Friday, 15 April 2022 — Caitlin Johnson
YouTube has been deleting videos disputing the US government narrative about Russian war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine, validating concerns we’ve discussed previously that Silicon Valley platforms would begin censoring anyone who challenges the authorized version of events in this war.
“By the way, my video ‘Bucha: More Lies’ has been deleted [by] YouTube’s censors,” reads a recent tweet by Gonzalo Lira.
“My stream last night on RBN was censored on Youtube after debunking the Bucha Massacre narrative,” Revolutionary Blackout Network reports.
It would seem that this clears up what YouTube meant when it said last month, “Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events. We are now removing content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy.”
There has as yet been no investigation into what happened in Bucha by any international body and there are plenty of arguments to be made questioning aspects of the Official Story that westerners are being aggressively force fed by the narrative control machine of the US-centralized empire. Which would mean that YouTube is defining “well-documented” as “unproven assertions by the US government.”
— SearchEngineJournal® (@sejournal) April 13, 2022
YouTube is also demonetizing content that is more broadly critical of the US/NATO/Ukraine side of the war.
“Due to the war in Ukraine, we will pause monetization of content that exploits, dismisses, or condones the war,” a notice that’s being sent to users reads. “This pause includes, but is not limited to, claims that imply victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming, such as claims that Ukraine is committing genocide or deliberately attacking its own citizens.”
And can I just add here that as a survivor of rape and abuse it makes me want to scream my fucking throat out to see phrases like “victim blaming” used to suppress speech criticizing the unipolarist geostrategic agendas of the most powerful and destructive government on earth. It’s extremely obnoxious how common this disgusting power-serving line has become.
It’s probably also worth noting at this point that YouTube is owned by Google, which is a US military contractor and which has been inseparably intertwined with US intelligence agencies from its very inception.
The radius of what these government-tied oligarchic Silicon Valley megacorporations deem worthy of censorship has been getting wider and wider with every major news story: from eliminating Russian trolls, to thwarting domestic extremists, to protecting election integrity, to stopping Covid misinformation. Now they’re just openly saying they’re censoring those who disagree with the world’s most powerful government about a war. The excuses change from day to day, but the only constant is that we’re always told the solution is more internet censorship.
BREAKING: The reason for both my and @jacksonhinklle‘s ban from @Twitch was because they were contacted by journalists from the @FinancialTimes today after a Tech Transparency Project Report defamed our stream content as Kremlin propaganda. pic.twitter.com/91pPOXx81D
— Haz (@InfraHaz) April 14, 2022
The Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch has also jumped aboard this latest censorship escalation, banning multiple accounts for voicing wrongthink about Ukraine in response to an inquiry by Financial Times as to why it’s permitting “pro-Kremlin falsehoods” on the platform. The Financial Times inquiry followed a report tattling on those accounts by the Soros and Omidyar-funded Tech Transparency Project.
Financial Times writes the following:
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Twitch said it would move to “prohibit harmful misinformation actors from using our service”. But a report from the Tech Transparency Project detailed multiple accounts pushing pro-Kremlin falsehoods, such as claims the invasion was “de-Nazifying” Ukraine and a Russian “special operation”. Other streams peddled falsehoods about “biolabs” being set up in the war-torn country.
Twitch banned several accounts cited in the report and was investigating several more, it said, after being presented with the findings on Wednesday.
Twitter, another massive platform with ties to the US government, has also seized the moment as an opportunity to ratchet up the censorship of empire critics. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has been banned from the platform for simply tweeting criticisms of the establishment Bucha narrative; his account was suspended for one such criticism, the suspension was reversed upon review by Twitter, and then his account was again shut down for another such criticism he’d made days earlier. Journalist Pepe Escobar, who has been openly sympathetic to the Russian side of the conflict, was banned for saying that Azov neo-Nazis would be be “disinfected” with a “certified highway to hell thermobaric flamethrower.”
This dramatic uptick in censorship of political speech is happening against the backdrop of Elon Musk’s shenanigans about potentially buying Twitter in full, which has sent mainstream liberals into a tizzy over fears that speech on the platform would become less restricted due to statements Musk has made about opposing online censorship. I have a hard time imagining that the richest man in the world would actually do anything to protect free speech, but the horror with which imperial narrative managers are reacting to the faintest hint of that possibility is very revealing:
I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) April 14, 2022
I might not necessarily agree with everything that’s been said by everyone who’s had their voices silenced in this latest ramp-up of online censorship, but I do strongly believe that only the worst and/or most deluded among us support their silencing. Under no possible framing is suppressing criticism of the mightiest power structure of all time a reasonable or acceptable thing to do.
I mean we’re already at a point here where the arguments for censorship don’t even make sense, when you look at them. When we were told people like Alex Jones and conspiracy circles like QAnon needed to be censored because they incite violence and harassment I didn’t agree with it, but at least the arguments about the need to prevent violence technically made sense. When we were told Covid skeptics need to be censored I didn’t agree with it, but at least the argument that people were dying as a result of being misinformed about a deadly virus technically made sense.
But what exactly is the argument for censoring wrongthink about the Ukraine war? Even if we pretend that everything they’re saying is 100% false and completely immoral, so what? What harm is being done? Does a Ukrainian drop dead every time someone says they don’t believe Russia committed war crimes in Bucha or Mariupol? Does Putin get magic murder powers if enough social media users say they support his war? Do liberal faces melt off their skulls if they accidentally see an RT headline?
Of course not. There’s no sensible argument that this new escalation in censorship is saving lives or that it’s being done for the good of the public. It’s being done to protect the interests of the powerful, plain and simple. It’s being done to prevent people from thinking unauthorized thoughts about a proxy war that was deliberately provoked to advance US strategic interests. And it’s being done to expand the radius of internet censorship for its own sake.
SCOTT RITTER: Twitter Wars—My Personal Experience in Twitter’s Ongoing Assault on Free Speech https://t.co/a3c445VtSk
— Consortium News (@Consortiumnews) April 13, 2022
It’s not healthy to seek control over what people say and think. Free speech is important not because it makes people sad when they don’t get to say what they want, but because the free exchange of ideas and information is how we collectively bring awareness to problems, change minds, stir the zeitgeist, and, if necessary, organize mass resistance.
And that’s exactly why the powerful work to prevent the free exchange of ideas and information. If people are permitted to stand at the center of a digital public square and send an unauthorized idea or piece of information viral if it resonates with others, that is a direct threat to status quo power structures. It’s not about saving Ukrainians, ending Covid misinformation, preventing violence, or any of the other excuses they’ve been rolling out since 2016. It’s about censoring the internet.
The advent of the internet gave the powerful the ability to propagandize the public far more rapidly and efficiently than they previously could, but it also brought on the risk of a democratized information space where the public can collectively figure out together that they’re being subjected to tyranny and deceit and decide to put an end to it. Herding the public onto these giant monopolistic platforms that are working in greater and greater intimacy with the empire is how our rulers have chosen to address this dilemma.
The idea is to keep the vast propagandizing power of the internet open while forcing its democratizing power closed, thereby keeping the balance of power tilted far toward the empire managers while manipulating us into believing this is all happening for our own good. But that’s all it is: manipulation. Psychological manipulation at mass scale, for the benefit of the powerful. That’s all this has ever been.