Censoring the internet 18

The internet was a revolutionary environment that liberated individuals to make their own choices. Bloggers could compete with big media. Leaked emails could bring down a government. But the internet is becoming less free. Access is controlled by a handful of tech companies that keep getting bigger and bigger. The survivors of the scale wars will combine cable, content and commerce in new ways. And in a politicized culture, they won’t just signal their political views, they will enforce them.

So Sultan Knish writes at his website on the subject of internet censoring by those who control the technology:

How can you tell that internet censorship is really taking off? Easy. It’s becoming a business model.

Steven Brill is raising $6 million to launch News Guard. This new service will rate news sites on their trustworthiness from green to red. Forget politically unbiased algorithms. The ratings will be conducted by “qualified, accountable human beings” from teams of “40 to 60 journalists”.

Once upon a time, journalism meant original writing. Now it means deciding which original writing to censor.

“Can trust be monetized?” The Street’s article on News Guard asks. But it isn’t really trust that’s being monetized. It’s censorship. It’s doing the dirty work that Google and Facebook don’t want to do.

But nevertheless do, as we know from experience. We will come to that.

The Dems and their media allies have been pressuring Google and Facebook to do something about the “fake news” that they blame for Trump’s win. The big sites outsourced the censorship to media fact checkers. The message was, “Don’t blame us, now you’re in charge.”

Facebook made a deal with ABC News and the AP, along with Politifact, FactCheck and Snopes, to outsource the censoring for $100K. When two of these left-wing groups declare that an article is fake, Facebook marks it up and viewership drops by 80%.

Eighty percent!

Not only does the roster of fact checkers lean to the left, but so do its notions of what’s true and false. For example, Snopes and Politifact both insist that General Pershing’s forces never buried the bodies of Muslim terrorists with pigs. But General Pershing specifically stated in his autobiography, “These Juramentado attacks were materially reduced in number by a practice that the Mohamedans held in abhorrence. The bodies were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig.”

Both the New York Times and the Scientific American reported on it at the time. Despite that Snopes rated this widely accepted historical fact as “False” and Politifact marked it as “Pants on Fire”.

Snopes also recently marked a story that Christ Church in Virginia is removing a George Washington plaque as false even though the church publicly announced that it was doing so.

Politifact and Snopes are entitled to their incorrect opinions. The trouble is that they don’t extend the same privilege to those they disagree with. And Google and Facebook promote fake fact checks while burying sites that discuss actual historical facts. The big internet companies don’t want to get involved in all these arguments. But nor are they willing to let their users decide for themselves anymore.

And so Net Nanny for news has become an actual business model. Instead of protecting children from pornography, News Nanny protects adults from news. And from views outside the left’s bubble.

By adopting the News Nanny model, Google and Facebook are treating their users like children.

The News Guard model is in some ways even more insidious than biased fact checking because it sets up lists of approved and disapproved sites. Google is rolling out something similar with its “knowledge panels” for publishers. Search for the New York Times and the panels will tell you how many Pulitzers the paper has won. Search for Front Page Magazine and the panel note describes it as, “Political alignment: Right-wing politics”. No note listing a left-wing political alignment appears in the panel for the New York Times despite its recent laudatory series about the Soviet Union and Communism.

The media never has an official political orientation. Not even when it’s cheering Communism. But its opponents and critics always have one. Follow Google’s link for Front Page’s political alignment and the top entry states, “Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable.” 

That’s a wholly inaccurate description of either Front Page Magazine or conservative politics in America. And it’s another example of how the fight against “fake news” by the left actually ends up producing it.

Fact checking has become a pipeline to censorship. The big social and search companies outsource fact checking to third parties and then demonetize, marginalize and outright ban views and publishers that those third parties disagree with. Fact checks are no longer an argument. They’re the prelude to a ban.

Google and Facebook respectively dominate search and social media. When they appoint official censors for their services, those left-wing fact checkers become the gatekeepers of the internet.

And the internet isn’t supposed to have gatekeepers.

Senator Al Franken, of all people, made that point at the Open Markets Institute. OMI’s people have emerged as the leading opponents of big tech monopolies on the left.

“No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t,” Franken said. “And Facebook, Google and Amazon, like ISPs, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platform.”

We never thought we’d have a good word to say about Al Franken. But this time we like what he said.

There is no more obvious example of the lack of neutrality than Facebook and Google’s partnership with “fact checkers”. If Net Neutrality means anything, it should strike down Google’s partnership with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and Facebook’s use of Snopes to silence conservatives.

When sites picked and chose content based on algorithms, they were deciding which content reached users based on what was likely to be popular. And, occasionally, based on their own agendas. Now they are picking and choosing which content reaches users based on political orientation.

While the advocates for Net Neutrality rage against cable companies, Comcast and Charter aren’t engaging in political censorship. No matter how they disguise it, Google and Facebook’s news nannies are. …

Trust in the mainstream media has never been lower. Yet the big tech companies insist that mainstream media sources are the only trustworthy ones. They want us to trust them, because they don’t trust us.

We do not want our posts to be “about us”. But this time we make an exception. Our Facebook page is being subjected to what is called “shadow-banning”. Fewer and fewer people are “reached”. Day by day the number of “likes” is decreased, stripped away, usually by twos and threes, but now and then by larger numbers. Last week we lost 30 in a few days. (The “likes” at the moment of this writing stand at 10,779; the number of our followers at 10,425.) Sometimes  when we have asked to “boost” a particular post (for which a charge is made), our request has been denied. We posted a complaint about being stripped of “likes” and having ever fewer readers, and sent it directly to Facebook, asking them why this was happening. We received no reply. But a regular long-time reader of our page sent us this information:

Well I just found out it’s worse than you know – I’ve been relying on my “feed” using the FB app for Android to see your posts since I both “like” and follow TAC. However, I just explicitly went to your page and encountered hundreds (yes, literally hundreds, going back many months) of TAC posts that have never appeared in my feed! What the hell can we do about this blatant censorship?

The discouraging answer is – nothing.

The Left, though politically weak, owns the culture. Owns the mainstream media. And owns the internet.

It is not our Atheism which offends our Facebook censors, it is our Conservatism.

The obsessed 1

The Left is obsessed with what it considers the disadvantaged conditions of being non-white and/or non-male.

Envy consumes it. It contrives remedies that will have no effect on the realities of race and sex, such as victimizing people who are white and/or male.

Recently, the search-engine company Google dismissed one of its most skilled and highly qualified engineers, James Damore, because he wrote and published a memo pointing out that there are differences between men and women that cannot be changed by company policy.

Steven Crowder energetically endorses the memo and rebukes the company.

Diversity in conformity 3

… or conformity in diversity.

This is an extract from Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber:How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion, by James Damore, July 2017

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

It is, as the extract shows, an intelligent discussion of the ideas with which it is engaging. The author’s conclusions, of which the extract is a part, seem to us to be straightforward common sense.

The complete text may be found here.

James Damore was an employee of Google. His memo criticizes Google’s insistence that all its employees hold unquestioningly a certain set of opinions – all of them ideas of the Left – having to do with “diversity and inclusion”.

A set of opinions requiring unanimous unquestioning acceptance, is an orthodoxy.

Damore challenged the orthodoxy.

But orthodoxies by definition do not allow criticism.

A challenge to an orthodoxy is blasphemous and heretical.

With the publication of his criticism, Damore became a blasphemous heretic.

So, of course, he was fired.

Is it a wise policy for a commercial company to require religious conformity of its employees? Would it harm the business if some employees held different opinions?

The company directors’ answer to those questions is plainly “yes”.

What is delightful about this story is that the Google executives want conformity of opinion on the desirability of diversity.

Could a connoisseur of irony find a better collector’s piece than that?

Well, yes, actually. There are some at least as good – in the universities:

Interviewed by Professor Jordan Peterson, James Damore said:

Google is run like a religious cult. Conform and carry out the rituals, and you’ll be rewarded and praised; ask any uncomfortable questions or offend the wrong people, and the threats and public shaming will be swift and ruthless. The religion in this case is a kind of intersectional feminism, its central tenets are Diversity and Inclusion, its demonic enemy is Bias, and its purifying rituals include humiliating forms of “training” that resemble Maoist struggle sessions.

This might sound crazy to a lot of your readers, but college students should understand, since it’s a similar culture.

Posted under Leftism by Jillian Becker on Thursday, August 10, 2017

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The world is changing – for the better? 5

We are witnessing a seismic shift in global affairs. The shake-up is a perfect storm of political, demographic and technological change that will soon make the world as we have known it for the last 30 years almost unrecognizable.

Those attention-gripping words open an article by Victor Davis Hanson at Townhall:

Since the mid-1980s there have been a number of accepted global constants. The European Union was assumed to have evolved beyond the nation-state as it ended the cycle of militarism and renounced free-market capitalism. With its strong euro, soft power and nonaligned foreign policy, the EU was praised as a utopian sort of foil to the overarmed U.S. with its ailing dollar. …

The Arab Middle East for the last 40 years seemed to be the world’s cockpit, as its huge petroleum reserves brought in trillions of dollars from an oil-depleted West, along with political concessions. Petrodollars fed global terrorism. Oil-poor Israel had little clout with Europe. In general, the West ignored any human-rights concerns involving the region’s oil-rich dictatorships, monarchies and theocracies, as well as their aid to Islamic terrorists.

Conventional wisdom also assumed that an indebted U.S. was in permanent decline, a cash-rich China in ascendency. …

But none of that conventional wisdom now seems very wise — largely because of a number of technological breakthroughs and equally unforeseen political upheavals.

The eurozone is unraveling. An aging, shrinking population and a socialist welfare state lead to serfdom, not utopia. …

The Arab Middle East is now in a free fall. Tyrants in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen were ousted, while one in Syria totters. But while the world hoped secular democrats would follow in their wake, more likely we are witnessing the emergence of one-election Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood. The region will be mired in turmoil whether these upheavals turn out to be like the hijacked Iranian revolution that ended in theocracy, or the Turkish democratic model that is insidiously becoming Islamist.

Horizontal drilling and fracking have made oil shale and tar sands rich sources of oil and natural gas, so much so that the United States may prove to possess the largest store of fossil fuel reserves in the world — in theory, with enough gas, oil and coal soon never to need any imported Middle Eastern energy again. “Peak oil” is suddenly an anachronism. Widespread American use of cheap natural gas will do more to clean the planet than thousands of Solyndras.

If the United States utilizes its resources, then its present pathologies — massive budget and trade deficits, mounting debt, strategic vulnerability — will start to subside. These new breakthroughs in petroleum engineering are largely American phenomena, reminding us that there is still something exceptional in the American experience that periodically offers the world cutting-edge technologies and protocols — such as those pioneered by Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and Walmart.

In comparison, China is not only resource-poor but politically impoverished. For decades we were told that Chinese totalitarianism, when mixed with laissez-faire capitalism, led to sparkling airports and bullet trains, while a litigious and indulgent America settled for a run-down LAX and creaking Amtrak relics. But the truth is that the Los Angeles airport will probably sooner look modern than the Chinese will hold open elections amid a transparent society — given that free markets did not make China democratic, only more contradictory.

Even more surreal, tiny oil-poor Israel, thanks to vast new offshore finds, has been reinvented as a potential energy giant in the Middle East. Such petrodollars will change Israel as they did the Persian Gulf countries, but with one major difference. Unlike Dubai or Kuwait, Israel is democratic, economically diverse, socially stable and technologically sophisticated, suggesting the sudden windfall will not warp Israel in the manner it has traditional Arab autocracies, but instead become a force multiplier of an already dynamic society. Will Europe still snub Israel when it has as much oil, gas and money as an OPEC member in the Persian Gulf?

Good, good – but Islam is still waging jihad and spreading sharia law; and the UN still exists; and Iran is still becoming a nuclear power; and Obama is still occupying the Oval Office.

The nearsighted Mr Magoos of business and industry 2

The Second Industrial Revolution, the computer revolution, occurred because its inventors, entrepreneurs, venture-capitalists, its innovators and risk-takers and visionaries of all sorts were free. They had freedom of action, could use their time and resources as they chose. What they produced has benefited uncountable millions of other people. Their country, their world, and all generations to come, the whole human race, are the beneficiaries of their ideas and labors. They have enriched us all. If ever men have deserved to grow rich themselves, they have.

No government, no social program, no redistribution of wealth, no central planning, no high-tax-high-spend economic system, can do for the general good what they have done for it. They have created wealth. Governments diminish it. And redistributing governments, run by “social justice” liberals, destroy it.

Why can’t the very men who used freedom so well understand this? Why are so many of them helping to destroy that essential freedom of which they took splendid advantage, so that in future others cannot do what they did?

In an article at Front Page on business leaders toadying to Obama, Benjamin Shapiro considers the strange phenomenon of their self-destructive behavior:

On April 5, President Obama kicked off his newly-minted presidential campaign by announcing that he would be conducting a “Facebook town hall” event streaming live via the website and via the White House website on April 20. Just to ensure that the Facebook audience recognizes that this isn’t merely another media appearance but an endorsement of Obama by the Facebook executives, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg quizzed Obama before an audience of over 1,000 Facebook employees and other internet mavens.

The recorded result will be chopped up and distributed via Facebook and the White House website over the coming months. “We’re honored that President Obama will be visiting headquarters later this month and will be using the Facebook platform to communicate with an international audience,” Andrew Noyes, Facebook spokesman, gushed.

Obama isn’t the first politician to use Facebook as a fundraising platform. But he is the first politician to be granted the privileged insider status of visiting HQ to do so. Facebook has been one of Obama’s most important supporters over the past several years. And Facebook is hardly the only Silicon Valley organization backing Obama. Apple and Google have also become vocal supporters of the administration. Steve Jobs dined with Zuckerberg and Obama in February to discuss job creation; Google CEO Eric Schmidt was one of Obama’s earliest backers for the presidency; Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s founders, became Obama’s internet czar in 2007. In fact, prior to the election of 2008, Schmidt toured the United States with Obama’s soon-to-be FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski to stump for Obama’s net neutrality policies.

On the surface, this makes little sense. Obama’s policies have targeted businesses with remorseless cruelty, setting them up as villains in the class conflict Obama wishes to precipitate. Facebook, Apple, and Google are three of the most successful businesses of the 21st century. Yet all three seem to be mobilizing in favor of the Obama Administration.

That’s because all three must dance for their political master.

Because the federal government is so large and so powerful, and because President Obama is obviously willing and able to use government weight to press forward his agenda, major businesses in the United States must look to appease him. Obama has no problem wielding the heavy club of regulation to hurt his political enemies, or to help his political friends. Major businesses like Facebook, Google, and Apple have all felt the sour stings and warm embraces of big government. And all of them prefer the warm embraces.

President Obama has already promoted Facebook and Google openly: in his State of the Union address, for example, Obama stated, “We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.” Obama’s net neutrality policy, which may or may not be backed by Google, would lock Google into place as the leading search engine on the internet – other search engines would not be able to pay internet service providers (ISPs) to make their websites run faster. Obama has promoted Apple publicly too, particularly [Steve] Jobs.

By the same token, Obama has also targeted each and every one of these businesses, making it clear that they had better get in line. Obama’s Justice Department has cracked down on Google Books, covertly threatening antitrust lawsuits. The DOJ has also pledged to shut down Google’s acquisition of ITA, a flight data and software company. Michelle Obama has said that Facebook is no place for children, and President Obama has stated that iPads and iPods threaten the republic, making “information … a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment … it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Facebook’s, Google’s, and Apple’s flirtations with President Obama are just the latest example of how American businesses die. To be sure, Facebook, Google and Apple are a long way from death. But once they begin dancing to the tune of the government flute, it is only a matter of time before they become obsolete.

The growth of government – and the threat of government involvement in industry – has eventually crippled virtually every major industry in America over the past century and a half.  Businesses are started by entrepreneurs; when they grow successful, government intervenes to take its pound of flesh; entrepreneurs respond by parlaying with government, hamstringing their own businesses in an attempt to [appease] government wrath. Those businesses gradually become decrepit, dependent on the whims of the capricious Washington D.C. deities.  Overseas competitors begin to compete, and the now-slow-moving businesses require government subsidies to survive. This is how businesses turn from American assets into American sinkholes. …

James J. Hill, the man who built the Great Northern Railroad, derided government aid, explaining, “The government should not furnish capital to these companies, in addition to their enormous land subsidies, to enable them to conduct their business in competition with enterprises that have received no aid from the public treasury.”  … Hill started off as a grocery clerk, then worked in a variety of industries before pooling his cash with several partners to enter the world of the railroads.  His business model was a paradigm of pure capitalism.  Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting converted the railroad industry into a shell of its former self, and converted its “robber baron” leaders into public villains. Now today, President Obama tells us that we must publicly fund rail systems so as to compete with the Chinese.

In the oil industry, the Rockefellers of the early 20th century gave way to the heavily regulated firms of today – and not coincidentally, the foreign oil dependence that now shapes our foreign and domestic politics.

In the automobile industry, Henry Ford entrepreneurialism gave way to government-supported unionization, subsidization, and finally, bankruptcy.

When President Obama praises the fact that we are “the nation that puts cars in driveways and computers in offices,” he neglects to mention that we are also the government that kills the car industry and ships the computer industry overseas; when he lionizes us as “the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers,” he ignores the fact that Edison has given way to government-sponsored GE, a company whose stock fluctuates with each presidential press conference; when he effervesces over Google and Facebook, he blithely overlooks the fact that his own intervention will help make those companies archaic before their time.

This is what liberalism does to industry.  It kills it.

How is it possible for such brilliant achievers to be played for chumps so easily?

The cartoon Mr Magoo never gets personally hurt, though he leaves wreckage behind him. The Magoos of business and industry cannot count on being so lucky. Obama wants to turn America into a socialist state. Socialism is the wrecker of freedom. Socialism is bad not only for the economy as a whole and so for all business and industry, but for every individual –

Except its ruling elite. So, you men of the great start-ups, of great ideas and great ability, maybe for you personally the way of Chris Hughes is the way to go: join the administration and help to wreck America.

And watch the admiration and gratitude of your country and the world, which you have now, change to anger, contempt, and unforgiving blame.

A thing of spit and cobwebs 0

Man-made Global Warming was a thing built with the spit and cobwebs of cynical political manipulation and ingenuous credulity.

Warmists are struggling ever more frantically to defend their myth. No wonder. Not only reputations but whole industries have been built on it and TRILLIONS  have been invested in them. Governments have distorted economies because of it. Untold millions of people have been so convinced of it they cannot swallow the fact that it has been exposed as untrue. It is  believed in by many as a religious faith, and like any religious faith it may long continue to hold them in its spell.

The great economist Walter Williams writes about this at Investor’s Business Daily:

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, in an hourlong television documentary five-part series titled “Global Warming: The Other Side,” presents evidence that our National Climatic Data Center has been manipulating weather data in the same way as the now-disgraced and under-investigation University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. The NCDC is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its manipulated climate data are used by the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, a division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. …

Mounting evidence of scientific fraud might make little difference in terms of the response to man-made global warming hysteria. Why? Vested economic and political interests have emerged where trillions of dollars and social control are at stake. Therefore, many people who recognize the scientific fraud underlying global warming claims are likely to defend it anyway.

• Automobile companies have invested billions in research and investment in producing “green cars.”

• General Electric and Philips have spent millions lobbying Congress to outlaw incandescent bulbs so that they can force us to buy costly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL).

• Farmers and ethanol manufacturers have gotten Congress to enact laws mandating greater use of their product, not to mention massive subsidies.

• Thousands of major corporations around the world have taken steps to reduce carbon emissions, including giants like IBM, Nike, Coca-Cola and BP, the oil company. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Dell have vowed to become “carbon neutral.”

Then there’s the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange that plans to trade in billions of dollars of greenhouse gas emission allowances. Corporate America and labor unions, as well as their international counterparts have a huge multitrillion-dollar financial stake in the perpetuation of the global warming fraud. Federal, state and local agencies have spent billions of dollars and created millions of jobs to deal with one aspect or another of global warming.

It’s deeper than just money. Schoolteachers have created polar-bear-dying lectures to frighten and indoctrinate our children when in fact there are more polar bears now than in 1950. They’ve taught children about melting glaciers.

Just recently, the International Panel on Climate Change was forced to admit that its Himalayan glacier-melting fraud was done to “impact policymakers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”

What would all the beneficiaries of the global warming hype do if it became widely known and accepted that mankind’s activities have very little to do with the Earth’s temperature? I don’t know, but a lot of people would feel and look like idiots.

I bet that even if the permafrost returned as far south as New Jersey, as it once did, the warmers and their congressional stooges would still call for measures to fight global warming.