By Caitlin Johnstone
YouTube’s official statement on its decision to do this is very revealing, not so much for what it says as for what it does not say.
At no point does the video publishing platform attempt to argue that it is removing these videos because they jeopardize anyone’s health or safety, as it did when it began deleting videos deemed to be spreading misinformation about Covid-19.
At no point does it attempt to argue that these videos are inciting violence, as it did when it began deleting QAnon videos.
At no point does it claim that these videos are misleading voters, as it initially began collaborating with the US government to prevent, since all the voting is over and done with.
It’s simply deleting the videos because they are believed to be wrong. This is an important distinction, because it’s a marked deviation from the previous policy of content deletion used by YouTube and other new media platforms.
“Yesterday was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect,” YouTube writes. “Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections. For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come.”
I neither know nor care whether the sort of election fraud alleged to have taken place in the contest between Joe Biden or Donald Trump actually happened; I know the processes by which candidates are elevated to run in a US general election are corrupt and rigged from top to bottom, so the question of whether additional manipulation took place between two establishment-approved imperialist oligarch lackeys in a pretend election is not particularly interesting to me. But this new move by YouTube is a major escalation in the continually escalating rollout of internet censorship protocols by US government-tied Silicon Valley megacorporations.
Even if America did not have the single most flawed election system in the entire western world (and it does), and even if it had been conclusively proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that no election fraud of any sort took place (and it hasn’t), it would still be a massive escalation beyond previous online censorship protocols to begin censoring people simply because they are wrong. People are allowed to be wrong. A free society allows people the right to voice wrong beliefs because the only alternative is creating a monolithic Ministry of Truth which has authority over what the right and wrong beliefs are.
Those of us who’ve been warning of the dangers of government-aligned plutocratic corporations lowering their standards for silencing speech further and further were not committing a slippery slope fallacy; it’s not fallacious to warn of a slippery slope when the slope is demonstrably real. The fact that we’ve been methodically paced from accepting the cross-platform deletion of Alex Jones a couple of years ago to random internet users being silenced for no other reason than expressing wrongthink today shows us the slope is very real and very consequential, and our slide into information totalitarianism will continue if something major does not change.
Matt Taibbi has written a solid article condemning YouTube’s latest ramp-up and highlighting the double standard in the way Democrats have been pushing narratives about Trump colluding with Russia to fraudulently steal the 2016 election for four years with no consequences whatsoever while Trump supporters are banned from doing essentially the exact same thing. I would add that the primary source of this double standard is not ideological bias (though that’s surely a factor as well) but the coziness these Silicon Valley tech giants have formed with US government agencies who signed off on Russiagate but not on Trump’s claims. It’s not so much a liberal bias as it is a US intelligence cartel bias.
In reality, there was never any more evidence for liberal claims of Russia interfering with the US election in any meaningful way than there is for election fraud in 2020. Actual journalists and impartial social media platforms would have recognized the indisputable fact that the Russian hacking narrative was extremely porous and remains completely unproven, and the narrative about Russian memes swaying the election is a complete joke. The only thing giving the Democrats’ claims more narrative weight than those of the Republicans today is that one was endorsed by the US intelligence cartel (the same US intelligence cartel which just so happened to wind up advancing multiple preexisting agendas using Russiagate) and the other was not. That’s it.
Those who understood that whoever controls the narrative controls the world and that plutocrat-controlled mass media is the linchpin of the oligarchic status quo were very excited about the arrival of the internet, because they understood its information-democratizing potential. Now we’re all watching those hopes slowly eroded into nothing as the same power structures which control and influence the mainstream media now work to take full control over online information.
“On average 88% of the videos in top 10 search results related to elections came from authoritative news sources (amongst the rest are things like newsy late-night shows, creator videos and commentary),” YouTube boasts in the aforementioned statement on its deletion of wrongthink election videos. “And the most viewed channels and videos are from news channels like NBC and CBS.”
As though rigging your algorithms to give users results which link to the same plutocratic media outlets who’ve helped deceive the public about every war and continuously manipulate them into believing status quo politics totally work is something to be proud of.
If information which isn’t approved by the powerful continues to be squeezed into smaller and smaller fringe circles, the information-democratizing potential which once gave revolutionary thinkers so much hope will be completely nullified, and all that will remain is a network which allows establishment power structures to distribute propaganda much faster than they could back in the days of the old media. Here’s hoping our rulers fail in their attempts to do this, and that we succeed in our desire to stop them.