How the Internet is Turning Against Ordinary People

Ever feel like the internet’s turning against you? That’s cus it is.

Online censorship has always existed, but before now it was to protect people from inappropriate and obscene content- not to portray a specific political narrative.

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Apple remove the NY Times app from the Chinese App Store at request of the government. Photo: NY Times

It’s hard to pin-point when the changes began- but I’ll start with the time Google updated their Advertiser Friendly Content Guidelines a few months ago. In their new guidelines, Google stated that videos on YouTube may not be eligible to claim ad money on if they contained subjects such as  ‘nudity’ ‘extremism’ and ‘vulgar language’- and a new bullet point which read the following:

Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown

Since injury, violence, and vulgar language (among other things) had already been condemned in the policy- this new bullet point clearly serves to filter YouTube of anything which does not agree with their world view (that is, their opinion on what the world should be like). Why else would they have added it? But this new policy not only censors YouTube politically, but also justifies YouTube to shut down accounts trying to promote their own suffering and conflict. For example, anyone now trying to speak out about the much ignored Yemen Conflict could potentially face being purged from the web. One man lost 27 family members in an air strike (BBC).

So why are social media platforms becoming political and censoring some content from existence (barely covered bodies [mainly of women] still make it onto the front page I notice)? Well, it’s a well known fact that many tech companies are now working with other governments to ensure their company adheres to the views of these governments. One example of this is Facebook, who announced around two months ago that they would be working with the Chinese Government to implement a tailored (to put it politely) version of the platform which wouldn’t upset politicians (see our article on that). The concept of crushing people’s ability to speak out doesn’t seem to matter that much to them.

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Don’t Google ‘Instargam Models’ at work. Photo: hubwav 

What’s more is that just yesterday- Apple removed the New York Times App (a small extremist news company) from the Chinese App Store at the request of the government. Even Apple, who call themselves progressive, are in on it. This has been the climax of a situation where a series of Apple Apps have been removed, which began last December at request of the government. So much for Apple’s progressive mind-set.

It seems that wherever you go now, we a faced with a tailored (to out it politely) version of the news which reflects a certain view of what the world should be like- not how it really is. How can we gain back control and find out what’s really going on anymore? I suppose the answer is to get your news from a variety of sources. But who has time for cross-referencing our news everyday now? We just want to know what’s going on. The answer then, must be protest.

Stay tuned for more on this…

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