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10.07.13

Google Embraces ‘Soft’ Censorship

Posted in Videos at 3:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MOAR censorship!

Mao

Summary: The advent of censorship even in so-called “open” channels that label themselves deceivingly in order to suggest they are users-driven

WHEN Google deletes several links per second for copyright reasons (as currently reported by some sites), then it’s hard to argue that Google engages in “censorship” per se. When Google deletes a video for copyright reasons, then too it is hard to label it censorship. But when Google changes the order of comments (potentially moving them out of existence/visibility) based on anonymity and so-called ‘reputation’ of commenters, then it is akin to censorship. Google does this right now [1]. This isn’t like the ‘hard’ censorship that Lessig has just encountered [2], but it is still a form of censorship.

All across Europe there is a new hot trend of censorship. Politicians try to sell us that idea that censoring particular ideas is a good thing [3], as if they have just come back from a long trip in China where they found inspiration.

Any act of demoting or removing a point of view is pretty much a case of censorship. We are not obliged to respond to people whom we do not agree with, but trying to make their views vanish is nothing to be proud about; it is a source of shame and proof of our weakness or insecurity. Google is going down the slippery slope when it comes to free speech.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. YouTube gets the yuck out in comments cleanup

    He explained that three main factors determine which comments are more relevant: community engagement by the commenter, up-votes for a particular comment, and commenter reputation. If you’ve been flagged for spam or abuse, don’t be surprised to find your comments buried, but that also means that celebrities who have strong Google+ reputations will be boosted above others.

  2. CVS.com, cleansed

    I bought a product at CVS online. They emailed me a request that I review the product on their site. I did. I didn’t like the product, but I complied with every single requirement for comments. Today I got a polite email telling me they had rejected my comment. When I clicked on the link to “contact us,” 404’d.

  3. Opinion: Free Speech

    In an age full of consistent threats of Internet censorship, among the other forms of opposition to freedom of speech and expression I have described, it is about time particularly in Britain, throughout Europe and across democratic nations that we drive a legal change, bringing protection of this essential liberty at least closer in value lawfully to its status in the United States. While as I have shown the First Amendment is often unhelpful even there, the forming of laws and being able to reference them is helpful in the establishment of free speech as a core and definite requirement throughout human civilisation, for drawing a line on what may be said, written or even caricatured will always end with the imprisonment of historians who deny the Holocaust, with the arrest of citizens for voicing opinions on Twitter and with the Vietnamese people being told they may exchange only “personal information” online. So my final point would be in the form of a question, should you remain unconvinced. If you believe a line on free speech ought to be drawn, I ask you to consider the following: Is there a single person or organisation to whom you would designate and allow the task of deciding, for you, what you can read and what you can hear from a fellow member of the human species? Personally, I insist I obtain the right to read, hear, think and decide on matters for myself.

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