Alexander Hall is a staff writer for MRC TechWatch
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French lawmakers rejected the American concept of freedom of speech on July 4 by voting for a “hate speech” ban online. The lower house of French parliament pushed a massive internet regulation bill, which if approved, would launch a 24-hour deadline for Big Tech to remove all posts flagged as “hate speech.” Search engines like Google would be forced to stop linking to the controversial content as well.
The platform that rapidly bans people for tweeting “learn to code” took its sweet time removing legitimate death threats. Egyptian actor Hesham Mansour, with an 800,000 following on Twitter, tweeted some hateful and dangerous rhetoric in late June 2019. From conspiracy theories that “the Jews” use sorcerous powers to “[steal] all the positive energy” and manipulate the space-time continuum, to causing all terrorism, depression, and darkness itself, Mansour ascribes to all forms of anti-semitic beliefs.
Hate preacher Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam organization’s pages were deplatformed from Facebook on May 2 during its purge of “hate speech.” While most remain banished, Facebook strangely has allowed one dedicated to Farrakhan and “Black Supremacy” to return from the grave.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t even pretend to be neutral. She donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood’s abortion advocacy to aid ‘marginalized,’ ‘women of color.’ HuffPost quoted Sandberg in a June 28 article, where she said “I think this is a very urgent moment where the rights and the choices and the basic health of the most vulnerable women — the women who have been marginalized, often women of color — are at stake.” She boasted that Planned Parenthood will “fight back in the courts, in Congress, in the state houses, in the streets, for women’s health and rights.”
Twitter is launching a new program to flag tweets as offensive. And it’s No.1 target appears to be President Donald Trump. The company announced via its blog June 27 that it will mark the tweets of politicians who break its rules, effective immediately. he firm has decided “there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules.” The blog did not mention Trump’s name once, but even The Washington Post speculated the move has “stark implications” for his account.
Democratic leaders have not only accused social media of enabling misinformation, but speculated Big Tech companies profit from it. Politicians on both sides of the aisle raked social media over the coals at a June 26 hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee. Representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter testified over how social media companies handle misinformation, terror content, and “deepfake” videos.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) warned Big Tech companies and his Democratic counterparts Wednesday that free speech is a fundamental value, and losing it will “tear us apart.” Crenshaw was commenting during the June 26 hearing (viewable at 1:33:20) before the House Homeland Security Committee. Representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter testified over how social media companies handle terror-related content as well as misinformation and hate speech.
When the U.S.-based crowdfunding website GoFundMe booted Australian athlete Israel Folau, critics had no idea it would be the best thing they could do for him. Folau is a popular national figure both as an athlete and an outspoken Christian. He was fired from his profession and deplatformed when he used GoFundMe to rally funds for a legal case to take his job back. Christian Australians however, have rallied around him in a huge way.
An Antifa-related activist group called “All Out DC” has been putting up posters with the personal information of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, as well as other free speech figures, in an effort to “Block the Alt-Right.” The group’s poster announced an upcoming rally on July 6 along with Carlson’s face and personal information. The caption labeled him as a “racist with a huge following and platform” who “uses it to promote racist dogwhistles.”
XBox has video game smack-talk in its crosshairs. In an interview with Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo, Xbox head Phil Spencer proclaimed that “Xbox Live is not a free speech platform.” He added that “It is not a place where anybody can come and say anything.” Spencer explained that his team is “working to ensure it’s a safe and inclusive environment.”
In the wake of terror attacks, Big Tech companies are being taken to task over content policing. The June 26 hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee will feature testimonies from Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to Bloomberg Law’s coverage, Facebook’s head of global policy management Monicka Bickert, Twitter’s senior strategist for public policy Nick Pickles, and Google’s global director of information policy Derek Slater are going to testify.
How do Americans feel about Big Tech companies policing content? Most people are for it but even more people doubt the companies can do it properly. Sixty-six percent of Americans, approximately 2/3rds of those surveyed say “social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms,” according to the liberal Pew Research Center.
Pro-life groups are rallying together against liberal censorship on Pinterest, an online scrapbooking site. After the pro-life group LiveAction was censored by Pinterest, allied pro-life groups have rallied to load the platform with the group’s content.
Facebook, which no longer funds CPAC, is now sponsoring an upcoming far-left convention. Netroots and its convention event Netroots Nation, originally founded by the far-left blogosphere during the Bush era, has enjoyed a renaissance amid the Democratic party’s leftward lurch on racial and feminist politics. Aside from Facebook, other sponsors included in the event range from immigration advocacy groups such as Informed Immigrant to pro abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the scandal-ridden Women’s March.
Google and YouTube aren’t less interested in free speech than in maintaining politically correct status. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told his gay Google employees, aka “Gayglers,” that the company will consult “many groups, including people who have themselves experienced harassment” in order to descide future company policy. He proclaimed that “our Gaygler and Trans communities have always been a core part of Google culture,” according to The Verge, which received a copy of the June 12 e-mail.
Twitter suspended the account of investigative group Project Veritas after it exposed censorship at Pinterest against pro-lifers. According to the pro-life group Live Action, Pinterest “permanently suspended” its account on June 11. This was after Pinterest was exposed by Project Veritas for limiting conservative groups on the platform. A Project Veritas secret investigation quoted a Pinterest insider who revealed how the site censors such content.
An upcoming free speech platform promises to provide users the best features of other social media, but without the censorship. The subscription based “anti-censorship” platform “Thinkspot” is being created by popular psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. It’s being marketed as a free speech alternative to payment processors like Patreon in that it will “monetize creators” and as provide a social media alternative to platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Censorship of conservative and pro-life content isn’t limited to the main tech platforms. Even Pinterest, the online scrapbooking website, is banning conservative voices. According to Live Action, Pinterest “permanently suspended” its account June 11 after a series of exposures about bias on the platform. In an undercover investigation by Project Veritas, an insider revealed how the site censors conservative content in general.
While YouTube has been panicking over one offended LGBT reporter, the platform’s overreaction has both sides outraged. YouTube announced a crackdown on Wednesday June 5 on videos promoting or glorifying racism and discrimination. However, in what appears to be the haphazard actions of a hastily deployed algorithm, even videos critiquing “hate speech” and conspiracy theories have been taken down or demonetized.
As YouTube cuts off the ability of conservatives like comedian Steven Crowder and free speech advocates to support themselves on YouTube, it has allowed massive Russian disinformation to thrive. In the wake of revelations about Iranian subversion on Facebook and Russian accounts on Twitter seeking to “inflame opinions on both sides,” YouTube’s track record appears to be just as bad — or worse. Reuters reported in a June 7 article that “fourteen Russia-backed YouTube channels spreading disinformation have been generating billions of views and millions of dollars in advertising revenue.”