That, and other important stories like #GirtherGate and Congress's annual contrived government shutdown threat, have apparently filled the news-holes so densely that there was no room to cover the Wednesday Senate hearing in which groveling reps of the tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter outlined all the nifty ways they're censoring online content from users they've deemed undesirable or displeasing to the political establishment
The ostensible purpose of the hearing was "terrorism" and sex trafficking, but then it devolved quickly to generalized Content Moderation, which is postmodern Newspeak for censorship under that silly old First Amendment.
Social media's failure to crack down on what Senator John Thune (R-SD) called "extremist groups (that) recruit and radicalize folks that (sic) will commit violent acts against Americans" could well lead to fines and other punitive measures against the tech giants, he warned. He didn't bother to specify what exactly constitutes "extremist groups."
Eager to show how diligently they're cooperating with Congress and the US intelligence "community," Facebook Global Policy Director Monica Bickert bragged that her company now employs 7,500 people whose sole function is to monitor and remove allegedly dicey content. This censoring workforce, which includes alumni of spy agencies and law enforcement, will double by the end of year, she vowed.
Just as the 17-agency federal intelligence Borg is a form of bureaucratic overkill which misses more "terrorist plots" than it uncovers or manufactures, Facebook says it has now "partnered" with more than a dozen other private corporations to devise a permanent blacklist based upon certain digital fingerprints which only they, the patriotic nerds of America, can spot. Suspicion of subversion could therefore get a user banned from the entire Internet, with no hope of appeal or any other form of due process. Suspects shall be presumed guilty before they even know they're suspected of anything.
Google is taking it a step further by actively promoting content from "acceptable" news sources in an Orwellian initiative which it dubs Counter-Speech.
Clint Watts, a former FBI official who has glided through the revolving door to Censorship, Inc. added to the paranoia at the Wednesday Senate hearing as he described various far-fetched scenarios for the end of the world via the Internet. One of them is "Anwar Awlaki Meets PizzaGate." (Awlaki was the radical Muslim cleric who was droned to death on the extra-judicial orders of Barack Obama, while "PizzaGate" was the alt-right agitprop campaign which linked Hillary Clinton to a pedophile ring run out of a D.C. pizza parlor, and which led to a true believer firing his weapon at the eatery's threatening ceiling.)
The danger, schmoozed Watts to the senators, is not so much the homegrown white supremacy resurgence, but the possibility that Russians are fooling the "lesser-educated" white American supremacists into wreaking havoc.
Twitter, for its own patriotic part, is so gung-ho about the assault on the First Amendment that it euphemistically calls its own censorship rep "the director of public policy and philanthropy."
As reported by Gizmodo,
Sen. Brian Schatz, for example, wanted to know if Twitter is taking care of its fake news problem and if we can be sure that it is “going to get this right, and before the midterms.” For the record, Twitter is more prepared this time around than it’s ever been, (Carlos) Monje said. And that’s not surprising because it’s never really had to think about the elections all that much until last year.Monje, despite being a nerd and a charity geek, must be one of those thoughtless dudes whom the FBI guy was complaining about. So it's good to know that the US Senate is such a great teacher. Twitter is not yet so patriotically savvy, however, that it has any immediate plans to ban Trump's own Twitter account and the reckless nuclear threats contained therein.
Meanwhile, the same US Senate which purports to be so worried about social media subversion today voted, by a grotesque two-to-one margin, to give the dangerous Donald "Fake News" Trump six more years of totally awesome and unfettered power to continue spying on anybody he feels like.
In case you missed it, the World Socialist Website hosted a very interesting (and so far uncensored) discussion with Chris Hedges about censorship.
Although I can't prove it (lacking the necessary tools and expertise) I suspect that Sardonicky also has been censored. Google, which actually hosts me on its platform, had already discontinued the Google + feature, which effectively boosted search rankings according to the number of times a post was up-voted by readers. That absence did affect my traffic somewhat. But in just the last month, Google analytics informs me, my readership has plummeted by a drastic 60 percent. I assumed at first that people were too busy to drop by during the winter holidays. Then I wondered if it was a glitch on Google's end. Then I wondered if readers had simply grown bored, or had caught the nasty Flu bug, or got outrage-fatigued, or just plain sick of my contrarian "content." But to lose more than half your audience, all in the space of just four short weeks?
Then I decided not to take it seriously. Life is far too short to fret about blog traffic instead of worrying about the ongoing threat to pretty much the whole Bill of Rights.
P.S., 1/19: I was alerted by "Clueless It Seems" in comments under my previous post that the commenting section of this post was gone. Sure enough, the cartoon I'd appended of Natasha the Spy had obliterated the commenting button. That'll teach me not to make graphic Russian jokes if I want to continue enjoying the privilege of using the Google blogging platform!
In case you're wondering why I don't just migrate to WordPress, I checked into it a long time ago. Because it would not allow me to transfer any of the art accompanying my posts, I decided against the move. Also, creating my own unique website would cost me money I don't have. So I'll continue muddling through at this free (at least in the monetary sense) venue for as long as I am able. Since I don't allow ads on this site, any cash they're making off me is probably minimal to none.