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Battle Specter Minds: Censorship?

BattleSpecterMar 6, 2018, 4:09:18 PM
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Note: YouTube is a private company, and they have a right to freedom of association, just like anyone else. Just like my piddly little business. Just like a baker, and Dicks (so aptly named that sporting goods store). And I have no intentions of shaming them into changing their beliefs, or unlocking Sargon of Akkad's most recent "This Week in Stupid" from YouTube prison. Yet, given YouTube and Google's position within the sphere of the internet, and their overall scope and control of most things, I do wonder if Google has too much power to control what is seen or not based on their ideological position.

There was recently an attempt by Google after the most recent mass murder in Florida to curb internet searches for "gun" things that backfired in a rather spectacular fashion. However, that's not to say that Google will just get more sly about what they allow people using their search engine to find, and by extension, what they allow people on their video sharing platform to see and share. Google is a giant on the internet, and they have a ton of leverage and capacity to actually implement something akin to "The Great Firewall of China." Same with other companies like Facebook or Twitter. The larger the companies influence on the internet, the more capacity for restricting views they don't agree with.

And to be fair, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others have already been caught trying to implement such things and have been forced to pull back (so far as the laymen like myself knows). I can't read millions of lines of code let alone understand how those lines interact. For the average person whose feed is filled with things they'll probably "like" and nothing that goes against their beliefs, the chances of noticing that something isn't right are rather slim. While the technologies that these companies use do help businesses get ahead of sales power curves and make boat loads of money, they also serve to segregate us online, and keep us in our echo chambers. The readily obvious problem is that we never see or hear outside opinions and are in fact isolated from such distractions. The flip side is like I mentioned above. If we can't see anything but what we want, we never have a full picture, and we never know what's really going on.

I don't like the idea of regulating companies for the reasons listed in the first paragraph. I also believe it's a bad idea to force companies to comply with feel good measures forced down by the government. I'd much rather just use the power of migration from one site to the next. Voting with our internet feet seems the most peaceful and simple way to enact change and get internet companies to remain honest and transparent. But this isn't just a problem with these companies. I doubt YouTube just decided, on a whim, to limit access and provide a warning to Sargon's most recent TWIS. Users flagged the video, and YouTube, wishing to protect itself from retaliation, took steps to isolate a potential problem. Unfortunately, for the people who post there, this is something that can happen, and with past initiatives, was almost promoted by YouTube themselves.

Mass flagging campaigns can shut down debate on YouTube, and restrict the voices of those affected. These actions also sew distrust amongst the community, and force people to censor themselves to protect their ability to post and be heard. I'm not sure of the procedure companies like YouTube have with regards to clearing a channel once it's been labeled (perhaps maliciously) of something, but from what I can see, there seems to be a "Guilty until proved innocent" mentality that is pervasive online. This helps no one, and stifles debate whenever it's implemented. And looking at the things you can report a video for, there is no positive in it. Not a single way to positively report a video. No way for a third party to try and help. Comments are shut down. Likes/dislikes are disabled. Sharing is removed as an option. The video is, for all intents and purposes, "banned" outside YouTube and given the label of "problematic."

This is a problem that I wish I had an answer for, and to be honest, I do have an answer. Make your own site, and direct people to it. People like Sargon of Akkad, Matt Christiansen, Blonde in the Belly of the Beast, Blaire White and others have the clout to keep one running with minimal donations each year. Doing this would provide them not only a censor free voice, but remove traffic from the sites that wish to enact "guilty until proved innocent" measures to protect themselves. Each content creator is ultimately responsible for their own content, brand, and the messages of that content- not YouTube. Perhaps we are reaching a tipping point where sites like YouTube and Facebook become not the repository for information, but the link to larger audiences.

This is my plan for content moving forward. Link my site to places like Minds.com or Facebook, and retain not only the rights to the content, but the right to keep that content available to my audience. I believe it's time to vote with our digital feet. Create our own places, and our own followings. Take personal responsibility and liberty to the next level, and go rogue. Do you agree? Disagree? Have abetter idea? Let's talk below.