Big Tech “Deplatforming” Becomes Ever More Audacious
Big Tech “Deplatforming” Becomes Ever More AudaciousManhattan Contrarian / by Francis Menton / 18h
In case your memory doesn’t go back that far, the “deplatforming” thing did not just start in the past couple of months. It was way back in 2016 that Twitter first banned right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos; Facebook followed in 2019. Others getting the same or similar treatment from Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google two or more years ago include Alex Jones of InfoWars and Congressional candidate Laura Loomer.
Then, few on the serious right pushed back. After all, these people are not really our type. Often, they say outrageous things just to provoke a reaction.
But there is a reason why the ACLU, at least in its heyday, thought it was important to defend the rights of avowed neo-Nazis to march in heavily-Jewish Skokie, Illinois. Once the speech-suppression thing gets even a little toe-hold, it can quickly go from seeming insignificance to bold audacity. And thus we had Twitter, in the run-up to the election in October, banning none other than the New York Post — one of the largest-circulation newspapers in the country, and also the oldest — for having broken a story about a laptop of Hunter Biden, a story that happened to be completely true but also embarrassing to the Democratic candidate for President. And then on January 8 Twitter banned Donald Trump, who was not only the then-sitting President of the United States but also Twitter’s singe biggest generator of traffic. That ban appears since to have become permanent. On or about January 10, all of Amazon, Apple and Google took action to deplatform Parler, a web commentary site and alternative to Twitter to which many conservatives had been fleeing.
So, have we come to the end of this wave, or are we just at the beginning? For readers who aren’t following this all that closely, I thought it might be interesting to do a small round-up of some other recent “deplatformings.” The summary is, if you think that there isn’t a concerted effort going on to silence important dissenting speech coming from the right, you are just kidding yourself. A few recent examples:
- Project Veritas. This is the organization founded by journalist James O’Keefe that specializes in surreptitiously-recorded sting videos that are embarrassing to Democrats or the Left. For example, you may recall their videos of Clinton campaign operatives plotting to provoke violence at Trump campaign rallies in 2016; or of Democratic operatives discussing a vote-buying scheme in Ilhan Omar’s Minneapolis congressional district. On February 11 this year, Twitter blocked the Project Veritas account. The blocking followed Project Veritas releasing a leaked audio recording of Facebook executives in an internal meeting discussing plans to expand censorship, particularly relating (but not limited) to information about the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the notification received by Project Veritas, the suspension was based on Twitter rules relating to “posting private information.” As far as I can determine, the Project Veritas blocking remains in effect with no indication as to when or if it will be lifted. Meanwhile, do a Google search for Project Veritas, and you will find dozens of articles reporting on the blocking, while the first several pages of results contain no links to actual Project Veritas videos that are of course embarrassing to Democrats. Somehow the Google algorithm has buried those deep in the results.
- Tony Heller. Mr. Heller has a website called Real Climate Science where he specializes in presenting data and historical information that undermine the orthodoxies of the global warming mass hysteria. Recently, he has also done similar work on the subject of the political response to the Covid-19 pandemic, where he has pointed to data refuting the efficacy of lockdowns, mask mandates, and the like. Often, he makes his presentations into YouTube videos, of which he has posted hundreds. On his website on February 19, Mr. Heller reported that he had been shut down by YouTube for the second time in a month. YouTube (i.e., Google) gave as the reason a video that Mr. Heller had posted several months previously. Heller comments: “They have people going through my old videos and looking for any excuse to give me a current strike.” The particular video cited by Google on February 19 for shutting Mr. Heller down is included by Mr. Heller in his post, and is titled “Listen to the Scientists.” It contains many quotes from scientists who are much-admired icons of the left, including Paul Ehrlich (of Stanford University) and John Holdren (President Obama’s Science Advisor for eight years) saying truly shocking things about, for example, forcibly shrinking world population. Watch the video if you want, and see if you can find the reason why Heller should be deplatformed, versus, for example, Ehrlich or Holdren.
- Ryan Anderson. Encounter Books is the publisher of Mr. Anderson’s recent book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. Yesterday the book was removed from the website amazon.com and from Amazon’s subsidiary Audible. According to a statement today from publisher Encounter, the de-listings came without explanation. The de-listings are significant in light of Amazon’s extremely dominant position in book sales in the United States (reportedly in excess of 90%). Apparently, there are some subjects that just cannot be discussed, at least according to Amazon.
- Catholic World Report. The Twitter account of this newspaper serving Roman Catholics was locked on January 24, after it had posted a tweet on January 19 reporting on President Biden’s upcoming nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary of HHS for Health. The tweet stated: “Biden plans to nominate Dr. Rachel Levine, a biological man identifying as a transgender woman who has served as Pennsylvania’s health secretary since 2017, to be HHS Assistant Secretary for Health. Levine is also a supporter of the contraceptive mandate.” Twitter sent CWR an email on January 24, announcing the locking, giving as the reason that CWR had “violat[ed] our rules against hateful conduct.” The “hateful conduct” appears to consist of nothing more than identifying Dr. Levine as a “biological man identifying as a transgender woman.” In this instance, the good news is that, after what was apparently some blowback, Twitter backed down on January 29 and reinstated the account.
Obviously, this is just a small sampling. I believe it is fair to say that all of the tech giants at this point are angling for any excuse they can find to shut down any conservative voice that seems to be gaining too much traction.
There is an important prospective silver lining in this situation, which is that the tech giants, by trying to use their dominance in a historical moment to enforce political orthodoxy, are inevitably hastening the decline of that dominance. That process may seem right now to be starting slowly, but I suspect the pace will speed up rather quickly. After a few weeks dark, Parler has already re-emerged on a platform called SkySilk. Reports are that it has limited capacity and is working slowly right now, but that could change quickly. I would look for its usage to explode within months. Look for Manhattan Contrarian to move over there as soon as they start accepting new users.
UPDATE, February 23: The original version of this piece stated that the videos showing Planned Parenthood executives scheming to sell body parts of aborted fetuses came from Project Veritas. Turns out that those videos came from another source. I have deleted the incorrect attribution.SHAREVISIT WEBSITE