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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter

What is censorship?

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With the rise of Social Media websites that have created vast public spaces for discussion this question has been arising more frequently that it has in the past when censorship simply meant a government preventing you from speaking.

At present, because the likes of FaceTwit have banished President Trump from their spaces along with other Right Wing voices, the Lefty luvvies assume that Zuckerberg and company are on their side, so are more than happy to play the whole “Private Sector rights” back on to the Right – baking celebratory gay wedding cakes etc. In this they’re still being joined by the NeverTrump fanatics and the Libertarians.

You would think that the inconsistencies of the bans, with the likes of Iranian and CCP voices being allowed to remain while they punch out their propaganda, would cause the Left to think more deeply about this, but at present partisanship rules in the USA and as long as OrangeManBad is banned it’s all good.

Even the Socialist Workers Party had their access restored so they were probably quite happy to drop the subject.

I covered a fair bit of this double standard bullshit on a previous post, The Purge, back in February, including this quote aimed at the hard-line, private-sector-rulz Right Wing:

To be frank, anyone still defending big tech is part of the problem. You are going to “muh private company” yourself until every semblance of freedom is lost on these monopolistic “public squares.” And while some may be naive enough to think the ban monster isn’t coming for them, the next four years are going to get worse. Twitter, Facebook, etc. have no fear anymore. Trump is gone. The GOP lost the Senate and no longer control the committees. It’s a free for all, and everyone except those who are in hock with social media monetarily (i.e. The Dispatch crew) are vulnerable.

On that last, you should also refer to the counter-argument about such “private” spaces in the post, Answers to Bad Anti-Free Speech Arguments.

Of course there are some governments that, as Tatinia McGrath spotted, FaceTwit are comfortable with, given that they slobber at the prospect of hundreds of millions of new customers.

But now the government of Nigeria has gone after Twitter.

This follows on from the government of Uganda doing the same thing to Facebook and Twitter back in January (Not Literary Folk), fearing that they might also choose political sides in their upcoming election as they had in the USA. The FaceTwit response then was to reveal that they have no idea what irony is.

“Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections.”

This time their reaction was a little different, if equally stupid:

Wait! What? Access to them is “an essential human right in modern society”. ?

I know a guy named Donald Trump and 75 million Americans who might want to dispute the commitment of you assholes to that “right”. Or those who want to report on Hunter “Cocaine” Biden’s laptop. Or discussing gender vs. biology. Or comment on some CCP prick lying about the Chinese Sinus AIDS virus. Or discuss Chinese lab leak “conspiracies”.

Yeah, it’s a “human right” unless, apparently, you say something that FaceTwit/Google/Amazon don’t like. Then you’re gone, or certainly what you had to say is gone or dumped into a cyber Black Hole from which it can’t spread.

Yeah. That’s not the way “human rights” work, fuckers.

Still, it’s nice to know that FaceTwit have willfully denied Trump an essential human right.

I say we burn them to the ground. Well, their server farms at least.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Another argument that is no longer off-limits

One of the detailed points of argument during the Great Chinese Lung Rot pandemic was around the definition of what actually constituted a Covid-19 death.

Early in the hysteria it was pointed out that deaths were being recorded as Covid simply because the patient had tested positive for Covid. This included even ridiculous examples such as deaths by car accident.

Naturally the pro-hysteria side, with the aid of the “If It Bleeds, It Leads” MSM, ferociously attacked such arguments. For the MSM it’s quite natural that the more death there is the better the story. That’s been true since the days of William Randolph Hearst and his famous “Sob Sisters” over a hundred years ago.

But even the medical “experts” had motive to push death numbers higher, since the more death there was the more likely they could persuade politicians and The People to undertake the extremist controls they advocated. Some of this was obvious with the pandemic models pushed by the likes of Neil Ferguson (“A spherical cow of uniform density in a frictionless vacuum“).

Naturally their counter-attacks against such critics focused on how you should not argue with medical experts, even though medical experts were among the critics of the Covid-death classifications. The motivations of the likes of Ferguson and company were not to be questioned, only those of their dastardly and uncaring opponents.

My, how things change when the motivations run the other way. In this case the criticism around deaths of people who have been vaccinated for Covid-19. Placed under such pressure, no less than the head of American Center for Disease Control (CDC) backs into …. the precise arguments put forward by critics of the Covid death counters.

Walensky is drawing a distinction between those who died directly because they got COVID and those who may have tested positive, but ultimately died of another comorbidity or condition. Now, to most people, that would seem like common sense. After all, why would you count someone with terminal cancer or an already failing heart as a COVID death – just because they had the virus when they died?

Obviously, what Walensky is saying is true. What we’ve known about COVID from early on from those hit the hardest told us that co-morbidities, including heart problems, lung problems, and morbid obesity, are the top factors, and that very old people (70+) naturally suffered more from the first two factors, hence them suffering a higher Covid-19 death rate than other age groups. If someone is otherwise terminally sick, even a mild case of Covid-19 could expedite matters – just as the Flu or Pneumonia normally does. The latter has long been called the “Old People’s Friend” for that very reason.

But the real point I want made clear here is that what Walensky is saying has previously been declared to be completely off-limits for over a year by the powers that be. In fact, it’s the kind of thing that has often gotten right wing-leaning sites in trouble with the social media censors of FaceTwit and company.

Yet, here is the Biden administration saying what was previously labeled as taboo, just because it now fits their narrative, which is driven by the motivation to reduce the death count rather than increase it because the latter would blow up the vaccination programmes. Meanwhile, the media don’t question it, and the social media overlords just shrug.

Oh, and the CDC has recently and rapidly shifted their positions on masks. Because Science.

The Purge

The Purge is a movie that has become a cult classic since its release in 2013.

A mix of SF and Horror, the basic plot of the movie is that a family in 2022 LA has to survive the one night of the year when all crime is allowed with no consequences:

In 2014, the New Founding Fathers of America, a totalitarian political party, are voted into office following an economic collapse. They pass a law sanctioning an annual “Purge”: for 12 hours each year all crime, including  murder,  arsontheft and rape, is legal during the period, except against government officials, and all emergency services are unavailable until 7 am. By 2022, the United States has become virtually crime-free and the unemployment rate has dropped to 1%.

Rick and Morty celebrate having purged the wealthy

My favourite parody of the movie is from the animated series Rick and Morty, “Look Who’s Purging Now” (the series itself is a parody of Back To The Future and its two main characters, Doc and Marty).

But let’s get back to reality. A couple of months ago I bookmarked a post by science writer Robert Zimmerman, which I felt was OTT pessimism, The Coming Purge:

Expect all Republicans and any fair-minded Democrats to be removed from the bureaucracy in the next four years, replaced by rapid partisan leftist progressives. Not only will the goal be to quickly consolidate their power, they will want to remove any questioning eyes as they reshape the laws to that end, sometimes illegally or inappropriately. Elections will be made less fair and easier to fake. Dissent will become more difficult, and carry worse consequences. Regulations will be honed to encourage their power, and to hobble their opponents.

It’s no longer over the top, starting with the removal of President Trump’s accounts from FaceTwat and extending to tens of thousands of followers of well-known Right-Wing voices:

There has been considerable talk about how this is all fine because of private property rights and “violating terms of service”, but it’s obvious that there is a political motivation and a bigotry at work here that’s no different than if it were aimed against religions or races, except those would be illegal:

Big Tech did not remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accounts when she called for “uprisings” against the Trump administration. Facebook and Twitter did not target Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she claimed that allegedly marginalized groups have “no choice but to riot.” These platforms did not act against Kamala Harris when she said the riots “should not” stop.

As that article points out, the likes of the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Centre) have already been weaponised against the Right, to the extent of labelling anti-abortion groups as “hate groups”. The SPLC has problems itself with decades-old racial discrimination and sexual harassment. When this blew up a few years ago one of the outcomes was former employees coming forward to expose the con of exaggerating hate to bilk donors. But no matter to the likes of Joe Biden who, in a CNN town hall in October 2019, called for a kind of terror watchlist (to which the SLPC would provide “information”) to monitor organisations that oppose same-sex marriage and transgender identity. Given the double standards already applied between the Antifa/BLM riots and the Capitol Building incident by the Democrat Party, nobody should be surprised if “hate groups” soon morph into “Domestic Terrorists”.

And if you think that is an exaggeration you could listen to a person with actual experience dealing with such things, Russian dissident politician Alexey Navalny:

“This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world,” he warned. “In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter.” 

He also pointed out the same double standard noted above for the likes of Pelosi, except that in his case:

“I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone (not that I ask for it). Among the people who have Twitter accounts are cold-blooded murderers (Putin or Maduro) and liars and thieves (Medvedev). For many years, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been used as a base for Putin’s ‘troll factory’ and similar groups from other authoritarian countries,”

The Silicon Valley giants had already done a dry run early in 2020 for a different event:

Before long, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg could be seen warning that the social media giant would delete any protests against the lockdown, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki declaring that any videos that contradicted WHO would be deleted, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates speculating about immunity passports.

But as bad as it may be for public folk like these it is the effects on the small-fry further down the food chain that are worse, like one of my go-to sites for Chicago-news-behind-the-scenes, Second City Cop. The inside information those two cops got fed by other working CPD cops was incredible. That link is actually to the WayBack Machine because as you can see they noted the purge and made the following prediction on Jan 9th:

Better view that video before it gets taken down. They’ll be coming after the blog shortly. Count on it.

And sure enough, on Jan 10 they were gone. All I could find was this statement released on a related news blog, Chicago Contrarian:

Over the weekend, we received information from a contact at Google that internal chat/e-mails led them to believe that certain precautions we had taken over the years had been breached by Google. We had gotten similar warnings from others in the past, and we dealt with or ignored them as the situation warranted. But this one was different. And this one – on the heels of Big Tech’s wholesale attack on the President, Parler and center-right to right-leaning authors, politicians and voices – pointed to a countdown that had far less time than we had thought. Most likely, far less time than you think, too. The blacklisting has begun, even if you won’t see it.

Even when it’s right in their faces.

At least the Second City cops were not going to be financially punished via social media, but radio host Robert Pratt certainly was as the purge has begun to extend far beyond the simple removal of Right Wing voices from Social Media:

Without warning the marketing heads of the corporation that manages the radio stations that air the conservative Pratt on Texas radio show for the past fifteen years announced today they were cancelling the program, despite its profitable status and high ratings.

Or how about this neonatal nurse and her business:

Cara Dumaplin, who for years has run very successful website called Taking Care of Babies, is now considered a “racist” and “hater” because she and her husband committed the unforgivable act of donating to the campaign of Donald Trump.

Luckily this guy was retired :

Elroy Stern, the 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran from Hustisford was working at his home Saturday when he was approached by three deputies from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department. He said he got the sense he was being questioned as some kind of suspected domestic terrorist or insurrectionist, descriptors used by liberal politicians and news outlets in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. It appears he was, according a copy of the incident report obtained by Empower Wisconsin under the state’s open records law. 

Lt. Robbie Weinfurter on Saturday afternoon was informed by an individual who “wanted to remain anonymous” that “Stern was trying to encrypt his phone and was planning on attending the Presidential Inauguration at the Wisconsin State Capitol with two other people”.

And? None of that is illegal. In the recent past a cop who got a phone call like that would have told the caller to shove it, but thanks to the screams about Right Wing Domestic Terrorism, faithfully echoed by a willing MSM, the cops are now obliged to investigate this crap. So Stern was then subject to questioning on his property in the presence of three sheriff’s deputies, about his integrity, patriotism, and his beliefs about the America he fought for so many years ago. All because some anonymous snitch felt that the elderly veteran concerned about election integrity who attends peaceful rallies was a threat.

Luckily the cops have not yet gone full Stasi, at least at the local level, but it’s early days in the Harris-Biden Administration and they have plenty of supporters like that snitch and one Arthur Chu:

The following effort won’t save any of us either, and it will start biting the Left on the bum as well:

There would be no end to what could be censored. Trans-sceptical feminists, already victims of Silicon Valley’s woke purges, would be completely wiped out on the basis that some idiot might interpret their intellectual, non-bigoted critiques of gender fluidity as an instruction to bash a trans person.

Which is why there has long been a clear distinction between actual “incitement to violence” by a speaker – versus the actions of people who merely think that what a speaker says is an instruction to take violent action and who then make the choice of their own volition, as did Bernie Bro, James T Hodgkinson, when he opened fire on Republican Congressman in 2017.

On this basis the White Album should be banned, given its songs ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Piggies’ were ‘mobilised by different audiences’ to terrible ends — the killings carried out by Charles Manson’s Family. Catcher in the Rye? Censor it. Don’t you remember how it ‘mobilised’ Mark David Chapman to kill John Lennon? As for the Bible, the Koran and any number of political texts and anthems — the risks of ‘mobilisation’ that they pose are clearly too great, so, to be on the safe side, let’s scrub those too.

And in fact the hits against the Left have already started – albeit in a small way compared to what’s hitting the US Right Wing – with Britain’s Socialist Workers Party being ripped off Facebook:

The party’s own page was removed and so were the pages of dozens of SWP activists. The SWP described FB’s actions as a ‘silencing of political activists’. They’re right. This was a unilateral act of ideological censorship carried out by the capitalist elites of Silicon Valley against a perfectly legal party based in the UK. It demonstrated the terrifying power of the Big Tech oligarchy, which clearly has no respect whatsoever for borders, territory or democratically made national laws and feels that it can reach into any nation state it chooses and switch off the oxygen of publicity to any party, group or individual it disapproves of. 

It should be noted that these dickheads have been front-and-centre on the whole De-Platforming, Blacklisting bullshit in Britain in the last decade, so watching them get a dose of their own medicine has been hilarious to watch, especially with all their subsequent squealing.

What’s more, the ideological justifications that the SWP and other leftists have put forward for these acts of censorship – the idea that ‘hateful’ speech must be suppressed, the idea that offensive ideas are wounding, the nasty patrician notion that minority groups need to be protected from difficult discussion by the authorities – have helped to shape the broader, off-campus culture of censorship...

all of this has been influenced by the modern left’s cultivation of a new form of therapeutic, paternalistic censorship that is designed to protect allegedly vulnerable individuals from the hurtful ideologies of right-wingers, critics of Islam, ‘transphobes’, etc etc.

I doubt they’ve learned anything, especially since their pages have since been restored on Facebook, an act of grace that will not be extended to voices on the Right.

Admittedly much the same could be said for the hard-line, private-sector-rules Right Wing. As this article pointed out to these idiots:

To be frank, anyone still defending big tech is part of the problem. You are going to “muh private company” yourself until every semblance of freedom is lost on these monopolistic “public squares.” And while some may be naive enough to think the ban monster isn’t coming for them, the next four years are going to get worse. Twitter, Facebook, etc. have no fear anymore. Trump is gone. The GOP lost the Senate and no longer control the committees. It’s a free for all, and everyone except those who are in hock with social media monetarily (i.e. The Dispatch crew) are vulnerable.

Instead of regulation or the “free market”, maybe the best idea is to pass a law allowing ordinary citizens to do whatever we want to the social media companies and their shitty management and employees for 12 hours once a year with no legal consequences.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 1, 2021 at 11:31 am

Bad Timing for Big Tech to pick a fight with the State

Google has threatened to pull its entire search engine capability from Australia.

This was made quite clear by their Australia-NZ Managing Director, Mel Silva, in his opening statement to the Australian Senate’s Economics Committee Inquiry:

“If this version of the Code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia. That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search.”

Given that Google dominates the online search engine market, with an incredible 88.14 percent market share (Oct ’20), that’s a substantial threat to those small businesses – and all of Australia.

Over the past few years there has been sporadic discussion in various nations about forcing the likes of Google to pay for the content of the news media that they link with. Naturally this has been proposed by the Legacy MSM, as they’ve watched their subscriptions nosedive and advertising revenue vanish into places like EBay, Craigs List and TradeMe since the early 2000’s. But Google is there as well, since it gets a small slice of the money when somebody finds a service or product they want to buy via the Google search engine.

But after all the talk, little has been done, even in Europe, until now.

The proposed Australian law would force digital platforms to enter into negotiations with news media companies to pay for content. If the tech companies and media companies fail to reach an agreement, the law would empower an arbiter to determine the payments. Google is obviously not happy about this, hence the threat.

Google’s larger problem is that in the wake of the things done by Big Tech in the recent US election, even Right-Wing political leaders who could normally be expected to defend business, aren’t quite that keen to do so any longer, as PM Scott Morrison made clear in response to a question at his latest press conference:

Let me be clear. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government and that’s how things work here in Australia and people who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.

Morrison is not the only leader that’s starting to push back against Big Tech. The nations of the European Union have long had the reputation of sticking it to America’s tech titans, as witnessed years ago when they levied a $US 794 million fine against Microsoft for its monopolistic practices against non-MS software products that needed to operate on MS Windows if they were to have a business.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH..(cough)

Google and Amazon make Microsoft look like pikers in the monopoly department, no more so than when they effectively destroyed a Facebook competitor, Parler, by denying to sell its online app (Google and Apple) and then denying it the servers it needed as a platform (Amazon).

That’s just the usual area of anti-trust and anti-monopoly law. But all this has happened in the wake of Facebook and Twitter banning the accounts of President Trump and thousands of Right-Wing online voices. The Euro’s, even hating Trump as they do, were not impressed:

“The fact that a CEO can pull the plug on POTUS’s loudspeaker without any checks and balances is perplexing,” wrote Thierry Breton, the European Union’s commissioner for the internal market on Politico. “It is not only confirmation of the power of these platforms, but it also displays deep weaknesses in the way our society is organized in the digital space.”

Merkel’s chief spokesperson Steffen Seibert said, “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance. “Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended.” He said that they didn’t have issue flagging a post. if it was ‘inaccurate, but that they should not be banning speech.

U.K Health Secretary Matt Hancock also blasted Big Tech for what they had done, for making “editorial decisions” which then raised a “very big question” about how social media is regulated. “That’s clear because they’re choosing who should and shouldn’t have a voice on their platform,” Hancock said.

And their had been earlier warnings, such as one from psychologist Robert Epstein (who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016):

“We’re finding very substantial pro-liberal bias in all ten or at least nine out of ten search results on the first page of Google search results… not on Bing or Yahoo though,” Epstein reported. “And we’re seeing that bias in every single demographic group. In fact, in one report we generated recently, we saw more liberal bias in Google content going to conservatives than going to liberals.”

It’s hardly a surprise that the California-based giants swing Democrat hard in their political donations. It literally goes with the territory.

A 2018 survey found that conservative employees in Silicon Valley tech companies live in fear that their political beliefs will be found out. James Damore said conservatives at Google are “in the closet” and that Google executives are digging through a secret email list in order to out them.

It’s never a good idea for any business, no matter how large, to pick political fights, because you can never guarantee that the side you pick will always be in power.

European politicians have a different motivation; they guard the power of the state much more closely and jealously than their counterparts in the USA, which has a history of not trusting government and supporting the private sector against governments. In the USA there are still Republicans who will defend the likes of Facebook and Google against the regulatory efforts of the EU and Australia, but after the stunts that Big Tech pulled before and after the US election against GOP voices, the ranks of those GOP defenders must be dwindling.

Ultimately it will be a combination of private and public sector efforts that are going to whittle away at the likes of Google, as happened with previous IT monsters like IBM and Microsoft.

And those efforts might be led by another super-rich person – actually the richest man on the planet at present – as shown by his re-Tweet of a Babylon Bee satirical article.

Elon Musk has long made known his displeasure about the likes of Facebook, on more than one occasion leading chants of “Fuck Zuck. Fuck Zuck“, as he did just the other day when he playfully discussed buying Facebook:

“You know, when I told some close confidantes about this idea of mine, they all wanted to know what I’d do with Facebook,” Musk explained. “And as much as I know people like to use it as the Internet’s premier ex-girlfriend or boyfriend stalking platform, I think I have much better solution, and I mean better for the species, if not our entire planet.”

Musk showed the investors in the room an animated video that detailed his plans for Facebook. The video shows a SpaceX Falcon rocket blasting off into the sky. At one point the two solid boosters fall off and glide on a precise path down to the landing pad. Both rockets land perfectly square, and one ends up resting gently on a big red button labeled “DELETE.”

“And you can see that the second side booster would end up pressing the delete button,” Musk said. “Which would send a proton torpedo down the exhaust port of Facebook’s headquarters, triggering a chain reaction that should destroy the platform.”

He’s got my support. Google and their ilk need to wake up to the fact that they’re making a lot of political and business enemies very quickly.

Written by Tom Hunter

January 23, 2021 at 8:29 am

The Trouble With Big Tech

I’ve often said that in a Web world dominated by the Social Media sites that have emerged over the last decade, the world of internet blogs that pre-dated Facebook, Twitter and other such sites, should be prepared to support eachother.

I’ve long concluded that it was a mistake for any political groups to abandon the free-wheeling world of the Web, circa 2000-2010, for these corporate walled gardens and I hope to see a reversal over time. Right now in the USA the Left, despite some grumbling, continues to play ball with FaceTwit Inc., but that’s only because they appear to be all in on the Democrat side in this election. That will not always be the case.

The time to hit back seems more appropriate than ever in the wake of Twitter and company trying to crack down and restrict the New York Post’s detailed reports on Hunter Biden’s corruption and the links with his father. While it’s nice to know that the Streisand Effect has taken off, with the story now exploding across the non-MSM world, it’s a pointer to an Nineteen Eighty Four future, albeit not precisely the one imagined by Orwell.

To that end there was an article written the other day by Tennessee law professor, Glenn Reynolds, that addressed these Social Media companies, what they have been doing and what may happen as a consequence. Reynolds is the author of Instapundit, one of the oldest blogs, and his latest article merely referenced the Hunter Biden scandal. However, that was enough for the newspaper USA Today to refuse to print it, after years of publishing his thoughtful pieces. So to that end, here it is in full. The original, complete with links I’ve not included here, can be found at here at Instapundit.

BIG TECH BURNED BY BIDEN BLUNDER

by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

In my 2019 book, The Social Media Upheaval, I warned that the Big Tech companies — especially social media giants like Facebook and Twitter — had grown into powerful monopolists, who were using their power over the national conversation to not only sell ads, but also to promote a political agenda. That was pretty obvious last year, but it was even more obvious last week, when Facebook and Twitter tried to black out the New York Post’s blockbuster report about emails found on a laptop abandoned by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

The emails, some of which have been confirmed as genuine with their recipients, show substantial evidence that Hunter Biden used his position as Vice President Joe Biden’s son to extract substantial payments from “clients” in other countries. There are also photos of Hunter with a crack pipe, and engaging in various other unsavory activities. And they demolished the elder Biden’s claim that he never discussed business with his son.

That’s a big election-year news story. Some people doubted its genuineness, and of course it’s always fair to question a big election-year news story, especially one that comes out shortly before the election. (Remember CBS newsman Dan Rather’s promotion of what turned out to be forged memos about George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service?)

But the way you debate whether a story is accurate or not is by debating. (In the case of the Rather memos, it turned out the font was from Microsoft Word, which of course didn’t exist back during the Vietnam War era.) Big Tech could have tried an approach that fostered such a debate. But instead of debate, they went for a blackout: Both services actually blocked links to the New York Post story. That’s right: They blocked readers from discussing a major news story by a major paper, one so old that it was founded by none other than Alexander Hamilton.

I wasn’t advising them — they tend not to ask me for my opinion — but I would have advised against such a blackout. There’s a longstanding Internet term called “the Streisand effect,” going back to when Barbara Streisand demanded that people stop sharing pictures of her beach house. Unsurprisingly, the result was a massive increase in the number of people posting pictures of her beach house. The Big Tech Blackout produced the same result: Now even people who didn’t care so much about Hunter Biden’s racket nonetheless became angry, and started talking about the story.

As lefty journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Intercept, Twitter and Facebook crossed a line far more dangerous than what they censored. Greenwald writes: “Just two hours after the story was online, Facebook intervened. The company dispatched a life-long Democratic Party operative who now works for Facebook — Andy Stone, previously a communications operative for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, among other D.C. Democratic jobs — to announce that Facebook was ‘reducing [the article’s] distribution on our platform’: in other words, tinkering with its own algorithms to suppress the ability of users to discuss or share the news article. The long-time Democratic Party official did not try to hide his contempt for the article, beginning his censorship announcement by snidely noting: ‘I will intentionally not link to the New York Post.’”

“Twitter’s suppression efforts went far beyond Facebook’s. They banned entirely all users’ ability to share the Post article — not just on their public timeline but even using the platform’s private Direct Messaging feature.”

“Early in the day, users who attempted to link to the New York Post story either publicly or privately received a cryptic message rejecting the attempt as an ‘error.’ Later in the afternoon, Twitter changed the message, advising users that they could not post that link because the company judged its contents to be ‘potentially harmful.’ Even more astonishing still, Twitter locked the account of the New York Post, banning the paper from posting any content all day and, evidently, into Thursday morning.”

This went badly. The heads Facebook and of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, are now facing Senate subpoenas, the RNC has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, arguing that Twitter’s action in blacking out a damaging story constituted an illegal in-kind donation to the Biden Campaign, and most significantly, everyone is talking about the story now, with many understandably assuming that if the story were false, it would have been debunked rather than blacked out.

CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted: ”Congrats to Twitter on its Streisand Effect award!!!” Big Tech shot itself in the foot, and it didn’t stop the signal.

Regardless of who wins in November, it’s likely that there will be substantial efforts to rein in Big Tech. As Greenwald writes, “State censorship is not the only kind of censorship. Private-sector repression of speech and thought, particularly in the internet era, can be as dangerous and consequential. Imagine, for instance, if these two Silicon Valley giants united with Google to declare: henceforth we will ban all content that is critical of President Trump and/or the Republican Party, but will actively promote criticisms of Joe Biden and the Democrats.

“Would anyone encounter difficulty understanding why such a decree would constitute dangerous corporate censorship? Would Democrats respond to such a policy by simply shrugging it off on the radical libertarian ground that private corporations have the right to do whatever they want? To ask that question is to answer it.”

“To begin with, Twitter and particularly Facebook are no ordinary companies. Facebook, as the owner not just of its massive social media platform but also other key communication services it has gobbled up such as Instagram and WhatsApp, is one of the most powerful companies ever to exist, if not the most powerful.”

He’s right. And while this heavyhanded censorship effort failed, there’s no reason to assume that other such efforts won’t work in the future. Not many stories are as hard to squash as a major newspaper’s front page expose during an presidential election.

As I wrote in The Social Media Upheaval, the best solution is probably to apply antitrust law to break up these monopolies: Competing companies would police each other, and if they colluded could be prosecuted under antitrust law. There are also moves to strip them of their immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from being sued for things posted or linked on their sites on the theory that they are platforms, not publishers who make publication decisions. And Justice Clarence Thomas has recently called for the Supreme Court to revisit the lower courts’ interpretation of Section 230, which he argues has been overbroad. A decade ago there would have been much more resistance to such proposals, but Big Tech has tarnished its own image since then.

Had Facebook and Twitter approached this story neutrally, as they would have a decade ago, it would probably already be old news to a degree — as Greenwald notes, Hunter’s pay-for-play efforts were already well known, if not in such detail — but instead the story is still hot. More importantly, their heavy handed action has brought home just how much power they wield, and how crudely they’re willing to wield it. They shouldn’t be surprised at the consequences.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 21, 2020 at 6:22 am

No Parody. Only Truth

I’m not on Twitter. Even when it was just starting years ago it gave off the sort of vibe that attracts people who love amphetamines.

Since then it’s become possibly the most toxic social media site there is. Tumblr comes close but it seems more personally insane than political, although my kids argue that it has unleashed more cultural trends, ones that were previously hidden away.

But if there’s one person on Twitter that’s worth following it’s this one: Titania McGrath.

What we call “illness” is a social construct, defined negatively against its antithesis “wellness”. Society, in other words, has created the category of “illness” as a means to impose power on those who do not subscribe to cultural norms of what it means to be “well”. Health” and “wellness” are mere taxonomies of privilege, inculcated by the hegemonic and oppressive discourses of “medical science”. Referring to someone as “well” or “ill”, “healthy” or “unhealthy”, is simply the medicalisation of human diversity.

For this, Twitter banned Titania. But only for a day or so. Zer 500k+ followers made themselves known to Twitter management and Ze was reinstated to continue her explorations of the fine line between insanity and genius.

The hierarchical dichotomy of “well” and “ill” are co-constituting, each one creating the other through a process of performativity. Moreover, science is an irredeemably white, patriarchal, cisnormative fiction that exists only to disempower marginalised identities.

Just as heterosexism posits the supremacy of heterosexuality to queerness, healthism situates wellness as the default experience of humanity in order to stigmatise illness as inherently deviant. These assumptions deny the performative nature of illness and wellness towards a neoliberal goal: individual autonomy as a means to secure labour (i.e., a “healthy workforce”) for the benefit of the capitalist system.

Titania is actually the creation of a comedian, Andrew Doyle. She’s not a real person.

But she could so easily be.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

More News From Airstrip One

Things have got so bad in Britain with regard to civil liberities that there are Conservatives calling for Big Brother type monitoring in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and any others that turn up in the future.

But as always the Conservatives are behind in bending the arc of history as news seeps out – buried as it is by Chinese Lung AIDS hysteria – that the British Labour Party has already taken the lead, with leaked reports of internal faction fights:

Labour’s former general secretary Iain McNicol has stepped down from the party’s frontbench in the House of Lords while an investigation is carried out into claims former senior officials sought to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Lord McNicol was nominated for a peerage by Corbyn after resigning as general secretary in February 2018.

An 860-page report, which was leaked to Sky News at the weekend, includes lengthy extracts of private WhatsApp conversations between former senior Labour staff in which they are scathing about leftwing MPs and advisers – and Corbyn himself.

So far, so what?. There are always faction fights inside political parties and Corbyn’s entire reign was legendary for them from the start. For the most part the juicy bits from the report are around accusations of sexism, racism, anti-semitism, ableism and all the rest of today’s tiresome cliches.

But what should really concern people, Labour members or not, was that the report also revealed that Labour spied on its own people (quote from the report itself):

You got that? Labour worked with Twitter and Facebook to uncover the identity of Labour members. As the author of that last blog site (he’s a British lawyer) points out:

It is worth turning to the Data Protection Principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, which was in force at the time (replaced by the EU General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 in May 2018). The principles were set out in section 4 (archive) and Schedule 1 (archive).

Of especial relevance, these principles included processing data, “fairly”, holding data that was “not excessive”. Fairness usually means notifying members of the way their data will be used. A quick glance at Labour’s current terms on its, ‘Join’ page does say that email addresses will be used to contact members. It says nothing about consenting to Orwellian real time monitoring for wrongthink.

Even the Labour staff involved in the investigation are said to have described their software as a “Stasi” system, intentionally likening themselves to the feared and hated secret police in Soviet-era East Germany.

Of course! No matter how high tech the system is it needs people to run it, and those people have to like it and celebrate themselves as the good guys, including making mocking references to themselves that reveal not shame-faced embarrassment but pride that they’re part of a “Stasi”-like system.

And it’s not just the staff. The report itself uses that term.

That software and the way it worked was only possible with the assistance of Facebook and Twitter, and the lawyer sums it up pretty well:

This is probably the most sinister thing I have ever seen ever out of Big Tech. A major political Party, conspiring with the world’s two largest social media companies, to scan its members feeds and expel or suspend them for “incorrect” views. I would say it should be against the law but of course it is. Anyone affected by this has the right to sue Labour for injury to feelings. That even includes people not suspended.

And just think what they’d do to you if this is how they treat their own privileged members!

Written by Tom Hunter

May 1, 2020 at 2:09 am

Agitprop for the Social Media Age

Many of our commentators continue to supply much Leftist boilerplate abuse and after these recent ones…

… bears similarities to your poster boy, Tommy Robertson.
….That’s the thing about fascists – believe what they say because they say what they want to impoose on the rest of us.
….I get that you don’t like ANTIFA as they are the bulwark standing against the neo-nazis you so admire and cheer on.
…The Reich Wing…

… I figured other people would get a laugh out of recent Jonathan Pie “doco”.

Naturally I’m not expecting the generators of comments like the above to get this at all. In fact I’m waiting to find out that both the character and the actor behind him, Tom Walker, are “reactionary fascists” or some such.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 22, 2020 at 11:15 pm

Fun and Truth

I’ve never been a fan of Twitter as it seems to encourage the worst of human discourse. And I really wish Trump would stop using it in the manner that he does.
Having said that, it was one of his primary weapons in becoming POTUS, and certainly enables him to get around the traditional gatekeepers of the MSM, and this does seem to be the way of the political world now, judging by AOC’s success from the Democrat side.
But there are moments when Twitter works and Trump is genuinely funny as he trolls the living shit out of his enemies, and this is one of those:
As usual Trump picks at the key weakness of his opponents. In this case it’s Iran’s technical competence and their paranoia, both real and fake, about the secret machinations of the Great Satan inside the Iranian nation. But he’s also keeping Iran’s ballistic missile program in front of the public.
One of the “tells” that the Iranians continue to push toward getting an atomic bomb at some point, is that missile program. If you want to deliver high explosive warheads to a target, there are far more accurate ways of doing so, and this has been the case for so many decades that the last time ballistic missiles were used for such purposes was Saddam’s Scud attacks during the First Gulf War, and the Nazi V2 attacks in WWII, almost fifty years earlier. Niether of which were very effective, tactically or strategically.
With their inherent inaccuracies – in an age when combatants want to be precise enough to drop a bomb through a window from 10,000m up in the sky, and when the technology for this is easily obtainable – ballistic missiles nowadays are useful for only one thing: carrying nuclear warheads.
==================
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Twitter’s design that forces people to shorten and sharpen up a message, has resulted in this pointed and effective comment about that other great electoral upheaval of 2016 – BREXIT:

If the “serious scholars” are political scientists, then I can’t see that last point even being introduced for discussion, despite there being so many parallels between the great religious upheavals of the past and what seems to be happening now across Western secular society.

Historians with a theological background will have a better chance of explaining it.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 30, 2019 at 11:18 pm

Facebook: Why Adern & Macron may get their wish

Jenna Ellis Rives is a constitutional lawyer and author, but she was part of the Trump campaign, which is likely why this sharing of Matt Walsh’s mockery resulted in the breaching of Facebook’s “hate speech standards”.
Similarly on Wednesday, Twitter suspended the account of Greg Scott, director of media at the incredibly evil Heritage Foundation. Scott tweeted out the same article I referred to here on No Minister a couple of weeks ago, about a guy who identifies as a woman and was booted from competing in women’s weightlifting.
Wonder how long Julia Beck and Miriam Ben-Shalom, as just two feminist examples, will last on FB and Twitter?
My bet is that after 24-48 hours or so Facebook will lift the block and “apologise”, but that’s geological ages in social media world: nice way to bury opposing arguments in the heat of debate.
Maybe blogs will make a come back?
Either way these companies should not look to the GOP or any right-wingers with our usual support for free enterprise, when the Democrats and EU come hunting for scalps at Google, Facebook and the others. Let them burn in their own fire.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 17, 2019 at 9:06 pm