Behind a claim that social media is being abused by terrorists to promote terrorism and hate speech, social media giants Facebook and Twitter, along with online giants Google and Microsoft have released a joint statement vowing to address hate speech EU-style online “within 24 hours”.
Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is “expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies and the European Commission said in a joint statement on Tuesday…
“We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow,” said Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, in the statement. “However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”
These platforms are going to start determining what is and isn’t okay to be said and shared online.
What does it mean that social media and internet companies are following the EU’s hate speech rules? Well, in the EU, people have actually been arrested for offending others on Facebook. A man in Scotland, for just one recent example, was arrested a few months ago for making what local authorities deemed “offensive” comments about Syrian migrants on Facebook.
Such acts, according to police, “will not be tolerated”:
A police spokesman was unequivocal, that any harsh criticism of the Muslim influx would not be “tolerated”. Inspector Ewan Wilson from Dunoon police office told the Guardian following the arrest:
“I hope that the arrest of this individual sends a clear message that Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of activity which could incite hatred and provoke offensive comments on social media”.
The offending post was apparently about how the guy was upset over the mass influx of Syrian migrants into his small town, the tiny Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde which only has about 6500 people. None of the media outlets that reported on the incident reposted the original comment that was so bad they arrested him over it; the media simply confirmed the man was arrest under the “Communications Act” for his “offensive” speech about migrants.
But look at the inspector’s comment — any form of activity which could incite hatred? That means hate speech doesn’t even have to officially “incite hatred” to be criminalized. Think of all the ways then that speech can be interpreted (and abused) to shut down any online expression that goes against, say, a government agenda like forced mass immigration.
As it has been pointed out many times, the labeling of speech as “hate speech” is ultimately nothing more than a political device to censor and silence free speech that a fascist system disagrees with. While it always starts out as arguing for “common sense” controls using worst case examples, the determinations always grow more and more ambiguous and the bar for what violates such rules always gets moved, criminalizing more and more speech, changing what people are allowed to discuss publicly.
Ultimately, this is about killing dissent.
While the current standards may be set at Tweets about committing violence against someone, that’s not where “hate speech” ends or will end, not by far. It ends in labeling First Amendment-protected speech as “racist,” “homophobic,” “sexist,” or “microaggressions” and on and on, not even for actual hate but for disagreeing with someone in a way that isn’t deemed “politically correct”.
The point is to quash unpopular opinions, thereby limiting what a person is allowed to say and finally, socially engineering what people are allowed to think. It’s a lot like George Orwell’s 1984, but on steroids.
The silencing of unpopular opinions, both online and in real life, is the way of the Orwellian future we’re all marching together toward.
Pew Research Center recently published findings that 40 percent — that’s nearly half — of millennials approve of limiting speech that minorities find offensive. Fifty-one percent of Democrats support hate speech laws, and a third of Americans total. The number is growing. Where that bar is set on “what minorities find offensive” also gets moved all the time.
These are people who could care less if we have a First Amendment or not. They just don’t want anyone to be allowed to personally criticize or offend them. Unfortunately, that shouldn’t be how life works. If everyone got a law passed on what they personally find offensive, no one would be allowed to say anything ever.
But that’s what is happening. History is literally being removed from public view and rewritten based on what’s considered offensive today. One recent example involved public school students protesting their district’s move to “change history” by teaching lessons that edited out incidents of civil disobedience in America… a country founded in part on civil disobedience.
By following EU rules on “hate speech,” the major internet and social media companies are declaring that the First Amendment no longer exists for the millions of Americans who use these platforms.
Some will argue that these are private companies and therefore they can do whatever they want. While that may be semantically true, between Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft, everyone online is pretty much accounted for. Once a company that services billions of people worldwide ignores the First Amendment online, it’s basically the same as erasing the First Amendment online.
This is going to manipulate and edit what society says, shares, and thinks as easily as editing a Facebook post.
While discussing our public “education” system, this quote is also relevant here.
We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”
Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to a public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient, without any real obligations or devotions.
— Professor Patrick Deneen