News nanny: The race to censor Internet new - By Daniel Greenfield
If we don’t fight now,
conservatives will vanish from the internet.
Daniel Greenfield, a
Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative
journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
How can you
tell that internet censorship is really taking off? Easy. It’s becoming a
Brill is raising $6 million to launch News Guard. This
new service will rate news sites on their trustworthiness from green to red.
Forget politically unbiased algorithms. The ratings will be conducted by "qualified,
accountable human beings" from teams of “40 to 60 journalists.” Once upon
a time, journalism meant original writing. Now it means deciding which original
writing to censor.
trust be monetized?" The Street’s article
on News Guard asks. But it isn’t really trust that’s being monetized. It’s
censorship. It’s doing the dirty work that Google and Facebook don’t want to
and their media allies have been pressuring Google and Facebook to do something
about the “fake news” that they blame for Trump’s win. The big sites outsourced
the censorship to media fact checkers. The message was, “Don’t blame us, now
you’re in charge.”
made a deal with ABC News and the AP, along with Politifact, FactCheck and
Snopes, to outsource the censoring for $100K.
When two of these left-wing groups declare that an article is fake, Facebook
marks it up and viewership drops by 80%.
reportedly considering adding the Weekly
Standard to its panel of fact checkers. Even if that were to
happen, it would be the difference between putting the New York Times without
David Brooks or the Times with
David Brooks in charge of deciding what you can read on Facebook. Adding a
token conservative who is acceptable to the left doesn’t change the inherent
bias of the system.
does the roster of fact checkers lean to the left, but so do its notions of
what’s true and false. For example, Snopes and Politifact both insist that
General Pershing’s forces never buried the bodies of Muslim terrorists with
pigs. But General Pershing specifically stated
in his autobiography, "These Juramentado attacks were materially reduced
in number by a practice that the Mohamedans held in abhorrence. The bodies were
publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig.”
recently marked a story that Christ Church in Virginia is removing a George
Washington plaque as false even though the church publicly announced that it
was doing so.
and Snopes are entitled to their incorrect opinions. The trouble is that they
don’t extend the same privilege to those they disagree with. And Google and
Facebook promote fake fact checks while burying sites that discuss actual
historical facts. The big internet companies don’t want to get involved in all
these arguments. But nor are they willing to let their users decide for
And so Net
Nanny for news has become an actual business model. Instead of protecting
children from pornography, News Nanny protects adults from news. And from views
outside the left’s bubble.
the News Nanny model, Google and Facebook are treating their users like
Guard model is in some ways even more insidious than biased fact checking
because it sets up lists of approved and disapproved sites. Google is rolling
out something similar with its “knowledge panels” for publishers. Search for
the New York Times and
the panels will tell you how many Pulitzers the paper has won. Search for Front Page Magazine and
the panel note describes it as, “Political alignment: Right-wing politics”. No
note listing a left-wing political alignment appears in the panel for the New York Times despite
its recent laudatory series about the Soviet Union and Communism.
never has an official political orientation. Not even when it’s cheering
Communism. But its opponents and critics always have one. Follow Google’s link
for Front Page’s political
alignment and the top entry states, “Right-wing politics hold that certain
social orders and hierarchies are inevitable”.
wholly inaccurate description of either Front
Page Magazine or conservative politics in America. And it’s
another example of how the fight against “fake news” by the left actually ends
up producing it.
it isn’t meant to stop there.
Blog casually mentions that the panels will also list, “claims the publisher
has made that have been reviewed by third parties”. You get one guess as to who
those “third parties” will be.
checking has become a pipeline to censorship. The big social and search
companies outsource fact checking to third parties and then demonetize,
marginalize and outright ban views and publishers that those third parties
disagree with. Fact checks are no longer an argument. They’re the prelude to a
Facebook respectively dominate search and social media. When they appoint
official censors for their services, those left-wing fact checkers become the
gatekeepers of the internet.
internet isn’t supposed to have gatekeepers.
Franken, of all people, made that point at the Open Markets
Institute. OMI’s people have emerged as the leading opponents of big tech
monopolies on the left.
one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches
consumers and which doesn’t,” Franken said. “And Facebook, Google and Amazon,
like ISPs, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful
information and commerce on their platform.”
There is no
more obvious example of the lack of neutrality than Facebook and Google’s
partnership with “fact checkers”. If Net Neutrality means anything, it
should strike down Google’s partnership with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking
Network and Facebook’s use of Snopes to silence conservatives.
picked and chose content based on algorithms, they were deciding which content
reached users based on what was likely to be popular. And, occasionally, based
on their own agendas. Now they are picking and choosing which content reaches
users based on political orientation. While the advocates for Net Neutrality
rage against cable companies, Comcast and Charter aren’t engaging in political
censorship. No matter how they disguise it, Google and Facebook’s news nannies
is an ominous warning that online censorship is becoming a viable business
model as the big tech companies look around for someone else to do their dirty
work for them. But subcontracted censorship is still censorship. And the only
people impressed by the credentials of the “fact checkers” are those who share
their politics. Unfortunately that covers the leadership of Google and
about fake news often begin and end with “trust”. Major media outlets with
Pulitzers are trustworthy. Major fact checking operations are also trustworthy.
Even Snopes is somehow trustworthy despite its utter lack of professionalism,
and its founders accusing each other of embezzlement,
has more than one meaning. We trust those people and organizations we like. And
sometimes those organizations form a trust. And anyone who isn’t in, is
the mainstream media has never been lower. Yet the big tech companies insist
that mainstream media sources are the only trustworthy ones. They want us to
trust them, because they don’t trust us.
internet was a revolutionary environment that liberated individuals to make
their own choices. Bloggers could compete with big media. Leaked emails could
bring down a government. But the internet is becoming less free. Access is
controlled by a handful of tech companies that keep getting bigger and bigger.
The survivors of the scale wars will combine cable, content and commerce in new
ways. And in a politicized culture, they won’t just signal their political
views, they will enforce them.
If we don’t
fight now, ten years from now conservatives will be the rats in the walls of