Big Censorship gets more and more intrusive and invasive


Glenn Greenwald, whom we’ve met in these pages several times before, points out that what he calls “an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance” is growing among some journalists.  It’s perhaps even worse than he says, because many of those journalists aren’t independent, but are employed by the mainstream media.  Their employers wouldn’t be paying them for their efforts if they didn’t approve of them.

Just as the NSA is obsessed with ensuring there be no place on earth where humans can communicate free of their spying eyes and ears, these journalistic hall monitors cannot abide the idea that there can be any place on the internet where people are free to speak in ways they do not approve. Like some creepy informant for a state security apparatus, they spend their days trolling the depths of chat rooms and 4Chan bulletin boards and sub-Reddit threads and private communications apps to find anyone — influential or obscure — who is saying something they believe should be forbidden, and then use the corporate megaphones they did not build and could not have built but have been handed in order to silence and destroy anyone who dissents from the orthodoxies of their corporate managers or challenges their information hegemony.

. . .

But the worst of this triumvirate is the NYT’s tech reporters, due to influence and reach if no other reason. When Silicon Valley monopolies, publicly pressured by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other lawmakers, united to remove Parler from the internet, the Times’ tech team quickly donned their hall-monitor goggles and Stasi notebooks to warn that the Bad People had migrated to Signal and Telegram. This week they asked: “Are Private Messaging Apps the Next Misinformation Hot Spot?” One reporter “confess[ed] that I am worried about Telegram. Other than private messaging, people love to use Telegram for group chats — up to 200,000 people can meet inside a Telegram chat room. That seems problematic.”

These examples of journalism being abused to demand censorship of spaces they cannot control are too numerous to comprehensively chronicle. And they are not confined to those three outlets. That far more robust censorship is urgently needed is now a virtual consensus in mainstream corporate journalism: it’s an animating cause for them.

. . .

Thus do we have the unimaginably warped dynamic in which U.S. journalists are not the defenders of free speech values but the primary crusaders to destroy them. They do it in part for power: to ensure nobody but they can control the flow of information. They do it partly for ideology and out of hubris: the belief that their worldview is so indisputably right that all dissent is inherently dangerous “disinformation.” And they do it from petty vindictiveness: they clearly get aroused — find otherwise-elusive purpose — by destroying people’s reputations and lives, no matter how powerless. Whatever the motive, corporate media employees whose company title is “journalist” are the primary activists against a free and open internet and the core values of free thought.

. . .

But this is now the prevailing ethos in corporate journalism. They have insufficient talent or skill, and even less desire, to take on real power centers: the military-industrial complex, the CIA and FBI, the clandestine security state, Wall Street, Silicon Valley monopolies, the corrupted and lying corporate media outlets they serve. So settling on this penny-ante, trivial bullshit — tattling, hall monitoring, speech policing: all in the most anti-intellectual, adolescent and primitive ways — is all they have. It’s all they are. It’s why they have fully earned the contempt and distrust in which the public holds them.

There’s more at the link.

Almost the whole gamut of social media is now infested with these politically correct censorship demons.  There are a few exceptions (Gab, MeWe, etc.), but all of them are under attack externally, and some of them internally as well by SJW‘s who’ve infiltrated them.

I suspect blogs will come under attack next.  The blogosphere had diminished in importance as Facebook and its ilk grew in popularity.  There were two primary reasons for that.  First, people liked the immediacy of chat-like interaction on social media, which blogs can’t provide.  Second, blogs (when well written) demand that the reader engage his or her mind, and pay attention to what’s being said.  Good blogs are written to educate and inform and provoke debate, rather than to vapidly gush over this, or that, or the other current event.  Many social media outlets have been “dumbed down” to the point where serious interchanges are largely excluded.  Those that haven’t yet succumbed (e.g. certain Reddit sub-forums, etc.) are under intense pressure to conform, and are at risk of being shut down if they won’t.

However, that’s had a different effect from what was (I’m sure) intended:  it’s caused blogs to regain a lot of the readership they’ve lost, particularly because some (not all) bloggers have been willing to say what they think and put it out there, rather than be intimidated into silence.  A number (including yours truly) are even establishing (backup and/or primary) Web sites and facilities, so as to be independent of major blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress if the current crackdown on independent thought continues.

I think we may see a split in the social media “scene”.  On the one hand, vapid, insubstantial gossip may continue to dominate, with a notable absence of serious content, and heavily censored in terms of political correctness.  On the other hand, serious discussions may ramp up again, particularly in the blogosphere and on some forums, as those who are engaged with the future of their country and society discuss the threats to those assets and how to respond to them.  The latter may or may not be subject to both active and passive censorship, but the Internet has (at least so far) proved to be a solid “plus” for democracy and civil liberties.  Even such draconian control measures as the “Great Firewall of China” haven’t been able to stamp out all free speech online in that nation.  Long may that continue!



  1. Your two recent articles, "Big Censorship" and "Takeover of civil society" bring to mind the book on the changes technology brings to the urban guerrilla movement by David Kilcullen (Out of the Mountains).
    In my mind, the congruence of elite self aggrandizing business, disadvantaged populations and technical innovations does not bode well for the future of the society I grew up in. My feelings are dystopian and I cling to the idea that human kind is adaptable but also prone to making great social mistakes. How the world will look to my grandchildren (and beyond) is unknown, but the social projection is not comfortable.

  2. When they were weak, they demanded free speech because it was in line with our values; now that they are strong, they enforce censorship, becauase it is in line with their values. Not really that big of a shock.

  3. On the blog front and in the hopes of reducing the ability of big tech to remove stuff, I came up with this – – basically a way for you to host your blog yourself in your own house and let cloudflare proxy it. This means that you cannot lose the content by having someone (even cloudflare) decide they don't like you.

    It's at version 1.0 right now (i.e. minimum viable product) but I hope that v 1.1 will show up REAL SOON NOW (TM). v1.1 will include such vital concepts as backups to other places and commenting.

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