Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remain unchallenged in their censoring of voices — ranging from private citizens to a sitting U.S. president.
Freedom of expression, no matter its content, is considered one of the cornerstones of a free society. For communities to remain healthy, it is critical to maintain a diversity of opinion and to cultivate a public forum that acknowledges diversity in thought as a strength, not a liability or threat.
However, Big Tech giants, with their own murky agendas, continue to censor independent voices, often with dubious, arbitrary and inconsistent reasoning.
In recent years, there have been a myriad of instances of censorship by the Big Tech firms. It has become clear that these instances of censorship are not isolated events but common practice; a sustained attack on everyone’s fundamental freedoms.
Steven Crowder is a popular conservative comedian and pundit who produces content for two YouTube channels. His flagship channel, “Louder with Crowder”, boasts over 5.4 million subscribers and his videos regularly garner millions of views.
Crowder is currently temporarily banned by YouTube. He is unable to post any new content to his channel for two weeks. This is Crowder’s second strike from YouTube. Should he receive a third strike his channel will be deleted.
According to YouTube the reasoning for his suspension is as follows;
“In particular, this video violated the aspect of the policy that prohibits “content reveling in or mocking the death or serious injury of an identifiable individual.” Accordingly, the video has been removed and a strike has been applied to the Steven Crowder channel. This constitutes the second active strike on the Steven Crowder channel and, as a result, uploads are now suspended for two weeks.”
Here is the background. The video produced by Crowder and his team acknowledged the reality that a recent police shooting in Columbus, Ohio, of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.
An argument concerning household chores, escalated into physical violence between Bryant and another child. The police were called to Bryant’s residence.
Widely distributed footage from body cameras and surveillance shows Bryant engaged in what was deemed by many as a potentially lethal action. Bryant was in the process of thrusting a knife towards another unarmed child when the officer fired four shots at Bryant hitting her at least once, halting the assault and potentially saving the life of the victim. Bryant was provided immediate medical care but pronounced dead at 5:21 pm Eastern time at Mount Carmel East Hospital on April 20, 2021.
While the shooting is currently under investigation, no charges are expected against the officer involved.
The video in question is unavailable to be published as it has been removed from all public platforms. And herein lies the problem. The void left by the censoring of this content only serves to breed speculation and misinformation. Ideas, controversial or otherwise, need to be judged by individuals based on their merit not deleted at the whim of a private company.
Crowder was quick to comment via Twitter on his recent suspension, sharing a video exposing the tech giants’ inconsistency in applying their policies.
YouTube videos forced into ‘private’ mode
YouTube has been quietly locking down politically dissident videos by placing them in “locked as private” mode thus preventing them from being viewed by anyone other than the uploader.
Laura Loomer is a right-wing activist, journalist and aspiring politician whose rhetoric often straddles the line between socially acceptable and inflamed. Her YouTube channel currently has over 88,000 subscribers and her videos regularly receive thousands of views. However, Loomer has not posted in over four months.
A video of hers, titled “Why Does The Left Blame White People for Everything?”, was set to private mode on April 1, 2021, along with all her other videos, three years after it had been published.
In a post on Gab Loomer stated that “the video they cited is three years old!…More political censorship and discrimination from Big Tech!”
Loomer was also banned from Twitter for allegedly contravening their “Hate Speech” policies with a tweet about Minnesota’s first Somali American elected official, Ilhan Omar.
The tweet read;
“isn’t it ironic how the twitter moment used to celebrate “women, LGBT, and minorities” is a picture of Ilhan Omar? Ilhan is pro-Shariah Ilhan is pro-FGM Under Shariah homosexuals are oppressed and killed. Women are abused and forced to wear the hijab. Ilhan is anti-Jewish.”
While controversial and inflamed, as Loomer tends to operate, labelling what she expressed as hate speech has been panned as arguable.
Loomer has been banned by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and “broke down in tears discussing how the bans from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have eliminated “90%” of her income and “ruined” her life, as reported by the Dailywire.
Some have designated her the “most banned” woman in the world.
Efforts by the Big Tech giants to deplatform former U.S. President Donald Trump while he was still in office is perhaps the boldest of actions taken by these corporations.
The Capitol Hill incident, on Jan. 6, seems to be the catalyst that emboldened Big Tech to ban the president. Trump was portrayed as being the instigator of the crime of storming the Capitol, even though there’s no evidence that he wanted his supporters to do anything apart from peacefully protest.
Twitter was the first Big Tech giant to ban the then seated president justifying the action as an attempt to limit any violence. Ironically, the first tweets of his that were banned were the ones calling for the crowd that had gathered at the capitol on January 6, to go home.
Consequently, Twitter permanently suspended the sitting president’s account and recently re-imposed the ban. Facebook banned Donald Trump from posting to his accounts and just recently upheld that ban as well. Instagram instituted an identical ban as Facebook. Reddit shut down the subreddit group “r/DonaldTrump”. Snapchat disabled Trump’s account and Trump’s YouTube channel had some videos removed from the platform and then banned him from uploading any further content.
The president, who relied on these large platforms to engage with his supporters, was completely shut out by the Big Tech firms. The deplatforming of a sitting US president has no precedence and was widely condemned by individuals across the political spectrum.