The internet has revolutionized the way contrarian’s are able to present facts and evidence to challenge the official version of events presented by government and media mass manipulators. But with all the talk of fake news over the past year, internet giants are increasingly clamping down on free speech and curtailing search results to include only the sources information overlords want you to see.
All of the biggest players in tech are currently working on efforts to remove “fake news” and misinformation from their information streams using a combination of algorithms, peer reporting, human moderators and partnerships with established fact-checking organizations.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the truth is any more likely to win out online.
OnlineCensorship.org reports that efforts to control “fake news” are largely subject to human error and bias as well as government manipulation:
[M]istakes and inconsistencies in identifying fake news are inevitable, whether identification depends on algorithms or human labor. Social media platforms already fail to offer sufficient redress when mistakes in content moderation occur, and have made little effort to establish transparency toward their users in their content moderation practices. Efforts to step up moderation must be accompanied by efforts to improve transparency and avenues for recourse.
Furthermore, governments have a strong interest in the control of fake news, since fake news can often influence elections. Expecting social media companies to take responsibility for fake news may open them up to further pressure by governments, including non-democratic governments. In the same vein, governments and government officials themselves are often the purveyors of fake news and misinformation. While fake news is a problem, freedom of expression advocates are concerned that efforts to combat fake news may lead to increased censorship of real news and accurate information and the favoring of “trusted” mainstream media sources, which offer a limited and narrow lens of the world.
In other words, tech company efforts to make sure you don’t have to worry whether what you’re reading or watching is the truth mean little more than an assurance that they’re peddling the establishment-approved truth on any given issue.
It’s group-think at its finest.
Take, for instance, the current national conversation involving bump-stocks like those used during the Las Vegas mass shooting earlier this month. YouTube has quietly taken to eliminating videos showing the devices because lawmakers, the media and even the NRA have begun calling the devices too dangerous for even responsible Americans to own.
As Reason reported Tuesday:
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, both Republicans and Democrats have said they’d support a ban on bump stocks, which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire more rapidly. Even the National Rifle Association has semi-endorsed “additional regulations” on the devices.
Now YouTube is getting in on the action.
The video hosting website has been taking down videos depicting the installation or even the mere use of bump stocks. These removals appear to have started on October 6, when a number of prominent firearms channels received notifications from YouTube that their videos featuring bump stocks were a violation of community guidelines on harmful or dangerous content.
The channels were also awarded a community standards “strike,” which comes with the suspension of features like live streaming.
“Three strikes and you’re done on YouTube and that’s my livelihood,” says Tim Harmsen, owner of the YouTube channel Military Arms. For the past three years, Harmsen’s main source of income has come from his channel, where he posts demonstrations and reviews of firearms and accessories.
Harmsen received a strike for his four-year-old video SSAK-47 Bump Fire Stock for the AK by Slide Fire Solution, which depicts the use of a bump stock. The penalty, he tells Reason, came as a shock.
“No warning. Nothing. I logged into YouTube on the 7th after traveling and I’m greeted with a big orange page telling me I’m in violation of community standards and offending videos have been removed.”
This is just the latest example of YouTube attacking expression that its moderators don’t like. There have been several reports in the last year that the video sharing website is demonetizing videos that belong to popular conservative commentators or “creators” who speak on controversial topics in an effort to remain advertiser friendly.
And YouTube certainly isn’t alone in pushing softsoap content standards.
The problem here is that, at a time when the mainstream media’s reporting seldom makes sense (check out the bizarre coverage of the Las Vegas incident) contrarian opinions and the findings of independent researchers are simply being discounted without consideration.
You have to be “credentialed” to provide useful input, say members of the status quo.
What does that really mean? You have the approval of the information gatekeepers interested in controlling the message.