After the 2016 Presidential election, independent publishers, conservative bloggers, and free thinkers on the web have faced extreme censorship from the Tech giants – Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, etc. These social media juggernauts have the power to stop the flow of any news they consider “fake.” They have filters and algorithms that systematically block specific terms, content, and videos. They have the power to shadow ban users based on the ideas they share, the words they use, and the beliefs they espouse. Social media companies have used “hate speech” policies to marginalize specific viewpoints and have them blocked. There is no such thing as a free and open internet any longer. When a social media company says they want to combat “Russian propaganda” or stop “misinformation,” they are endorsing an official narrative, forcing it on the public, and censoring out any dissent or other perspective on the matter.
Now the tech giants are getting together and discussing “centralized censorship” to coordinate the universal blocking of videos and news reports that question official narratives. In 2017, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube launched the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). In a bid to keep the global internet safe from terrorist propaganda, the tech giants have devised a database system that identifies “extreme and egregious” content so it can be removed in real-time. This is how the Tech giants plan to control the public’s perception on future tragedies and historical events. GIFCT allows participating social media companies to share a database of hashed files to automatically block users from uploading content that has already been disavowed by the tech elite.
The GIFCT database was recently used to quickly remove content related to the recent terrorist attacks on ChristChurch in New Zealand. According to Chris Sonderby, VP and Deputy General Counsel for Facebook, “We continue to work around the clock to prevent this content from appearing on our site, using a combination of technology and people.”
Sonderby said that Facebook removed the original Facebook Live video of the event and “hashed it” so that any other video similar to it can be detected and “automatically removed from Facebook and Instagram.” Once a video is hashed, any real-time depiction of that same event will also be blocked. This hash system will inadvertently wipe out important historical details about an event and hinder investigation and real journalism into the matter. As all related videos are scrubbed, the tech giants withhold important information about an event and can shape the public’s perception about that event. As the tech giants begin sharing these hashes in a centralized database, they can work together to control what the public has access to across all social media platforms. The tech giants are literally writing their own version of history by filtering out all videos and subsequently all truthful articles that would come about after seeing, hearing, and knowing what actually happened.
Even more eye-opening, the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, wants to expand GIFCT into a “joint virtual command center” to allow all tech companies the ability to coordinate during major events so that they can decide what content is in “the public interest.” Microsoft desires industry-wide action on this issue so that Internet users can only see and hear official information.
The tech giants are also threatening to go beyond just content hashes. They are “experimenting with sharing URLs systematically rather than just content hashes.” This would create a centralized blacklist of URLs so that videos, accounts, forums, and entire websites can be blocked. These efforts may also include browser-based filters on every computer that are automatically turned on to block users from accessing or downloading “forbidden” content.
The tech giants are selling this coordinated “centralized censorship” plan in the name of safety, as they promise to protect internet users from “terrorist propaganda.” The tech giants want to moderate content during and after a high-profile incident. This is an attack on independent journalism; it is a coordinated manipulation scheme over future events.
After the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said it was “Easter worshippers” who were attacked, not Christians. This is a basic example of how the liberal elite want to use hashes, speech control, filters, and the twisting of words to control the narrative about events in real-time. This liberal manipulation will be used to control voter motivations, and incite knee-jerk policy decisions such as gun control, while directing the public’s emotions toward liberal agendas.
Facebook openly stated they added at least 800 new hashes after the Christchurch attack. As the list of hashes grows, there is no transparency or accountability. No one on the outside knows what kind of content is being targeted. No one knows the political and business motivations behind the censorship of select information. Even worse, there’s no audit or appeals process to challenge this ever-expanding censorship. As social media posts and pages are removed, as URLs become blocked, as users become shadow banned, there is no pathway to challenge these monopolistic tech giants for violating freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech.
Tech giants’ ever-expanding hash database and automated filtering tools are a black hole, sucking in and destroying American journalism and democracy. These censorship efforts, sold under the guise of keeping people safe, are in violation of everything the United States Republic stands for.