Tech Company Platforms Move Into Censorship

Tech Company Platforms Move Into Censorship

Tech Company Platforms Move Into Censorship

What has been incremental, is now moving faster. Tech company platforms like Google (which owns YouTube) and Pinterest are engaging in outright censorship by banning content that they don’t like.

This is a move from the “platform” stance to the “publisher” stance, which actually will create a lot more problems for the tech giants in the future, as they could be held liable for whatever content appears on their websites, if they continue on with this shift. Google CEO Sundar Pichai made this very clear in a new interview. First Alex Jones (because no one likes him), then Steven Crowder (who some people don’t like), and then whoever else they want.

“Look, we aren’t quite where we want to be,” Pichai told “Axios on HBO.” While YouTube is improving on eliminating content it deems problematic, he suggested, they are still working toward even more extensive content-controlling measures.”

Google, said Pichai, “rank[s] content based on quality.” They plan to apply that same approach to YouTube. “And so we are bringing that same notion and approach to YouTube so that we can rank higher quality stuff better and really prevent borderline content,” he said.”

Pichai then offered a definition of what he means by “borderline content.” “Content which doesn’t exactly violate policies, which need to be removed, but which can still cause harm,” he said, in language echoing YouTube’s statement to Crowder days later.”

The issue is “a hard computer science problem,” said Pichai, but an even harder “societal problem because we need better frameworks around what is hate speech, what’s not, and how do we as a company make those decisions at scale, and get it right without making mistakes.”

Pichai has been on the hot seat in front of Congress, most notably last December, when he claimed that actual people were looking at the content on YouTube. That doesn’t seem likely, because in this latest “purge” many educational channels were wiped out because they had historical content on Nazi Germany.


That doesn’t sound like “teams” of people actually looking at the content – that sounds like an algorithm that got programmed. And we all know that Google has a political bias.

And now Pinterest has moved into censorship. Yes, Pinterest. You thought this tech company platform was only for recipes and craft ideas? Nope. Advocacy groups have been using Pinterest for a long time, but now Pinterest has been quietly eliminating pro-life groups off its platform.


And it gets better. Project Veritas has a whistle-blower who provided documents that Pinterest decided to eliminate Live Action by tagging it as “pornography.”

“I was pretty surprised,” said the Pinterest insider in an interview, when s/he discovered that pro-life group LiveAction.org was added to a “porn domain block list.” The insider explained that the “block list” was intended to be a collection of pornographic websites that Pinterest uses in order ensure that pornography cannot be posted. LiveAction.org is not a pornographic website, instead it is the web domain of a prominent pro-life advocacy group.”

The insider explained that websites on a “domain block list” cannot be linked in posts made by users. While investigating, Project Veritas tried to post the LiveAction.org link on Pinterest and failed to do so, receiving an error message that read, “Sorry! Your request could not be completed.” Project Veritas reviewed the list of websites from the “porn domain block list” and was able to confirm that along with LiveAction.org, websites like zerohedge.com, pjmedia.com, teaparty.org and other various conservative websites were also listed. The majority of the document lists pornographic websites.”

Another document Project Veritas reviewed shows code that reads, “mem add [‘liveaction.org’].” The insider explains that this code, which according to the document was committed to the “porn domain block list” on February 13th, 2019, added LiveAction.org to the block list. The code was apparently committed by Megan McClellan who works on Pinterest’s Trust and Safety team.”

On May 29th, 2019, Ginet Girmay, a Pinterest employee on the company’s Trust and Safety team, discusses LiveAction.org’s inclusion on the “porn domain block list.” Girmay says “I do not think [LiveAction.org] should be removed…” even though Pinterest “is not currently removing pro-life/pro-choice content.”

Another document Project Veritas received was a screenshot from an internal Slack channel at Pinterest, where Public Policy and Social Impact Manager Ifeoma Ozoma instructed others to monitor the platform for “white supremacist” content from individuals like conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens. Three days after Ozoma’s message, the terms “ben shapiro muslim” and “ben shapiro islam” were added to the “Sensitive Terms List.”

Yes, Google, YouTube, and Pinterest are all private companies. But shouldn’t any tech company be honest about its censorship? YouTube keeps changing the rules in order to police content and in order to make it harder for those they don’t like to get their message out, in hopes of quashing the speech they don’t like, and perhaps in hopes that the mob will eat them last. That’s never how it works. And just one person, with access to the programming code, can alter what is seen and not seen by millions.

Where there is censorship, there is opportunity. If a tech company which has presented itself as a platform now decides to become a publisher, this opens the tech market to competition. There should be some bright techie out there, right now, writing code for a new video-sharing platform site. And when it arrives, it should be used by everyone who values the free expression of ideas. More speech is always the answer, not less. And these tech companies may just algorithm and censor themselves right out of the market, if people are willing to take a stand against them by using other platforms.

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30 Comments
  • I’m reading this article in a hospital, on their wireless, which blocks me from certain inocous conservate and gun related sites.

  • Scott says:

    Typical leftist / facist bullshit! “You must accept our diversity / perversity! Everything is acceptable!!! (Unless we disagree with it, then it must be banned!)”

  • GWB says:

    One thing to ponder: if they are truly publishers, instead of a platform, then there’s no governmental/societal incentive to block others from simply reverse engineering what they do and building out their OWN platforms publishing empires using the exact same, interchangeable technology.

    One of the issues with FarceBook and youTube and Twitter and such, is they don’t allow direct interchange with someone else’s platform. When being employed as a platform that level of monopoly is sorta acceptable. When you’re an actual publisher, it’s unacceptable.

    If we have 20 FarceBooks out there, all freely interchanging information (some of them not selling your info!) it would create a lot more freedom. If we had 20 Twitters out there, swapping twits tw*ts tweets gossip, it would enlarge freedom (while possibly also enlarging stupidity – one of the risks of freedom).

    • Scott says:

      Agree 100% GWB, sunlight is the best disinfectant, and competition would be great in these realms..as would seeing them being held accountable as publishers, since thats where they want to go with this crap..

    • John says:

      I agree. They should be legally required to have a public API which allows any user to self-host content seamlessly. If YouTube decides that Stephen Crowder’s comedy show is too offensive, he should be able to contact a hosting provider, direct all of his videos to an alternative host, and his URL (YouTube.com/LouderWithCrowder – or whatever the actual URL is) should redirect to his alternative service provider seamlessly. This type of technology exists in other social media platforms, we just need to mandate that all tech platforms of this size provide one.

      (I do think individuals should always legally retain the specific URL to their property, and pages should never be permitted to be omitted from search results.)

  • GWB says:

    he claimed that actual people were looking at the content on YouTube. That doesn’t seem likely
    You seem to be under the impression that people are smarter than machines, in this case. I would assume otherwise, given what we know about young people’s knowledge of history, religion and ideology nowadays.

    Pinterest uses in order ensure that pornography cannot be posted
    BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If I go searching for nekididity, I’ll find a lot of it on Pinterest.

    pjmedia.com
    Wow.

    “white supremacist” content from individuals like […] Candace Owens
    *smdh*
    None of these words have any real meaning for them. “White supremacist” is just a magic phrase – like “heretic” or “witch” – intended to brand the accused as a person of WrongThink.

    are all private companies
    Well, yes, and no. They’ve been given governmental-level power by granting them effective monopolies on certain areas of communication. (Though, a lot of that power has been granted because people are LAZY and don’t want to bother to do things like embed videos directly on their websites, instead of using youTube’s easy “we’ll do all the work for you” method.)

    • SDN says:

      “Though, a lot of that power has been granted because people are LAZY and don’t want to bother to do things like embed videos directly on their websites, instead of using youTube’s easy “we’ll do all the work for you” method.”

      So, do we give up our Second Amendment rights because we don’t all become gunsmiths? Because that’s the exact logic you’re using here. “Lazy” doesn’t apply.

      • GWB says:

        No, that’s not the logic I’m using. The analogy to 2A rights is bad.

        You get some of the words right, but the angle is all wrong. The laziness of consumers has given the tech monopolies power. It hasn’t directly given away their 1A rights.

        A better 2A analogy would be that if you don’t actually go and buy firearms from your local retailer, don’t be surprised some day when you go looking for one and they’re all out of business. Or that they don’t have local inventory – you just order stuff from their kiosk, then pick it up when it arrives. You haven’t given up your 2A rights, you’ve just lost a large part of the ability to exercise them.

        If you don’t want the behemoth to be able to control your content, then do the work to be able to control it yourself.

  • a bee ee? says:

    Christian/conservative alternative to Facebook:

    http://usa.life

    Pass it on.

  • David Byler says:

    and so we do what we have done in other places when this sort of nonsense has occurred. we make cartoons with subtlety and we record songs that tell our message. In Croatia for example, we even got the Communist controlled record company to record and publish a number of these things. heh heh. Of course the commies got out of hand and some people had to flee ….

    • John says:

      Google has removed music that is entirely musical (no lyrics) because they considered this music to be ‘for’ the wrong ideology. They don’t really care how absurd or unjust their actions are because they think no one will ever hold them accountable for it.

  • John says:

    There’s a lot of changes that must be done. The conversation about “publisher” vs. “platform” is just the start.

    I believe we must start considering things like YouTube channels, Twitter accounts, Facebook groups as the digital “property” of the people who actually create and maintain them. The value people find in visiting these sites is in the content, which is created by the people who own these properties, not by Google / Facebook / Twitter directly. I visit YouTube to see people like Computing Forever, Brittany Pettibone, Stefan Molyneux, h3h3, and so on. These specific channels are property (e.g. URLs) that YouTube, Google, Facebook give away for free (in exchange for what-should-be-illegal levels of personal surveillance). Some people have turned these digital properties into attractive locations that other people want to visit by creating content that people want to see.

    Now Google / Facebook / Twitter want to change the terms of the contract and deprive the creators of their property. This is wrong on many levels. We just recently saw the Left attempt to get Stephen Crowder banned from YouTube, a platform where more than 4 million people follow him. There needs to be a legitimate legal recourse for people who build businesses in the digital space only to have big tech companies come along and attempt to deprive them of their livelihood according to a set of “community guidelines” that are vague and ever-shifting. There needs to be due process of law.

    ( We could talk in more detail about how tech companies should be obligated to provide an API to allow federation of the community. However, that’s a deeper technical rabbit hole.)

    Beyond that we need to talk about algorithms and the destructive effect it can have no transparency or control over algorithms that we rely upon for informing public decisions. When I use a search algorithm on the computer to find me a list of files by date, I don’t expect Microsoft to use its discretion and personal biases to determine whether I should be permitted to see certain files. It would be completely unacceptable for Microsoft to scan the content of my local files and decide they didn’t want to show me any pictures of cats, because they prefer dogs, for example.

    SImilarly, it’s highly objectionable when Google uses its own discretion and personal biases to decide which search results to show me. If I want to search for information on “guns” or “abortion” Google returns a list of links which are ranked according to a political “authority” score which ranks anti-Gun or Pro-Abortion results higher than the opposing perspectives. This is a hugely deceptive and manipulative practice which we cannot let continue unabated.

    At a bare minimum tech companies with this type of algorithmically curated interface need to provide *full transparency* about how they are using their algoirthms. That means we need third party audits of big tech.

    Additionally, users should be able to control the algorithm that’s used in a search. Obviously this is technically a difficult problem, but goes to the heart of what search actually is — A tool for accessing and collating data. Google is utilized for more than 90% of all searches worldwide. If we let Google decide that meter is now 110 cm instead of 100cm, and they decide to suppress information stating that a meter is 100cm, then they can and probably will be able to defraud the public in this way. This is already happening on a number of subjects, whether it is global warming, gun control, abortion, political candidates, authoritative news sources — Google’s bias in search is pervasive and destructive. There is a compelling national / international interest in ensuring that individuals have visibility and control into the workings of this tool that is used by virtually everyone.

  • SDN says:

    One of the things that the “build yer own” types overlook is that there are multiple layers to this onion we call the internet, and each of those layers is both necessary, and is built using software that is licensed. If any of those license holders decide to withdraw permission on the grounds of “fighting white privilege”, the whole thing downstream collapses. So the first obstacle to our “bright young techie” is simply that unless he can duplicate the entire IT infrastructure, down to the microprocessor code in the CPU, his nifty idea won’t see the light of day if one of those license holders decides to withdraw their license to use any of it. Oh, and they can send cops around to make sure the “software pirates” aren’t using it.

    Now, sure, our “bright young techie” can try and prove he isn’t using it, but he’s going to have to spend a lot of time and money better used on development. Want a prime example? How much money and time is being used by Masterpiece bakery exercising their 1A rights? And this is happening even with a 100% success rate in court; the process will eventually bankrupt him. See also Sarah Palin, driven from the governorship of Alaska by a host of baseless ethics charges…. that she would bankrupt herself and her family trying to beat.

    Which of course brings up another point? How’s our “bright young techie” going to PAY for it all? Especially since it’s now legal to close his bank accounts and shut him out of payment processing for “wrongthink”. Note that if you send him any money for his product, they can close your bank account too.

    So the people who want to talk about “just building another YouTube” need to realize that they’re fools. Because in the modern legal environment, they can and will be slapped down. You’re going to have to change things far beyond the tech.

    • GWB says:

      And that licensing/IP protection is part of the problem that granted them enormous power. The change to patents and copyrights, the baloney of basically leasing software (and now hardware, with a lot of smart phones), etc. was produced through tech lobbying that raised massive barriers to entry. Then they bought up anyone who managed to climb over those barriers (and buried a few others).

      However, a lot of the licensing involved in the internet/computers is NOT amenable to “I don’t like you” turn-offs. It is trending that way, however – partly thanks to the tech behemoths, and the human urge to centralize.

      You’re right that more than the tech has to change.

  • J Howard Markley Jr says:

    Publishers may be sued for libel. So let them commit business suicide.

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