Tag Archives: Social media censorship

The US Government Threatens Tech Companies To Push Censorship Agendas, by Caitlin Johnstone

It is not just Facebook that has become a de facto arm of the government, the other big tech companies have as well. From Caitlin Johnstone.com at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The elephant in the room with the ongoing controversy about the Biden administration’s push for more internet censorship is the fact that both the US government and the Silicon Valley tech companies who are being pushed to censor are acutely aware that those companies can be brought to their knees by antitrust cases and other regulation if they don’t censor people’s voices in accordance with the government’s wishes.

After Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted on Thursday that the administration has given Facebook a list of accounts to ban for spreading “misinformation” about the Covid vaccine, she has now doubled down saying that people who circulate such materials online should be banned from not just one but all social media platforms.

“You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation out there,” Psaki told the press on Friday.

When asked by the press for his thoughts on companies like Facebook, President Biden said the failure of those platforms to adequately censor posts about the vaccine makes them guilty of “killing people”.

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The Ice-Cream Flavor Next Time, by James Howard Kunstler

No matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, the press will be asking Joe about his ice cream. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

A nation mesmerized by its own weakness wanly celebrated the long-ago and faraway memory of standing up for itself, while it passively endures the current orgy of tyrannical cancellation and suppression of anyone talking back to the present folks-in-charge. Over just a few years, this tyranny has grown like a toxic slime mold from such an unlikely place, the Internet social app ecology of Facebook, Twitter, and Google, as they took over the public arena — where the battle of ideas is supposed to live — and did the government’s dirty work, complete with adorable emojis. You’re fired!

Who will stand up to Zuck, Jack, and Sundar Pichai? Who elected these megalomaniacs boss of the USA? What will it take to end their reign of terror? Some sort of… revolution? (Shhhh! That must be a dirty word, even considering we just celebrated the high point of the American Revolution: The Declaration of Independence, signed July 4, 1776.)

Don’t look to “Joe Biden,” the nation’s putatively elected leader — about whose election back in November, 2020, you are liable to hear more about as the summer stickily unspools. Zuck, Jack, and Sundar managed to protect “Joe Biden” from the stupendous depredations of his offspring, Hunter Biden, recorded in explosive detail on a laptop the public was not allowed to hear about. Don’t look to the Department of Justice, supposedly “investigating” that horde of memos and emails detailing the Bidens’ influence-peddling to the CCP and others — they’re busy surveilling “white supremacists” on the apps run by Zuck, Jack, and Sundar. And for sure don’t look to the news media, that coalition of sell-outs and quislings, busy decoding the foreign policy moves signified in “Joe Biden’s” ice-cream flavor choices. (Rocky Road means: Oh, let China have that….)

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If Private Platforms Use Government Guidelines to Police Content, is that State Censorship? by Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi asks a valid question, and he doesn’t even bring up the close ties between the largest private platforms and the government. From Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:

YouTube’s decision to demonetize podcaster Bret Weinstein raises serious questions, both about the First Amendment and regulatory capture

Just under three years ago, Infowars anchor Alex Jones was tossed off Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, marking the unofficial launch of the “content moderation” era. The censorship envelope has since widened dramatically via a series of high-profile incidents: Facebook and Twitter suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story, Donald Trump’s social media suspension, Apple and Amazon’s kneecapping of Parler, the removal of real raw footage from the January 6th riots, and others.

This week’s decision by YouTube to demonetize podcaster Bret Weinstein belongs on that list, and has a case to be put at or near the top, representing a different and perhaps more unnerving speech conundrum than those other episodes.

Profiled in this space two weeks ago, Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying — both biologists — host the podcast DarkHorse, which by any measure is among the more successful independent media operations in the country. They have two YouTube channels, a main channel featuring whole episodes and livestreams, and a “clips” channel featuring excerpts from those shows.

Between the two channels, they’ve been flagged 11 times in the last month or so. Specifically, YouTube has honed in on two areas of discussion it believes promote “medical misinformation.” The first is the potential efficacy of the repurposed drug ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment. The second is the third rail of third rails, i.e. the possible shortcomings of the mRNA vaccines produced by companies like Moderna and Pfizer.

Weinstein, who was also criticized for arguing the lab-leak theory before conventional wisdom shifted on that topic, says YouTube’s decision will result in the loss of “half” of his and Heying’s income. However, he says, YouTube told him he can reapply after a month.

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Unthinkable Thoughts… by Josh Mitteldorf

We’ve reached a point where many people say: “If it weren’t true, they wouldn’t censor it.” From Josh Mitteldorf at zerohedge.com:

This essay is inspired by Dr Mercola’s announcement last week that [May] (reading between the lines) his life and his family’s have been threatened if he doesn’t remove from his web site a peer-reviewed study demonstrating the benefits of vitamin D and zinc in prevention of the worst COVID outcomes. In the present Orwellian era, where propaganda and deception are ubiquitous, one of the signposts of truth that I have learned to respect is that the most important truths are the most heavily censored.

This is not what I enjoy writing about, but as I find dark thoughts creeping into my consciousness, perhaps it is better to put them on paper with supporting logic and invite my readers to help me clarify the reasoning and, perhaps, to point a way out of the darkness.

Already in January, 2020, two ideas about COVID were emerging.

One is that there were people and institutions who seemed to have anticipated the event, and were planning for it for a long time. Gates, Fauci, the World Economic Forum, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine were among the prescient. (I credit the (now deleted) videos of Spiro Skouras.)

Second was the genetic evidence suggesting that COVID had a laboratory origin. Funders of the scientific establishment have lost their bid to ridicule this idea, and it has now leaked into the mainstream, where it is fused with the classical yellow peril propaganda: “China did it!”. I have cited evidence that America is likely equally culpable.

The confluence of these two themes suggests the dark logic that I take for my topic today: Those who knew in advance, not only that there would be a pandemic but that it would be a Coronavirus, were actually responsible for engineering this pandemic.

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Free Speech Inc.: How Democrats Have Found A New But Shaky Faith In Corporate Speech, by Jonathan Turley

Corporations have lined up with Democrats, who know champion their rights to free speech as private companies. However, there’s no free speech for say a private bakery that doesn’t want to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. The contradiction is apparent. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:

Below is an updated version of my column in The Hill on Facebook’s decision to uphold the ban on former president Donald Trump. Notably, this weekend, Twitter took it upon itself to add a gratuitous response to an observation made by Donald Trump Jr. after he tweeted “Biden isn’t the next FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] he’s the next Jimmy Carter.” Twitter took it upon itself to say that many are “confused” by the remark since Carter was a great humanitarian and noble prize winner. It was a telling moment. These companies now act as either censors as officious intermeddlers when it comes to comments made on the platforms. They view themselves as a party to any postings and that viewpoints must be corrected or clarified to advance the corporate position.

Here is the column:

After Facebook’s oversight board this week upheld the social media giant’s continuing ban of former President Trump, the response of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) captured the visceral joy of many on the left: She posted a series of laughing emojis.

Welcome to Free Speech, Inc.: the Democratic incorporation of free speech built around the a presumption of corporate censorship (for some).

Of course, Democrats insist they are not attacking free speech, just combating “disinformation.” After all, they say, private companies have every right to control speech — unless you are, say, a bakery opposed to preparing a cake for a same-sex wedding, or a company contributing to political causes. The current mantra defending Facebook’s corporate speech rights seems strikingly out of sync with years of Democrats and political activists demanding the curtailment of such rights.

When Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused on religious grounds to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) denounced the bakery’s claim of free speech: “It was never about a cake — it’s about making sure no one has a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans.” When the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations have free speech rights to participate in politics, Warren was appalled. She has long rejected the notion that corporations have the constitutional rights like individuals: “Corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry. They dance. They live. They love. And they die.”

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California Officials, Biden-Linked Firm Coordinated With Big Tech to Censor Election Posts: Judicial Watch, by Isabel van Brugen

How private is a private company when it takes marching orders from governments and politicians on what not to publish? From Isabel van Brugen at theepochtimes.com:

California officials colluded with Big Tech to censor social media posts in the United States during the 2020 presidential election, government watchdog group Judicial Watch announced Tuesday.

The findings come after Judicial Watch received 540 pages and a further four pages of documents from the office of the Secretary of State of California in response to an open records request, the group said.

It had filed the request after a December 2020 report surfaced revealing that California’s Office of Election Cybersecurity had surveilled and asked the social media giants to remove or flag as “misleading” at least two dozen messages.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that SKDKnickerbocker, a communications company linked to President Joe Biden’s election campaign, was involved in the censoring of speech during last year’s election period.

The company did this by sharing its “Misinformation Daily Briefings” with California officials, who then passed them on to social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google for dissemination, according to Judicial Watch.

“These new documents suggest a conspiracy against the First Amendment rights of Americans by the California Secretary of State, the Biden campaign operation, and Big Tech,” Fitton said.

Epoch Times Photo
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, in Washington on Nov. 1, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

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We Have A COVID Lifeline. The Powers Won’t Allow It. by Mary Beth Pfeiffer

Ivermectin works against Covid-19; it should either be banned or officially discouraged. From Mary Beth Pfeiffer at trialsitenews.com:

We Have A COVID Lifeline. The Powers Won’t Allow It.

In a widely reported announcement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned, “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.”

Taking the drug “can be very dangerous,” FDA said, though 33 years of human use, billions of doses and a Nobel Prize for annihilating parasitic illness suggest otherwise.

The FDA statement, which is the lynchpin of COVID policies worldwide, purported to protect the public from taking over-the-counter ivermectin meant for animals. But its real purpose was to instill fear.

Indeed, a war on ivermectin — by public health agencies, corporations that stand to cash in on the pandemic, and social and mass media – is being waged to dismiss a drug that could be a lifeline to normalcy.

Why?

Confused By The Facts

Ivermectin is a case study in official decrees that do not align with reality.

Take a close look the World Health Organization’s contortions before declaring on March 31 that ivermectin should be limited to experimental trials. WHO first ignored its own commissioned analysis that found the drug would cut COVID deaths by 75 percent. Then, WHO handed the job to a different team, which also found far fewer deaths with ivermectin – but ruled its cherry-picked evidence unconvincing. That is the analysis WHO chose.

Or read the lone study — one among 52 ivermectin trials — that did not find significant evidence of improvement in COVID patients. Despite contradictions and flaws, including some patients given the wrong drug, the results were accepted by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Scour the list of positive studies, many from countries where this inexpensive drug is reducing illness. Few medical journals will publish them. Though available online, the media ignores them. Major outlets that have not done a single serious story on ivermectin jumped on the told-you-so JAMA story.

Finally, consider that right now, social media is in the midst of a brutal little-reported campaign of censorship to the point that YouTube policy precludes users from saying ivermectin prevents or helps COVID.

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The New Normal “Reality” Police, by CJ Hopkins

The reality police is reaching lower and lower to make sure that no non-approved narratives get promulgated. From CJ Hopkins at consentfactory.org:

So, according to Facebook and the Atlantic Council, I am now a “dangerous individual,” you know, like a “terrorist,” or a “serial murderer,” or “human trafficker,” or some other kind of “criminal.” Or I’ve been praising “dangerous individuals,” or disseminating their symbols, or otherwise attempting to “sow dissension” and cause “offline harm.”

Actually, I’m not really clear what I’m guilty of, but I’m definitely some sort of horrible person you want absolutely nothing to do with, whose columns you do not want to read, whose books you do not want to purchase, and the sharing of whose Facebook posts might get your account immediately suspended. Or, at the very least, you’ll be issued this warning:

Now, hold on, don’t click away just yet. You’re already on whatever website you’re reading this “dangerous,” “terrorist” column on (or you’re reading it in an email, probably on your phone), which means you are already on the official “Readers of Mass-Murdering Content” watch-list. So you might as well take the whole ride at this point.

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Global Social Media In The Era Of Great Power Conflict, by J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson

Social media is flying too close to the sun. From J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson at southfront.org:

While on the one hand Twitter flexed its muscles when it permanently de-platformed a sitting US president and deactivated tens of thousands of other accounts, with Facebook closely following suit against accounts the two social media giants claimed were “disinformation” concerning the 2020 election results, in practice it was a pyrrhic victory at best. The real power of Facebook, Twitter, other social media lay in their reputation as essentially neutral, impartial platforms where free speech was triumphant and the invisible hand of the marketplace of ideas dictated which accounts would get millions of followers and which would languish in obscurity.

That, of course, was never really true. Twitter and Facebook were no strangers to muting, banning, or at least stealth-banning accounts that promoted ideas inconsistent with whatever dogma, social or political, prevailed in Washington D.C. at the moment. However, this tended to be done in dribs and drabs, not in avalanches which moreover explicitly targeted specific political candidates or parties. Twitter’s knee-jerk panic-induced purge of Trump and Trump-supporting accounts that followed the events of January 6, 2020 on the flimsy pretense that there was a “risk of violence” created by the mere existence of these accounts, showed that @Jack and indeed the entire @TwitterSupport team are not impartial at all, for all the world to see. Naturally, as Twitter and Biden apologists were quick to point out, the First Amendment does not extent to private entities, which means that, legally, US social media giants were in the clear. Unironically defending a mega-corporation’s inherent right to censor speech in a way that US government institutions are prohibited from doing was not exactly a very good position to be in. That is a blow to the foundations of Twitter’s free-speech reputation from which it can never recover. That toothpaste can never be put back in the tube again. Banning accounts, rather than suspending until “offending” material is deleted, is a form of “prior restraint” of free speech that is explicitly prohibited by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Even such Donald Trump non-fans as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron found themselves decrying Twitter’s decision to muzzle the US president, on the basis of it being a corporate abuse of power that should be reserved only to national governments.

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Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment, by Glenn Greenwald

The government telling, or implying, backed up with an explicit or implicit threat, an ostensibly private media company who they can and cannot publish or broadcast is as much an abridgment of the First Amendment as a direct government ban. From Glen Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

In their zeal for control over online speech, House Democrats are getting closer and closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.

CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey (R) and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (L) are
sworn in to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in
Washington, DC, on September 5, 2018. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)
(Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

For the third time in less than five months, the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms. On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.”

The Committee’s Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of the Subcommittees holding the hearings, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said in a joint statement that the impetus was “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud.” They argued that “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” adding: “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation.”

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