Monday, 10 September 2018

Backlash to Online Censorship

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While the bulk of liberals may be celebrating the suppression of free speech on the Internet, some liberals who believe in free speech and most conservatives are angry.

 

While the escalating social-media censorship against conservatives has been shocking, with the organized Big Tech takedown of Infowars sparking alarm worldwide, the backlash has been fierce, too. On both the Left and the Right, among hardcore liberals and conservatives, outrage over the censorship is exploding. Even completely apolitical voices joined the outcry. Perhaps the most influential man in news, Matt Drudge, has helped give Alex Jones a megaphone by putting his material online. And a recent Pew survey revealed that about three-fourths of American adults realize that the major social-media and technology companies are censoring views they do not like — especially conservative views. Ironically, though, the efforts to silence prominent voices appear to be backfiring in spectacular fashion.  

Matt Drudge, the ostensibly somewhat conservative publisher of the enormously influential Drudge Report, boasted on Twitter that Jones “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” On his website, he has continued to post Infowars content — especially about the censorship — in a prominent location on his site, expanding its reach by many millions. One of many articles Drudge has linked to is headlined “Bans don’t seem to be lessening reach of Alex Jones, InfoWars.” Plus, the media titan has linked to more than a few Infowars articles and videos giving Jones’ side of the story.  

Contrary to the establishment narrative, plenty of old-school liberals and liberal organizations have also spoken out against the censorship. Among the early voices to jump in was MIT linguistics professor and internationally known radical leftist Noam Chomsky. “What I’ve seen of what he does is outrageous, but unlike many civil libertarians here and especially in other countries, I don’t think that the right way to deal with ‘hate speech’ and crazed fabrications is to ban them,” Chomsky said in an e-mail. “The real story about marginalization of opinion and information is, as always, radically different, and undiscussed.”

Another prominent liberal who defended Jones was far-left HBO host Bill Maher. Claiming that Jones had told “crazy lies” about him, Maher nevertheless said, “If you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech.” “That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means. We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country,” the notorious anti-Christian activist continued. “If you care about the real American s**t or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak.”

Even the far-left New York Times conceded in a report documenting how Facebook overlord Mark Zuckerberg made the decision to ban Jones that “both fans and critics of Infowars can probably agree that a system in which one executive can decide to shut off a news organization’s access to a large portion of its audience is hardly ideal.”

The ultra-far-left American Civil Liberties Union also sided with Jones. ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project Fellow Vera Eidelman even said this would blow up in liberals’ faces. “While private companies can choose what to take down from their sites, the fact that social media platforms like Facebook have become indispensable platforms for the speech of billions means that they should resist calls to censor offensive speech,” she said in a statement. “The recent decision by Facebook and YouTube to take down Alex Jones’s content may have provided a quick solution to a challenging situation, but encouraging these companies to silence individuals in this way will backfire.”

As expected, most right-wing groups are speaking out against the bans. Even some legacy media outlets in competition with Jones for readers have jumped in to defend Infowars and oppose the censorship. The Washington Times actually went even further, suggesting that the reason the Big Tech companies were censoring Jones was to cozy up to the murderous regime enslaving China. “Where Alex Jones has been very spot on is the threat that communist China poses to our future and our way of life, and how this threat has corrupted our government, our education system and much of our hi-tech industry,” explained L. Todd Wood in an opinion and analysis piece for the Times. “Did you know that Google just opened an artificial intelligence center in China, formed to help China jump ahead of the United States in this crucial technology?... Did you know Apple is assisting China in its vast Orwellian censorship of the internet by deleting apps off its platform China doesn’t like?”

After documenting the fact that the Communist Chinese dictatorship is pursuing global domination and is increasingly in bed with America’s tech giants, Wood suggested Beijing may have had something to do with it. “Now the de-platforming of Alex Jones makes perfect sense. I can see a conversation between Beijing and our tech titans, ‘Get rid of Alex Jones or else,’” Wood wrote. The news comes amid growing concerns in Congress and across America about Silicon Valley’s increasingly suspicious relationship with the totalitarian mass-murderers in Beijing.

Former congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, perhaps the most influential voice in what is known as the “Liberty Movement,” also spoke out. “The banning of Alex Jones is being orchestrated by people who do not like him and want to shut him down,” observed Paul in the August 14 episode of his online Ron Paul Liberty Report, urging viewers to keep the pressure on. “It looks on the surface like they’re doing this, but I would suspect in the last month or two there are more people that know about Alex Jones. When you look at the people that go to his sites and people that are looking up Alex Jones, I mean, it’s massive, it’s not tens of thousands, it’s literally into the millions. So maybe this all will backfire.... This might give him a boost.”

On August 18, the president of the United States joined in the growing outcry. “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices,” Trump wrote in a series of social-media posts. “Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others. Censorship is a very dangerous thing and absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, and yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don’t watch at all. Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good and bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!”

Aside from a handful of neoconservatives associated with the neocon journal Weekly Standard, conservatives have been nearly unanimous in their criticism of the censorship.

Apolitical voices joined in too. A Swedish video-game star known as PewDiePie, YouTube’s most popular content creator, with a shocking 65 million subscribers, blasted YouTube and the other Internet giants for purging Alex Jones and Infowars. “For people who don’t know Alex Jones, and the reasoning being so vague, how do you break four different community guidelines on four different websites, at the same time?” he wondered in a YouTube video, condemning “censorship” while praising Twitter for refusing to go along with the mob. “Maybe I’m too naive, but if you don’t like someone or something, you speak up against it, you don’t shut them out, you don’t remove them.”

Americans, by and large, seem to agree. Google data shows that searches for Infowars shot up 50-fold in the two days following the ban. For the seven days following the mass bans, searches were up 1,300 percent. Infowars mobile apps also shot up to number one in popularity for both iPhones and Androids in the news category after the ban, leaving competitors such as CNN in the dust. On both systems, the Infowars app was trending. And perhaps even better news for Infowars was that it received the highest traffic it ever received, and the most listeners, according to Jones. The company also reported more than 5.5 million new subscribers to its newsletter in the 48 hours immediately after the ban, more than making up for the lost reach on social-media platforms. “We’ve never had this much people signing up for our news letter, podcast, video feeds, they’re all hitting subscribe, subscribe, subscribe,” Jones said.  

But this battle is far from over. If censoring conservatives online does not have the desired effect the globalist establishment will find new tactics. And without a determined response to Big Tech’s attacks by those who value liberty and truth, the globalists may succeed. The backlash to the purge is a very good start, but the battle must continue for freedom to prevail.

 

This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2018 print edition of The New American. The New American publishes a print magazine twice a month, covering issues such as politics, money, foreign policy, environment, culture, and technology. To subscribe, click here.

 

Related articles:

Big Tech Censors Alex Jones — Who’s Next?

The Way Forward: Bypassing Big Tech Censorship

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