The American Mind: The Big Tech Occupation

Attorney Molly McCann writes about how large, internet, social media companies are enforcing foreign speech laws across the board in The Big Tech Occupation.

Big Tech has infiltrated the American homeland and is imposing speech laws that resemble those of Europe, challenging the authority and longevity of the First Amendment. Although we share common ideals with other Western nations, we pursue and defend those ideals very differently. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our approach to speech.

It is important to understand how fundamentally different our country is from the rest of the world if we want to understand why Big Tech’s speech codes shout not be inflicted on American citizens in American jurisdictions. Put another way, if the would-be monarchs of Silicon Valley get their way, their speech codes will ultimately undermine our American values of free speech and the First Amendment itself.

A Tale of Two Speeches

In America, the First Amendment expresses an absolutist viewpoint on speech: “Congress shall make no law...” (emphasis added). From there, the courts have developed a framework that governs speech. Not all speech is “protected” speech (e.g. fighting words and true threats), and we have standards that determine if, when, where, and how the government can limit speech. All told, American speech law can be quite complex, but philosophically it begins at that intransigent right: “Congress shall make no law.” This principle permeates the American mindset and is defended by our written and entrenched (i.e., difficult to change) Constitution.

Europe, however, begins from a qualified position and immediately seeks to balance speech with other competing interests. Despite aspirational language to the contrary, European law begins with the assumption that speech is a privilege, the contours of which can be defined and redefined by the government. Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights makes this clear.

1.Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers….

This sounds good until you read the second paragraph:

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. (emphasis added)

The blunt fact is that most Europeans have freedom of speech at the discretion of their governments. Think about the wide differences of opinion there are on what speech restrictions are “necessary in a democratic society”! The European crusade against hate speech (a label that can be applied to almost any disfavored speech) is a perfect example of the abuse that can flourish when speech isn’t enshrined in a written and entrenched constitution, and is instead a discretionary standard subject to majority votes of prevailing legislatures.

The United Kingdom has yo-yoed back and forth on banning “insulting” speech as hate speech. The term has been added, dropped, and added again over the past decade. According to a 2013 article in the Guardian, when ‘insulting’ was included in the hate speech law “arrests and prosecutions rang[ed] from an Oxford student asking a police officer ‘Do you realise your horse is gay?’ which Thames Valley police described as homophobic and ‘offensive to people passing by’, to a 16-year-old holding up a placard that said ‘Scientology is a dangerous cult’.” Hate speech can mean almost anything, and in 2018, British police were rounding up and questioning people for tweets that criticized gender reassignment surgeries for children. As the culture slips, standards that can be amended by majority legislatures cannot defend speech rights.

The United States Constitution’s protection of speech has no tempering clause. Our court-created frameworks all seek to implement and obey the opening, sweeping directive of the First Amendment; we do not recognize a “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment; and our speech rights are certainly not at the mercy of every successive Congress’s whim. We can truly boast speech rights—and the ability to assert those rights against our government.

Enter Big Tech

The Big Tech internal speech codes are just like Europe’s broad, discretionary standards in that they permit a privileged few to determine what is and is not offensive or “dangerous” speech. For example, Facebook bans “hate speech,” including “white nationalist rhetoric” and “violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation,” as well as other categories of offensive speech. Although this type of speech policing is contrary to the American principle that we have the liberty to offend, these definitions might sound otherwise uncontroversial and even attractive (after all, most decent people don’t want to be exposed to violent or dehumanizing speech). But of course, in addition to offending our spirit of free speech generally, the application of these standards has already proven to be both broad and biased, permitting companies to label all manner of political socially-conservative speech as dangerous or violent.  There is wisdom and authentic freedom in America’s adherence to robust and “absolutist” protection of speech; there is opportunity for corruption, bias, and suffocating censorship lurking in the European approach.

Big Tech has effectively imported European speech law into the United States. Big Tech has created a massive internal framework that blankets the nation and imposes European-style standards in direct opposition to the robust, absolutist American rule.

Because Tech oligarchs control the primary thoroughfares of public discourse today—our new public squares of the digital age—they have effectively occupied our country and imposed foreign law on American citizens, restricting our fundamental liberty to gather and to exchange thoughts and ideas freely.

Big Tech censorship is also dangerous to the long-term stability of the First Amendment. Because digital interaction is so widespread, its European view of speech will slowly begin to chip away at Americans’ absolutist attitude toward speech. Big Tech’s speech codes are chilling and suppressing speech now, but ultimately, our collective attitude toward speech might change.

In debating cancel culture, Greg Lukianoff and Adam Goldstein have argued that nations without good free-speech law can still preserve a thriving culture of free speech—albeit a persecuted one—but, a culture that itself is not freedom-minded will not be free, no matter how good its law on speech is. Lukianoff and Goldstein have warned that if Americans’ attitude toward speech changes, our First Amendment will not protect us. Similarly, if Big Tech’s moralizing about and censoring of hate speech is accepted by too many Americans, it will influence and shift our culture’s attitude, and the First Amendment will fall. To maintain the potency of the First Amendment, the American public has to believe in and live its spirit.

Justice Scalia once remarked, “many Europeans like to think of Americans as their close cousins—albeit reckless, loudmouthed cousins they’re embarrassed to talk about at dinner parties. It is easy to forget, however, that the United States was settled primarily by people seeking, in one way or another, refuge from the ways of Europe.” Our freedoms are not equal.

Europe’s speech standards leave Europeans at the mercy of their ruling class. In America, the First Amendment (and the attitude it embodies), continues to provide Americans the strongest speech rights of any people on earth. Big Tech cannot be allowed to impose European speech codes in digital public squares within American jurisdictions. It is an affront to American sovereignty, and by demanding conformity to a European understanding of speech rights, Big Tech threatens to mold our culture’s perception of speech in a way that will undermine our independent attitude toward speech and even threaten the longevity of the First Amendment.

Organic Prepper on Liberals Burning Books

In Mainstream Media Thinks Parler Is a “Threat to Democracy” Because Libertarians and Conservatives Get to Post, Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper talks about liberal outrage over social media alternative Parler – the free speech social network. Mainstream social media tech giants have been removing conservative and libertarian voices from places like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and many others in order to stifle dissenting voices in the name of false truth. These liberals want to remove alternative ideas from circulation. This is no different than burning books – books being the way most ideas circulated before the advent of internet technology. Liberals cried out, rightly, against book burning for many decades, and now liberals the book burners. As Time magazine once said, “if you are on the side of book-burners, you’ve already lost the argument.”

After years of being censored on Facebook and Twitter, conservatives, libertarians, and other fans of free speech are making a mass exodus to new platforms. One that has really taken off since the election is Parler, which has been the most downloaded app in the country over the past two weeks.

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media and left-wing extremists are outraged. How dare the people who have been censored, deplatformed, and shut down on their social media sites move to a site that promises not to treat them like pariahs? (By the way, you can find me on Parler here: @daisyluther ) They go as far as to say it’s a “threat to democracy” because libertarians and conservatives get to post.

I mean, seriously, we can’t be letting conservatives and libertarians post their opinions all willy-nilly, right? What will happen without the “fact-checkers?”

Why on earth WOULDN’T people go to a different network?

Personally, I haven’t had access to my own Facebook pages for more than a year and won’t unless I send them photos of my passport, a utility bill, and other identifying information – because they didn’t think my driver’s license was sufficient. As well, I voluntarily archived my thriving preparedness groups because of the threat of losing both my groups, my own personal account, and the accounts of all my moderators if we let through a post of which Facebook disapproved. I wrote more about it here.

And remember when Twitter shut down Zero Hedge’s account for posting something about the coronavirus they deemed as misinformation that was later proven to be true? And how they put warnings on nearly anything the President posts? And how conservative and libertarian websites are being demonetized?

I invite you to try posting anything on standard social media that questions vaccines, the outcome of the election, the COVID lockdowns, or is pro-gun. I’ll see you in Facebook jail.

Everyone who is leaving is a crazy racist.

To hear the MSM talk about it, everyone over there has a “bunker mentality”, they’re joyously engaging in racism and hate speech, and they just want an echo chamber. It’s “not good for the country,” according to commentators on CNN.

“There’s this new social media app called Parler getting a lot of attention, because conservatives are leaving, saying they’re leaving Twitter and Facebook, going of to Parler, because they believe Parler is a safer space for them. What we’re seeing is even more of a bunker mentality in right-wing media. And ultimately that’s not good for the country.”

“No it’s not good, it’s a threat to democracy,” Pamela Brown replied, “that these people are in echo chambers and they’re getting fed a diet of lies essentially.” (source)

Incidentally, sweeping generalizations aside, there are a lot of folks over there (like me) who are not politically conservative.

CNN is not alone in their hysteria about the social media outlet. Here’s what the mainstream media is saying about Parler and the folks using it. Yes, the irony over their outrage is palpable. And yes, it does seem like they’re trying to further divide the country. Be sure to like the video and subscribe to the channel – it’s a great show with timely subject matter. (Warning: Some harsh language)

For those of you new to Parler:

If you ask questions on those videos, I’m sure you’ll get an answer.

Things to remember about social media

For those who want free speech that is not left-leaning, Parler definitely seems like a better option than the Big Tech monoliths. However, there are a few things to remember.

  • If you get to use something for free, you are the product. Either your eyeballs on advertisements or your information will make Parler money one of these days. And it’s understandable – the expense of running a platform like that is immense.
  • While the rules may be favorable toward your position right now, it doesn’t mean they always will be. Facebook didn’t start out censoring the snot out of everyone who didn’t agree with Mark Zuckerberg. The rules will evolve.
  • Don’t share too much personal information. I know you guys are aware of this, but I just want to remind you not to share the kind of personal information that would allow people to find out where you live, when you’ll be on vacation, etc. Nothing online is that safe.
  • Don’t become too dependent on one outlet. Whether you’re a blogger like me or someone who just wants to connect with like-minded people, don’t forget that you are using their platform. They make the rules and they can decide whether you can stay or go, whether you can post certain things, or whether they want to change direction. It’s comparable to building a house on borrowed land. It might be nice land, but it’s not yours.

With these caveats in mind, I’ll see you over there if you are a social media person. Find me @daisyluther on Parler and please consider checking out our forum, here, for more in-depth preparedness discussions.

Do you think a more conservative social media outlet is a bad thing?

Are you bothered by a social media platform that doesn’t conservatives and libertarians? Or do you think it’s fair and reasonable to be able to share your opinions equally?

Liberty Blitzkrieg on Social Media Censorship

While the title of the article is Zerohedge’s Twitter Account is Permanently Banished this article by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg is more about why censorship, especially a lifetime ban, is egregious for any social media platform. Today Twitter also suspended conservative journalist James O’Keefe for reporting on some Bernie Sanders campaign supporters.

This post will cover three main issues. First, the fact that Twitter and other social media companies have essentially created a caste system when it comes to engagement on their platforms. Second, the question of whether or not a lifetime ban from social media platforms is an ethical concept. Third, the dangers of Twitter essentially throwing the entire timeline of a banished account into the memory hole.

As the internet and social media started gaining traction, the idea of the “citizen journalist” grew increasingly popular and the public discovered how all sorts of previously unknown people can bring a great deal of hidden information and interesting perspectives to the table. This led to competing narratives on all sorts of topics, and we all basically agreed it’s best to treat people like adults and let them sort things out for themselves. That is, until Hillary Clinton lost an election.

At that point, a certain segment of the population went completely mental and started demanding social media companies fight and censor “fake news.” This anti-liberal perspective, largely promoted by self-proclaimed liberals, deeply affected how social media executives think about and treat platform content in the subsequent years. The result has been that Twitter and other tech giants have effectively created a caste system on their platforms. Though they won’t explicitly admit it, the executives at these companies now seem to believe certain people and organizations should be given priority to shape the national narrative, while others should be diminished. While they tolerate the latter group until they become too influential and disruptive, the former class exists at a level entirely above Twitter’s terms of service. Certain people and organizations are permitted to do whatever they like on the platform, while others are subject to increasingly arbitrary and subjective bans. It’s rapidly becoming an intentionally rigged system designed to reallocate narrative control in a certain direction.

Ask yourself, do you think there’s anything CNN could do to get banned from Twitter for life? I don’t. I genuinely think the news organization CNN can do absolutely anything it wants on or off Twitter and never be considered for a lifetime ban. Why? It’s a protected organization. CNN is above the Twitter law, and as such exists at the very top of the social media caste system. It’s not just CNN of course, there are many individuals and organizations simply not subject to Twitter’s terms of service in the way you or I are. A politician calling for mass government violence abroad (war) is another example. This sort of thing happens regularly without any consequences. Why? Twitter has determined advocating for preemptive government violence is considered reasonable. They’ve determined advocating for one form of violence (war) is fine, but advocating for other kinds of violence is not. Nobody asked for any of this, but here we are.

The next thing I want to discuss is the entire concept of a lifetime ban from a dominant social media company like Twitter. The more I think about it, the more ethically indefensible this practice appears to be. Just as we shouldn’t jail a person for life except under the most extreme circumstances, we shouldn’t be comfortable flippantly banning people forever on large social media platforms. Such action assumes people can’t and don’t change, but Twitter doesn’t seem to be looking at the enforcement of its terms of service from a fundamentally fair or ethical point of view. Executives are increasingly utilizing this most extreme form of punishment, the lifetime ban, at the drop of a hat for minor or misunderstood violations. There are many other ways Twitter could deal with what it deems to be serious violations. You can have three month, six month or even year long bans, but a lifetime banishment is an extreme and indefensible position in almost all cases I’ve observed in recent months.

As such, it’s become clear to me Twitter isn’t using this tool in order to enforce its terms of service, but rather its terms of service exist to provide an excuse to eliminate anyone or any account executives or Brooklyn-based corporate bloggers deem unpalatable…

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Algorithmic Feudalism (Tech Giant Evil)

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg has written another good article, this one on the dangers that the algorithms used by tech giants pose to our very ability to think. Are you sure your thoughts are your own when every interaction online is being used to present the ideas that are most profitable to those with the power?

Algorithmic Feudalism

…It’s important to note that while much of the recent focus on tech giants revolves around market dominance and anti-competitiveness, the real danger posed is far more extensive. Particularly since the post-election “panic of 2016,” these companies have begun to more earnestly morph into digital information gatekeepers in the name of empire and the national security state.

Day by day, tweaked algorithm by tweaked algorithm, and with each new thought criminal banished from major digital platforms, we’ve seen not only dissident views marginalized, but we’ve also lost a capacity to access information we’re looking for should tech company CEOs or their national security state partners deem it inappropriate. The powers that be have determined the internet permitted too much freedom of thought and opinion, so the tech giants stand ready to bluntly throw the hammer down in order to reverse that trend and regain narrative control. The algorithm will be used to get you in line, and if you don’t comply, the algorithm will destroy you.

More from TruthDig:

Stiegler believes that digital technology, in the hands of technocrats whom he calls “the new barbarians,” now threatens to dominate our tertiary memory, leading to a historically unprecedented “proletarianization” of the human mind. For Stiegler, the stakes today are much higher than they were for Marx, from whom this term is derived: proletarianization is no longer a threat posed to physical labor but to the human spirit itself…

Stiegler firmly believes that a distinction must always be upheld between “authentic thinking” and “computational cognitivism” and that today’s crisis lies in confusing the latter for the former: we have entrusted our rationality to computational technologies that now dominate everyday life, which is increasingly dependent on glowing screens driven by algorithmic anticipations of their users’ preferences and even writing habits (e.g., the repugnantly named “predictive text” feature that awaits typed-in characters to regurgitate stock phrases)… As Stiegler’s translator, the philosopher and filmmaker Daniel Ross, puts it, our so-called post-truth age is one “where calculation becomes so hegemonic as to threaten the possibility of thinking itself.” 

This is the true crux of what we’re dealing with, and so we find ourselves at a terrifying transition point in the entire historical human experience should we fail to correct it. As a consequence of their dominant market shares in core areas of our modern digital world like e-commerce (Amazon), human-to-human communication (Facebook) and information access (Google), tech giants now have the capacity to replace human curiosity and thought with opaque and ever-changing algorithms…

The internet was supposed to free information while connecting people and ideas across borders. This promise is being lost with each passing day, and rectifying the situation is one of the most significant challenges we face. Should we fail, we can look forward to a future where humanity consists of little more than digitally lobotomized automatons responding like lab rats to algorithms created by tech CEOs and their national security state partners.

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

More Anti-Gun Crazy from New York

From RochesterFirst.com, more proof that the inmates are running the asylum – Proposed law would let State search gun owner’s social media and internet history. The privacy invasions involved in this bill are a new level of crazy. Look for more of this mental diarrhea coming to a state near you.

A new act introduced in the New York State Assembly this month would require pistol owners to submit to a “social media review.”

Anyone applying for, or renewing a pistol permit would have to give up all login information, including passwords, for any social media sites they’re a part of.

Posts from the past three years on site like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat would be reviewed for language containing slurs, racial/gender bias, threats and terrorism.

One year of search history on Google/Yahoo/Bing would also be reviewed.

Related:

Conservative Firing Line: New York Senate Bill 9191 – Destroying the Bill of Rights

American Partisan: Social Media, Free Speech, and Censorship

Matt Bracken has written Social Media, Free Speech, and Censorship over on American Partisan. In this article, Bracken says that unlimited free speech on social platforms is not the answer, but rather advocates a “not permitting proponents of Communism, Islamism, or Nazism to participate” (ideologies with proven records of genocide) limitation. To an extent it is an ad for a new social media platform, but the question is important. What is the correct and/or healthy amount of free speech on a private social media platform? Should such platforms even be considered private, or have they taken the place of and be treated as public forums? Here is an excerpt:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other social media platforms cost nothing to use, so how do these corporations turn a profit? It’s no secret that they automatically data-mine and analyze all the information posted by their users, then package and sell this information to other corporations to help target their advertising.

But the same automated processes that are exploited by advertisers are also used by these platforms to tilt the ideological playing field in favor of their own leftist so-called social justice agenda. As an example, I have been suspended from Facebook for six out of the past twelve months for posting memes that others report posting with no consequences, indicating that more stringent rules apply to designated “bad comrades” than to average users. Hidden algorithms are used to throttle, shadow-ban, and remove followers from targeted users in order to decrease their impact on leftist-controlled social media platforms.

In Britain and Germany, users of social media who complain too vocally about the ill effects of uncontrolled immigration and other counter-PC topics are even arrested and charged with hate crimes, but the primary purpose of these draconian policies is to cause the rest of the population to self-censor their true opinions in order to avoid similar consequences.

Conservatives dissatisfied with this state of affairs have been searching for social media alternatives where their social and political views would not be punished, and many small niche websites have sprung up in a feeble attempt to fill the void. The half-million or so users of Gab.ai made it the biggest of the alternative platforms, and the first to achieve any significance, since perhaps FreeRepublic.com in the early 2000s, or Breitbart and Gateway Pundit today…

Absolute freedom of speech is a loophole exploited throughout history by the enemies of freedom to achieve power…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

China’s Socially Networked Repression

This is from John Robb over at Global Guerrillas.  Could it happen here?

Train score

China’s social credit score in action (it’s how China is ushering in a long night of socially networked repression).

Essentially, this is a score that follows you for life. It’s public and accessible.

It goes down: If you break any rules, say bad things online, pay a creditor late, or any of a rapidly expanding list of immoral things…

A negative score impacts your ability to access government services. The companies you can buy products from (they don’t want to sell to people with low scores). Your friends and the people you can marry (they get a lower score if you have a low score).

China’s dictatorship needed a way to control an advanced, socially networked society.

This is it.