August 3, 2017

The Thought Police Are Consolidating Their Control Over Social Media and Other Tech Giants

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:17 am

Over the past two years, it has steadily become ever more apparent that expressions and assertions of conservative and center-right thought are under attack online.

A series of supposedly minor but telling incidents began to occur in 2015. They accelerated during last year’s general election campaign. They have continued to occur since the election.

It’s long past time to stop giving this series of incidents the benefit of the doubt as examples of incompetence. What’s going on has been soft censorship, which is gradually hardening.

I came across an example yesterday while preparing yesterday’s post on Paul Krugman’s latest nonsense claiming that the Obama administration had been “remarkably clearheaded and honest about its policies,” particularly Obamacare.

At at the end of the post, I tried to link to a book which presents “1,342 well sourced examples of Barack Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, hypocrisy, waste, etc.” at Amazon.com. The author is Daniel Alman, aka Dan From Squirrel Hill.

I got a 404 error.

Having bought the book last year, and appreciating the hours upon hours of work it had to take for Dan to compile it spread over the Obama administration’s two terms, that seemed extraordinarily odd, to say the least.

To finish the post, I linked to the related post at Dan’s blog to give readers access to his list.

I then commented at Dan’s blog about my failure to find the book at Amazon. He responded quickly.

Dan wrote that Amazon had indeed removed access to the book.

Here’s his recounting of the saga, posted mid-afternoon on Wednesday (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Before the book was removed, I had added some search terms that were the titles and authors of other political books, because I thought people who searched for those other political books might like to read my book. Afterward, I received an email saying that these new search terms had been approved, and that my book was available.

However, quite a few days later, I received another email saying that those new search terms were in violation of their policy, and that if I did not remove them within 72 hours, the book would be taken down. I immediately removed those search terms. And they even sent me another email saying that my changes had been approved, and that the book was available. But then a few days later, they took the book down anyway.

When they took the book down, they never explained why.

Shortly after that, Amazon restored access to the book, but has never explained why it was temporarily pulled in the first place.

In our email exchange, Dan also informed me that:

  • Amazon did not make him aware of the takedown. He only discovered it on Wednesday, shortly before my Krugman post.
  • The takedown without notification occurred as early as July 24 or as late as sometime on Tuesday, as he learned of the takedown two days ago.
  •  July 24 was the date of “the last sale before the takedown happened.” He noted that he “went eight consecutive days without any sales, which is far longer than the previous record of four days without a sale.”

So center-right authors at Amazon apparently have to verify the continued existence of their listings on a daily basis.

It would be easy to shrug off this treatment at the hands of one of the five largest corporations in the world (by market value) as stunning incompetence or an isolated incident. Too easy.

Now let’s look at how Dan’s efforts to ensure that the truth about the Obama administration were treated at Wikipedia back in 2010. He posted about it yesterday (links are in original), and there should be little doubt that such practices have continued:

Here are seven questions that I asked wikipedia moderators right before I got permanently banned. They never answered any of my questions.

…  Here are seven questions that I asked the wikipedia moderators right before I got permanently banned. They never answered any of them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard/Incidents&oldid=354179095#Before_you_possibly_ban_me.2C_please_answer_the_following_questions

Before you possibly ban me, please answer the following questions

Please answer my seven questions regarding Presidency of Barack Obama:

1) There was talk page consensus to have a single sentence about Van Jones resigning after it was revealed that he was a self described “communist” who blamed the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. government. Why should I be punished for adding that info to the article?

2) Please explain why you think the article should mention Obama’s actions against offshore drilling, but not his actions in favor of offshore drilling.

3) Also please explain why you think citing Obama’s actions against offshore drilling, without simultaneously citing his actions in favor of offshore drilling, does not violate NPOV, which states, “All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a Neutral Point Of View, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. This is non-negotiable and expected of all articles and all editors.”

4) How is it not noteworthy that Obama’s choice to head the “Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools” has an extensive history of illegal drug use?

5) If there’s going to be a section on Obama’s claims of transparency, why shouldn’t the section mention cases where Obama was heavily non-transparent?

6) How is Obama’s nationalization of General Motors, and firing of its CEO, not notable to the section on Obama’s economic policy?

7) How is the questioning of the constitutionality of Obama’s czars by two different Senators from Obama’s own party, not relevant to the section on those czars?

In all seven of these cases, I was asking the wikipedia moderators why it was wrong for me to follow wikipedia’s “neutral point of view” policy.

They never answered any of my seven questions.

Dan’s “just one guy,” but his stories sadly illustrate the experiences of others. There are more examples of arbitrary, censorious behavior, particularly in social media, with search engines, and at video platforms, than anyone who hasn’t been keeping track from the beginning could hope to completely compile.

Here is a small sample from a very large universe:

  • Wikipedia has banned future references to the UK Daily Mail, one of the top 20 U.S.-read news sites, as an “unreliable source.” After all the fakes news CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have produced? Puh-leeze.
  • Earlier this week, YouTube “clarified how it plans to handle videos that don’t violate any of its policies but still contain offensive religious and supremacist content: hide them and make sure they can’t make any money.” In practical terms, “offensive religious content” includes any criticism of Islam, not just radical Islam. More broadly, Polizette characterizes the move as “little more than efforts to censor conservative thought.” The outfits advising YouTube — No Hate Speech Movement, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and the Anti-Defamation League — are de facto left-wing censors.
  • In late July, Google and YouTube banned a professor ”Who Refused To Use Gender-Neutral Pronouns.”
  • Via Robert Spencer at PJ Media — “Google Manipulates Search Results to Conceal Criticism of Islam and Jihad.”
  • Yours truly noticed yesterday in the course of drafting the Krugman post that Wikipedia has deleted any all mentions of the economist’s controversial relationship with the failed, fraudulent Enron Corporation at his entry. Krugman was a paid member of Enron’s advisory board, and in 1999, he praised the company as a model for “making freewheeling markets possible.”
  • In May 2016, it was learned thatFacebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project.” The whole effort has been revamped, but the censorship continues, as seen in the next two items.
  • In an ongoing effort begun last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has complied with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s demands to crack down on criticism, particularly of her “migrant” policies, and “the social network has begun a Europe-wide campaign to counter so-called ‘hate speech’ on its platform.
  • In August of last year, Facebook “temporarily blocked talk show host Michael Savage after he posted a story about a Muslim migrant murdering a pregnant woman in Germany.”
  • Twitterhas become a paradise of bureaucratic censorship, a mix of Kafka’s The Process and Orwell’s 1984 the Chinese Communist Party can only dream of: any opinions an organised group want to erase are labeled ‘hate speech’ ‘harassment’ or ‘abuse’, and such thought crimes are purged from existence alongside their authors.”
  • Even companies not directly involved in disseminating news and opinion are cooperating with the censors: “Services helping Chinese users circumvent the “Great Firewall of China” have been pulled from Apple’s Chinese App Store en masse.”

Finally, in the U.S., there is separate orchestrated campaign to reduce the visibility of and de-monetize center-right websites:

  • Pamela Geller, on July 29 — “For the past few weeks, I have been writing about the Google scrub. Geller Report (and previously Atlas Shrugs) has all but disappeared from Google search, 40,000 posts and articles, 14 years of work. Once a source of thousands of referrals a day, Google referrals has now been whittled down to nothing.”
  • Geller, again, this time in May: “I have well over a million followers who voluntarily chose to receive my content, and Facebook is blocking them from getting it. This has dramatically affected the advertising revenue upon which I depend not only for the upkeep of my site, but for my own livelihood; it is 90 percent down since mid-February.”
  • Platforms like Patreon (also note this) are joining in.

The actions just identified are being initiated by whiny social justice warriors who can’t handle dissent or differing views.

Because their arguments are so pathetic, social justice warrior leftists can’t win unless their arguments have no opposition. Short of that, their goal is to marginalize their opponents into virtual invisibility.

It’s way past time to stop giving these online platforms and resources a pass.

One partial solution might be to require a detailed explanation for any takedowns or suppressions of traffic. “You violated our terms of service” doesn’t cut it. Naming the specific passage of the TOS, AND describing exactly which statement or piece of content posted by the user violated the TOS, needs to be legislatively required. Credit bureaus have to specifically say why you were turned down for a loan; a similar requirement imposed on social media platforms doesn’t seem unreasonable. I believe it would prevent most of the arbitrary actions described in this post from ever occurring. I’m also inclined to require advance notifications of proposed takedowns so that user-platform disputes can be handled rationally instead of tyrannically.

Any other suggestions would be more than welcome. The censorship campaign against the center-right must be stopped.

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1 Comment

  1. All of these companies are the same ones who abuse the H1B visa program unemploying Americans by displacing them with cheaper foreigners. They are greedy corporatist cheapskates. It is clearly in their interest for anything “conservative” to fail by being smothered.

    There is an alternative to search engines such as google… duckduckgo.com/

    It’s time for rational people to vote with their feet…

    1) stop using google and use someone else.
    2) spread the word to use the alternatives.
    3) expose the bias.

    Comment by dscott — August 3, 2017 @ 11:46 am

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