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09/12/2018, 23:00:28

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www.thenewamerican.com

The Way Forward: Bypassing Big Tech Censorship

Several means have been put forward to deal with the biased and discriminatory censorship by social-media giants, including new laws, new websites, and new technologies.

First, the Internet companies lured users in by pretending to be open places for discussions or neutral venues and services. But by 2016, after becoming essentially monopolies with help from the feds and the Deep State establishment, they began to roll out full-blown censorship and surveillance, while manipulating what users see. In short, companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet (which owns YouTube and Google), and many more deceived their users. And now that they think they are indispensable to humanity and unstoppable, they shut the trap door, with conservatives on the outside looking in.

But the battle is far from finished. And as the reality of Big Government and Big Tech colluding together to manipulate humanity and promote propaganda becomes increasingly obvious, alternatives are emerging quickly. Plus, with the demand for truth growing across America and worldwide, it seems highly likely that suppliers will continue finding ways to supply it.

For now, Facebook and Alphabet (Google and YouTube) dominate the online advertising market, creating a sort of Internet ad duopoly that controls an estimated 75 percent of the digital advertising market. Already, though, a dizzying array of alternatives to the Big Tech giants has started to emerge. From new search engines to new social-media services, the number of options is multiplying quickly. Many of the options are decentralized and innovative, marking a sharp departure from the centralized top-down control of existing technology giants. More will be coming soon. And while plenty may eventually fade into obscurity, some are already enjoying incredible growth. Plus, every minute that a user spends on an alternative company’s website means less advertising dollars for the tech giants — and less data on users to analyze, monetize, and, eventually, weaponize.

Obviously, corporate silencing of dissent is not the only troubling element of the Big Tech giants. At the top of concerns for users is privacy. And with new scandals about abuses of privacy emerging on a continual basis, a growing number of people are voting with their digital devices and using alternatives. In late July, Facebook lost $120 billion in value in one day — about 20 percent of the company’s market capitalization — setting a new record in stock-market history. And that incredible sell-off was caused, in part at least, by “reduced use,” with users spending less time on the platform and user growth slowing dramatically. In early 2018, Facebook announced its first-ever decline in daily U.S. users. With the company making a deliberate decision to purge conservatives, there may be more downside still to come.

But many fear the wrath of the tech giants. In fact, as the reality of the accelerating purge became impossible to ignore once Alex Jones and Infowars were “de-platformed,” a sort of “panic” set in among some contrarian voices. After all, if they could take down a media empire with many millions of staunchly loyal supporters and links to the White House, they could take down anybody. The New American magazine, Breitbart, WND, Drudge, or any other conservative site could easily go down too — in fact, all of them have already been massively suppressed by Big Tech. Even Fox News, which often parrots the establishment line but with a supposedly “conservative” spin, has found itself in the cross hairs of those demanding bans and censorship. And so there was an almost universal understanding, even among many liberals, that something would have to be done. But the question was and remains: What, if anything, can be done?

Flurry of Ideas on How to Respond

The ideas for what sort of response is needed were as numerous as they were varied. On one side, more than a few called for government intervention. Arguing that the Big Tech giants have become monopolies, the call to have government intervene was loud and clear from Congress and the White House to Main Street America. The companies’ deep ties to government, too, have been cited to justify government intervention. On the other hand, countless voices urged conservatives, Christians, libertarians, nationalists, patriots, and all other victims of the Big Tech censorship machine to simply ditch the companies that hate them so much, or urged everyone to try out alternatives. And there are plenty. More on that below.

Among those calling for government to step in, there are several strategies being pursued. One of the key avenues involves the so-called Communications Decency Act. Essentially, under that 1996 statute, as long as companies act as politically neutral venues for others to post content, they are generally immune from liability over the content on their sites. For instance, if a Facebook user were to libel somebody or violate copyright, the company itself would not be liable for the speech. However, the same protections do not apply to companies that exercise editorial discretion in the content that appears on their platforms. As such, if a newspaper, for instance, libels a person, or steals another person’s intellectual property, the paper would be liable under the law.

A number of high-profile lawmakers have jumped on this. At a Senate hearing in early 2018, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) began by asking representatives of the Internet giants — Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — whether they consider themselves to be “neutral” in providing a forum for public discussion. All of them answered yes. But then Cruz highlighted the fact that a Twitter official was caught on hidden camera by Project Veritas investigators bragging about “shadow-banning” conservatives, a tactic that hides the victims’ posts from others without the targeted individual even realizing that his content is not being seen by anyone. The senator from Texas also noted that Twitter initially blocked an announcement by Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) due to the content being pro-life.

There are countless other examples. “The pattern of political censorship we are seeing across the technology companies is highly concerning,” Senator Cruz said in his closing remarks. “And the opening question I asked of whether you are a neutral public forum — if you are a neutral public forum, that does not allow for political editorializing and censorship. And if you are not a neutral public forum, the entire predicate for liability immunity under the CDA [Communications Decency Act] is claiming to be a neutral public forum, so you cannot have it both ways.” And indeed, as the purge of anti-establishment voices gets more and more extreme, countless prominent pundits and others have called for the Big Tech giants to lose their immunity under CDA. They are clearly biased against conservatives and Republicans — even the Left admits that.

Beyond the CDA, more than a few prominent voices, including plenty on the Left, have called for breaking up the Internet “monopolies” of Facebook, Google, YouTube, and so on by using antitrust statutes. Some heavy hitters have even argued that the Big Tech monopolies are more problematic than the old monopolies of the “robber barons.” James Delingpole at Breitbart, for instance, wrote: “These Silicon Valley tech firms form the kind of oppressive, anti-consumer oligopoly that prompted Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting in the early 20th century. The difference between Jeff Bezos and [John D.] Rockefeller is that whereas Rockefeller just controlled oil, Bezos and his ilk control ‘ideas, information, perception of the world.’” And it is even worse than that. “Whatever threat these organizations pose to individual freedoms, the way they work in cahoots with governments is more dangerous still,” Delingpole continued, calling on President Trump to step in and save Western civilization from the death of free speech being orchestrated by Big Tech and its totalitarian allies in Big Government all over the world.

More than a few people with Trump’s ear are urging him to do that. Longtime Trump advisor and confidant Roger Stone, for instance, urged the administration to get involved. “It is Internet freedom, it is the rise of a robust and vigorous alternative media through the Internet, that allowed Donald Trump to become president,” said Stone, who works closely with Infowars. “And now, his critics want to put the toothpaste back into the tube. They want to return to the days when only ABC, NBC, and CBS controlled the political dialogue. Trump’s election would have been impossible under those circumstances.... We are being punished because we broadcast the truth. We are being shut down because we are a threat to the globalists and the Chinese Communist plan to take over this country.” Warning that Infowars was just the beginning, Stone suggested that the Justice Department should use antitrust laws to end the political censorship by the Big Tech monopolies.

And Trump may be responding. In fact, in a number of posts on Twitter, Trump suggested that his administration was looking into Big Tech’s war on free speech and would be taking action — especially concerning efforts to tip the election to Democrats. On July 26, Trump criticized Twitter in a tweet after it emerged that the website was making it more difficult for users to see posts of certain conservative lawmakers in Congress. “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good,” Trump said. “We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once. Many complaints.” Since Jones and Infowars were banned, Trump has gone even further in terms of speaking out. And when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development went after Facebook for aiding and abetting discrimination in housing, more than a few of Facebook’s foes celebrated.

Some opinion molders are advocating that the government create an “Internet Bill of Rights” that would protect free speech online. Investigative journalist and best-selling author Jerome Corsi, whose own YouTube channel was taken down before being put back online, told The New American that the status quo when it comes to social media is unacceptable. “The mainstream media is desperately fighting for its survival,” he said. “And the way to do it is to get the social-media companies to throw out every other viewpoint.” Noting that violent “Antifa” hate is welcome across the social-media platforms, while the Bible and support for the Second Amendment are increasingly being purged, Corsi said the establishment was trying to eliminate the visibility of views that are not aligned with its agenda.

While conservatives are typically reluctant to call for federal action, Corsi argued that it has now become hard to tell where the Internet giants end and the government begins. In particular, Corsi expressed frustration over the fact that the far-left leadership of the Internet companies was completely in bed with government and left-wing politicians such as the Clinton family. “These companies are so penetrated by the intelligence agencies you wonder if they aren’t just new names for the agencies,” he said, noting that the U.S. government’s intelligence apparatus had even funded many of the firms and was harvesting unfathomable amounts of data from them. “When you get to the heart of what’s going on in social media, it’s an intelligence operation. That’s what I was seeking to expose. This is no longer just a private enterprise.... Social media has become a backdoor for Big Brother.”

Because of this intimate relationship with the government, and because the Big Tech firms could ramp up the purge ahead of the 2018 elections and swing the vote, Corsi said conservatives must recognize the danger and demand action. In particular, he said it was time for the government to step in and protect individual rights online. Along with touting an “Internet Bill of Rights” that would apply to the online world the free speech protections, due process protections, and protection from surveillance and data-gathering without warrants contained in the U.S. Constitution, Corsi also called for antitrust investigations, which he said are more than warranted considering the companies’ anti-competitive behavior. And finally, Corsi called for an official investigation into what these companies have been doing and the precise nature of their links to government. After all, if government built these companies — and it certainly helped, at the very least — then free-speech rights ought to be protected on their platforms, too, he argued.

Non-government Alternatives

Obviously, government involvement in regulating nominally private companies has plenty of critics among conservatives, libertarians, and constitutionalists. For one, a plain reading of the U.S. Constitution does not reveal any delegation of the authority required. Some critics even worry that such a move could be the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent, letting government itself become empowered to control speech online. Plus, demanding that Christian bakers and florists celebrate homosexual “marriages” has left a horrible taste in many people’s mouths — making the idea of forcing companies to host speech they disagree with seem particularly wrong. After all, the leftist mind can simultaneously believe that companies should be free to ban speech they dislike, but that Christians must celebrate what they consider evil or be destroyed. For conservatives, that smacks of liberal hypocrisy.

CEO Art Thompson with The John Birch Society, the constitutionalist grassroots organization that publishes this magazine, argued that entrepreneurs with a dedication to the truth over money must help create alternative spaces for free speech. “The one solution to the problems of the Internet in a free society is competition,” he said in an e-mail. “More sites that sustain freedom of speech for all need to be produced, advertised, and used. People should intentionally seek out sites that — excepting pornography and the advocacy of a violent overthrow of the government — are committed to staying the course on free speech and would not willingly sell out their sites for megabucks.”

“When the First Amendment was drawn up, it only mentioned the two means of communication available at the time: speech and press,” continued Thompson. “Communication methods invented since then have all come under the regulation or control of the government in league with big-money businessmen who wish to use government to squash their competition, violating the original intent of the Bill of Rights. The two most obvious communication alternatives that were brought under government control were radio and television, which by 1970 were not only under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission but were basically consolidated and bought out by tycoons who were members of, or under the influence of, the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization that advocates global socialism (which is the control of everyone by a few handpicked bureaucrats under an organization such as the United Nations).”

Thompson continued: “Since the advent of the Internet, left-wing billionaires have been buying out most every new online site that reaches the masses, and government has been seeking to control it through so-called net neutrality. This is what I mean by staying the course and not succumbing to the allure of millions or billions of dollars, and serving the greater need for freedom of speech. The more voices open to free speech, the less likely they can all be silenced.”

Already, alternatives are popping up right and left. And people are using them, too. Among the emerging alternatives in the social-media space are companies such as Gab.ai, Minds, OneWay, Local Activist, MeWe, and more. Alternatives to YouTube that have received a major boost in recent weeks include BitChute and Real.Video. And in the search-engine market, a number of alternatives exist and are expanding quickly. These include DuckDuckGo, Searx.me, GoodGopher, StartPage, and more. Legacy alternatives such as Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing exist, too, although they suffer from many of the same problems as Google. Steemit and Patreon are providing alternative revenue sources for content creators — something crucial as YouTube works to bankrupt conservatives and enrich leftist hatemongers. The major e-mail providers are facing competition from privacy-oriented competitors such as ProtonMail in Switzerland, which uses encryption to help users protect privacy, and many others. And even the Drudge ­Report, which constantly links to establishment propaganda but has traditionally been perceived as more friendly to conservatives and alternative voices, faces new competition from the fast-growing aggregator WhatFinger.com.

But changing services can be tough. Companies such as Google have become so pervasive that, to many, trying to cut ties with the increasingly “evil” giant seems hopeless. But Asia-focused freelance journalist Nithin Coca did it, and shared his secrets with the world in a popular article about it. “Today, I am Google free, part of the western world’s ultimate digital minority, someone who does not use products from the world’s two most valuable technology companies (yes, I don’t use Facebook either),” he explained. “The truth is, alternatives do exist, many of which have launched in the years since Edward Snowden revealed Google’s participation in Prism.” And throughout the rest of the article, he provides a comprehensive list of all the alternative products and services he used to cut Google out of his life completely. It is well worth the read for anyone who is tired of being abused by the corporate Leviathan.

Some of the emerging alternatives are concerned that efforts to have Big Tech declared a “public utility” and the Internet subjected to more federal regulation would actually boost Big Tech’s power permanently. In a letter to President Trump, OneWay.com President Derek Peterson, BitChute.com President Ray Vahey, and other tech leaders urged Trump not to have government barge in. “We are very concerned that the actions of some of the bad actors in the technology world will result in regulations that could limit free speech and liberty in general,” they wrote. “We believe that the technologies we and others are developing will correct the market in a very short time and are concerned that any kind of regulation concerning speech or making these companies government sponsored ‘public squares’ or ‘utilities’ of some kind will further cement their place in our lives, make them more powerful and only make it more difficult or even impossible for the market to self correct.” They basically asked the Trump administration to let the free market work, cut regulation, and adopt the technology as it is developed.

Author and technology expert Patrick Wood is right in the middle of all of it. As the author ofTechnocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation and editor of Technocracy News & Trends, Wood understands the technocratic scheming of the globalist establishment. As the executive director of Citizens for Free Speech, he is deeply involved in the battle for free speech. But unlike those seeking federal solutions, Wood told The New American that the real answer is at the local level, in communities across America. That is why his organization is preparing to launch LocalActivist.org, a social-media service that aims to connect local activists with each other so they can see and post community events, join local groups that have been established for some specific local issue, and much more. The beta testing is already under way.

Commenting on the recent purges, Wood suggested Big Tech may be digging its own grave. “All social-media companies are public corporations and inherently have the right to do whatever they desire, short of breaking the law,” he explained. “However, they are not immune to lawsuits from people who have been materially harmed by their actions, and I expect such lawsuits to proliferate. Censorship is not illegal, but social-media giants who practice it will now be forced to compete for ideas on the open stage of society. They are naively walking into a trap of their own making, and they will lose. Just like the NFL lost massive numbers of long-term viewers over player protests, social-media giants risk bringing the same kind of punishment upon themselves…. Technocrats that they are, they really don’t realize that their ultimate fate is in the hands of the free market!”

Of course, those companies are doing everything they can to suppress competition, even buying up or trying to cripple potential competitors before they can do too much damage. But even those machinations are running up against opposition. One of the increasingly prominent social-media platforms competing with Facebook is known as Minds.com. Not surprisingly, Google was quick to ban the company from its ad program. But Minds CEO Bill Ottman responded not by whining — although he was invited to air his concerns on one of TV’s most popular news programs — but by announcing that his company was creating its own ad network to compete against the giants. It will use “block-chain” technology, which is all the rage in tech circles today, making it virtually impossible to manipulate or hack. And unlike the Big Tech companies, Minds’ ad alternatives will be totally transparent, even using open-source code that anyone is welcome to inspect.

Speaking on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson program, Minds CEO Ottman explained how Google was working to censor his company. Worse still, as Carlson noted, through their dominant position in online ads, Google and Facebook are able to have massive leverage over news sources and content creators — leverage that they frequently use, threatening and in some cases destroying alternative voices that refuse to do their bidding. Ottman said it is even worse than people realize, though. “When you go to people’s websites who host Google ads, Google is actually spying on you through those websites,” Ottman explained after Carlson argued that the duopoly practically “owns” news sites by controlling the whole ad market. “So by putting Google ads on your website, you’re actually becoming an agent of Google. That’s why we need transparent, more freedom-based ad platforms to emerge which don’t spy on people.” And that is what his company, Minds, is working to provide.

Truth Cannot Be Silenced

No matter how vigorously Big Tech and Big Government work to censor the truth, it cannot be totally suppressed. But that does not mean the establishment will not use dirty tricks in its efforts to try. Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and numerous other prominent voices even suggested that there may be an imminent false-flag attack against the media to be blamed on Trump, Infowars, and others. And indeed, with top United Nations officials suggesting that Trump could be prosecuted for “incitement” against the media if and when something bad happens, it is hardly far-fetched to suggest that the globalist establishment could be planning something. An incredible series of blatant lies against Jones and Trump pushed by the establishment, coinciding with the unprecedented and escalating purge of dissenting voices online, certainly suggests something fishy is going on.

But even without a false-flag attack, the threat of full-blown Internet censorship at the national and even the global level is very real. With Obama having surrendered control over Internet infrastructure to globalist “stakeholders” unbound by the First Amendment, and with the UN and many of its more oppressive member regimes actively campaigning for censorship worldwide, Internet freedom has never been in more grave danger. Key components of the Internet’s architecture were transferred to “international stakeholders,” making it potentially feasible to literally wipe somebody off the Internet completely — not just off social media. And the UN installed an actual Chinese Communist (who claims censorship is in the eye of the beholder) at the top of the UN International Telecommunications Union, the agency currently being groomed by the establishment for the role of world Internet regulator and censor. If the Orwellian trends are not halted, it could be just a matter of time before the World Wide Web faces full-blown censorship by a rogue alliance of governments, dictators, international institutions, and their Big Business cronies.

But ultimately, even if the Internet is completely undermined as an effective means of educating and activating resistance to the establishment and its agenda, the fight for truth and against tyranny must go on. The John Birch Society has been leading the effort to save diminishing freedoms since the late 1950s — generations before the Internet was even born. Tools for accomplishing that included and still include printed publications, videos and DVDs, grassroots educational campaigns, public speeches to educate local communities and opinion molders, and much more. And despite the emergence of the Internet, these tools are still far from obsolete. If, somehow, the establishment manages to shut down the World Wide Web as a useful tool to disseminate the truth, The John Birch Society will continue to get the information out. And you can help. Get involved, or get more involved, today!

Photo: AP Images

This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2018 print edition of The New American. The New American publishes a print magazine twice a month, covering issues such as politics, money, foreign policy, environment, culture, and technology.





LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE

Democrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.





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