Censorship in 2022


US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy suggests Joe Rogan should be censored

The US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has suggested that Big Tech platforms should censor even more COVID “misinformation” on social media. Speaking on MSNBC, Murthy said that online platforms have a role to play when it comes to censoring “misinformation” and ensuring that the public gets “accurate” information. Related: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says people have no right to spread "misinformation" Murthy made the comments on MSNBC when host Mika Brzezinski pushed for a comment on the “best ways to push back on misinformation about COVID that continues to be aggressively pushed, whether it be Joe Rogan’s podcast or all over Facebook.” “We can have the best science available, we can have the best public health expertise available. It won’t help people if they don’t have access to accurate information,” Murthy responded. “People have the right to make their own decisions, but they also have the right to have accurate information to make that decision with.” Murthy added that Big Tech giants have an “important role to play” as they are the “predominant places where we’re seeing misinformation spread.” “This [is] not just about what the government can do,” he went on to say. “This is about companies and individuals recognizing that the only way we get past misinformation is if we are careful about what we say and use the power that we have to limit the spread of misinformation.”

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HOLDING FUNDS

GoFundMe withholds $6 million raised for Canadian trucker Freedom Convoy

Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has held more than $6 million in funds raised to support the trucker convoy that is protesting vaccine mandates in Canada. While GoFundMe has been known to hold on to funds, even take down fundraisers of causes it doesn’t agree with, it continues to be the go-to platform for crowdfunding.

“We require that fundraisers be transparent about the flow of funds and have a clear plan for how those funds will be spent. In this case, we are in touch with the organizer to verify that information,” a spokeswoman for GoFundMe said. “Funds will be safely held until the organizer is able to provide the documentation to our team about how funds will be properly distributed.” As of Thursday afternoon, funds were raised from 77,600 donors. The secretary of the Maverick party, Tamara Lich, created the campaign earlier this month, as a way to cover costs for the truckers who are taking part in the protest. “To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political over reach is over,” the fundraiser states. “Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods. Canadians have been integral to the fabric of humanity in many ways that have shaped the planet,” Lich writes. “We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from tyrannical governments who oppressed their people, and now it seems it is happening here. We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive. It's our duty as Canadians to put an end to these mandates. It is imperative that this happens because if we don't our country will no longer be the country we have come to love. We are doing this for our future Generations and to regain our lives back.”

PERMANENTLY BANNED

YouTube permanently bans Dan Bongino as he breaks Rumble traffic records

YouTube has permanently banned political commentator Dan Bongino from its platform. Boningo was already temporarily suspended from the platform after being accused by the Big Tech giant of spreading “misinformation” about Covid. However, YouTube has now made the ban permanent. Like many political commentators, Bongino had a main channel that hosted full episodes of his popular show and had another channel to which clips were posted. It was Bongino’s main channel that received the suspension. However, in this case, YouTube suggested that posting clips to the secondary channel was Bongino attempting to “circumvent” the suspension. YouTube, when approached for comment on the censorship, said: "When a channel receives a strike, it is against our Terms of Service to post content or use another channel to circumvent the suspension.” Both the main and secondary channels have now been deleted by the Google-owned video platform. YouTube says the ban is permanent and that Bongino will no longer be able to create any further channels. YouTube said that any attempts to make new channels "associated with his name" will be deleted. In recent times, the idea of “misinformation” has been a popular censorship excuse for YouTube and other legacy tech platforms. YouTube’s suspension of Bongino came soon after he, like many other commentators, was already making plans to leave YouTube, where he had around 900,000 subscribers. Bongino’s channel on YouTube rival Rumble, of which Bongino is an investor, already has over 2 million subscribers, which has been a recent record for the growing alternative video platform. Rumble is experiencing rapid growth in recent months, as Big Tech platforms continue to ramp up censorship and it has expanded by acquiring Patreon-alternative Locals in order to grow its presence in the alternative tech space.

SPOTIFY CHOOSES

Spotify drops all Neil Young music after he demanded Joe Rogan removal

Spotify has confirmed that it will honor the demands of singer-songwriter Neil Young and will remove him from the platform after the audio platform refused to censor its most popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Young demanded that Spotify remove Joe Rogan from the platform or remove his music instead. Young said that he refuses to share a platform with Rogan, after accusing the world’s number one podcaster of spreading “misinformation,” seemingly for daring to interview doctors and scientists who have skepticism about various aspects of the COVID vaccines, as well as accusing the government of suppressing valid treatments. The decision arrived just days after Young demanded, in an open letter that he later deleted, that Spotify either remove his music or ban Joe Rogan. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young wrote. Spotify quickly chose Rogan, whose popularity on the platform dwarfs Young’s. “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement. According to the WSJ, Young; “has been in discussions with his label, Warner Music Group Corp.’s Warner Records, and Spotify since then, and continued to hold his ground, according to the people. The formal request to remove the music was made Wednesday and could take several hours to take effect across Spotify’s service across the world.” In a post on his blog, Young said that Spotify had “become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation.” Young says that he is losing 60% of his streaming income as a result of Spotify's decision.

NO SLOWING DOWN

YouTube CEO: "Tackling misinformation and other harmful content is a top priority"

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has put together a missive, in which she revealed what Google's platform considers to be its priorities for 2022. The "Letter from Susan" published on the company blog tries to put the emphasis on creators and creator economy, but it at the same time insists that YouTube's top priorities include things like "tackling misinformation" - a policy that has consistently resulted in censorship, demonetizing, and other unfair undermining of independent creators. Wojcicki makes no mention of this, focusing instead on the message that the video giant wants to grow even more, and promising that it is committed to "growing our creator ecosystem" and economy as well, and "improving the creator experience." One segment of the post addresses the issue of "protecting" the YouTube community as a top priority that underlies all other efforts, such as supporting creators and innovation. In Wojcicki's world, this means "tackling" misinformation and what YouTube decides is harmful content, once again, as a top priority. True to the tone of the entire post, which at no point indicates YouTube may have made any mistakes (Wojcicki, for example, defends the removal of the dislike count), the CEO boasts of investments made in machine learning as a moderation mechanism - despite the fact that has been responsible for some of the more egregious censorship mistakes the platform has made in recent years. YouTube also has something called the Violative View Rate (VVR), a metric that shows how many views come from content that violates YouTube policies. Wojcicki says that this rate fell by over 70% between 2017 and the third quarter of last year, meaning that YouTube is able to effectively suppress content it chooses to flag in this way. There is also "borderline" content - which is a completely arbitrary category, referring to videos that don't actually violate YouTube rules, but which YouTube just doesn't like. And the consequences suffered by creators are real: "borderline" content is down ranked in recommendations, while the goal YouTube has set before itself is to keep it at under 0.5% of all views on the platform. And then there's the general steering of the audience in YouTube's desired direction, or as Wojcicki phrased it, "connect(ing) people with information from authoritative sources on important topics like news and health."