Big Brother: do you really want the government to censor what you can see on the social media – or anywhere else on the internet?
“There is a war for your attention. Don’t give it to the wrong people.”
Those aren’t my words and, to be honest, I’m paraphrasing. They weren’t even spoken about the Russell Brand affair, which – in This Writer’s opinion – adds veracity to them.
You’ll be aware – who isn’t? – that Russell Brand has been accused of sex crimes, and the mainstream media have subsequently decided – without trial – that he’s guilty.
Now we learn that the chairperson of the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport committee, the Tory MP Dame Caroline Dinenage, has been writing to social media platforms, asking them to cut off any supply of funds to Brand.
To Dr Theo Bertram, TikTok’s Director of Government Relations, Europe, she wrote:
“While we recognise that TikTok is not the creator of the content published by Mr Brand, and his content may be within the community guidelines set out by the platform, we are concerned that he may be able to profit from his content on the platform.
“We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr Brand is able to monetise his TikTok posts, including his videos relating to the serious accusations against him, and what the platform is doing to ensure that creators are not able to use the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate and potentially illegal behaviour.”
Here’s a copy of the letter, along with a response from ‘Viva Frei’ on ‘X’. Do you think the respondent makes good points?
“Acquire total control over dissenting voices on the internet”?
As one of those voices, This Writer might want to have a say about that!
To Chris Pavlovski, chief executive of Brand’s main platform, Rumble, the Culture, Media and Sport committee chair wrote:
“We would like to know whether Rumble intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr Brand’s ability to earn money on the platform.”
Mr Pavlovski’s response was not limited to MPs, though. Outraged, he has made it public. Reading it, you may agree with his points:
“Today we received an extremely disturbing letter from a committee chair in the UK Parliament.
“YouTube announced that, based solely on these media accusations, it was barring Mr Brand from monetizing his video content. Rumble stands for very different values. We have devoted ourselves to the vital cause of defending a free internet – meaning an internet where no one arbitrarily decides which ideas can or cannot be heard, or which citizens may or may not be entitled to a platform.
“We regard it as deeply inappropriate and dangerous that the UK Parliament would attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or to earn a living from doing so. Singling out an individual and demanding his ban is even more disturbing given the absence of any connection between the allegations and his content on Rumble. We don’t agree with the behaviour of many Rumble creators, but we refuse to penalize them for actions that have nothing to do with our platform.
“Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company’s values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK Parliament’s demands.”
Here’s the response, plus the letter from the CMS committee:
As I mention above, This Site is one of the “dissenting voices” on the internet over which it seems the UK’s Tory government is trying to gain control – and by “control”, I think we all know I’m referring to censorship; restricting or blotting out altogether the ability of members of the general public to see content that I post to the social media.
I’m concerned that this censorship is already taking place.
Vox Political began at the very end of 2011, with just 11 readers on its first day. By March 2020, in a single day, the site was read 178,888 times. And then – with no change in content, or the way it was supplied – readership started slipping off. Yesterday (September 24), I had around 1,700 hits.
You may want to suggest that the mood of the public has changed and people don’t want to plough through hundreds of words on a screen any more.
But that doesn’t explain the multiplicity of responses, whenever I ask Facebook who has seen my links to articles published on any particular day, saying they haven’t. Many respond by saying my query is the first post they’ve seen in weeks or months.
It seems to me that Facebook (and possibly Twitter/X) have already implemented policies to restrict or silence the voices of people whose political beliefs differ from… someone.
Is it Facebook/X executives censoring their platforms, or the Tory government?
And should they not publish notices warning us that their platforms are politically biased, if this is what they are doing?
The big question, of course, is: how can we get an honest answer out of any of these people?
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