Thursday, 21 May 2020

Facebook Censors PragerU for “Sharing of False News”

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Conservative non-profit PragerU is again under attack by big-tech censors. This time, Facebook has moved to bury content of PragerU due to “repeated sharing of false news.” The trigger for this newest incident of big tech censorship? Polar bears.

Facebook has reportedly reduced the distribution of PragerU videos over an “independent” fact check of a video that references the work of Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist who studies polar bears. The “independent fact checker” used to justify the censorship was, apparently, climate-alarmist website Climate Feedback.

 

 

Climate Feedback was started in 2015 and is a part of an organization known as the International Fact-Checking Network, which in turn is a part of the Poynter Institute. The Poynter Institute is funded in part by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

Climate Feedback accused PragerU of “cherry picking” information on polar bear populations and claimed there was no evidence that the climate alarmist mascots are thriving despite the alleged loss of Arctic sea ice. The case for the censorship was made by two professors from the University of Alberta, Andrew Derocher and Ian Stirling.



Derocher and Stirling’s key takeaway was as follows: “There is no scientific evidence that the global polar bear population is growing in size. Climate change induced losses in sea ice habitat is the most important threat to polar bear survival. Two polar bear sub-populations have already been negatively impacted by sea ice loss.”

But Crockford herself has shown that there is, in fact, evidence that polar bears are doing just fine despite what this “independent fact-checker” reports. She accused Derocher and Stirling of only emphasizing data that supported their predictions.

The polar bear data are contradictory: contrary to predictions, several polar bear sub-populations (at least four of them) are indeed thriving despite much reduced summer sea ice. I have chosen to emphasize that good news, while Stirling and Derocher choose to emphasize the data that seem to fit their predictions. This is a classic conflict that happens all the time in science but presents no proof that I’m wrong or that the PragerU video is inherently ‘false’.”

Differences of opinion are not “fake news.” They’re differences of opinion. If we’re always supposed to “listen to the scientists,” doesn’t that mean all scientists? Or is it only the ones who agree with left-wing orthodoxy?

PragerU has responded to the censorship with a statement:

We recently received a notification from Facebook that our page will now have “reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news.” This is due to one of our recent videos about the polar bear population — which was rated as false by a 3rd party “fact-checker” (despite us including a source to all the facts provided in the video). Despite over 3 million followers voluntarily opting in to be able to view PragerU posts in the news feed, Facebook has now decided they will not allow many of our followers to see future posts.

It’s not the first tussle PragerU has faced with Big Tech. In January of this year, music and podcast streaming service Spotify banned advertisements from PragerU on their platform. And back in 2018, Facebook itself was forced to apologize to PragerU for an “employee error” that temporarily removed nearly all of its content.

In February of this year, M. Margaret McKeown, an appellate judge for the Ninth Circuit Court, threw out a censorship suit PragerU brought against YouTube and its parent company Google, writing, “Despite YouTube’s ubiquity and its role as a public facing platform, it remains a private forum, not a public forum subject to judicial scrutiny under the First Amendment.”

McKeown is correct that Google and YouTube — and by extension Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and all the rest — are, in fact, private entities. But if that’s the case, why do they continue to receive protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996? By committing censorship, they are acting as publishers — not impartial platforms.

Section 230 states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another content provider.”

In effect, Facebook and the other censor-happy tech companies are treated akin to the phone company, so they’re already protected from distributing any “false” information a content provider might post. Big Tech, however, wants it both ways. They want their protection under Section 230, and they also want the ability play private publisher and censor ideas they don’t agree with.

It’s pretty clear that PragerU has become a target of the far left-wing, which dominates the big tech sector. As annoying at that is, they can take solace in one thing. They are effective in getting their message out to the masses. We know this because they’re upsetting all the right people.

 

James Murphy is a freelance journalist who writes on a variety of subjects, with a primary focus on the ongoing anthropogenic climate-change hoax and cultural issues. He can be reached a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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