Automatic, real-time censorship… the future of the Internet?

I might consider that headline alarmist, except that it’s already happening in China, and it appears to be on the way in this country too – driven by ideologically motivated corporate executives who are also politicians.

First, China.  Technology Review reports (bold, underlined text in all quoted excerpts is my emphasis):

WeChat is a window into the future of the internet in many different ways.

Based in China and boasting over 1.1 billion global users, it’s one of the world’s most advanced and popular apps. What’s remarkable is the way it reaches into so many corners of a Chinese person’s life: it’s the way much of the country chats, pays, plays, moves, and much more. As Mark Zuckerberg contemplates the future of Facebook, it’s increasingly WeChat he’s trying to emulate.

There’s more to this so-called “super app” than messaging, food, cars, and payments. The all-encompassing ambition of WeChat includes some of the most cutting-edge, quick-acting, and far-reaching censorship technology on earth.

New research from the University of Toronto’s CitizenLab pulls the curtain back on how WeChat’s real-time, automatic censorship of text and images is used to exert control over political discussion on topics ranging from international issues like the trade war with the US to domestic scandals like the disappearance of court documents in a 2018 dispute between two multibillion-dollar Chinese mining companies. All discussion is ultimately subject to the Chinese government’s approval.

. . .

“This has really become a mega-app,” says Sarah Cook, the senior research analyst for East Asia at the pro-democracy research group Freedom House. “It’s really hard to function in modern Chinese society without using WeChat, and so the chilling effect is real.”

There’s more at the link.

Think that won’t happen in these “democratic” United States?  Think again.  I’m obliged to The Silicon Graybeard for mentioning a very interesting – and chilling – piece of research from Spinquark.  Regardless of your political affiliation, if this doesn’t scare you, there’s something wrong with you – because if one side of the political spectrum can do this, so can the other side.  It’s an existential threat to freedom in the raw, not just to shades of opinion.

… what if I told you a Policy Director at Facebook was Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff before taking said job directing policy at Facebook? What if I told you the head of algorithm policy at Facebook worked for Hillary at The State Department? Or that the Head of Content Policy worked for the Hillary presidential campaign? What if I told you the person in charge of privacy policy at Facebook used to work for Al Franken, before he worked for Senator Bonoff, before he worked for Congressman Oberstar? Or that the Director in charge of “countering hate and extremism” at Facebook came from the Clinton Foundation? Did you know that the person at Facebook who currently “oversees programs on countering hate speech and promoting pluralism”, and “develops internal third party education and drives thought leadership on hate speech and content moderation” was one of Obama’s policy advisers at The White House? … Why does Facebook have someone whose job is to show others how to use their platform as a type of privatized government and “exert influence” over the public? And what exactly does it mean for Facebook to “exert influence” over the public?

. . .

What if I told you a Policy Manager at YouTube, before becoming a Policy Manager at YouTube, was employed by Hillary for America and was a manager in Obama’s campaign before that? What if I told you YouTube’s Global Content Policy Lead previously worked at the DNC? Did you know the person responsible for “growing the next generation of stars” on YouTube worked in the Office of Digital Strategy at the White House under Obama? Or that the person in charge of developing the careers of YouTube creators was the Director of Video for Obama? Speaking of helping the careers of creators, did you know Vox, the company that got Steven Crowder demonetized, was one of the companies that YouTube doled out $20 million dollars to, for ‘educational videos’?

Ten people, directly connected to the progressive Democrat political machine who are now controlling our conversations online. Sounds like an important alarm, no?

What if I told you there were nearly a hundred more?

. . .

Each day we wake up and see the latest way conservative voices are being censored, shadowbanned, silently deleted, hidden from view, buried in searches, algorithmed out of existence … These aren’t just Democratic voters, but former employees from the DNC, from the offices of Pelosi, Hillary, Obama, Feinstein, Giffords, Schumer, Reid, Planned Parenthood, even Rachel Maddow, who are migrating en masse to gate-keeping positions in social media companies … They are taking up residency in the policy departments across the web; shaping the conversation, pushing agendas, picking who gets featured, deciding who gets blocked, judging who gets banned for life, dictating the parameters of the algorithms we’ll never be allowed to see, and making cases for censorship – that always seem to ratchet in one direction.

They cannot stop speech at the government level, it would never get past the Constitutional review. But private companies do not need to abide by the Constitution. As our lives become digital conduits that flow through private companies, they have congregated at the helms of these companies, silencing the right starting with the fringe and working their way in as far as they possibly can.

Again, more at the link.

Spinquark says of itself, in a request for support:  “In the following months Spinquark will begin leading the charge to fight back, to equal the playing field and to apply truth to power. Please Join Us.”  Based on the report quoted above, I’m certainly interested.  I’m not going to commit to supporting it yet, because I want to find out more first;  but it’s a fight that needs fighting.  That’s a good starting point.

Oh – and in case you think Spinquark’s claims are far-fetched, and would never amount to a threat to democracy by private US companies . . . try this for size.  Despite what left-wing and progressive politicians and media would have you believe, this video is entirely factual.  Nothing’s made up at all.  I think this may be one of the most important videos published online this year.  Do please watch it – if necessary, schedule time for it in your busy day.  It’s that important.

Think that video is staged or somehow contrived?  Think again.  Its factual nature is demonstrated and supported, IMHO, by a recent Facebook patent for censoring online comments that Gizmodo – anything but a conservative source – decried yesterday as “Facebook Patents Shadowbanning“.  That video foreshadows reality.  It’s not far-fetched at all.

Do, please, investigate the sources I’ve linked above for yourselves, and decide for yourselves whether or not this threat is real.  I think it is – and I’m not just saying that because of my own political views.  I don’t vote for a party;  I vote for an individual, and will vote for either a Republican or a Democrat, depending on whether that particular candidate is worthy of support.  I’m pretty much a centrist, albeit with a more conservative moral perspective (faith-based rather than political) that’s conditioned by my age, upbringing and experiences.

The real threat is that, if one side of the political spectrum can dominate online discourse in this way, so can the other side, if they can figure out a way to reverse things.  It’s not so much which side is doing it as that any side is doing it.  Our freedom is genuinely at risk when, as Dr. Robert Epstein suggests, “”Liberal tech companies … can shift upwards of 15 million votes with no one knowing they’ve been manipulated, and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace”.   Would liberals be happy if conservatives could do that?  Of course they wouldn’t – but then, why are they happy at the prospect that they may be able to do that?  It’s very much a two-edged sword.

Peter

6 comments

  1. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for all Democrats, and the Democrat agenda. Democrats enforce party discipline.

    A vote for a Republican is a vote for an individual, under the party leadership. The leadership hates us, and the individuals are, oddly enough, disorganized.

  2. BFD.

    You cannot suppress free speech. Even in China, the USSR and Nazi Germany, where the wrong opinions could get you shot… people knew the score. Any time the Donks open their mouths chances are they are lying and the truth is about 180 degrees from what they’re telling you. The New York Times is a fount of truth and information – if you know how to read it. Guys.. we all know how these morons roll.

    Chill out. If Bookface or Twatter are ticking you off… quit! You don’t need them. The fact is that if every conservative walked away from them today, they would be on the ropes and begging you to come back tomorrow. They need you far more than you need them. Or you can stay and beg Lefty to treat you fairly, and good luck with that. This is only a dilemma for stupid people.

  3. The way around this censorship is to simply use other platforms. Instead of facebook, go back to blogging. Instead of Google, use Duckduckgo as a search engine. Nearly all of the stuff I look at on the net are independent blogs, like this one, that I find from cross links on other blogs (for example, Captain Capitalism). I am on facebook primarily because there are life extension and stem cell groups that routinely link to research papers in these areas that I download and read. If these moved off of facebook, I probably would not use it much.

  4. ” Nearly all of the stuff I look at on the net are independent blogs, like this one, that I find from cross links on other blogs (for example, Captain Capitalism).”

    Both blogs you mentioned are hosted/run by blogspot… A Google company. Look at the shadow banning done by Twitter. Now take that and let Google run with that, shadow banning blogs. Oh they’ll let Peter post here at BRM, or Aaron over at Captain Capitalism, but no one else will be able to see it, or find it. Amazon hosts TONS of sites, they have lots of power in this arena as well.

    Like it or not, there’s way too much power and influence at stake to just say “get off their platforms” or “go analog”. A lot of folks these days, in a big generational cross-section, are almost entirely digital, the only way to engage with them, to change opinions, and fight the brainwashing is digitally. We can’t just run off and stick our heads in the sand.

  5. If you completely ignore the effect it had on the thinking of those not aware of that, sure. You think you can’t be outvoted by the ignorant/gullible/evil?

  6. DuckDuckGo uses Google and other search engines. What it provides is non-trackable searches, not searches guaranteed to be unfiltered by liberal biases.

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