Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell, 1984
This graphic image may be a bit over the top, but I think that sometimes it is necessary to use hyperbole to call attention to serious problems. Serious problems – namely blatant censorship against conservative voices – is what we are seeing today in the actions of social media companies. Just in the past two days I became aware of several incidents of blatant censorship of ideas by social media companies. I’ll highlight some that you may not have heard about.
- Yesterday morning I received an email from PragerU – a company that is professional and measured in their video presentations:
We recently discovered that Facebook deleted two video posts from the PragerU page for “hate speech,” and subsequently censored 15 more posts from public view – meaning zero of our 3 million followers could see these posts.
While we’ve experienced blatant discrimination from Google/YouTube, which is why we’ve filed legal action against them, this represents a whole new level of censorship by Facebook.We reached out to Facebook and their initial response provided little clarity saying they would get back to us in another two to three business days, which in the world of social media might as well be an eternity.However, after media attention on the issue started to gain traction – Facebook finally responded after 24 hours saying that removing the videos was simply a “mistake.”Does anyone really believe that removing two videos as “hate speech” and subsequently censoring 15 more entirely from the public was simply a mistake?
One of the two videos is titled “Only Strong Men Stop Evil”. It is about why we need more masculine men. Facebook said “The post goes against our community standards.” Judge for yourself. I posted this video on August 6: PragerU: Make Men Masculine Again
Earlier today I posted Joe Dan Gorman’s latest video from Intellectual Froglegs. Why? Because that particular video has been “purged” by YouTube/Google. It is still available on other video sites like Vimeo and BitChute. Joe Dan’s comment on the situation:
SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPRESSION DIARY
I’m not a whiner— but I’m also not one to avoid facts. After exploding out of the gate [over 800 Views & 169 Likes in the first 45 minutes] YouTube has blocked our video again.
AND… in the few hours since I posted the show on Twitter— the number of my Twitter Followers continue dropping.
You probably have heard about the banning of Alex Jones and InfoWars on various social media sites, including YouTube. You may not have heard of Doug Wead, who has had problems with social media companies, and explains how his content was shadow banned. Here is his short bio:
Doug Wead is a New York Times-bestselling author and an adviser to two American presidents. He was special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.
On Friday he published an article in The Federalist, titled These Screenshots Show How Google Shadowbans Conservative And Pro-Trump Content.
He starts out by saying, New membership on my Facebook page has stopped dead. My best YouTube videos cannot be found. All because I posted videos of myself going on Fox News.
Now that others are venturing timidly from their foxholes, I can take to print without becoming the sole target of a vengeful, monopolistic technocracy. It appears that Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have all gone to war with President Trump, and are punishing anyone who dares to speak up for him.
I won’t duplicate the entire story here, which you can read at the provided link, but I’ll excerpt some of it:
Within days, Google blocked my ad and informed my team that we had violated their policies. I called Google. The problem, they explained, was that the video had hate speech.
It was a Fox Business Network video with Trish Regan interviewing me about the Russian collusion investigation. The Google employee could not find the exact offending words, but referred me to various other supervisors up the ladder.
It took much of the day listening to elevator music as I waited, playing “Civilization V” interspersed by brief conversations with successive employees reciting Google policies that they admitted explained nothing. We concluded I should re-submit the ad and whoever was offended at Google would be forced to surface.
Once again my ad was blocked, and this time my Google account was suspended. I felt like Roseanne Barr. Once again I called Google and spent a day trying to figure out what was wrong. “This call may be monitored,” they announced, and I announced back that I would do the same. So the discussion began. Was I too nice to President Trump? Should I have been more critical? Was it something Regan had said? She seems to fairly cover all sides of an issue. Why would they have a problem with her?
The next day, Nurse Ratched at Google finally emerged. I was never given her name, but conversations with her employees indicated her sex. It was nothing that I or Regan had said in the video, her team explained. Huh?
No, no, the problem, I was told, was in the “crawler of words along the bottom of the video.” It was a quote of Trump declaring that the Robert Mueller investigation was a “witch hunt.” This was apparently hate speech.
We agreed I would not try to promote this Trump-contaminated video again, and they would restore my account. That was one year ago, June 2017. All this time I have kept my promise, but it has apparently gotten me nothing.
In January, 2018 my channel was hit by shadow-banning. Sometime that month, Google allegedly hired thousands of outside actors supplied by the infamous Southern Poverty Law Center. This was the organization that attacked Ben Carson, the only African-American in Donald Trump’s cabinet. They were apparently the new arbiters of decency.
My videos got hammered. But only my pro-Trump material. My interviews defending the Obama children or talking up Chelsea Clinton’s wedding went untouched.
A viral YouTube interview with me and Fox Anchor Neil Cavuto about why Hillary Clinton lost the election was penalized. The video had more than 861,000 views and was earning an average of 15,000 views a day when it suddenly went dark. On February 17, after the new censorship took hold, this video dropped to 50 views a day. That is where it has stayed ever since.
It took me months to figure this out. Here’s what they did. They created their own separate Doug Wead channel. It was buried deep and I only accidentally found it. It is called “Doug Wead – topic.”
Now, this channel is separate from my own Doug Wead channel, that I created, which has 4,950 subscribers. Their channel had zero subscribers. That’s right. Not one single subscriber. When I challenged Google about this, they claimed it was auto-generated.
But here is the salient point: the videos that this “auto generated” channel chose, for whatever reason, are exactly the videos that populate a “Doug Wead” search. This is how they decide what people find when they come looking for me.
One of the sources I interviewed for this article found his business shadow-banned on Facebook after he expressed pro-Trump sentiments. He went through three businesses and thousands of dollars before finally realizing what was happening. He has since changed his online identity, IP address, and bank accounts, and after months of scrubbing he is up and running again. But of course, this time he will keep his mouth shut.
Is this the end of free speech? Or will Americans have the courage to break up an abusive monopoly? Will there be some neutral replacement for YouTube? An Internet version of Fox News, where both sides of an issue can be discussed? None of that will happen anytime soon, and probably not in time for the next presidential election.
We have entered the twilight of the American version of the Soviet Union. You can think what you want, but don’t you dare say it out loud, even to your children. Someone may hear it and quote you online.
There is much more, including his experiences with Google searches and his Facebook page.
Index believes that all speech – eccentric, contentious, heretical, unwelcome, provocative and even bigoted – should be protected unless it directly incites violence.
Social media and tech companies — as private entities — have the right to set whatever terms they choose, but the patchwork, inconsistent and opaque terms of service approach to policing speech online leaves them open to political and societal pressures. We strongly encourage the adoption of terms of service policies that maintain the widest possible scope for free speech online.
This means we – as users – will have to tolerate the fraudulent, the offensive and the idiotic. The ability to express contrary points of view, to call out racism, to demand retraction and to highlight obvious hypocrisy depend on the ability to freely share information across the evenest possible playing field.
Any other course of action will – in the end – diminish everyone’s right to free expression.