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.
This is scary. CEO of Google openly says they “as a company” are deciding what’s “hate speech,” what’s too controversial to be on YouTube. They’re not acting as a PLATFORM (allowing open access), they’re acting as a PUBLISHER (making editorial decisions) pic.twitter.com/a7vEZAdnec
— Cliff Sims (@Cliff_Sims) June 11, 2019
“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 That doesn’t seem likely, because in this latest “purge” many educational channels were wiped out because they had historical content on Nazi Germany.
YouTube is deleting thousands of channels with videos of Nazi history. But now multiple teachers are complaining that videos uploaded to educate people have been deleted. https://t.co/5EwezoBwGd
— MIT Technology Review (@techreview) June 7, 2019
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.
— Live Action (@LiveAction) June 11, 2019
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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