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Graham Linehan’s Trans Day of Visibility: It’s Against a Harmful Ideology, Not People

I’m almost two weeks late writing about this, but I think it needs to be covered. On the last day of March, Graham Linehan and his conversationalists on The Mess We’re In channel held their own Trans Day of Visibility. As well as being the writer behind the awesome Father Ted, Linehan is very much a male feminist. He’s become notorious over the past few years for his opposition to the transgender ideology, along with Kellie-Jay Kean, Abigail Shrier, Benjamin Boyce, and the host of another YouTube channel, You’re Kidding, Right?. This last lady presents the arguments against the ideology from the perspective of a Black American woman, which is very enlightening. Especially when she forcefully tells the trans rights activists not to true to compare their ideology to the Civil Rights movement. One of her critics tried to tell her that she was the equivalent of the Klan. Her antecedents came from Georgia when the Klan were powerful and extremely frightening. She made it very, very clear that she was nothing like the Klan. But I digress.

Linehan is joined on his videos with Welsh feminist Helen Staniland and gay Canadian Arty Morty. Morty is, by his own admission, very much a part of the Canadian gay scene and worked as a bar man in a trans bar. Staniland is concerned about the threat to women and girls from biological men being allowed into female spaces on the grounds that they identify as women. Morty is particularly concerned that gender reassignment is being used as a form of conversion therapy to ‘cure’ gender non-conforming children and teens by parents who are afraid that their children will grow up gay. He’s particularly concerned as he was one of these kids. As a boy, he preferred to play with dolls, and he’s afraid that if he was a child today, he would have been put down as transgender and been put on the path to transition.

It was the ‘trans day of visibility’ a few weeks ago, and so Linehan and his friends have as guests in this video their transgender friends and supporters – Debbie Hayton, Miranda Yardlemort, Scott Newgent, and a transman who appears simply as Aaron. These gents and ladies give their perspective on the dangers of trans movement and ideology as transmen and women, and how they came to oppose it.

They did so for a variety of reasons. In the case of Yardlemort, it was through looking at what the gender critical feminists actually wrote for herself, and being horrified at the grotesquely exaggerated response by the trans activists to entirely reasonable points as well as the way opposing feminists were stalked, abused and maltreated. She was also concerned by the way the pro-trans stance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Women actually invalidates those rights and endangers women. She was thrown off Twitter for such crimes as saying that there are only two genders, transwomen shouldn’t be allowed into women’s spaces, and that rape and death threat to women aren’t acceptable. Yardlemort has also suffered her share of bullying from trans activists, as when one tried to take her to court for alleged ‘transphobia’.

Debbie Hayton joined the anti-trans movement because she was afraid that their extreme claims would actually damage the trans movement, and make trans people less accepted. She argues that being gender critical does not mean being anti-trans. She and Helen Staniland looked back to a time when transwomen and women were largely in harmony with each other, although there was occasional conflicts over the inclusion of transwomen in female-only events, such as the Michfest women-only music festival.

They also talk about the vexed issues of pronouns. The attitude of Arty Morty is that, while he doesn’t believe that there should be laws demanding transgender people be referred to be their chosen pronouns, he has no problem doing so for decent people. It’s only the misogynists he refuses to call ‘she’.

Aaron made it very clear that he believes transitioning is beneficial for some people. It worked for him, but he didn’t have a mental illness. This is important, as some of those being diagnosed a transgender may simply be mentally ill or have a neurological condition like autism. He turned against the trans ideology three years ago from concerns about the homophobia. He’s afraid that the excesses of the trans activists, such as the attacks on J.K. Rowling, will eventually lead to a ban on transitions, which will harm those who really need them. He is also afraid, like Linehan, Staniland, Morty and the others, that children and vulnerable adults are being misdiagnosed as trans and consequently mutilated. Debbie Orlander also shares this fear, especially when it comes to children as young as four or five.

Scott Newgent makes the point that part of the problem is medical corporations, who stand to make a profit from these drugs and treatments, telling vulnerable people they have the solution. This is compounded by social media, as Twitter and other sites will not allow the opposing side to be heard. He also makes the point that the trans ideology is supported by genuinely good people, who want to do the right thing, and have been falsely persuaded that the trans issue is the same as gay rights and comparable to the struggle over gay marriage. He believes that there is a positive side to trans activism, but this is a problem as its acceptance leads also to the acceptance of the negative aspects as well. He and the others also take down some of the ridiculously inflated and entirely false claims of the trans activists. Over here in the Blighty, the trans activists wanted a ‘trans day of remembrance’ for all the transgender people, who’ve been murdered. Except the numbers of transgender people who’ve been killed over here is vanishingly small. No transpeople have been killed in Scotland, for example. Newgent makes the same point about similar claims in his part of the US. He attended a talk about trans rights, in which the speaker claimed that trans children in his state of South Dakota were in danger of committing suicide. Except they weren’t. No trans children have committed suicide there.

The peeps do, however, express concerns that these threats and prophecies of suicide may be self-fulling. There is the danger that people, who have been misled into transitioning, may kill themselves when they find that it is not the cure they have been promised. Lesbian girls may be particularly affected by this. One of them talks about how they’re horrified by the the people, who’ve been physically harmed by the treatment – people with osteopathy and shrunken hearts due to puberty blockers and the hormones they’ve been prescribed. There’s also the case of the medical doctor, who contacted Linehan in distress at being officially barred from telling upset trans people that J.K. Rowling does not in fact want to kill them.

The team talk about the toxicity and violence of the trans activists. One of them physically attacked a gender critical feminist, Cathy Brennan, at Speaker’s Corner, a situation made all the worse by the actions of Stonewall, the gay advocacy organisation. They also criticise the left for its handling of the debate. They state that the left is undemocratic, intolerant of free speech and has a problem with racism and misogyny. Stonewall by its actions over a number of issues has provoked a backlash, of which the gender critical movement is only one part.

Hayton is optimistic, believing that more people are turning against the trans movement and being aware how it affects women’s rights and children’s safeguarding, as well as the way it harms transpeople themselves. Fionne, another transwoman, is also optimistic, noting the success of the Keira Bell case. Like Aaron, she believes that medical transition should be an option, but only for adults, not children, who need psychotherapy and a more diverse approach. She believes that transpeople have made a mistake in demanding access to women’s spaces, and should instead have demanded their own, third spaces. Yardlemort actually emailed a number of LGBTQ organisations about the need for gay spaces away from transpeople, but none of them replied.

The team also debate whether Donald Trump was the only person, who would have been able to stop the progress of trans ideology. They feel we need more people like J.K. Rowlings, who stand up to the trans lobby simply out of principle without any benefit to themselves. Newgent states that he has sacrificed his own career for his principles. He states that when it comes to the treatment of children,

I am very much aware that this is a very emotive issue and that many of my readers don’t share my views on this topic. However, I strongly believe that Linehan and his guests here are correct, and that vulnerable people, particularly women and children, are being unnecessarily put on life-changing, harmful medical treatment. And there is a problem with biological men being allowed into female-only spaces, such as prisons. There have been a series of rapes of women prisoners by biological men, who have been placed in women’s prisons because they have identified, or claimed to identify, as women.

I don’t hate transgender people, and definitely don’t wish anyone to come to any harm, much less be killed. But there are genuine dangers here, but unfortunately the climate of liberal opinion and many ‘official’ gay organisations, like Stonewall, mean that the gender critical side is silenced and their arguments not heard.

As you can see from this video, Linehan and his friends very definitely don’t hate transpeople, although they do discuss some extremely dangerous and predatory individuals. And they clearly have friends and supporters in the trans community, who share their concerns.

At the very least, they need to be heard and listened to. The topic should not be the monopoly of intolerant trans activists.

Between Nazis and democracy activists: social media and the free speech dilemma

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 12:55pm in

Once hailed as the great democratizers, social media platforms are now under fire for failing to moderate hate speech.

On June 6, 2020 I participated in Berlin’s Black Lives Matter demonstration. Thousands of people turned out, despite the pandemic, in solidarity with those who were demonstrating across the United States to protest the police killing of George Floyd—and to protest police killings of people of color in Germany. The mass gathering in the middle of the city’s historic Alexanderplatz was a powerful sight; standing there, wearing my mask and face shield, I felt for a moment as though things might change.

Exactly 10 years earlier and halfway around the world, another act of horrific police brutality occurred and changed the course of history. Khaled Saeed, a 28-year-old Egyptian man who lived in Alexandria, was sitting in a cybercafé when plainclothes police officers barged in and demanded to see everyone’s identification. Saeed refused. In response the officers, who almost never encountered defiance from the cowed citizens of the authoritarian state, began to beat him. They dragged him outside, continuing to batter him in full view of numerous witnesses. At one point, Saeed cried out, “I’m dying!” to which an officer responded: “I’m not leaving you until you are dead.” They drove off with Saeed’s lifeless body and returned 10 minutes later to dump it at the same place they had attacked him.

I was finishing my book, Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism on the day a teenage shop clerk in Minneapolis called 911 to report a customer he suspected of having passed him a counterfeit $20 bill. Derek Chauvin was one of the responding police officers who arrested George Floyd soon after. A bystander used her phone to record the shocking spectacle of Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes as he gasped for breath, begged for mercy, and ultimately died. The video of the incident sparked a global movement.

While writing my book I thought about the ties that bind us, across borders; our commonalities, our differences, and the ways in which powerful actors place limits on how we communicate, how we organize, and how we express ourselves.

The chapters covering the role that social media platforms had played in the Arab uprisings of 2010-2011 and in the Movement for Black Lives were done by the time the protests of 2020 erupted and I was working on the book’s conclusion, in which I wrote:

“Police brutality and repression in Egypt and the United States are inextricably linked, through global networks of power and capitalism and more directly through military aid and training, but also through the similar ways in which the powerful seek to quash dissent—which includes platform censorship.”

In Egypt, Saeed’s death inspired activists to create a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Saeed,” which became a place where thousands of Egyptians participated in conversations and polls about the oppressive state, police violence and repression. Later, it was the place where activists called for the protests that led to the January 25 revolution—an uprising that inspired numerous movements throughout the region and the world and shaped the ensuing decade. But the Egyptian revolution might never have begun as it did if events had evolved differently.

During the decade prior to the 2011 uprising, Egypt saw a blogging boom, with people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds writing outspoken commentary about social and political issues, even though they ran the risk of arrest and imprisonment for criticizing the state. The internet provided space for discussions that had previously been restricted to private gatherings; it also enabled cross-national dialogue throughout the region, between bloggers who shared a common language. Public protests weren’t unheard of—in fact, as those I interviewed for the book argued, they had been building up slowly over time—but they were sporadic and lacked mass support.

While some bloggers and social media users chose to publish under their own names, others were justifiably concerned for their safety. And so, the creators of “We Are All Khaled Saeed” chose to manage the Facebook page using pseudonyms.

Facebook, however, has always had a policy that forbids the use of “fake names,” predicated on the misguided belief that people behave with more civility when using their “real” identity. Mark Zuckerberg famously claimed that having more than one identity represents a lack of integrity, thus demonstrating a profound lack of imagination and considerable ignorance. Not only had Zuckerberg never considered why a person of integrity who lived in an oppressive authoritarian state might fear revealing their identity, but he had clearly never explored the rich history of anonymous and pseudonymous publishing.

In November 2010, just before Egypt’s parliamentary elections and a planned anti-regime demonstration, Facebook, acting on a tip that its owners were using fake names, removed the “We are all Khaled Saeed” page.

At this point I had been writing and communicating for some time with Facebook staff about the problematic nature of the policy banning anonymous users. It was Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S., where I lived at the time, but a group of activists scrambled to contact Facebook to see if there was anything they could do. To their credit, the company offered a creative solution: If the Egyptian activists could find an administrator who was willing to use their real name, the page would be restored.

They did so, and the page went on to call for what became the January 25 revolution.

A few months later, I joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and began to work full-time in advocacy, which gave my criticisms more weight and enabled me to communicate more directly with policymakers at various tech companies.

Three years later, while driving across the United States with my mother and writing a piece about social media and the Egyptian revolution, I turned on the hotel television one night and saw on the news that police in Ferguson, Missouri had shot an 18-year-old Black man, Michael Brown, sparking protests that drew a disproportionate militarized response.

The parallels between Egypt and the United States struck me even then, but only in 2016 did I become fully aware. That summer, a police officer in Minnesota pulled over 32-year-old Philando Castile—a Black man—at a traffic stop and, as he reached for his license and registration, fatally shot him five times at close range.

Castile’s partner, Diamond Reynolds, was in the passenger’s seat and had the presence of mind to whip out her phone in the immediate aftermath, streaming her exchange with the police officer on Facebook Live.

Almost immediately, Facebook removed the video. The company later restored it, citing a “technical glitch,” but the incident demonstrated the power that technology companies—accountable to no one but their shareholders and driven by profit motives—have over our expression.

The internet brought about a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and relate to one another, but its commercialization has laid bare the limits of existing systems of governance. In the years following these incidents, content moderation and the systems surrounding it became almost a singular obsession. I worked to document the experiences of social media users, collaborated with numerous individuals, and learned about the structural limitations to changing the system.

Over the years, my views on the relationship between free speech and tech have evolved. Once I believed that companies should play no role in governing our speech, but later I shifted to pragmatism, seeking ways to mitigate the harm of their decisions and enforce limits on their power.

But while the parameters of the problem and its potential solutions grew clearer, so did my thesis: Content moderation— specifically, the uneven enforcement of already-inconsistent policies—disproportionately impacts marginalized communities and exacerbates existing structural power balances. Offline repression is, as it turns out, replicated online.

The 2016 election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency brought the issue of content moderation to the fore; suddenly, the terms of the debate shifted. Conservatives in the United States claimed they were unjustly singled out by Big Tech and the media amplified those claims—much to my chagrin, since they were not borne out by data. At the same time, the rise of right-wing extremism, disinformation, and harassment—such as the spread of the QAnon conspiracy and wildly inaccurate information about vaccines—on social media led me to doubt some of my earlier conclusions about the role Big Tech should play in governing speech.

That’s when I knew that it was time to write about content moderation’s less-debated harms and to document them in a book.

Setting out to write about a subject I know so intimately (and have even experienced firsthand), I thought I knew what I would say. But the process turned out to be a learning experience that caused me to rethink some of my own assumptions about the right way forward.

One of the final interviews I conducted for the book was with Dave Willner, one of the early policy architects at Facebook. Sitting at a café in San Francisco just a few months before the pandemic hit, he told me: “Social media empowers previously marginal people, and some of those previously marginal people are trans teenagers and some are neo-Nazis. The empowerment sense is the same, and some of it we think is good and some of it we think is not good. The coming together of people with rare problems or views is agnostic.”

That framing guided me in the final months of writing. My instinct, based on those early experiences with social media as a democratizing force, has always been to think about the unintended consequences of any policy for the world’s most vulnerable users, and it is that lens that guides my passion for protecting free expression. But I also see now that it is imperative never to forget a crucial fact—that the very same tools which have empowered historically marginalized communities can also enable their oppressors.

The post Between Nazis and democracy activists: social media and the free speech dilemma appeared first on The Conversationalist.

No! Black Lives Matter Had Zilch to Do with Bristol Riot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/03/2021 - 9:03pm in

More lies and racism from Nigel Farage and Andy Ngo. Yesterday’s big story was the riot in Bristol on Sunday night. A crowd had gathered during the day to protest the Tory’s wretched and abominable Police and Crime bill. This is another landmark in the Tories’ push to turn Britain into a Fascist state, as it would ban all protests or demonstrations if someone considered them a nuisance, as well as place further restrictions on Travellers. At the moment, the leaders or organisers of an illegal demonstration can be prosecuted and forced to pay a £10,000 fine. It may have been to avoid this that yesterday’s demonstration appeared not to have any clear leadership or organisational structure and this may have been one of the reasons it turned violent.

The crowd had originally been peaceful, assembling on Bristol’s College Green outside the Council House, sorry, ‘City Hall’. Most of the demonstrators had apparently left and gone home by the evening, when the crowd marched on the police station in Bridewell Street for a sit down protest. It was there that the protest became a riot. The police station was attacked, windows smashed and graffiti scrawled on the wall. Cars were also set at light, and the mob fought the police. Four policemen were reported to have been hospitalised, and seven protesters arrested.

It’s unclear who was responsible for the riot. Politicians from across the political spectrum yesterday condemned the rioters, including Bristol’s brilliant elected mayor, Marvin Reese. Reese called the riot ‘politically illiterate’, and made the point that it actually strengthened the Tories’ arguments for tougher measures against demonstrations. But people, who were at the demo claimed that the riot broke out when the police attacked the crowd. Mike’s put up a series of Tweets on his blog from one of the protesters, Adam Johannes, a Bristolian, who said that the police pushed people, kicked those on the ground, when the crowd pushed back, police in riot gear struck protesters on the head and sent in the attack dogs. Novara Media’s TyskySour discussed the riot and what it meant for left-wing protests in this country in their edition last night. They spoke to two people, who were present, one of whom was a journalist from the Bristol Cable. The journo believed that the riot was caused by the protesters. The other person believed that the police had started it with unprovoked attacks.

I don’t know which is true. The police have launched unprovoked attacks on demonstrators before, which the media has spun as the protesters attacking the police. The most notorious example of this was the police attack on the strikers at Orgreave colliery during the Miners’ Strike. The BBC reversed the footage of the attack to falsely accuse the strikers of attacking the police. One of the my cousins saw the police attacking members of the crowd during the Poll Tax demonstrations nearly thirty years ago. On the other hand, there are idiots who join demonstrations in order to provoke them to riot. One of my friends ran into one of these morons when he went to a Poll Tax demonstration with his mother.

But one this is clear. The riot had absolutely zero to do with Black Lives Matter. Or, indeed, any other left-wing organisation. But this hasn’t stopped the Fuhrage and Andy Ngo claiming that it did. Andy Ngo’s an Asian-American, but this hasn’t stopped him from supporting the American far right. He posted a series of Tweets stating that Bristol was England’s Portland, and that the rioters had raised hammers and sickles. The main groups at the riot, according to this observer from across the Atlantic, were Black Lives Matter, Antifa and Extinction Rebellion, among others. Well, he’s either lying or desperately needs glasses, because nobody in Britain has mentioned any of these groups. From what was shown on TV, the protesters were all, or overwhelmingly White. There was absolutely no connection to Black Lives Matter. As far as I can make out, there were no Antifa, Extinction Rebellion weren’t there either, and absolutely no-one, but no-one, was waving hammers and sickles. This is all just the product of Ngo’s fevered, Alt-Right imagination.

This didn’t prevent the man one of the commenters here calls ‘Niggle Frog-Face’ from also claiming that BLM were somehow involved. The Fuhrage tweeted “In Bristol tonight we see what the soft-headed approach to the anti-police BLM leads to. Wake up everyone, this is not about racial justice. These people want all-out anarchy and street violence … The BLM protests were anti-police, it is a key goal of the organisation. The worrying events in Bristol tonight are an extension of that. We have given into and encouraged the extreme left, and this is the result”. The peeps on Twitter responded by pointing out that Farage was only doing this because he was racist and hoping to stoke up further racism in the UK.

However, unfortunately I do feel that Farage may have a point. The right has accused the police of treating Black Lives Matter with a leniency that was not extended to White counter protesters. And it does seem that they are right. At some of the riots the police took the knee before the BLM protesters. There’s also video footage of the cops running away from BLM rioters, although such footage can be manipulated to present a false impression, as with the Orgreave film. On the other hand, the right-wing protesters, who turned out to stop further Black Lives Matter attacks on statues do seem to have been attacked and treated more harshly by the police. It is possible that the police’s admirable restraint in refusing to defend Edward Colston’s statue when it was pulled down by a group of BLM protesters in the summer may have encouraged some of the militants in the demonstration to believe that the police would act with a similar restraint if they rioted.

Whether that was the case or not, I don’t know. It’s a possibility. But what isn’t in doubt is that neither BLM nor the other groups were involved in Sunday’s riot. As for Bristol being England’s equivalent of Portland, I don’t know. I’ve never been to Portland. It might be a very nice place, despite being the scene of many of last year’s BLM riots. But, apart from the attack on Colston’s statue, Bristol hasn’t had any BLM riots. And the mob attacking the old slaver’s statue didn’t attack any of the other monuments in the area, property or police. Farage and Ngo are simply lying.

As for the wretched Police and Crime Bill, this certainly is an attack on our civil liberties which needs to be very strongly resisted.

But rioting will only strengthen the hands of those determined to turn this great nation into a Fascist police state.

For further information, see: Did POLICE turn Bristol ‘Kill the Bill’ protest into a riot? | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Bristol – Farage Does A Racism (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Policing Bill Sparks Riots In Bristol | #TyskySour – YouTube

Twitter Deletes QAnon to Protect US from Upheaval; Russia May Delete Twitter for the Same Reason

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 6:21am in

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter has taken action against the QAnon movement, deleting more than 150,000 accounts that promoted the conspiracy theory. This follows a similar crackdown by YouTube. The impetus for the decision was the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6, led by many adherents who believe Donald Trump was leading a fightback against a satanic cult of cannibalistic pedophiles in the Democratic Party and the national security state.

“That was a moment of reckoning where we realized that the approach that we had put in place the previous fall, of attempting to reduce the influence of this movement, wasn’t sufficient,” a Twitter spokesperson told CBS News.

At the same time, Vladimir Putin’s administration is threatening to block American social media giants like Twitter and YouTube completely, accusing the two of illegally fomenting anti-government protests inside Russia.

 

Change Washington can believe in

These two developments are linked in many ways. Since its inception, social media has been key in organizing and encouraging protest movements worldwide. The Arab Spring — which dominated global headlines for months and led to revolutions, wars, and regime change across the region — was said to have been planned and boosted by Facebook and Twitter, which were keen for their platforms to be seen as a revolutionary force.

The U.S. government has long understood the power of social networks to bring about change. In 2009, it instructed Twitter to postpone a temporary maintenance shutdown of its site in order to help leaders of ongoing anti-government protests in Iran communicate and coordinate. That same year, USAID, a front group for the CIA, secretly released a Twitter-like app for Cuba that purported to be an independent platform. The plan was to provide a free high-quality service aimed at the country’s youth that would, once it gained traction, slowly be turned into an anti-government propaganda network used to incite an uprising.

Since then, the U.S. government appears to have decided on a more hands-on approach to social media, working to convince Twitter to delete hundreds of thousands of accounts it claims were linked to the governments of Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, or Cuba. While a new social media influencing operation from a U.S. enemy is uncovered every few weeks, these platforms never seem to be able to find the American government doing the same thing, even though the existence of such U.S. networks has been known about for at least 10 years.

 

An info-control Gov-Tech complex

Washington seems to have found many willing partners in Silicon Valley. “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Cohen. Along with Amazon, Microsoft and other tech giants, Google, YouTube’s parent company, signed a massive intelligence deal with the CIA in November, worth tens of billions of dollars. One month earlier, Twitter announced publicly that it had been working with the FBI in order to identify and delete Iranian accounts.

Fast forward to February, and the social media giant was removing Russian-based accounts because they were “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability” — a decision that sparked consternation online from users worried about its implications.

A report released earlier this month from the influential D.C.-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), called for even more covert U.S. government control over social media, arguing that Washington should work with platforms like YouTube and Twitter so as to ensure that protest movements around the world result in an outcome more conducive to American interests.

Russia YouTube Feature photo

Navalny, right, speaks to his video operations chief after a live YouTube broadcast in Moscow. Pavel Golovkin | AP

The report singled out protests in Russia over the treatment of anti-Putin activist Alexey Navalny and the long running Hong Kong demonstrations as two prime examples where the power of “authoritarian states” could be weakened or undermined if the U.S. worked with social media companies to boost the anti-government message to billions of internet users. As the CSIS wrote:

The U.S. government should think creatively about public-private partnerships that can expand its toolkit to defend the legitimate rights of political protestors globally, including preserving the digital rights of peaceful democratic activists while muting harmful mis- and dis-information from violent state and nonstate actors seeking to tip the balance in various countries.”

 

Platform fencing

This plan might already be in action, if Russia’s suspicions are correct. Moscow is considering an all-out ban on Twitter after the company repeatedly failed to respond to its requests to remove thousands of messages encouraging citizens, including children, to attend illegal pro-Navalny demonstrations across the country. It also accused Twitter of failing to act to delete content relating to drug use, encouraging self-harm, and sexual abuse of children. As a punitive measure, it has already significantly slowed down the speed of the app across all mobile devices.

Moscow is also mulling over a ban of YouTube in a row over the platform’s censoring of Russian state media content. The government has accused the Silicon Valley video sharing platform of suppressing content sympathetic to it and promoting anti-Putin messages. Many pro-Russian content creators have noticed their viewership rapidly nose diving while, at the same time, pro-West, anti-Putin content is constantly promoted. RT filmmaker Anton Krasovsky, for example, claims he has been effectively shadowbanned, while Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation is suggested to Russians — even alongside content, such as children’s cartoons, that bears no relation to his messaging.

“Our videos started showing up less and less in search results and recommendations, until finally they stopped appearing at all,” Krasovsky wrote in an open letter addressed to Andrey Lipov, head of Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor; “For a year now, they’ve been trying to silence us, and there’s nothing more we can do. We can’t fight back, and we can’t retaliate – we can’t even go underground.”

It seems hard to argue that this is not at least partially true. In the early to mid-2010s, when there was a more level playing field online, RT was perhaps the most popular news network on the internet. The Director of National Intelligence Report into Russian influence in the 2016 elections showed RT easily defeating its competition on YouTube, generating around eight times as many views as CNN. However, after extensive algorithm changes in the wake of the report’s publication, RT was demoted and establishment American outlets elevated. All RT content on YouTube and Twitter now comes with a warning label cautioning consumers that this is Russian-affiliated content. Independent, alternative news outlets have also been hit hard by the algorithm changes.

Meanwhile, Navalny has enormous influence online. His Russian-only YouTube channel has more than 6.5 million subscribers (50% more than English-language RT), while his Russian-language documentary (with English subtitles), exposing what he claims is Putin’s secret palace on the Black Sea, has amassed an extraordinary 115 million views. It is estimated that there are only around 258 million Russian speakers worldwide.

With social media companies increasingly intertwined with and controlled by the U.S. national security state, it might be that Russia decides the only way to level the playing field is to cut itself off from the West online, as China has done with its so-called Great Firewall. If the roles were reversed, there appears little doubt that the U.S. would consider doing the same. Last year, there was something close to pandemonium in the U.S. government as Chinese-owned TikTok became a viral social media app, with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning that the video-sharing platform was essentially a front for the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. attempted to force through a sale to Microsoft or another American company. Chinese company Huawei installing a modern 5G network across the world and Xiaomi’s dominance in the global smartphone and semiconductor market have sparked similar concerns in the West.

Big-tech platforms like YouTube and Twitter tolerated the proliferation of the QAnon conspiracy theory. That was until the movement directly threatened the integrity of the U.S. state. After adherents began to question the validity of the elections and even organize what many commentators called a botched coup attempt, action was swift and extensive. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that Russia is considering retaliating against the networks that are threatening its legitimacy.

Feature photo | Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a live YouTube broadcast in Moscow. Pavel Golovkin | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Twitter Deletes QAnon to Protect US from Upheaval; Russia May Delete Twitter for the Same Reason appeared first on MintPress News.

Tories Killing Free Speech and Democracy in the Name of Stopping ‘Nuisance’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 8:51pm in

Following the Met police’s rough manhandling of the women at the vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common and the consequent outcry, our smirking excuse for a home secretary, Priti Patel wishes to introduce legislation with the explicit intention of limiting public protest. This, as Mike and the good peeps on Twitter have pointed out, is Fascism. It’s suppression of the fundamental right to public protest. The intention is to stop criticism of the government. But the Tories are past masters in lying, and so they’ve dressed this latest assault on democracy up as somehow empowering the public. They’re not doing it to stop free speech, you see. They’re trying to empower local communities, who may find themselves seriously disrupted by noisy protesters. It’s about stopping them making a nuisance of themselves. And so the proposed legislation will, if passed, allow the authorities to cancel a demo if even a single person complains about it.

There’s a quote, which unfortunately I’ve largely forgotten, which states that Fascism never comes as a repressive force. It always presents itself in friendly terms until it is too late, the concentration camps have been put up and thugs in jackboots are stamping on human faces, to use George Orwell’s metaphor. There’s another quote that says that the totalitarianism of the future won’t present itself as an oppressive tyrant, but as society’s benevolent, obedient servant. Patel’s wretched bill surely bears out the truth of this statement. It’s Fascism all right, but dressed up as defending local communities’ right not to have their peace and quiet spoilt by anything as vulgar as an enraged or concerned public.

While Priti Patel is trying to push the bill through parliament now, it isn’t just her that’s behind it. It’s a Tory idea that’s been around since ‘Dodgy’ Dave Cameron was in No. 10. He also tried to pass it, but with no success. Now, almost a decade later, the Tories are trying again.

The Labour party plans to oppose the bill. So should everyone who values democracy and free speech, regardless of party. And including and particularly Tories. One of the Transatlantic Conservative sites I used to read several years ago was opposed to government legislation outlawing Holocaust denial. There was a debate at the time over whether the Canadian government should join other countries in banning it. This was just during the Conservative Harper administration. The Jewish owner of the site was against this, arguing that Conservatives should not support legislation limiting free speech. If the precedent was set, then it would give a weapon to the Tories’ enemies, who could use it to their own advantage. Exactly. And I have come across Tories who are genuine, passionate defenders of free speech. Years ago Lobster reviewed a book written by one of them, which recognised that every democratic freedom we now enjoy isn’t a natural outgrowth of the development of some transcendent principle of freedom and democracy inherent in British or western society. No, these freedoms are the hard-won results of bitter struggles. And Patel’s vile legislation makes it very clear that struggle is far from over.

People are already organising petitions and planning protests against the bill. I received this email from Democracy Unleashed, laying out the arguments and asking me to sign a petition against it, which I did. It runs

‘Once again, the government is attempting to force controversial legislation through Parliament without proper scrutiny.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill contains provisions that could land peaceful protestors with up to ten years’ imprisonment if their protest is deemed capable of causing “serious annoyance” to any section of the public. 

Did the People’s Vote marches cause “serious annoyance”? What about Black Lives Matter? Or Extinction Rebellion? Or March for Women? Or Stop The War Coalition? Which one of those protests do you think the Home Secretary would ban under this new legislation?

I will not be silenced

Many thousands of people take part in hundreds of protests across the United Kingdom every year. In most cases, a little bit of nuisance is what gets them noticed and their messages heard. Whether or not you agree with their cause, their right to protest is an essential part of a healthy democracy and any legislation that dilutes that right should be subject to very careful scrutiny indeed. 

We don’t think protestors campaigning passionately (or noisily) but peacefully for a cause should face the possibility of a prison sentence just because the Home Secretary has decided that someone might find their protest “seriously annoying.”

This legislation represents a serious attack on the foundations of our democracy and history tells us that such attacks often signal the beginning of something more sinister. We need to wake up to the threat and do something while we still can.  

Sign the petition to tell the Home Secretary that government cannot be allowed to bury our democratic rights just because it suites them to do so. 

I’ll sign the petition

Help us make this the loudest protest possible by sharing the petition on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp with the hashtag #SeriouslyAnnoyed. ‘

We have to oppose this bill, otherwise democracy in Britain will be as hollow and meaningless as Singapore. You have the right to speak in public there about political issues, but you have to register with the police in advance, who have the power to turn you down and arrest you. Needless to say, people aren’t exactly lining up at the Singaporean equivalent of Speaker’s Corner.

And that’s the kind of empty, hollow democracy Priti Patel and her predecessors want for Britain.

Twitter Peeps Educate Universities Minister About What Decolonising the Curriculum Really Means

It’s not about censoring history but about including the ignored or omitted perspectives of the colonised peoples themselves.

Zelo Street put up a brilliant piece on Sunday refuting nonsense printed in the Torygraph by their reporter Christopher Hope. Hope had been talking to the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, who was extremely concerned about the ‘culture war’ being waged in the universities. She was afraid that those unis, who were decolonising their curricula were engaged in a massive piece of historical censorship. Like the former Soviet Union, they were removing those incidents that were not regarded as stains. This greatly concerned her as a former history student who was also a vehement champion of preserving our history.

This provoked a number of academics and/or students, whose universities were involved in this restructuring of their history curricula, to put her right. They informed her that this wasn’t about removing awkward parts of British colonial history, but adding to it by including the perspectives of the subject peoples we ruled and all-too frequently abused and exploited.

Alex Stevens from the University of Kent put this up:

Dear [Michelle Donelan] ‘Adding stuff in to enrich our understanding’ is *exactly* what decolonising the curriculum is doing at my university”.

Edward Anderson of Northumbria University also agreed, posting the following

When we decolonise curricula, it’s almost always ADDING more stuff in: scholarship & perspectives from the Global South, source material of the colonised not just coloniser, etc. [Michelle Donelan] must know this, but chooses to peddle a straw man, fictitious idea of what uni’s do”.

Coventry University’s Andrew Jowett backed this up with his remark

She has no idea what she’s talking about. It’s not about ‘taking things out’ of the curriculum, it’s about contextualising what is taught and ensuring other cultures and indigenous peoples are represented in the curriculum. Maybe she should attend a webinar on it”. 

And then came Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches colonial literature at Cambridge

 “Let’s break this down for [Michelle Donelan]. When we ‘decolonise’, we put the ‘offensive’ bits BACK IN. To give a random example, we tell [the] story of Winston Churchill not just as unimpeachable war hero–but as a man of empire & race science. We don’t pander to white snowflakery”.

Gopal was the centre of controversy last summer in the Black Lives Matter protests, when she was falsely accused of hating Whites because she’d put up a tweet ‘White don’t matter as White lives’, which I think she intended to mean that White lives have no more or less intrinsic value than anyone else’s. Their value lay simply in being human lives. This was in response to an enraged White chap flying over a local football match on a plane towing the banner ‘White Lives Matter’. I think another of Gopal’s tweets had been altered and the fake version reproduced by the right-wing press to present Gopal as wishing for a real White genocide. Gopal sued for libel, and I believe won.

The comments about Churchill were provoked by the denunciation s of the Great Man at a conference on his legal at Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill was denounced by some of the speakers as responsible for the horrific Bengal famine, which killed 3-6 million Indians, and a White supremacist. Kehinde Andrews, a prominent Black racial activist, was present at this event, who is notorious for claiming that the British Empire was worse than the Nazis.

This provoked a reaction from offended Tories, like Nicholas Soames, who declared that if they were going to denounce the British wartime PM, then they shouldn’t use his money. The right-wing historian of Africa and the British Empire, Andrew Roberts, also wasn’t impressed. He is the co-author of a paper, published by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange, defending Churchill. But I think that the allegations against Churchill are absolutely correct. He was an imperialist and White supremacist. It was the dominant ideology of the time and obviously very strong in the British and colonial ruling class. He was also responsible for the Bengal famine through the sequestration of their grain in order to feed British troops in Europe. The result was mass starvation in India, while the emergency requiring its use never came. Nevertheless, Churchill refused to release it to where it was really needed, blaming the Indians themselves for their plight. It was all their fault for having too many children. His attitude shocked many senior British officers and colonial administrators, who compared him to the Nazis.

Zelo Street described Donelan’s interview and her views as

Once again, we have a Government minister apparently not in command of their brief, with their ignorance amplified by a shameless propagandist for the sole purpose of riling up his paper’s base and demonising purveyors of inconvenient thought.

He concludes that, as for her reference to the Soviet Union, that is exactly where her government is taking us, but you won’t read it in the papers. Quite. We have a very authoritarian government, which really is determined to censor history. And the press are right behind her.

This looks like an attempt by a failing government to whip up some popularity by playing the race card. The approved Tory view of the British Empire as essentially benevolent is under attack from evil lefties, and so must be defended at all costs. Just as Britain is being invaded by all those evil refugees crossing the Channel in dinghies.

Meanwhile, people continue to die from the Coronavirus, and the government is determined to push through the welfare cuts which Mike has documented as killing the poor, the disabled and the unemployed.

But we mustn’t look there. They’re just welfare scroungers. We must be worried about the attack on our imperial history and great leaders like Winston Churchill. Even when those attacks are historically accurate.

See: Zelo Street: Decolonising Drivel Deceives No-One (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Photo of Israeli Flag Flying Alongside Confederate at Pro-Trump Rally Shows Real Racism and Fascism of the Ultra Zionists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:05am in

In a previous piece Tony Greenstein wrote protesting against the rabid witch-hunters of the Zionist Jewish establishment attacking Bristol Uni lecturer David Miller, he described the close relationship and collaboration between Israel and its supporters and real Fascists and islamophobes. Like Katie Hopkins and the noxious founder of the English Defence League and Pegida UK, and all round thug, Tommy Robinson. He illustrated this with several damning photos. The one below shows Israeli flags being waved alongside the banners of the English Defence League at an EDL rally.

There’s also this Tweet from Gabriel Kanter-Webber, whose name suggests to me that he might be Jewish, asking why the Zionist Federation invited ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins to their annual dinner.

And then there’s this pic of the Israeli flag being waved alongside the Confederate flag at a pro-Trump rally at the Capitol, attended by real Fascists and White supremacists.

Tony writes of these shameful incidents

‘Who can forget the flying of an Israeli flag outside Capitol Hill on January 6th alongside the Confederate flag and an assorted group of neo-Nazis and White Supremacists? Our own fascist groups such as the EDL fly the Israeli flag at demonstrations. Tommy Robinson and his Football Lads Alliance have worked closely with a group of far-Right Zionists led by Jonathan Hoffman, a former vice chair of the Zionist Federation without any criticism from the Board. That darling of the far-Right, Katie Hopkins, was a guest at an Israeli Embassy dinner and had her picture taken with the Ambassador Mark Regev.’

See: Defend Bristol University’s Professor David Miller – Defend Academic Freedom – Defend Free Speech – Tony Greenstein

This should shock many Jews, as there is a proud history of American Jews supporting Blacks in their campaign to end segregation. Jackie Walker’s parents are a Black American civil rights activist, and Russian Orthodox Jew, who met during a civil rights rally. But now it seems that Israel’s supporters have turned their back on such genuine anti-racism. Over here it seems that support from the official Jewish establishment towards such anti-racism was always somewhat lukewarm. David Rosenberg has said on his blog that the Board of Deputies tried to stop young Jews from attending Rock Against Racism events, because they were afraid this would expose them to SWP anti-Zionist propaganda. Now it seems the Zionist establishment is actively allying with real racists and Islamophobes.

And so long as this alliance continues, the ultra-Zionist organisations have no business lecturing anyone about racism.

Socially distanced networks – 5 Reasons PhD students should engage with social media now

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 10:00pm in

Peer support, finding a place within academia, staying up to date with the latest research, communicating research to wider audiences and navigating life after PhD. Ema Talam and Jon Fairburn outline five ways in which social media, and in particular Twitter, can make all the difference to PhD research at a time when regular academic … Continued

Does Tracy Anne Oberman Really Believe She Isn’t White?

Tony Greenstein’s latest piece and reposting of an article by mixed-race Black British author discussing institutional anti-Black racism in Israel also raises a few awkward questions about one of the Israeli’s states staunchest defenders, the actor and broadcaster Tracy Anne Oberman. Oberman appears as a passionate opponent of anti-Semitism, but like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and her friend, Rachel Riley, it appears that the anti-Semitism she is most determined to root out is simply criticism of Israel and its abominable maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Hence her determined attacks on Twitter and elsewhere with supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the socialist left in the Labour party as a whole.

Back in 2019 she got into a Twitter spat with the awesome Ash Sarkar of Novara Media, whom she also accused of anti-Semitism. Sarkar is Asian, and so responded by pointing out that she was Black woman being abused by a White woman who was a favourite of the blue tick brigade. Oberman responded by stating that she was as White as Sarkar. This is quite a claim, as Oberman at least in her photos very definitely has White skin and light brown or blonde hair. Sarkar, on the other hand, has the rich brown colouring of many people of South Asian descent. Of course, Oberman wasn’t saying she wasn’t physically White, but that she wasn’t considered as such by White supremacists like the Klan, the Nazis and the various other Fascist parties. Sarkar ably rebutted this by stating that she was very away of the racist persecution of the Jews.

But Jews weren’t always considered to be non-Whites. Ludwig Blumenbach, the 19th century German scientist responsible for modern racial classification, placed Jews among the Caucasian race. He believed they had some ‘negro’ features, and so considered them the ‘negroes’ of the White race. He was almost certainly speaking about European Jews, rather than the non-White Jewish communities of Africa, India and even China. I think most, severely normal Americans and European would consider Jews of traditional European origin to be White. The only people who don’t are Nazis and Fascists, who are wrong as well as monstrously vile. Nevertheless because of their similar histories of persecution, many Jewish Americans joined forced with Black to attack segregation and racial injustice in America.

Oberman clearly believed she had a right to claim to be non-White based on this common persecution by White supremacists. But Greenstein’s and Lewis’ articles, as well as Abbie Martin’s coverage of the issue for The Empire Files, shows that Israeli society is also marred by deep anti-Black racism.

This casts real doubt on Oberman’s ability to draw on her people’s persecution by White supremacists to claim that she is somehow not White, when the country she passionately supports and whose critics she tries to silence permits and legitimises systematic, institutional racism against Black Jews.

For further information, see: Zelo Street: Tracy Ann Oberman Crosses The Line (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

We Own It Message against Massive Profiteering by Serco for Failing Test and Trace System

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/02/2021 - 9:45pm in

I got this message from the campaigning group We Own It protesting against the massive profits Serco have made from the Test and Trace system despite its massive failures. As they point out, Test and Trace was supposed to stop a second lockdown being needed. But they’ve started paying dividends to their shareholders again, and have even claimed that their shareholders have saved them and that the system has been successful.

The message includes links to a video they have made about this scandalous conduct on Facebook and buttons to share it by Twitter and Email. It also makes it clear that the money wasted on Serco should instead have gone to local health teams.

Yesterday, Serco announced that they will be restarting the dividend payment to shareholders after a six year break.

Serco’s shareholders will pocket millions after delivering a contact tracing system that has completely failed us.

Serco have profited off misery, have completely failed and they should be nowhere near the Test and Trace system. We can’t let them get away with this. Please will you share the message far and wide?

Share the facebook video: Serco, give every penny back

Share now on twitter: This is outrageous

Send the video by email

Serco’s CEO Rupert Soames had the audacity to say that their involvement in Test and Trace has been ‘a remarkable success’.

What?! Test and trace was supposed to stop a SECOND lockdown being needed.

We can’t quite believe it. Even though the Test and Trace system has had ‘a marginal impact’ on transmission, Serco still have a key role in Test and Trace, and their profits last year were up by 75%.

They’ve had hundreds of millions of public money.

But the CEO of Serco said yesterday that it was shareholders who ‘saved’ them.

It’s a joke.

Serco should do the right thing and give back every penny that it’s taken in coronavirus contracts.

This money should be going to local public health teams.

You can share the video by whatsapp or email, but please do share it!

Share the message on facebook

Share now on twitter

Your campaigning has had a big impact. Millions more has been given to local public health teams to contact trace, and we understand that there are trials happenining currently in which positive cases go straight to local public health teams. Thank you SO MUCH.

It’s not enough progress, but it is important. By sharing the video today, you’re helping to further spread the message: Our communities want local public health teams to lead and we want Serco OUT. 

In solidarity,

Cat, Pascale, Chris, Johnbosco, Alice, Matthew – the We Own It team.

P.S. Want to go further? We have a plan to get motions passed in councils across England, calling for local public health teams to get the funding they need to lead on Test and Trace. For those outside of England, you can celebrate that contact tracing is in public hands.

Will you take a motion forward locally? There is a step by step here, and we have already passed motions at two councils!

This will help hugely to show Matt Hancock that local communities are united in calling for this!

I’ve absolutely no problem with promoting this message and their video, as Serco has been laughing at the British public for decades by providing substandard, shoddy service in exchange for lucrative public contracts. It’s about time this was stopped and the service taken inhouse instead.

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