Growing up, few of us could have realized that we would be seeing a fight for the First Amendment brewing on the horizon.
As a young man, I was told over and over again that our First Amendment rights are inalienable. If nothing else about America prevailed, we would still be able to speak freely on any subject we wish, hampered only by the possibility that our speech could incite violence outright, or be deemed derogatory hate speech.
Now, in the midst of a solid mid-life crisis, (no Corvette…yet), I look to the horizon and see a frightening juggernaut, reminiscent of the National Socialists of 1930’s Germany. The left has taken the government out of the equation, moving the goalposts in the fight for freedom from the halls of government to the offices of Silicon Valley. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution allows you to do; all that matter is what YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter allow you to do.
These are the new outlets for thought. The new newspapers. Heck, they are the new public square, hiding behind the guise of private property, and they are using this distinction to crack down on anything they don’t like…freedom or not.
So when YouTube inexplicably demonetized conservative outlet Western Journal, the organization was forced to respond…especially after being given the cold shoulder by the video sharing platform when an explanation was requested.
YouTube demonetized the account of the conservative news site Western Journal, accusing the account owners of “duplicating content,” although the Google subsidiary declined to specify what material in particular violated the video platform’s terms of service.
“Youtube demonetized our account and told us the reason was ‘duplication,” said Shaun Hair, executive editor of the Western Journal.
“We had zero copyright strikes and zero community guideline strikes. Not even a recent warning. Youtube has on three occasions declined to explain or even give a single example of why duplication is other than generic language about copyright rules.”
The Western Journal has previously exposed big tech’s biases through original reporting. In July, analyses commissioned by the site revealed that GOP representatives had been hit by massive declines in Facebook interactions since the social network’s algorithm changes in January. The Western Journal also found that the algorithm change disproportionately impacted conservative websites.
Regardless of where the line between government and private enterprise ends, this absolutely qualifies as authoritarianism, and totalitarianism. Just because YouTube has no known governmental connections doesn’t mean that they aren’t beholden to the golden rule, or the idea of virtuosity.
When it’s wrong, it’s wrong, and it doesn’t matter what side of the public-private divide you’re on.