Monday, August 28, 2017 by Jayson Veley
With each passing day, it becomes harder and harder to deny the fact that political censorship has become commonplace in America. It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost as if the Constitution was never written in the first place, considering how often it is warped, regulated, and in many cases, ignored entirely. Make no mistake – this sort of censorship is a strategy that has primarily been adopted by those on the left, who seek to silence conservative voices on virtually every level of American society, from the mainstream media to Hollywood, to college campuses and the Internet. (Related: Portland mayor wants to label all opinions he disagrees with as hate speech.)
As a matter of fact, the Internet has become something of a hot zone for political censorship in recent times, as companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, PayPal, and several more have begun engaging in selective suppression. Below is a comprehensive list of “tech tyrants” who are censoring websites and infringing on the First Amendment.
Back in March, Breitbart News reported on Google’s plan to launch a new AI system called Perspective, which is capable of detecting and censoring what it considers to be “toxic” comments posted online. Needless to say, the likelihood of abuse here is overwhelming. What is stopping a team of leftists behind the scenes at Google from switching around Perspective’s algorithm to specifically target anyone that does not subscribe to the left wing ideology?
Just days ago, The Blaze reported on how the payment-processing website PayPal discontinued two conservative accounts – Jihad Watch and the American Freedom Defense Initiative – after a team of leftists reported them as “hate groups.” According to both organizations, a reporter for the nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica named Lauren Kirchner wrote in an email, “I am contacting you to let you know that we are including your website in a list of sites that have been designated as hate or extremist by the American Defamation League or the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
Last year, several anonymous former Facebook contractors told the tech site Gizmodo.com that Facebook routinely modifies its algorithms and formulas to intentionally suppress conservative news. As explained by Gizmodo, Facebook “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers,” and some former Facebook employees even admitted that they were instructed to “inject” specific topics into the trending list, even if those topics weren’t relevant or significant.
Given the fact that Google routinely engages in political censorship in the interest of combating what it considers to be “hate speech” or “extreme content,” it only makes sense that the Google-owned video sharing website YouTube would do the same. Earlier this month, YouTube announced on its official blog that they would be taking steps to censor “controversial” content, even if that content doesn’t necessarily violate any of their guidelines. “We’ll soon be applying tougher treatment to videos that aren’t illegal but have been flagged by users as potential violations of our policies on hate speech and violent extremism,” the blog post said. “If we find that these videos don’t violate our policies but contain controversial religious or supremacist content, they will be placed in a limited state.”
In February, Twitter announced a new initiative meant to combat “abuse and harassment” on their platform. “Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus,” the company said in a blog post. “We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That’s put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices.” Incredibly, Twitter made the argument that in order to protect the freedom of speech, one has to suppress the freedom of speech. It is a silly argument to make, and truthfully doesn’t make much sense at all.
The security firm Cloudflare and the website hosting service GoDaddy typically aren’t known for political censorship and therefore don’t exactly fit under the “tech tyrant” category. Both are appearing on this list due to their recent involvement in the silencing of the white nationalist website The Daily Stormer. Granted, The Daily Stormer was a loathsome site that perpetuated extreme hatred and bigotry for people of color, but even so, Cloudflare and GoDaddy overstepped their boundaries in this case. We the People should not just sit back and watch as companies like Google and GoDaddy censor online content without questioning where they get the authority to do that in the first place. The law of the land is the Constitution, not some Internet guidelines written in some corporate office.
Given the normalization of political censorship on the Internet, it may be easy for some to call for harsher government regulations in order to restrict sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from gutting the freedom of speech in the first place. However, it is important to remember that we already have a regulation like this, and the only problem is that it isn’t being enforced – it is called the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.