Pushback on social media censorship

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By: Dylan Brennan, Columnist

Last time I wrote about how Twitter was suppressing the voice of the people on their website through their new policy against dehumanizing language. I was naïve to think this would be the end of that topic. While they have, as I predicted, not lived up to their policy in the case of African-American religious leader and black activist Louis Farrakhan calling Jewish people ‘termites’ recently they are not the only culprit of slanted political censorship.

In the past month alone, I can name two instances at length to fit this column: one familiar, one obscure. YouTube, the second-most popular website in the world, recently was hounded by the moral arbiters at the BBC to delete videos of a cartoonish suffragette from the new video game Red Dead Redemption 2 being killed in a variety of ways, under the pretense of ‘hate speech and gratuitous violence.’ A state-funded news organization demanded that clips of a video game be taken down for the audacity of killing the trillionth soulless character who just happened to have progressive views. I am well aware of the 90s debate of video games being ‘murder simulators’ which led to the universal ban of killing children in games, but now we have to kowtow to political ideologies now? Never mind the obnoxious lines from the suffragette saying how men are pigs and how women are angels or that you can literally do the same things to any other character in the game; a digital feminist being eaten by a digital alligator is hate speech.

With this move, YouTube deleted the entire channel of the publisher in question, depriving him of a very lucrative side career with hundreds of thousands of subscribers watching his videos daily. If it weren’t for people with brains in their heads calling out the lunacy the BBC stands for, he wouldn’t be publishing again today. At least Shirakko, the YouTuber in question, has a sense of humor as he’s now doing videos where the suffragette punches back.

As for the second example, the man who shot up the synagogue in Pittsburg was a frequent participator in the alternative social media platform, Gab. However, once this was found out, not only was the shooter’s Gab account deleted, but Gab itself was cut off from every company and server on the internet. Sure, Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of University of California, posted a video of himself plotting his murders on YouTube, and countless people have done the same on Twitter, but Gab had the audacity to not censor anyone on its site, and for that, they must die.

There are two problems with this thinking. The first problem is that Silicon Valley thinks it can decide what is and isn’t appropriate ways of thinking, and while that may be understandable; it should not be their duty to decide what people can say. Secondly, if anyone criticizes me for saying it’s their establishment, and they can kick out troublemakers, I don’t see it fair to have them eliminate other establishments who allow such troublemakers. And make no mistake: it is better someone hold their nose and host a place for the worst of society. You know why? Because the fact that we can see what they’re saying is something to be monitored, not pushed further underground. People made the same arguments after the shutdown and blacklist of The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi forum. My mother always said she’d prefer me to be in my room than be out and about, because even if I was doing something crazy like drugs, at least she’d be within arm’s reach to stop me. If Gab were not around, all info on the synagogue shooter would be on the dark web, inaccessible by most everyone.

And so here we are: evidence of Silicon Valley not only getting rid of people, but getting rid of places for people to go elsewhere. They want to be the bastions of society, with having everyone follow their rules, and nobody escaping their confines. Perhaps they have the best of intentions, but if you ask me, it sounds like a bad dystopian sci-fi novel. Too bad it’s actually real.

 

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