Personal Experiences From the Land of Orwellian Censorship
By James F. Tracy
Social media sites that have for many years allowed for the free and unimpeded discussion and exchange of ideas are now eliminating the posts and even entire accounts of content producers sharing observations and analyses that question the official narratives of complex events. This is straight out of a dystopian novel and entirely alarming. It won’t be surprising if colossal blog-hosting outlets such as WordPress.com eventually follow suit.
In late February 2018 YouTube has taken aim at several channels of well-known alternative media personalities using the platform, including David Seaman, Ron Johnson, Scott Creighton, and The Richie Allen Show. The common denominator of all these outlets is that they examine the relationships between the intelligence community, transnational forces, and political institutions.
Allen, for example, has over the years hosted an array of guests, many of whom hold nonconformist, “conspiracy”-oriented positions on political concerns and complex public events. At the time YouTube terminated Allen’s channel he had around 70,000 subscribers and his videos had many millions of views. Allen’s channel is one of many that YouTube has summarily pulled the plug on based on the company’s own subjective judgement and reaction to third party pressure.
One week after the February 14, 2018 Parkland Florida school shooting CNN, through its partisan reporting, actively petitioned YouTube to investigate the channel run by longtime Austin, Texas-based political commentator Alex Jones. Jones’ Infowars website was one of the few that interviewed Parkland witnesses and reported on how their experiences conflicted with the official shooting narrative.
Since 2013 when this author was attacked by corporate media for questioning the Sandy Hook massacre event and eventually fired from his tenured professorship at Florida Atlantic University because of protected online speech we have had our own run-ins with the internet thought police.
On February 26 Facebook removed a post to the MemoryHoleBlog page linking to a recent article on published on this site, “Parkland Shooting: Top 10 Reasons For Deeper Interrogation.” The article had received close to 300 shares on the social media site. The only explanation the platform’s censors provided was that sharing the link violated “Community Standards.” The way Facebook and other social media companies define such “standards” is purposefully vague and could likely never sustain serious scrutiny in a court of law. Yet with each of these platforms one signs their rights away to participate, and with each new user the marketplace of ideas steadily erodes.
A few weeks ago as a sort of social media experiment we uploaded the information-packed We Need to Talk About Sandy Hook to our YouTube channel, a channel that admittedly is seldom used. As many know the documentary garnered millions of views following its release in 2015. Almost immediately, trolls operating from sham YouTube accounts attacked our person and the fact that the channel posted the video.
Within 24 hours of posting the Sandy Hook investigation YouTube removed the video for allegedly violating its “Community Standards” and placed a “Strike” on our account. In Kafkaesque anti-judicial fashion YouTube allows users to “appeal” its censors’ decision that the recording may have somehow disturbed another party that the accused will have no way of facing the accuser, much less interpreting the censors’ reasoning behind their action.
Shortly thereafter YouTube stripped the channel of its recent ability to “monetize” content.
Along these lines, in late 2016 when WordPress.com refused to host my website Memoryholeblog.com it showed us the door rather unceremoniously and without a shred of explanation as to its rationale for the suspension. This supposedly involved a violation of the company’s “Terms of Service,” yet the transgressions were apparently so great that no explanation could be given.
Facebook, YouTube, and in rarer instances WordPress.com’s censorship of user content is at least partly motivated by the political views of their executives and governing boards. YouTube, for example, is but one appendage of Alphabet Inc., the second largest firm on earth with a market valuation of $768 billion. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled against ex-Google engineer James Damore, who was fired in August 2017 after he criticized his employer’s “politically correct monoculture.”
The NLRB found that Damore, who wrote a 10-page memo to Google arguing that it disapproved of and silenced right-leaning political views among its workers, was not wrongfully terminated because his views are too “harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive” too be protected under U.S. labor law. Google extends this very political orientation to police and censor political debate online.
Susan Wojcicki, the Harvard-educated CEO of YouTube whose garage was purportedly the spawning ground for her former billionaire brother-in-law’s establishment of a once-fledgling Google, is concerned with “promoting tolerance” and “fighting hate” online. This is liberal claptrap intended to mask a relentless liberal authoritarianism. Proselytizing terms such as “(in)tolerance” and “hate”–act as code to identify the heathen straw men and women of middle America who, in their confusion, are all-too-often misled by “conspiracy theories.”
#CreatorsforChange is an important initiative that's helping promote tolerance and fight hate online. Proud of our continued investment, announced last week: https://t.co/AAiLtlaWpR pic.twitter.com/gHgVpJDUtp
— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) January 30, 2018
The bad actions of a few creators can affect the entire community.
Today, we're announcing new steps we're taking to address channels that upload harmful content. https://t.co/syd80GDwkz
— YouTube Creators (@YouTubeCreators) February 9, 2018
One of YouTube’s recent undertakings is Creators For Change, a program promoting “social change” where YouTube and Google collaborate with philanthropic foundations and entities like the United Nations in awarding $5 million to content providers it deems desirable. In January 2018 Creators For Change held its annual conference in London. According to Jniper Downs, who is “Head of YouTube Public Policy,” the event is intended to “celebrate last year’s progress” and promote “collaboration between leading advocates of social change for the year ahead … “We will engage more creators in the program,” Downs enthuses, “arm the wider YouTube community with new tools and education on how to create change, and empower more young people to use their voices to encourage positive social messages.” Given the politically incorrect nature of their content it is doubtful that Richie Allen, David Seaman or any other nonconformist “creator” will be among 2018’s grant recipients.
The above of course assumes that YouTube is directly involved in terminated certain users’ channels. It is apparent that Google and YouTube likely condone such actions against individuals with which its management disagrees. Yet according to one popular YouTube creator (below) the company also awards channel owners surpassing 100,000 subscribers with the ability to terminate any user or channel at their discretion and apart from YouTube employee involvement. These vigilante YouTube censors must sign a non-disclosure agreement concerning this “privilege” before gaining access to their “ban hammer,” an entry on one of the platform’s elite dropdown menus.
This means that conceivably the management or personnel of many politically-inclined channels have the capacity to eliminate certain YouTubers failing to promote the official narrative their own institutions are in lockstep with. Most YouTubers creating videos of this nature are doing so as a hobby and lack the resources to research and legally challenge such actions. Moreover, with YouTube’s ambiguous “Community Standards” alongside the non-disclosure agreements signed off on by its censorship brigade, a de facto program of political censorship can be carried out almost seamlessly, leaving the targeted channel operators and broader public none-the-wiser.
One thought on “Facebook and Google Are Today’s Thought Police”
[…] Twitter Ads info and privacy As Eowyn argues in the statement below, politically conservative news and opinion outlets are being silenced by forces hostile to President Donald Trump in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. What I had feared and expected finally happened. Minutes ago upon waking up this morning, I discovered that WordPress has unilaterally and without warning shut down Fellowship of the Minds for alleged violations of “Terms of Service”. I have sent a request to WordPress asking them to account for just what “Terms of Service” FOTM is found to have violated. In my request, I reminded the owner, administrators and staff of WordPress that WP’s information censorship against a conservative blog, once undertaken, can and will be used against them in the future. The signs are now clear that the Left are silencing all conservative voices before the November mid-term elections where Democrats will steal the election with MASSIVE voter fraud. I will explore finding another server for FOTM. In the meantime, I am using this other WordPress blog I have (but never used), as the interim Fellowship of the Minds. Please pray for America. In sorrow, Dr. Eowyn Automattic’s move to censor FOTM comes one week after tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter removed material by broadcaster Alex Jones. The week prior popular YouTube commentary channel SGT Report was also banished without explanation. With this action Automattic appears to be similarly joining forces with these entities. As the New York Times reports today, a campaign waged by the shadowy “Lenny Pozner” persona likely contributed to Automattic’s full evisceration of FOTM. In the past Automattic stood behind its clients on free speech and “Fair Use” grounds when questionable copyright infringement claims were brought against sites. “Online platforms are not held liable for copyright infringement claims against people who use their platforms as long as they remove or block access to content in response to the claims,” the Times notes. This is crucial to the function of any website where people can post content, and internet companies have traditionally tended to err on the side of removal, even when claims may be dubious. This has created opportunities for abuse, and Automattic has made fighting that a corporate cause. The company created a “Hall of Shame” to call out businesses and people filing notices for frivolous reasons or to tamp down negative news coverage. For years, Automattic’s strident response to copyright abuse earned praise from digital rights advocates. Now, this approach has effectively lumped in Mr. Pozner with the abusers. “Strictly from a copyright perspective, WordPress.com’s response is outside the norm,” said Tom Rubin, a lecturer at Stanford Law School who oversaw Microsoft’s copyright group and takedown process for 15 years. “They avoid getting involved because fair-use determinations are notoriously complex and fact specific,” Mr. Rubin said of online platforms. “Platforms would rather eliminate their own potential liability by taking the content down and leaving it to the parties to battle amongst themselves in court.” Matt Mullenweg, the chief executive of Automattic, suggested in a recent interview with Recode that the company was confronting misinformation. “For things that we host and run and provide our kind of company backing to, implicitly through hosting it, we do avoid hate speech,” he said. He added that “egregiously fake or harmful things — we’re pretty good at getting off the system.” (Emphases added.) In the case of Mr. Pozner, however, Automattic suggested that its approach was imperfect. “While our policies have many benefits to free expression for those who use our platform, our system like many others that operate at large scale, is not ideal for getting to the deeper context of a given request,” the company said in a statement. As with Automattic’s treatment of MHB, FOTM’s disappearance strongly suggests how WordPress.com’s policies are being tailored to placate outside parties whose foremost interest is in stifling political speech on potential high crimes, and how in this instance such poorly-founded grounds for censorship have triumphed over free speech. Automattic’s full-scale censorship of FOTM also directly coincides with publication of the August 14 article excerpted from above–a story whose cunning slant is fully in the spirit of the Democratic Party’s communist-like zeal for censoring the opposition, in addition to Dems and Obama administration’s gun control ethos at the forefront of the Sandy Hook event itself. Eowyn is presently attempting to relaunch FOTM with another service provider. We will provide additional information on this effort here at MHB as it develops. See also: Facebook and Google are Today’s Thought Police […]