Censorship in the West and the Attack on Freedom of Speech

Two of the major internet tools used by millions, indeed billions, of people are Google and Facebook. When they are simply a means by which we can search the internet and engage in social media, they can be terrific tools indeed. But when they become a means of pushing political agendas, and censoring politically incorrect views, then they can become very worrying and quite dangerous.

Both of course are private businesses, so in one sense they can do as they please. But when so many people make use of their services, and when they tend to have near monopoly powers, then this becomes a matter of real concern. Indeed, the EU just recently found Google guilty of violating its antitrust laws.

These groups have both recently announced that they will crack down on “hate speech” and related things they regard as being problematic. So censorship of course becomes a very real part of this. And the really vexing question is, what is hate speech? And more importantly, who decides what is hate speech?

censorship 3Who monitors the monitors? Who regulates the regulators? We know from past experience how very left-wing both Google and Facebook are. They both tend to regard pro-faith and pro-family folks as the enemy, and they routinely push radical secular left minority group agendas, be it homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, Islam, and so on.

Indeed, years ago as but one example, Facebook proudly announced that it was teaming up with homosexual activists to monitor FB users, and make sure that no “homophobic” content was posted. Back in October 2010 we had quite worrying headlines such as this: “Facebook Teams Up with Gay Activist Orgs to Stop ‘Hateful’ Comments”.

So let me look further at both of these internet and media giants. Facebook has just announced that it will hire 3,000 more workers (in addition to the existing 4,500 workers in this area), to monitor FB, and it will delete 66,000 posts a week it finds to be offensive and in violation of its standards.

Wow, FB is beginning to put to shame the Stasi and other secret police units monitoring what people think and say. They have offered the usual list on this: “Our current definition of hate speech is anything that directly attacks people based on what are known as their ‘protected characteristics’ — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability, or disease,”

But FB admitted that this is still all very much up in the air. As one FB exec said: “There is no universally accepted answer for when something crosses the line. Although a number of countries have laws against hate speech, their definitions of it vary significantly.”

Of course. “Hate speech” often lies in the eyes of the beholder. A devout Muslim will regard as hate speech anything said by a Christian on the sonship and deity of Christ for example. A practising homosexual will consider to be hate speech anything defending heterosexual marriage. A transgender person will take any talk about the biological reality of two sexes as being hate speech.

So the prospects of FB deleting thousands of posts a day is frightening indeed. If FB was only going to go after perverse, sexually explicit content, or after genuine hate speech (eg, the countless times devout Muslims call for the death of infidels, Christians and Jews), that would be one thing. But why do we suspect that there will be very little such proper vetting and censoring?

Why do we suspect that there will be yet more radical left attacks on anyone who dares to stand up for the Judeo-Christian world view, for traditional family values, for proper concerns about stealth jihad and the like? We have already seen FB doing these very things, so we can only expect that things will get far, far worse in the days ahead.

Consider also the giant search engine Google. It too has been making some more ominous threats in relation to such matters. Simply look at how Islam is becoming a protected species on Google, and how critics of Islam are increasingly being shafted by Google.

One recent HuffPost article speaks about how the hyper-leftist Southern Poverty Law Center is demanding Google crack down on supposed Islamophobic content. Another article discusses this piece, beginning with these words:

In an article published by the HuffPost, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has called on Google to act against what it regards as online hate speech. Their goal is to persuade Google itself to intervene in the battle of ideas by censoring material that it does not like. These activists justify this goal based on the precedent set by Google itself, in which the tech giant pledged to counter extremist ideas by burying YouTube videos which it feels promote offensive ideas but which do not violate YouTube’s rules. In addition, they will deny these videos the option to promote themselves with paid adverts, or be recommended or commented on by other users.
“That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel and senior vice president, wrote in a company blog post on the change. “We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints.” Google is also teaming up with Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to tackle extremist content online.

The article continues:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a formerly great civil rights organization which now makes unsubstantiated and biased smears against activists who are attempting to tackle extremist Islam, has tried to pressure Google into clamping down on what it deems hateful content.
This is a suppressionist tactic made by cowards who are fearful that they cannot win in the intellectual struggle. Unable to stand on their own two feet, they look to protection from an outside source. The question that everyone should be asking about this censorship is simple: Who decides what to censor? Who decides what counts as hateful or extremist? And who benefits when a specific video or article or report is censored?
Any way you slice it, voices are going to be unfairly silenced once you begin the path down the censorship route. Machine-learning robots will blindly follow their algorithms to reflect the biases of those who designed them. They should not be trusted with control of our intellectual space. Unelected, unaccountable tech executives, who will in all likelihood have almost no understanding of the issues they are deciding whether or not to censor, can also not be trusted.

And let me offer two specific examples of all of this in action. The first involves one Islam-critical site which has had plenty of run-ins with Google. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch says this:

For many years, whenever one Googled “jihad,” Jihad Watch was the first result. This was back in the days when Google’s results were based on the relevance of the subject matter to the search and the popularity of the site. But then Google began engaging in social engineering, attempting to manipulate opinion by changing the results of searches to lead people to sites that offered the perspectives it favored. Then when one searched for “jihad,” Jihad Watch became the second result, and then the fourth, even though our readership was steadily rising; replacing it at the top were Islamic apologetics sites with a fraction of the readership, offering soothing falsehoods about the meaning of jihad. Marc explains this phenomenon in greater detail here.
That manipulation wasn’t enough to divert people away from the truth. Now, if you search for “jihad,” Google will give you a whole page full of Islamic apologetics, and Jihad Watch doesn’t appear on the front page at all. Is this because our readership has plummeted? No, quite the contrary. It is because Google is now fully committed not to allowing people to search the Internet, but to controlling what they find when they do. (Incidentally, when one Googles “Robert Spencer” now, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hit piece on me comes up before my own website bio.)

He concludes:

It’s a silent encroachment of totalitarianism, as only one perspective is allowed to be aired, and the ground is increasingly being cut out from under the feet of dissenters. Of course, they’re only doing this because their narrative is so outstandingly counterfactual that they can only put it over by censoring us and giving pride of place to sites that peddle the soothing lies they favor, but even though it reveals their insecurity and desperation, it is extremely dangerous nevertheless. And no one seems to care. This is the kind of thing the Trump administration should be fighting against, and working to ensure a level playing field for all points of view. Is no one in a position of power or influence concerned about the rapid erosion of the freedom of speech?

My second example involves someone I know pretty well: myself. Some years ago when I used to Google my name, many thousands of hits would appear. And that for good reason: I have many thousands of articles online. But today when I do this, not only are there relatively few hits to be found, but plenty of Bill Muehlenberg hate sites appear – and on the very first page.

Never mind that these are very petty, extremist minority sites which may get only a handful of views a day, but they feature prominently in the search results. And speaking of hate speech, one simply has to take a look at their pages to see that they are utterly riddled with ugly, nasty, and filthy remarks about me – what you might call hate speech.

BTW, just moments ago I did another such search. There were eight hits featured on the first page. And guess what? The 2nd and 4th hits were really nasty hate sites which exist for the sole purpose of attacking me, spreading lies about me, smearing my character and trashing my beliefs. But hey, that obviously is not hate speech!

And there are only 14 pages of search results in total. Really. As I said, years back there would be perhaps a hundred pages, because I had so much material online, either posted by myself or reposted by others. But now you would think I have only a few dozen pieces in cyberspace. What gives Google?

It seems Google is not the least bit concerned about hate speech when it is directed at me and others like me. Then it is just fine. But dare to criticise Islam or the militant homosexual movement and you will be slapped down by the internet censors faster than you can say Allahu Akbar.

In sum, what can be done about all this? Probably not much. I don’t really think that Google and Facebook are going to change their ways any time soon to placate Christians and conservatives. Their anti-Christian and anti-conservative crusades will likely just worsen in the near future.

So it seems our only option may be to look for other search engines and for other social media sites. And what happens when we run out of those? Well, by then true Christians and conservatives may be heading for the hills, or moving into caves or catacombs. That sure seems to be the way the anti-Christian West is heading.


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18 Replies to “Censorship in the West and the Attack on Freedom of Speech”

  1. Libertines will travel down any path, trample over any people and ridicule any standard, in an attempt to pursue their short sighted and selfish wants…

  2. I’ve heard about this on a website I go to. Most people there have found some alternative social media sites such as DuckDuckGo over Google and Gab.ai over twitter and facebook. I also heard Youtube does this as well but thankfully though there seems to be a lot of people in general who are not in the dark about all this and are fed up with this.

  3. This is most disturbing to learn about these dreadful bias treatments.
    Christian authors like yourself have to endure Bill. I guess it’s time to diversify our loyalties to other social media sites. I was surprised how Europeans have already diversified their social media uses. Christians would be well served by a Exclusively Christian site. Trouble is these media sites are driven by secular commercialism. How is the news that just come to light, that the Arab world intends to shut down Al Jazeera? The axe falls on yet an other neutral news media.
    Bill Heggers

  4. If everyone (fat chance) abandoned Google as their search engine and used others like DuckDuckGo, or StartPage (Ixquick), Google would soon notice. I refuse to have anything to do with Facebook or Twitter….there is a site called Alternativeto dot net, where one can find alternatives to all kinds of software, search engines, social media, etc… much can be found by diligent searching. I’m very much a rebel when it comes to big corporate stuff…
    With computer operating systems, we are of course rather stuck with either Windows or Apple; but there’s always Linux, which although sometimes rather geeky, has a growing following and I have it on my computer as a back-up system. We have to keep ducking and diving and supporting as many alternatives as we can.

  5. A recent article that may be thought provoking: http://www.christianpost.com/news/a-survivalist-guide-to-christianitys-new-dark-age-189590/

    Per the article, many experts are speaking of Western civilization entering into a new dark age. Despite significant technological progress, civility, rationality and the ability to communicate have regressed at least a century, and like the dark age of the medieval era people are shifting from the written word to images and reliance on experts to tell them what to think. Christianity will survive the second dark age as it survived the first, the only question is how best to cope.

  6. They’ve been censoring posts about specific gender roles for years. Try posting a pic of a mother breastfeeding, it usually gets pulled by fb admin and even articles on specific gender issues on sites such as Kids Spot often come up as ‘page not available’ soon after they have been posted.

  7. The internet has destroyed the stranglehold of censorship that existed previously in the media, academia, and the publishing industry. It’s not surprising that there are political forces that are working to muzzle it.

  8. Thank you Chris Dark, you have just opened my horizon to alternative sites.
    I have copied your comment for reference.
    Bill Heggers.

  9. Of course the next step will be free blogging sites like WordPress refusing Christian content. I run a couple of websites for my wife so she can sell her books. And I know that you can also run your own version of WordPress on the webhosts server if you wish – with all the bells and whistles. As a retired computer programmer setting this up would not be too hard to do but I imagine it could be an expensive exercise for anyone without the programming experience. You would also have the yearly hosting fee and the domain name renewal. Thank you James, I now use DuckDuckGo as my search engine. Matthew, if you have an internet provider you should be able to create any number of email accounts. Sorry but cannot recommend anything for those who only use their public library for Internet access.

  10. Is it not our own fault that FB & Goo rule? If every Christian organisation and person were to combine our resources with one voice, they would have to bomb us out of existence to shut us up. That would be the trigger in heaven. But we don’t want to be one – do we? Too simple isn’t it.

  11. Thanks Roger. Just had a look – still seems pretty nasty to me! What sort of changes did you make? They may have deleted them all already!

    If so that would be par for the course. There used to be a Wikipedia entry of me as well, put up by my enemies. Every time I or someone else would correct some of the lies and falsehoods on it, the baloney would pop right back up again!

  12. “…..or disease….”

    I saw some stats a while back —- nowadays it is the gays and not the heterosexual prostitutes who have the highest sexual disease rates in most areas. Clearly the ‘safe sex’ message is getting through to the prostitutes. Gays are still a worry to society.

    With regards to ‘inclusiveness’ I no longer use the ‘unexclusive’ terms like Catholics, gays, footballers etc., I instead say “Australians who follow football, Australians who are Catholic, Australians who partake in sodomy or lesbianism, Australians who are Baptist ect.

  13. If I am reading rationalwiki right, Roger’s alterations lasted little more than one minute.

  14. I just shared this to my FaceBook page with the admonition that it may not include my short comment. I believe that I may have already run contrary to the FB policies. Looking at several other comments that are still there, my comments regarding Islam in our schools, Sharia law in our communities, etc., seem quite tame and not inclusive of any bad language or hateful opinions. At worst, I mentioned that we as a nation have gone well beyond the stage of recognizing Islam for what it truly preaches and need to prepare to defend our way of life, whether we are Christian, agnostic, athiest, Buddhist, and so forth. The more I read of other articles about communities where radicalized training is taking place, Sharia has displaced state and US constitutional laws, and continuing, the more I grow restless for those days I learned about in church as a boy. I am no scholar, but you don’t need an advanced degree in theology or political science to see the writing on the wall. The “end of days” kind of scenario is far more present than most would care to accept.

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