Something I've noticed in the past few years is an ever-growing group of technology companies making public political stances on all sorts of issues, ranging from world events, to privacy, gay rights, bathroom laws, religion, feminism and more.
On the surface it may seem the "right" thing to do, but I think it always leads to censorship.
What happened to concentrating on providing a great product or service to customers, without all this moralizing?
In this video I'm going to show many examples of this political censorship, and will try and explain why I think there should be a separation of tech and politics. All source links mentioned will be in the description.
Before we get to the examples, a few words about rules. Many of these companies have policies that ban things like hate speech, abusive behaviour, harassment, bigotry, supporting certain organizations etc.
The major issue with these types of guidelines is that these phrases are never actually defined, so they are completely subjective. How do we define hate speech? Is it just something that makes someone upset? What about uncomfortable home truths? Can that be deemed as hate speech too? Where do you draw the line?
The rules are applied at the whim of the company employees, meaning overzealous admins can easily punish political enemies, whilst turning a blind eye to friends who act in a similar way, as we'll see in a minute.
Twitter Guidelines - https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311#
Youtube Guidelines - https://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/communityguidelines.html
Reddit Guidelines - https://www.reddit.com/help/contentpolicy
Facebook Guidelines - https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/
This inconsistent enforcement was brought into sharp focus recently, when Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from twitter, after a confrontation with actor Leslie Jones.
Here's Twitter's statement:
"People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Over the past 48 hours in particular, we've seen an uptick in the number of accounts violating these policies and have taken enforcement actions against these accounts, ranging from warnings that also require the deletion of Tweets violating our policies to permanent suspension."
The thing is, Milo didn't actually break any of Twitter's rules. He never harassed Jones, and he never told his followers to go after her. All he did was write a scathing review of one of her films, and acted like a bit of a dick.
In comparison, there is evidence that Jones herself has instructed her followers to go after people, directly breaking twitters rules, yet she has never been suspended.
That's not even mentioning all the people who send death threats, openly support terrorists and call for cops to be killed, who never face any consequences from the Orwellian trust and safety council.
There's evidence that Twitter has been banning journalists and hiding specific political tweets from peoples timelines, and that's not mentioning the new “quality filter” that is automatically enabled on all accounts, and can sinisterly hide particular search results and replies.
Moving onto Google.
Since their search algorithms are hidden, we have no way of knowing how particular sites are pushed up, or down, or when they're blocked completely.
We do have a little evidence that Google may be manipulating their autocomplete results in order to push certain narratives, as SourceFed covered in a recent video
You can even try another example of this for yourself. If you type in a bunch of different religions followed by the word “are”, you will see that no autocomplete results are shown, that is except for muslims, where it says “muslims are not terrorists”. It doesn't matter what you think about the statement, the point is, why is Google doing this? Why didn't they just leave it blank like the others?
It's not a one-off too, there are multiple examples of this happening, and probably many more that people just haven't found yet.
Another example of this softer censorship is that as Wikileaks recently began publishing the damning DNCleaks, Facebook was automatically blocking links to Wikileaks.org. It's been fixed now, but this kind of stuff keeps accidentally happening again and again.
Another Google company, Youtube, also recently began removing advertising revenue from prominent creators for not being "advertiser friendly".
This relates to their new rules meaning you basically can't use "excessive language", or talk about "controversial or sensitive subjects". Who gets to decide what's controversial or too much "bad" language? that's right, another faceless algorithm or employee that you cannot appeal against.
And then you have Reddit, a site that recently changed their ranking algorithm on /r/all to basically censor the extremely active Donald Trump subreddit. CEO Steve Huffman wrote:
"Many people will ask if this is related to r/the_donald. The short answer is no, we have been working on this change for a while, but I cannot deny their behavior hastened its deployment. We have seen many communities like r/the_donald over the years, ones that attempt to dominate the conversation on Reddit at the expense of everyone else. This undermines Reddit, and we are not going to allow it."
So he says it's not related, then in the next breathe says it kind of is. Regardless of what you think of the subreddit, the bottom line is The Donald never broken any of Reddit's rules, and it was basically punished for being very popular - that is, the wrong kind of popular. There was and is nothing stopping people from personally hiding the subreddit if they didn't want to see it.
There are also significant problems with Reddit's moderation system. We saw this very clearly during the Orlando night club shooting recently when mods on Reddits official news subreddit were deleting literally thousands of comments to control the narrative. Check the link in the description to see this comment graveyard for yourselves.
I hope you are starting to see the scale of this. These examples are just scratching the surface - it's happening all over the Internet. Instead of having organic trending, fair ranking systems and open comments, these companies are getting more brazen in their attempts to manipulate, steer, and stifle open conversation.
Instead of deleting and banning, people should be free to say what they like, warts and all. If people are acting like shitheads, and saying stupid things, then shining light on their stupidity will make it obvious to everyone else. We need more discussion and debate, and less safe spaces and echo chambers.
B-BUT PRIVATE COMPANIES!
I agree that private companies should be completely beholden to market forces, and therefore be free to act as they choose, so if they suck, people should vote with their feet and wallets and leave. The difference with giant companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and to a lesser extent, Reddit, is that they are so entangled with governments around the world, that their unnatural monopolies can no longer be classified as private companies.
Edward Snowden revealed that many of them are actively involved in programs such as PRISM, basically becoming extensions of various governments around the world, so is it really a stretch to think other political pressures aren't being exerted behind the scenes?
After all, their executives do regularly meet with heads of state, and other prominent public figures.
Last year reporters overheard a conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mark Zuckerberg, where she asked him what he was going to do about "hateful" material on Facebook, since then, the platform now regularly goes on deleting and banning sprees against anyone who says anything even mildly critical on certain topics like feminism, terrorism and immigration.
It's the same with Twitter, in that since last year, their second largest shareholder is a prince in the Saudi royal family. Someone part of a theocracy which actively promotes certain agendas. At the least, these are conflicts of interest, and at worse, are acts of blatant political meddling.
All this coupled with the fact that these companies are so deeply involved in our lives, means their rules are basically like extra-judiciary law enforcement, with the ability to lock people out of their digital lives, and with no chance of appeal - that is unless you have the right connections. If you're a no-name pleb like most of us, tough luck.
Even though you might feel a particular side is justified in its censorship tactics, remember that as the pendulum swings, people with differing opinions could take control one day, and you could be the next target.
The point of the separation of church and state is not to create an athiest society, but to ensure that in a world of conflicting ideas, no single religious group can control and oppress everyone else. In theory, this neutrality protects everyone, and I think if technology companies and politics are pried apart, we'd all be better off.
Tech companies virtue signalling on the latest social issue or world event, is a distraction from the prime focus of serving their customers. If users aren't breaking their local laws, these companies should keep their noses out. What do you think?, and how can we improve things?
There's way too many examples of this stuff to include in this video, so I've added a bunch more links in the description.
- Another comment graveyard https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/4vvcth/