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Youtube employs SPLC to define and police “extremism”

The expression of free thought and speech is being publicly sacrificed on the alter of combatting “hate” and “extremism”.

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As a part of Google’s censorship program, the SPLC has gotten itself into an elite group of content police who determine what content gets to stay on the internet, and what content goes.

Google is also presently in the midst of several lawsuits having to do with its own internal practices which discriminate against white males and conservatives.

The Southern Policy Law Center is a far left thought police institution that seeks to define and ostracize “hate groups”, among which conservatives and sometimes normal cultural organizations commonly find themselves in the SPLC’s estimation. The Daily Caller reports:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting YouTube in policing content on their platform, The Daily Caller has learned.

The left-wing nonprofit — which has more recently come under fire for labeling legitimate conservative organizations as “hate groups” — is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program, a source with knowledge of the arrangement told TheDC.

The SPLC and other program members help police YouTube for extremist content, ranging from so-called hate speech to terrorist recruiting videos.

All of the groups in the program have confidentiality agreements, a spokesperson for Google, YouTube’s parent company, previously told TheDC.

A handful of YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers,” including the Anti-Defamation League and No Hate Speech — a European organization focused on combatting intolerance — have gone public with their participation in the program.

The vast majority of the groups in the program have remained hidden behind their confidentiality agreements.

The SPLC’s close involvement in policing content on YouTube is likely to cause consternation among conservatives who worry that they may not be treated fairly. The left-wing group has consistently labeled pedestrian conservative organizations as “hate groups” and has been directly tied to violence against conservatives in the past.

Floyd Lee Corkins, who opened fire at the Family Research Center in 2012, said he chose the FRC for his act of violence because the SPLC listed them as a “hate group.”

It’s unclear when the SPLC joined YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program. The program goes back to 2012 but exploded in size in recent years amid a Google push to increase regulation of the content on its platforms, which followed pressure from advertisers.

Fifty of the 113 program members joined in 2017 as YouTube stepped up its content policing, YouTube public policy director Juniper Downs told a Senate committee in January.

Downs said the third-party groups work closely with YouTube’s employees to crack down on extremist content in two ways, both of which a Google spokesperson previously confirmed to TheDC.

First, the flaggers are equipped with digital tools allowing them to mass flag content for review by YouTube personnel. Second, the partner groups act as guides to YouTube’s content monitors and engineers designing the algorithms policing the video platform but may lack the expertise needed to tackle a given subject.

“We work with over 100 organizations as part of our Trusted Flagger program and we value the expertise these organizations bring to flagging content for review. All trusted flaggers attend a YouTube training to learn about our policies and enforcement processes.

Videos flagged by trusted flaggers are reviewed by YouTube content moderators according to YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Content flagged by trusted flaggers is not automatically removed or subject to any differential policies than content flagged from other users,” said a YouTube spokesperson, who would not specifically comment on the SPLC’s participation in the program.

The SPLC did not return multiple voicemails and emails seeking comment.

The overwhelming majority of the content policing on Google and YouTube is carried out by algorithms. The algorithms make for an easy rebuttal against charges of political bias: it’s not us, it’s the algorithm. But actual people with actual biases write, test and monitor the algorithms.

As noted above, Google’s anonymous outside partners (such as the SPLC) work closely with the internal experts designing the algorithms. This close collaboration has upsides, Google’s representatives have said, such as in combatting terrorist propaganda on the platform.

But it also provides little transparency, forcing users to take Google’s word that they’re being treated fairly.

The SPLC has faced criticism for its cavalier definitions of “hate group” and “extremist.” The organization stoked controversy in 2015 by labeling Dr. Ben Carson, now the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an anti-gay “extremist.” After a backlash, the SPLC reversed its ruling and apologized to Carson.

The organization  faced a similarly intense backlash in 2016 for labeling Maajid Nawaz, a respected counter-extremism activist, an “anti-Muslim extremist.”

The Washington Examiner’s Emily Jashinsky noted last year that “the SPLC’s claim to objectivity is nothing less than fraudulent, a reality that informed observers of its practices from both the Left and Right accept.”

“The routine of debunking their supposedly objective classifications occurs like clockwork each time a major outlet makes the mistake of turning to them when reporting on the many conservative thinkers and nonprofits the group absurdly designates as hateful.”

The SPLC has faced tough criticisms not just from conservatives but from the mainstream press as well.

“At a time when the line between ‘hate group’ and mainstream politics is getting thinner and the need for productive civil discourse is growing more serious, fanning liberal fears, while a great opportunity for the SPLC, might be a problem for the nation,” Politico Magazine’s Ben Schreckinger wrote last year.

Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle similarly noted last year that the SPLC commonly lumps in principled conservatives alongside actual racists and extremists and warned of the possibility that tech companies could rely on the SPLC’s misleading definitions.

“Given the increasing tendency of powerful tech companies to flex their muscle against hate groups,” she wrote, “we may see more and more institutions unwittingly turned into critics or censors, not just of Nazi propaganda, but also of fairly mainstream ideas.”

Youtube and Google have been in a hot frenzy as of late to identify fake news and extremism, which, once identified, is promptly censored. These censorship efforts have been taking shots at conservative content as their target, because such “hateful content” violates their corporate guidelines. Zero Hedge observes:

YouTube has blamed “newer members” of it’s 10,000 person fleet of content moderators for a virtual bloodbath of video takedowns, strikes, and account restrictions taking place across a large cross-section of conservative channels.

The Google division announced the new moderators in December, tasked with spotting said fake news, along with misleading or extreme content in the wake of a raging debate over the effect of propaganda and inaccurate reporting after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election loss.

Google essentially responded to the crackdown on conservatives with “our bad,” after news of the mass censorship began to spread.

As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals,” wrote a YouTube spokesman in an email. “We’re continuing to enforce our existing policies regarding harmful and dangerous content, they have not changed. We’ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error.”

Some of the banned accounts include:

Anti-School, Bombard’s Body LanguageCharltonCharles WaltonDefangoDustin NemosDavid SeamanDestroying The IllusionRon JohnsonRichie Allen, and Titus Frost.

Those who were issued strikes, partial bans, or temporary suspensions include According to Joe, Blackstone Intelligence, BakedAlaska, InfoWars, Jerome Corsi, Military Arms Channel, and MrLTavern, among many others. –The Outline

Over the last week, The Alex Jones channel was issued two strikes – however the second one was mysteriously removed hours later, maybe due to on overzealous “newer member” who disagreed with Infowars’ politics.

And last August, politically incorrect University of Toronto professor Jordan B. Peterson found himself locked out of his YouTube account with no explanation before regaining access.

Considering that there probably aren’t a ton of red MAGA hats proudly displayed on top of cubicle cabinets in YouTube’s San Bruno, CA headquarters or wherever their moderators decide the fate of content producers, it stands to reason that their fleet of eager new morality police – perhaps some of them having emitted primal screams upon Hillary’s loss, simply went on a rampage against mean words and scary guns.

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller reveals that Google has also enlisted the left-wing nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to participate in its “trusted flaggers” program. The SPLC notoriously branded African American presidential candidate and neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson as an “extremist,” while gaining a reputation for finding creative ways to label conservatives as “hate groups” in general.

…YouTube says the trusted flaggers are equipped with digital tools which allow for the mass flagging of content for review by YouTube personnel. Moreover, the partner groups “act as guides to YouTube’s content monitors,” and engineers who develop algorithms to police more efficiently.

“We work with over 100 organizations as part of our Trusted Flagger program and we value the expertise these organizations bring to flagging content for review. All trusted flaggers attend a YouTube training to learn about our policies and enforcement processes. Videos flagged by trusted flaggers are reviewed by YouTube content moderators according to YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Content flagged by trusted flaggers is not automatically removed or subject to any differential policies than content flagged from other users,” said a YouTube spokesperson.

Another “trusted flagger” partner is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Originally organized to combat anti-Semitism, the ADL – with it’s Soros-linked National director who last worked in the Obama admin, now spouts hyperbolic propaganda against conservatives, while failing to apply the same nebulous standards to the left. For example; their campaign to lump all Trump supporters in with white supremacists, while failing to mention far-left progressive organizations such as AntifaRedneck Revolt, and only called listed the anti-Semitic black nationalist hate group New Black Panthers (founded in 1989) after they were called out on it last year.

When far left gets to determine what’s good and what’s bad, and what we can and can’t say, do, post, publish, or video, then the very idea of the internet as a bastion of free speech totally goes down the drain. The far left is flexing its anti speech muscles in shutting down the viewpoints of anyone who disagrees with their ideologies by teaming up with corporate giants to get the job done.

The expression of free thought and speech is being publicly sacrificed on the alter of combatting “hate” and “extremism”. It’s “extreme” or it’s “hate” based on the opinions of the same organizations that tell us it’s hateful to acknowledge that there are differences between the sexes, and who push identity politics.

 

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“This is America” reveals a shocking vision of the United States

The Grammy Award winning Song and Record of the Year feature the very darkest vision of what America has become.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Grammy Awards are the second of the three most significant musical achievement awards in the United States. Two of the anticipated awards that many fans of this event look forward to learning are the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year.

The Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters of a given song, where the Record of the Year goes to the artists, producers and engineers involved in crafting the recording (the “record”) of a song. Both categories are huge and both usually go to an artist or organization responsible for a pop song.

It also happens to be that usually the song that is picked is beautiful and in most cases, reflects the character of beauty (whether in music or lyrics or both) for that year.

This year was quite different. Both awards went to Donald Glover, a.k.a. “Childish Gambino” for his song This is America.

This song features a radically different tone than previous winners going back for many years. Though rap remixes are usually less musical, the Grammy winners among these mixes have nevertheless retained some relatively positive, or at least attractive, aspect.

This is America is very different, especially when watched with its video.

Musically, it is genius, though the genius appears to have gone mad. Glover paints a picture of some very positive segments in American life, but then destroys it with his audible form and message that says absolutely nothing positive, but even more so – it doesn’t make sense unless one knows the context.

That context is revealed in the video with frightening images: someone getting their brains blown out (we see the blood fly), a gospel choir shot up with an automatic rifle while they were singing, and cannabis, front and center, being smoked by the artist himself.

This is America?

For Glover, this song and others on his album do seem to reflect that point of view.  Feels like Summer, one of Glover’s other recent songs, also reflects this sense of hopelessness, though it is far more musically consistent. The video gives the most clear contextual information that one could ask for, and while the video is not violent, it features degradation in society, even though the people depicted appear to be trying to make the best of their life situations.

The image Mr. Glover paints of America is a far cry from that which was known to most Americans only twenty years ago, and in fact, in many parts of the country where cannabis is still illegal there is a corresponding sense of positivity in life that is absent in Childish Gambino’s California-esque view of life.

There is a massive change that is taking place in American society. Our music and art reflects this change, and it sometimes even helps drive that change.

The United States of today is at a crossroads.

How many times have we read or heard THAT statement before?  But does it not seem so now? The attempt of identity politics to separate our nation into groups that must somehow fight for their own relevance against other groups is not the vision of the United States only twenty years ago.

Further, the normalization of themes such as drug-use and racism, the perpetuation of one in reality and the other as a mythological representation of how life “really is” in the US is radically bizarre.

In discussions with people who do not live in the United States, we found that sometimes they believed that white-on-black racism really was happening in America, because the media in the US pumps this information out in a constant stream, often with people like Donald Trump as the scapegoat.

But it is not true. Anyone in America’s new “accused class” of white, Christian, European-descent males (and some women who are not feminists), will note that they are not racist, and in fact, they feel persecuted for their existence under the new mantra of “white privilege.”

But it does not matter what they say. The media pumps the message it wants to, and with such coverage it is easy to get to halfway believing it: I know I am not this way, but I guess things are getting pretty bad elsewhere because all of those people seem to be getting this way…

This is the narrative the press promulgates, but upon conversations with people in “those places” we find that it is not true for them, either, and that they may in fact be thinking this is true about us.

Made in America is a visionary song and video. However, the vision is not a dream; it is nothing that anyone in the country would sincerely hope for. Even in Donald Glover’s case – as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, and as a big success in music, he is far from being one of the “boys in the ‘hood.” In fact, Time Magazine in 2017 named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Certainly his musical work creates a powerful influence, but it also must raise questions, with the main ones being:

  • Are we really like this?
  • Is this what we really want to be as a country?
  • Is this the kind of image we want our children in the US to adopt?

In fact, if Mr. Glover’s work was viewed with care (rather than just as something that is “cool” because the media says it is), it might help us steer away from the cliff that many Americans are in fact heading towards.

We have elected not to link to the video because it is too disturbing for children. It is even too disturbing for many adults. For that reason we are not making it one-click-easy to get to.

Parents reading this opinion piece would do well to screen the video by themselves without the kids around first, before deciding what they want to do. Even though the video is probably something that they have already seen, the parents still stand as the guides and guardians for their children through all the perils of growing up.

These times call for great guardians indeed.

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Horrifying New York abortion law marks big Democrat push in US

New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington also wish to expand abortion access to truly barbaric proportions.

Seraphim Hanisch

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To some nations in the world, the United States may appear to be overly “conservative” or “backwards” regarding its general position on abortion. Russia, China, Canada, and Australia all allow this practice in generally unrestricted terms. Europeans are generally allowing of first trimester abortions. Social attitudes about the practice vary, with Sweden being the most permissive in terms of attitude, but Russia being the place where a woman is most likely to have had an abortion.

While the legal position in the United States on abortion is generally legal under all conditions as determined by the outcome of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the US Supreme Court, the social context of the practice is highly debated and generally disapproved of, even by those Americans who believe that the procedure should still be kept legal. One of the most emotionally satisfying statements in the US that actually summarized the attitudes of many “pro-choice” Americans was that of Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton’s statement that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”

In other words, the legality of the procedure is one thing, and the promotion of the procedure is quite another. It was summarized in this thought: We think that to be in the position of determining whether or not to abort a child is a horrifying and extremely serious matter. However, we believe it to be safer if this procedure is kept legal, lest it actually become dangerous because of inferior resources if it were banned, and done clandestinely.

This point of view was generally accepted as a secular compromise to a horrifying situation. Far from the ultraliberal attitudes of progressive Europe, the United States remained a relatively conservative country, socially guided by Christian attitudes concerning the sanctity of life, even that life which is yet unborn.

All this has changed.

Starting with the signing of New York State’s “Reproductive Health Act”, many states are now moving towards ensuring that abortion is legal under all conditions, to the full term of pregnancy, even to the point where perfectly viable, birthed babies may be killed after delivery if the mother so desires.

This report from New York was immediately followed up by this news item from Virginia’s own Legislature, in its attempt to pass a similar law, made even more clearly brutal by Governor Northam’s defense and explanation of the procedure post delivery in which a living baby would be subject to being deliberately killed at the wish of the mother. 

This law, like the New York constitutional amendment allows the unborn, or just-born (and alive even though “aborted”), no human rights.

There is really no way this action cannot be seen for what it is: infanticide, a very particularly cruel form of murder of the innocent, on no further grounds than that the baby exists and that the mother does not want it.

We covered in another news piece how this ability appears to be the prize “right” of feminist women, who were represented in Congress by the infamous Women in White, who sat stone-faced as President Donald Trump appealed for Congress to make and pass a law banning late-term abortions.

However, the President’s request was well-met by conservatives in the House chamber, and indeed, even some pro-choices were set off their guard by the New York and Virginia legislative moves. Virginia’s attempt failed.

Abortion is legal in the US, and it is legal at any point in the pregnancy in many states. This is not often reported, probably because abortion is not palatable to public discourse when a fully-formed, living baby is to be the subject of this procedure. The national discourse has for years been “safely” diverted to what appears to be more metaphysical debate about the unseen processes in pregnancy, such as “when does life really begin”, and even “when does the embryo receive a soul?”

This is probably by design to avoid the much harsher realities that were exposed in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont. All these states have either passed or are trying to pass laws that protect abortion rights, sometimes to similar extremes as New York’s law contains. However, many other states, such as Colorado, already allow full and late-term abortion procedures.

However, not every state in the US is trying to magnify abortion rights. Some are trying to limit this procedure, or even outlaw it entirely, should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the Supreme Court, a possibility that seems enhanced now with five “conservative” Justices on the US Supreme Court. States like Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, and even the aforementioned Rhode Island are seeking passage of laws to sharply limit or completely outlaw the procedure in this event.

CDC graph showing abortion rates per 1,000 US women from 1969 to 2014. Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Guttmacher Institute.

Interestingly, both the abortion rate and the actual number of abortions performed in the US has fallen drastically in the time period between 1980 and 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention record that there were almost 1.3 million babies aborted in 1980, peaking at 1.43 million in 1990, before dropping again to 2015’s rate of 638,000. Numbers and counts vary by statistical poll, however, with 2017’s numbers showing 882,240 in this study. The common feature of declining numbers and rates is still evident.

Statistical sources on this issue were not able to explain the reason for the drop in both rate and number of abortions, but a speculation might be that some exposure to the reality of what abortion actually is has served to deter both unwanted pregnancy from even happening, and also to try to find a way to take care of human beings guilty of nothing more than their existence. Perhaps this is too generous an assessment, but it is one possibility.

President Trump was loud and clear on several occasions about his stance on the issue of abortion. His State of the Union speech featured his saying, “all children, born and unborn are made in the Holy image of God.” This was followed up by further comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, in which he continued to show a strong pro-life position.

Naturally, some pols dismiss this as nothing more than the President’s attempts to energize his base for the 2020 elections. To credit such opinions, it may indeed do this. But President Trump has really put his money where his mouth is in terms of governing as a conservative, or at least, common-sense oriented President.

The combination of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation, the Virginian attempt and the March for Life, featuring its highly slurred story about Roman Catholic teenaged boys who were at the event, plus the President’s speech have made for a truly polarizing moment. To be sure, political winds in the US are so unruly now that longstanding position issues are now pushed aside in mere days, or even hours. However the mainstream media is hard-pressed to refute what happened here. The American Left tipped its hand, perhaps a little too much for even some who are ideologically liberal, and some of the harshest, most sinister aspects of their worldview were brought into focus.

This reaction extends even to both real-life and Internet commentary on such news pieces. Tucker Carlson took on uber-feminist Monica Klein on his program on January 30th, and their exchange, most notably Monica’s sheer fury, was a sign that the Left is energized on this subject, so much so that any sense of nicety has been discarded:

For Ms. Klein, this issue is a source of pure anger, as is clearly evident on her face. This was not a woman who was playing the ideological talking head for the news media hit; far from it. She really believes what she says, and has taken that fury to the point of irrationality.

Some comments on this issue appear in many publications that also reveal extremely fiery emotion on both sides. The rhetoric swings from “baby-killers” to “woman-haters” quite freely on this topic, and this is honestly a shame. Such emotional incendiary bombs are avoidances on both sides. While people call each other names, no one pays attention to the topic itself. This is, of course, by design.

When the real issue is looked at, as was shown so clearly in New York and Virginia, the topic of the value of human life shows its profound reality to everyone. If that happened often enough or long enough, it might change the substance of the conversation.

The result might then be a real change.

 

 

 

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Facebook: The Government’s Propaganda Arm?

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation:


Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn’t have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world’s largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government’s Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by “quality,” it seems that they mean “progressive.” The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that’s reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn’t want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that’s not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company’s initiative to scrub anti-war content and “protest” movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: “Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption.” He continued, “We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.”

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

  • Aneesh Raman: Former speechwriter
  • Joel Benenson: Top adviser
  • Meredith Carden: Office of the First Lady

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn’t too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook’s content, but the level of the state’s involvement in the world’s biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

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