Posts Tagged ‘Censorship’

The new censorship

July 8, 2021

Brett Weinstein’s DarkHorse podcast was kicked off YouTube for discussing the potential of a drug called Ivermectin as a COVID treatment and possible problems with the rMNA vaccines. 

YouTube said its decision was based on consultation with “local and global health authorities.”

If YouTube is exercising censorship based on guidance from government agencies, and these agencies can be captured by private companies, then corporate money can suppress private criticism.

LINK

If Private Platforms Use Government Guidelines to Police Content, Is That State Censorship? by Matt Taibbi for TK News.

The emerging campaign against Substack

March 11, 2021

In Defense of Substack by Matt Taibbi on TK News.  “UCLA Professor Sarah T. Roberts mourns the good old days of gatekeeping and credential worship.”

Criticizing Public FIgures, Including Influential Journalists, Is Not Harassment or Abuse by Glenn Greenwald.  “As social media empowers uncredentialed people to be heard, society’s most powerful actors seek to cast themselves as victims and delegitimize all critiques.”

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor Its Writers: to Bar Critiques of Journalists by Glenn Greenwald.  “This new political battle does not break down along left v. right lines.  This is an information war waged by corporate media to silence any competition or dissent.”

House Democrats threaten right-wing cable news

February 24, 2021

House Democrats, Targeting Right-Wing Cable Outlets, Are Assaulting Press Freedoms by Glenn Greenwald.  “Democrats’ justification for silencing their adversaries online and in media — ‘they are spreading fake news and inciting extremism’ — is what despots everywhere say.”

Greenwald on the threat to freedom of speech

February 22, 2021

During the previous four years, Democratic leaders and pro-Democratic newspapers and broadcasters aligned with U.S. intelligence agencies to undermine the Trump administration. 

Now that Democrats are in power, the alliance continues.  It’s highly improbable that the Biden administration will dial down any of the covert wars now being waged by the United States.

As usual, Glenn Greenwald, who got his start as a civil liberties lawyer, has the facts.

I’m not a supporter of Donald Trump.  As one who believes in historic American ideals of freedom and democracy, I’m concerned about the large fraction of the 74 million Trump voters who endorse mob violence or believe in the crazy Q-Anon conspiracy theory.

But trying to suppress people’s basic rights is not a good way to refute their belief that there is a conspiracy to suppress their basic rights.

Also, progressives and left-wingers are naive if they think the social media crackdown is going to be limited to their enemies. 

Donald Trump was a very bad President.  I’m glad he’s no longer in office.  But I don’t believe in attacking historic constitutional liberties in the name of preventing Trump supporters from destroying historic constitutional liberties.

LINKS

Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment by Glenn Greenwald.  “In their zeal for control of on-line speech, House Democrats are getting closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.”

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Militarism, censorship in the name of freedom

January 27, 2021

It does not make sense to destroy freedom and democracy in order to defend it.

Reflecting the Authoritarian Climate, Washington Will Remain Militarized Until At Least March by Glenn Greenwald.  “The idea of troops in U.S. streets for an extended period of time—an extreme measure even when temporary—has now become close to a sacred consensus.”

Meet the Censored: Status Coup by Matt Taibbi for TK News.  “Silicon Valley Is shutting down speech loopholes.  The latest target: live content.”

The fallacy of the single evil

January 13, 2021

C.S. Lewis wrote somewhere that the devil always sends his temptations in twos, so that in backing away from one, you are liable to stumble into the other.

That’s very true of political temptations.

The cult-like behavior of hard-core Donald Trump loyalists, and of Q-Anon followers in particular, is a great danger to functioning of American democracy.

How can I engage in democratic discourse with people who are disconnected from reality as I see it?

But the drive to censor MAGA Republicans, including Q-Anon, is an equal danger.

How can I engage in democratic discourse with people and at the same time deny them a voice?

People who are silenced do not think they are refuted.

And I would be naive if I thought that censorship will be limited to persons and causes I disapprove of.

LINKS

Q-Anon and the Fragility of Truth by Nathan J. Robinson for Current Affairs.

The Man Who Saw the Coup Coming Is Surprised It Wasn’t Much Worse by Cam Wolf for GQ.

QAnon Woke Up the Real Deep State by Nicolas Grossman for Arcdigital Media.

The Terror of Liberals in a Time of Insurrection by Ian Welsh.

The Boot Is Coming Down Hard and Fast by Caitlin Johnstone.

Images via vitaliketh on Twitter.

Dem war coalition prepares to assume power

November 19, 2020

The New Ruling Coalition Opposition to Afghanistan Withdrawal Shows Its Key Factions by Glenn Greenwald. “An unholy union of the national security state and the neocon-backed and corporate-funded Democratic Party are about to assume power with media-supported Internet censorship a key weapon.”

Banned in Pakistan

July 14, 2020

WordPress notified me that one of my posts from 2015, France is jailing people for the crime of irony, has been banned in Pakistan.   This means that anybody in Pakistan who clicks on the link to that particular post will receive a notice that the post has been blocked by government order.

I assume the reason is that one of the illustrations is a blasphemous (to Muslims) cover of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, many of whose staff members were murdered five years ago because of such blasphemies.

Charlie Hebdo is still publishing, at an undisclosed and secure location, and still giving offense.  The magazine’s target on the anniversary of the massacre was “political correctness.”

LINK

Charlie Hebdo targets “new censorship,” five years after terror attacks, by Zeenat Hansrod for RFI.

The rising tide of censorship

June 10, 2020

Michael Moore was interviewed on Rolling Stone’s Useful Idiots podcast about the campaign to suppress the film, “Planet of the Humans,” a critique of the environmental movement.

It actually was taken down from YouTube for a few days because of a bogus concern about copyright.  Moore is a successful celebrity and was in a position to fight back.  As he pointed out, a younger filmmaker, in the same position as Moore when he made “Roger and Me,” wouldn’t have been able to do so.

Taibbi pointed out on his web log that this is part of a growing pattern of censorship.

The significance of the Moore incident is that it shows that a long-developing pattern of deletions and removals is expanding. The early purges were mainly of small/fringe voices on either the far right or far left, or infamously fact-challenged personalities like Alex Jones.

The removal of a film by Moore – a heavily-credentialed figure long revered by the liberal mainstream – takes place amid a dramatic acceleration of such speech-suppression incidents, many connected to the coronavirus disaster.

A pair of California doctors were taken off YouTube for declaring stay-at-home measures unnecessary; right-wing British broadcaster and trumpeter of shape-shifting reptile theories David Icke was taken off YouTube; a video by Rockefeller University epidemiologist Knut Wittknowski was taken down, apparently for advocating a “herd immunity” approach to combating the virus.

These moves all came after the popular libertarian site Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter, ostensibly for suggesting a Chinese scientist in Wuhan was responsible for coronavirus.

In late April, the World Socialist Web Site – which has been one of the few consistent critics of Internet censorship and algorithmic manipulation – was removed by Reddit from the r/coronavirus subreddit on the grounds that it was not “reliable.” The site was also removed from the whitelist for r/politics, the primary driver of traffic from Reddit to the site.

Then in early May, at least 52 Palestinian activists and journalists were removed from Facebook for “not following community standards,” part of a years-long pattern of removals made in cooperation with the Israeli government.

On May 13, human rights activist Jennifer Zeng noted that YouTube was automatically deleting Chinese-language references to terms insulting to the Chinese government, like gongfei, or “communist bandit.” Congressional candidate Shahid Buttar complained an interview with Walker Bragman about Democrats supporting surveillance powers was removed by YouTube.

Evan Greer of the speech advocacy group Fight for the Future had a post flagged by Facebook’s “independent fact checkers”—in this case, that noted pillar of factuality, USA Today – dinging him for a “partly false” claim that the Senate had voted to allow warrantless searches of browsing history.

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Am I being unpatriotic when I link to RT News?

November 30, 2017

RT News and Sputnik International are news services funded by the Russian government.   They are said to be waging “information warfare” against the United States.

RT America and Sputnik International have been ordered to register as foreign agents, the only foreign news services that have been ordered to do so.  What this means is that they will be required to disclose their sources of funds and other details of their operations.

The FBI is investigating Sputnik.  Google has changed its algorithm to “de-rank” RT and Sputnik in Google searches.  Twitter has banned advertising by RT and Google.

None of these things prevent RT or Sputnik from reporting their version of the news or making their reports available to Americans.   We’re not like the old Soviet Union, where you could be arrested for listening to the Voice of America.

And, in one respect, the United States is more liberal than the Russian federation.  Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America lost their Russian broadcast licenses in 2012 and 2014, but Sputnik still has a radio station in Washington, D.C.

The anti-Russia campaign is intended to brand Americans as unpatriotic if they work for RT or Sputnik, appear on their programs or even watch their programs.

I’ve linked to RT News videos in previous posts.  What does that make me?  Am I unpatriotic?

I think an American who listens to or watches RT or Sputnik is like a Russian who watches or listens to the Voice of America or Radio Free Europe.   The U.S. government has an ulterior motive in funding these two news services.   At the same time, they provide Russians with information and ideas they wouldn’t get from their domestic broadcasters.

Established U.S. broadcasters have a limited range of viewpoints they regard as acceptable.   I never noticed this until my own thinking moved outside the range of the acceptable.   So if there’s something on RT News I think is interesting or worthwhile, even though it might not be acceptable to PBS or CNN, I’ll link to it..    That’s my right as a free American.

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The Internet and its enemies

January 19, 2012

Clay Shirky writes and lectures about the effect of the Internet on society.  He is the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations and Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (neither of which I’ve read).

Click on Clay Shirky for his web log.

Hat tip for the video to The Big Picture.

Wikileaks and Julian Assange

December 6, 2010

This was originally entitled: War of Wikileaks: secrecy vs. anonymity.

Click on WikiLeaks for the WikiLeaks home page. [Added 7/7/11]

Click on WikiLeaks | Media for current articles in The Guardian. [Added 7/14/11].

Click on Media Fix for links to updates on Julian Assange and Wikileaks. [Added 4/14/11]
Click on In Conversation with Julian Assange Part I  and Part II  for Julian Assange’s philosophy and view of the world.  [Added 7/7/11].

Julian Assange and the Wikileaks crew are not spies.  They have not revealed the secrets of the United States government or any other government to a hostile foreign power, unless the government regards the American people itself as an enemy

They are not hackers.  Their investigative reporting is limited.  They are more like publishers or syndicators.  They provide a venue in which you can send secret documents and expect to see them published.  They are doing what the New York Times did in 1971 when it published the secret Pentagon Papers.

But they are doing more than trying to inform the public.  They are waging a nonviolent form of warfare against governments and institutions whose functioning depends on secrecy.  They do this by attacking their ability to keep secrets.  These institutions are then faced with a dilemma: (1) cease honest communication internally, in which their operations are hampered, or (2) risk having their real purposes and activities know, in which case their operations are hampered.

Assange regards the U.S. military-diplomatic-intelligence establishment as the equivalent of a terrorist network.  It operates by means of violence concealed by lies.  From his standpoint, inhibiting internal communications within the U.S. State Department is a feature, not a bug. In his words:

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Via Interesting Question

A government or any other organization needs free and frank internal communication to function well.  But if an organization engages in criminal activities, open communication creates a risk that its activities might be revealed.  An organization that says one thing in public and does another in private risks disillusioning its members when it tells them the truth, and risks losing touch with reality to the extent it doesn’t.  Assange’s aim is to heighten these contradictions.

Assange is completely right that our government has conspiratorial functions. What else would you call the fact that a small percentage of our governing class governs and acts in our name according to information which is freely shared amongst them but which cannot be shared amongst their constituency? And we all probably knew that this was more or less the case; anyone who was surprised that our embassies are doing dirty, secretive, and disingenuous political work as a matter of course is naïve.

But Assange is not trying to produce a journalistic scandal which will then provoke red-faced government reforms or something, precisely because no one is all that scandalized by such things any more. Instead, he is trying to strangle the links that make the conspiracy possible, to expose the necessary porousness of the American state’s conspiratorial network in hopes that the security state will then try to shrink its computational network in response, thereby making itself dumber and slower and smaller.

via zunguzungu.

Some thuggish politicians and commentators have openly called for Assange’s murder. That such things can be said in public is a measure of how barbaric our political discourse has become.  But I don’t think his enemies will try to assassinate him. What I expect the United States government and his other opponents to do is to fight him in terms of information – and disinformation.

As much as Wilileaks’ targets rely on secrecy, Wikileaks relies on anonymity.  Wikileaks reportedly has about 40 core members and 800 key supporters, most of them unknown to the public.  They go about their business while the semi-fugitive Julian Assange functions as the public face of Wikileaks.

My guess is that the CIA and other intelligence agencies will strike back by trying to discover just who they are, and then, if they can’t bring criminal charges against them, try to smear their reputations and hound them out of their jobs.  I don’t know enough to guess whether Assange’s legal troubles in Sweden are an example of this.

Another tactic would be to plant bogus information and use it to discredit Wikileaks.  The Pinochet dictatorship in Chile once planted false atrocity stories on Amnesty International and then, when Amnesty published them as true, used them to discredit the human rights organization.

The foundation of Wikileaks is its ability to guarantee anonymity to whistleblowers.  It could survive the unmasking of some of its own members, but it could not survive the loss of that absolute guarantee.  So I am sure intelligence agencies are working overnight to penetrate Wikileaks’ security.

Wikileaks’ effectiveness depends on public trust that it has the integrity and competence to assure the documents it publishes are authentic.  Trust is hard to gain, easy to lose and easy to undermine.  It would take one big foulup to undermine that trust. Of course, foulups can occur without sabotage or subversion.

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