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Censorship in the West and the Attack on Freedom of Speech

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Two of the major internet tools used by millions, indeed billions, of people are Google and Facebook. When they are simply a means by which we can search the internet and engage in social media, they can be terrific tools indeed. But when they become a means of pushing political agendas, and censoring politically incorrect views, then they can become very worrying and quite dangerous.

Both of course are private businesses, so in one sense they can do as they please. But when so many people make use of their services, and when they tend to have near monopoly powers, then this becomes a matter of real concern. Indeed, the EU just recently found Google guilty of violating its antitrust laws.

These groups have both recently announced that they will crack down on “hate speech” and related things they regard as being problematic. So censorship of course becomes a very real part of this. And the really vexing question is, what is hate speech? And more importantly, who decides what is hate speech?

Who monitors the monitors? Who regulates the regulators? We know from past experience how very left-wing both Google and Facebook are. They both tend to regard pro-faith and pro-family folks as the enemy, and they routinely push radical secular left minority group agendas, be it homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, Islam, and so on.

Indeed, years ago as but one example, Facebook proudly announced that it was teaming up with homosexual activists to monitor FB users, and make sure that no “homophobic” content was posted. Back in October 2010 we had quit worrying headlines such as this: “Facebook Teams Up with Gay Activist Orgs to Stop ‘Hateful’ Comments”.

So let me look further at both of these internet and media giants. Facebook has just announced that it will hire 3,000 more workers (in addition to the existing 4,500 workers in this area), to monitor FB, and it will delete 66,000 posts a week it finds to be offensive and in violation of its standards.

Wow, FB is beginning to put to shame the Stasi and other secret police units monitoring what people think and say. They have offered the usual list on this: “Our current definition of hate speech is anything that directly attacks people based on what are known as their ‘protected characteristics’ — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability, or disease,”

But FB admitted that this is still all very much up in the air. As one FB exec said: “There is no universally accepted answer for when something crosses the line. Although a number of countries have laws against hate speech, their definitions of it vary significantly.”

Of course. “Hate speech” often lies in the eyes of the beholder. A devout Muslim will regard as hate speech anything said by a Christian on the sonship and deity of Christ for example. A practising homosexual will consider to be hate speech anything defending heterosexual marriage. A transgender person will take any talk about the biological reality of two sexes as being hate speech.

So the prospects of FB deleting thousands of posts a day is frightening indeed. If FB was only going to go after perverse, sexually explicit content, or after genuine hate speech (eg, the countless times devout Muslims call for the death of infidels, Christians and Jews), that would be one thing. But why do we suspect that there will be very little such proper vetting and censoring?

Why do we suspect that there will be yet more radical left attacks on anyone who dares to stand up for the Judeo-Christian world view, for traditional family values, for proper concerns about stealth jihad and the like? We have already seen FB doing these very things, so we can only expect that things will get far, far worse in the days ahead.

Consider also the giant search engine Google. It too has been making some more ominous threats in relation to such matters. Simply look at how Islam is becoming a protected species on Google, and how critics of Islam are increasingly being shafted by Google.

One recent HuffPost article speaks about how the hyper-leftist Southern Poverty Law Center is demanding Google crack down on supposed Islamophobic content. Another article discusses this piece, beginning with these words:

In an article published by the HuffPost, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has called on Google to act against what it regards as online hate speech. Their goal is to persuade Google itself to intervene in the battle of ideas by censoring material that it does not like. These activists justify this goal based on the precedent set by Google itself, in which the tech giant pledged to counter extremist ideas by burying YouTube videos which it feels promote offensive ideas but which do not violate YouTube’s rules. In addition, they will deny these videos the option to promote themselves with paid adverts, or be recommended or commented on by other users.
“That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel and senior vice president, wrote in a company blog post on the change. “We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints.” Google is also teaming up with Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to tackle extremist content online.

The article continues:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a formerly great civil rights organization which now makes unsubstantiated and biased smears against activists who are attempting to tackle extremist Islam, has tried to pressure Google into clamping down on what it deems hateful content.
This is a suppressionist tactic made by cowards who are fearful that they cannot win in the intellectual struggle. Unable to stand on their own two feet, they look to protection from an outside source. The question that everyone should be asking about this censorship is simple: Who decides what to censor? Who decides what counts as hateful or extremist? And who benefits when a specific video or article or report is censored?
Any way you slice it, voices are going to be unfairly silenced once you begin the path down the censorship route. Machine-learning robots will blindly follow their algorithms to reflect the biases of those who designed them. They should not be trusted with control of our intellectual space. Unelected, unaccountable tech executives, who will in all likelihood have almost no understanding of the issues they are deciding whether or not to censor, can also not be trusted.

And let me offer two specific examples of all of this in action. The first involves one Islam-critical site which has had plenty of run-ins with Google. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch says this:

For many years, whenever one Googled “jihad,” Jihad Watch was the first result. This was back in the days when Google’s results were based on the relevance of the subject matter to the search and the popularity of the site. But then Google began engaging in social engineering, attempting to manipulate opinion by changing the results of searches to lead people to sites that offered the perspectives it favored. Then when one searched for “jihad,” Jihad Watch became the second result, and then the fourth, even though our readership was steadily rising; replacing it at the top were Islamic apologetics sites with a fraction of the readership, offering soothing falsehoods about the meaning of jihad. Marc explains this phenomenon in greater detail here.
That manipulation wasn’t enough to divert people away from the truth. Now, if you search for “jihad,” Google will give you a whole page full of Islamic apologetics, and Jihad Watch doesn’t appear on the front page at all. Is this because our readership has plummeted? No, quite the contrary. It is because Google is now fully committed not to allowing people to search the Internet, but to controlling what they find when they do. (Incidentally, when one Googles “Robert Spencer” now, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hit piece on me comes up before my own website bio.)

He concludes:

It’s a silent encroachment of totalitarianism, as only one perspective is allowed to be aired, and the ground is increasingly being cut out from under the feet of dissenters. Of course, they’re only doing this because their narrative is so outstandingly counterfactual that they can only put it over by censoring us and giving pride of place to sites that peddle the soothing lies they favor, but even though it reveals their insecurity and desperation, it is extremely dangerous nevertheless. And no one seems to care. This is the kind of thing the Trump administration should be fighting against, and working to ensure a level playing field for all points of view. Is no one in a position of power or influence concerned about the rapid erosion of the freedom of speech?

My second example involves someone I know pretty well: myself. Some years ago when I used to Google my name, many thousands of hits would appear. And that for good reason: I have many thousands of articles online. But today when I do this, not only are there relatively few hits to be found, but plenty of Bill Muehlenberg hate sites appear – and on the very first page.

Never mind that these are very petty, extremist minority sites which may get only a handful of views a day, but they feature prominently in the search results. And speaking of hate speech, one simply has to take a look at their pages to see that they are utterly riddled with ugly, nasty, and filthy remarks about me – what you might call hate speech.

BTW, just moments ago I did another such search. There were eight hits featured on the first page. And guess what? The 2nd and 4th hits were really nasty hate sites which exist for the sole purpose of attacking me, spreading lies about me, smearing my character and trashing my beliefs. But hey, that obviously is not hate speech!

And there are only 14 pages of search results in total. Really. As I said, years back there would be perhaps a hundred pages, because I had so much material online, either posted by myself or reposted by others. But now you would think I have only a few dozen pieces in cyberspace. What gives Google?

It seems Google is not the least bit concerned about hate speech when it is directed at me and others like me. Then it is just fine. But dare to criticise Islam or the militant homosexual movement and you will be slapped down by the internet censors faster than you can say Allahu Akbar.

In sum, what can be done about all this? Probably not much. I don’t really think that Google and Facebook are going to change their ways any time soon to placate Christians and conservatives. Their anti-Christian and anti-conservative crusades will likely just worsen in the near future.

So it seems our only option may be to look for other search engines and for other social media sites. And what happens when we run out of those? Well, by then true Christians and conservatives may be heading for the hills, or moving into caves or catacombs. That sure seems to be the way the anti-Christian West is heading.



 

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