In a move that conservative activists have been warning about for a long time, social media channels have engaged in a coordinated takedown of a number of conservative voices, some with a stellar track record and millions of followers.
The removal of alternative media outlets from Facebook and Twitter comes at the same time as leaked Google documents show that the search engine giant may be looking for palatable ways to introduce censorship into its search engine results.
On October 11, 2018, Facebook announced that it had taken down 559 pages and 251 accounts. The social media giant claims that the accounts in question were penalized for violating Facebook’s anti-spam policies and engaging in coordinated, inauthentic behavior. However, a quick look at Facebook’s anti-spam guidelines indicates that the accounts in question did nothing wrong. What is more, early reports on Facebook’s takedown published by the Washington Post state that the accounts were deactivated for “pushing political messages for profit,” which is something that literally every single news agency around the world does on a regular basis.
To make matters worse, Twitter almost immediately followed in Facebook’s footsteps, suspending accounts from the exact same users that Facebook had penalized earlier in the day.
Numerous, well-known alternative news outlets were blindsided by the move. Affected websites include The AntiMedia, with over 2 million Facebook fans, The Free Thought Project, with over three million fans, Press for Truth, Police the Police, Cop Block and Punk Rock Libertarians. Reporters who use these websites to publish stories that aren’t typically covered in the mainstream media note that a number of the stories they publish aren’t necessarily political in nature.
John Vibes from The Free Thought Project notes that the site frequently interviews victims of police shootings and provides alternative news stories on Syria that have often prevented full-scale war in the region. The AntiMedia also focuses on providing an anti-war perspective. Even so, given the fact that social media giants have a history of colluding with the Democratic Party and silencing dissenting voices leading up to national or regional elections, it is not surprising that the move to penalize alternative news outlets is coming on the heels of what portends to be an electrifying mid-term election season.
To make matters worse, Google seems eager to join the censorship bandwagon. An 85-page document titled “The Good Censor”, which was recently leaked on Breitbart News, has been verified as being an internal Google research paper. The paper contains alarming proposals and focuses on the fact that Google should not only censor its users, but also do a better job at “explaining” to users the benefits of being censored in the first place. The paper makes it clear that Google has moved away from its initial commitment to free speech, and instead wants to tell people not just what to say but also how to say it. The paper acknowledges the fact that Google’s future censorship plans would be affected by government or commercial pressure.
In essence, the search engine giant will allow governments and commercial entities to successfully pressure it into promoting or hiding certain types of content. While a few mainstream news outlets couldn’t help but pick up on the Google censorship leak, they were eager to promote Google’s side of the story, presenting the company as a benevolent entity that was simply concerned about the effects of hate speech on its many users.
Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of a free society. Allowing large corporate entities and governments with vested interests to control what can and cannot be said online is a dangerous move that could spell the end of Western civilization as it exists today. While some speech online is certainly hate-filled, having the government and biased corporate entities police the internet and control the news narrative for billions of people is far worse than allowing a few hot-headed individuals to speak their minds online.
Anyone who is concerned about basic First Amendment rights should be outraged by the move to censor alternative news outlets that happen to present a narrative that looks different from what mainstream news media organizations want the general public to believe.
~ Liberty Planet