Goodbye Free Speech

by William Skink

First, let’s get something straight: fake news can kill. That’s what happened when the New York Times and other corporate media platforms promoted the fake news story about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. Hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of that fake news story, but the New York Times isn’t on a blacklist or subject to suppression by social media giants like Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s another reality: unbalanced people can interpret information then believe criminal action is warranted. While you may think I’m referring to the dude who showed up at Comet Ping Pong with a gun and allegedly fired a shot inside the pizzeria, I was actually thinking of the incalculable incidents of violence inspired by passages from the Bible and Koran.

Because of that violence, should we ban the Bible and the Koran? Should anyone quoting passages from these books have their social media accounts deleted?

At the end of last month, the House passed H.R. 6393 ostensibly to counter those pesky Russians who have extended the dark tentacles of propaganda to infect alternative news sites like Counterpunch and Truthdig. Here is how the useful idiots at Zerohedge reported on this:

A quick skim of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”, whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:

Establishment or funding of a front group.
Covert broadcasting.
Media manipulation.
Disinformation and forgeries.
Funding agents of influence.
Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
Assassinations.
Terrorist acts.

So, corporate media can lie about WMDs, spurring our nation to launch a disastrous war, and religious nuts can use their holy books to justify murdering abortion providers and infidels, but when it comes to the NeoMcCarthyite witchhunt for witting or unwitting purveyors of “Russian propaganda”, we are seeing the power of the state joining forces with social media giants to suppress “fake news” and “extremist” content. From Yahoo News:

Web giants YouTube , Facebook , Twitter and Microsoft will step up efforts to remove extremist content from their websites by creating a common database.

The companies will share ‘hashes’ – unique digital fingerprints they automatically assign to videos or photos – of extremist content they have removed from their websites to enable their peers to identify the same content on their platforms.

“We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online,” the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

Tech companies have long resisted outside intervention in how their sites should be policed, but have come under increasing pressure from Western governments to do more to remove extremist content following a wave of militant attacks.

YouTube and Facebook have begun to use hashes to automatically remove extremist content.

I wonder how long it will take the Youtube channel I created to promote my artistic efforts to get shut down because I made a song about Pizzagate. I wonder if I’ll get a call from the FBI for something I tweeted, since the FBI is now using their limited resources to investigate a journalist’s joke tweet about fake news.

We live in interesting times.

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About William Skink

I'm a poet and political cynic living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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One Response to Goodbye Free Speech

  1. steve kelly says:

    If you want “free speech,” you’re going to have to pay. Sites that run ads may well be spared. Nothing will escape the police powers of the taxman or of private financiers.

    Like

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