Caitlin calls it right on web censorship

3 Jan

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From my January 2021 post, The unacceptable face of crazy

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When QAnon accounts were purged from social media platforms I no longer had to share social media spaces with people I despised. If I were an immature person, I’d see this as a good thing. But because I am a grown adult, I understand that the danger of giant monopolistic government-tied platforms controlling worldwide human speech far outweighs the emotional ease I receive from their absence.

I see what Caitlin’s getting at: cheerleaders for one wing of the criminals who rule welcoming further erosion – social media censorship, no-platforming and the criminalising of “hate” – of hard won freedoms. Why? To rein in cheerleaders for the other set of criminals; the ones they don’t cheer on.

Also known as the infantile illiberalism of liberals.

Here’s Caitlin Johnstone, writing today about the now key arena of social media. See my recent post on FB “whistleblower” Frances Haugen. See also this transgender/LinkedIn example.

Those Who Support Internet Censorship Lack Psychological Maturity

Twitter has permanently suspended the personal account of Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene for what the platform calls “repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy,” much to the delight of liberals and pro-censorship leftists everywhere. This follows the Twitter ban of Dr Robert Malone on the same grounds a few days prior, which followed an unbroken pattern of continually escalating and expanding censorship protocols ever since the 2016 US election.

In reality nobody ever gets banned for “Covid misinformation”; that’s just today’s excuse. Before that it was the fallout from the Capitol riot, before that it was election security, before that it was Russian disinformation, foreign influence ops, fake news, etc. In reality the real agenda behind the normalization of internet censorship is the normalization of internet censorship itself. That’s the real reason so many people get banned.

I myself had already written many articles warning of the increasingly widespread use of internet censorship via algorithm manipulation and deplatforming long before the first “Covid misinformation” bans started happening. Arguably the most significant political moment in the US since 9/11 and its aftermath was when liberal institutions decided that Trump’s 2016 election was not a failure of status quo politics but a failure of information control, which just so happened to align perfectly with the agendas of the ruling power structure to control the dominant narratives about what’s going on in the world. 

We saw this exemplified in 2017 when Google, Facebook and Twitter were called before the Senate Judiciary Committee and instructed to come up with a strategy “to prevent the fomenting of discord”.

“We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America,” the social media giants were told by think tanker and former FBI agent Clint Watts, who added, “Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced—silence the guns and the barrage will end.”

Since that time the coordination between those tech platforms and the US government in determining whose voices should be silenced has gotten progressively more intimate, so now we have these giant platforms which people have come to rely on to share ideas and information censoring speech in complete alignment with the will of the most powerful government on earth.

The danger of this is obvious to anyone who isn’t a stunted emotional infant. The danger of government-tied monopolistic tech platforms controlling worldwide speech far outweighs the danger of whatever voice you might happen to dislike at any given moment. The only way for this not to be clear to you is if you are so psychologically maladjusted that you can’t imagine anything bad coming from your personal preferences for human expression being imposed upon society by the most powerful institutions on earth.

It really only takes the tiniest bit of personal growth to understand this. I for example absolutely hate QAnoners. Hate them, hate them, hate them. They always used to make my job annoying because they saw my criticisms of the mass media and the oligarchic empire as aligning with their view that Donald Trump was leading a righteous crusade against the Deep State, so they’d often clutter my comments sections with foam-brained idiocy that perfectly served the very power structures I oppose. They saw me as on their side when in reality we had virtually nothing in common and couldn’t really be more opposed.

When QAnon accounts were purged from mainstream social media platforms following the Capitol riot, it made my work significantly less irritating. I no longer had to share social media spaces with people I despised, and, if I were an immature person, I would see this as an inherently good thing. But because I am a grown adult, I understand that the danger of giant monopolistic government-tied platforms controlling worldwide human speech to a greater and greater extent far outweighs the emotional ease I personally receive from their absence.

I therefore would choose to allow QAnoners to voice their dopey nonsense freely on those platforms if it were up to me. Whatever damage they might do is vastly less destructive than allowing widespread communication to be regulated by powerful oligarchic institutions who amount to US government proxies. The same is true of Marjorie Taylor Greene and everyone like her.

This should not be an uncommon perspective. It doesn’t require a lot of maturity to get this, it just requires some basic self-preservation and enough psychological growth to understand that the world should not be forced to align with your personal will. It says bad things about the future that even this kindergarten-level degree of insight has become rare in some circles.

NB – the version on Caitlin’s site contains images, including screenshots of tweets, not shown in my copied version. Here again is the link to hers.

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Update January 5, 2022 – this morning I interacted below a Jacobin post on FB:

Which led to this exchange:

Jed Somit:

Not clear what you [a 3rd party otherwise irrelevant here] mean by “controlled”. If you explained that, we could have a better conversation. And yes, I’ve read the article, which basically explains that the upcoming change won’t make much difference, and admits that the internationalization of the internet means a USA governed internet is not feasible.

Me:

Jed Somit. This is naive. I can author a blogsite read by a tiny few. Does that break the stranglehold oligarchs like Murdoch and Rothermere hold over opinion manufacture by mainstream corporate media? Or, slightly less obviously, by such as the Guardian, dependent on advertisers and wealthy donors like Bill Gates? **

Similarly, the US Government (its ties to big capital so deep and extensive as to make ‘democracy’ 96% bogus) doesn’t need to “govern the internet”. It suffices that a few billionaires have established a monopoly over the social media platforms half the planet uses.

Jed Somit:

Philip Roddis I don’t think that was what the article was about at all: the use of the internet by social media. It did touch upon the amount of bandwidth used by streaming services (Netflix, Spectrum, AT&T, etc.), but more in the context of liking the regulations which prevent discrimination by type of content (i.e., streaming video vs. email, say). The starting point was the transfer of url governance to a private, rather than government, group.

Me:

Nevertheless, my point, far more important surely, stands. There can be no meaningful democracy without truly independent media. The latter do not exists [sic] when they are, in Chomsky’s memorable words:

Large corporations selling privileged audiences to other large corporations. Now the question is, what pictures of the world would a rational person expect from this set up?

For this reason, and others we can go into if you like, I make no fundamental distinction between big money, and the machinery of government ultimately answerable to it.

The internet opened up the possibility of meaningful challenge to the manufacture of world-views favouring the corporate power elites who, beneath a fiction of rule by and for the many, truly rule the West. All that is now happening – crucially, internet censorship in the name of protecting the public – has to be understood in this context.

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** This is an aside but …

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