Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Sign Pledge to Suppress Speech and Promote ‘Counter Narratives’

Published on June 2, 2016 by   ·   No Comments



Facebook, already increasingly known for widespread censorship of controversial content, just joined Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft in agreeing to a European Commission “Code of Conduct” that’s even more Orwellian in scope than it sounds.

Under the guise of battling hate speech, illegal in the European Union, these incredibly popular online platforms have agreed not only to take down content considered to incite violence or hate, but to institute ‘re-education’ programs seemingly pulled straight from the text of 1984. According to a statement from the Commission, in addition to a policy of removing hate speech within 24 hours of it being reported:

“The IT companies will also endeavor to strengthen their ongoing partnerships with civil society organisations who will help flag content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct. The IT companies and the European Commission also aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives, and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.”

This essentially means, users of these platforms who step out of line will be barraged with information and programs, in an as-yet-undetermined way, which align with goals the European Union favors. According to the announcement, those companies have agreed to work in tandem to accomplish this unapologetically subjective censorship of ideas the E.U. finds offensive.

Such a massive push to curtail hate speech will have inevitably far-reaching repercussions for users in the United States, as the code’s murky and broad language and lack of solid methods for carrying out the program leave vast leeway for interpretation.

Digital freedom advocacy groups — and even members of the European Parliament — have already decried the sweeping agreement as “Orwellian” and “lamentable.” And, as no surprise to anyone paying attention, one key motivation for this Politically Correct nightmare is fear of terrorism.

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” explained E.U. Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová in the statement. “Social media is, unfortunately, one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people.”

Just since mid-2015, Twitter has suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting acts of terrorism, Reuters noted.

Such a comprehensive policy agreement should infuriate independent media outlets and advocates of free speech alike, considering Facebook’s recent spate of post removals following reports — many of which have been for simply controversial topics, and nothing at all inciting hateful or terroristic acts. In fact, the language used in the Commission’s announcement appears to heavily favor the opinions of social justice groups, which it calls ‘civil society organizations’ or CSOs, in reporting what amounts to offensive content. As one of a number of agreed commitments states:

“The IT companies rely on support from Member States and the European Commission to ensure access to a representative network of CSO partners and ‘trusted reporters’ in all Member States helping to provide high quality notices. IT Companies to make information about ‘trusted reporters’ available on their websites.”

And, even more alarmingly, “to endeavor to strengthen partnerships with CSOs by widening the geographical spread of such partnerships and, where appropriate, to provide support and training to enable CSO partners to fulfill the role of ‘trusted reporter’ or equivalent.”

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