! Google (google.ru) has a few billions on their accounts in Russia, all eminently liable to be seized. On the other hand, if Google restores the blocked account, they won’t have to pay a cent. Stories related to this historical decision are filed here (in Russian).
Anyway, Malofeev had been sanctioned by the US and EU over six years ago, when he was allegedly supporting the Russian rebels in Donbas (he says he ran a humanitarian mission). Why, all of a sudden, did Google freeze his account in 2020?
There is an honest answer to this question, but Google’s cagey lawyers would never admit to it. In 2020, encouraged by their meteoric rise to the top of the pandemic-troubled world, Google and the other giants unleashed their might to erase ideologically unacceptable (for them) media. They carried out a large-scale ideological cleansing of pro-family, Trump-friendly, conservative, Christian sites and accounts, and of sites that didn’t support the paradigm of gay and trans, anti-male, anti-white woke propaganda. The sites that doubted the official Covid narrative were also banned or shadow-banned. They forbid their clients to trust in God, summed it up a Russian observer. The timing of the cleansing was connected with the US Presidential elections of November 2020. The giants planned to remove Trump and install Biden by hook or by crook. Accounts that were likely to disagree with this massive fraud planned by the giants were deleted. Didn’t this constitute meddling in the important elections? For sure, but it was the giants, not the Russians, who meddled, and they even had FBI on their payroll.
Not only did American accounts suffer in this purge; the giants cleansed Russian accounts, too. Though there aren’t many Russian-reading voters in the US, the giants didn’t want to take any chances. They planned and executed probably the first complete global takeover of discourse in human history. Tsargrad was one of the smothered media voices.