Big Tech claims it isn’t silencing skeptics, dissenters and critics of the status quo, but it is silencing us. Here’s how it’s done. Let’s start with Twitter. Twitter claims it doesn’t shadow ban (Setting the record straight on shadow banning), which it defines as deliberately making someone’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster.
Nice, but what do we call labeling legitimate websites “unsafe” and banning Twitter users from retweeting links to posts on those sites? This is what’s happening to oftwominds.com– Twitter has labeled this site “unsafe” due to unspecified violations of the Twitter User Agreement, which I have reviewed and can categorically state the oftwominds.com site and posts have never violated the terms of the Agreement or the Twitter Rules, except if posting several tweets that contain the URL of my current post somehow violates the Rules. (If bloggers can’t list the URL of their original content more than once a day, then the Twitter Rules are prejudicial and should be amended.)
Note that Twitter doesn’t identify or provide the user with evidence of the violation of its User Agreement that justifies the “unsafe/can’t retweet” shadow-banning. The process of contesting such arbitrary and opaque censorship is absurdly unsatisfactory. There is no form for content owners/Twitter users to contest being tossed in the “unsafe/can’t retweet” gulag; users must click through a bunch of “contact us” screens, none of which have an option for contesting being tossed in the “unsafe/can’t retweet” gulag.
When you give up and just send Twitter Support a “report on spam,” i.e. that your own site is wrongly being labeled spam, you get (of course) an automated response in which Twitter promises to do nothing and tell you nothing.
If original content that is obviously not violating the Terms of Service/User Agreement can be arbitrarily banned from being retweeted without any evidence or due process, how is this not censorship? This is straight out of Kafka: an unaccountable, all-powerful, completely opaque bureaucracy arbitrarily bans your Twitter followers from retweeting a link to your original, copyrighted content.How is that not flat-out censorship (by a privately owned and operated entity with extra-legal powers)?
This is exactly like the Soviet Union, where citizens were routinely tossed in the gulag for having “anti-Soviet thoughts.”
It’s not exactly news that the Alternative Media is under assault: skeptical inquiry and dissenting narratives are smeared as “fake news,” and new suspiciously corporate entities (NewsGuard et al.) claim to be “protecting” consumers from “fake news” as cover for their real agenda, which is limiting public exposure to skeptical, dissenting independent analysis.
Social Media and Search corporations are also censoring non-corporate, non-state media, again under the purported guise of stripping out “fake news.”
Despite this semi-official censorship, we in the Alt-Media are having way more fun that the anxiety-ridden serfs in the Mainstream Media. There are many hard-working, honest journalists slaving away in the Mainstream (more accurately, the corporate-state) Media, but there’s the neofeudal reality of their employment: If what they report undermines the ruling elites, they’re not allowed to do their job.
MSM journalists have no agency: they report what they’re told to report. They also have no control over what gets by their employers’ editorial / corporate filters: question a big advertiser and your report will quietly be buried. Question the approved narrative and conclusion, and you’ll be shunned, blacklisted, etc. If you make a fuss, you’ll be let go in the next round of lay-offs.
If you do a search of shadow banning, you’ll find sites that claim to help you identify whether Twitter or Instagram has shadow banned your account. The basic idea of shadow banning is to spoof the shadow-banned user into believing their public posts are visible to all while in reality the posts are visible only to the user or in some cases to the users’ followers.
Wikipedia’s definition of shadow banning is:
“Shadow banning (also called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting) is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.”
Here is whatis.com’s description: “Shadow banning is controversial because it allows an administrator or moderator to effectively become a censor and prevent specific users from interacting with other members of an online community on an equal basis.”
Shadow banning and outright banning are only the tip of the iceberg: everyone who posts content on the web or social media is subject to much more subtle and completely opaque controls on how much of your digital presence has been ghosted–not just in social media communities but in searches and how links to your site/content and re-posts of your content are handled by the tech cartel that controls what’s visible and “found” on the web and social media.
This cartel is dominated by Google and Facebook. Google controls over 90% of all search: what search results are displayed, the weight given to links (the page-rank assigned to websites) and a variety of other factors that can be depreciated, removed, omitted or blocked by algorithms and/or human censors (a.k.a. administrators) without recourse and without the site or user being informed.
Readers of Liberty Blitzkrieg will be well aware of the gradual erosion by the state of the civil liberties of the American public. Such attacks are typically sufficiently under the radar, so that the average citizen has no idea what is happening until it’s too late. I have written about such calculated assaults on many occasions, but the holy grail target of the status quo is the First Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines a right to the freedom of religion, speech, the press, and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Many aspects of the First Amendment have been neutered in practice. For example, the right to assemble peacefully and effectively is often prevented in practice by the need to secure permits and other hindrances (see “free speech cages” and “protest zones”) . Meanwhile, on college campuses, where activism is historically most vibrant, many schools have embraced the Orwellian concept of “free speech zones” in order to prevent free speech…
Read more here.
As spring unfolds here in the Northern Hemisphere, the future of the free and open Internet hangs in the balance. As such, I strongly believe everyone should have at least some understanding of what is at stake. When most people hear or read the words “net neutrality” their eyes glaze over with a feeling of confusion and despair: “I can’t remember, am I supposed to be for or against this?” This is exactly how the lawyers and lobbyists in D.C. want it, but unless the citizenry is informed we could lose the most important weapon of free speech in the history of mankind.
Read more here.