The world’s largest social networks have announced plans to launch a shared Internet censorship database in 2017 that will be able to scrub anything that is labeled as “extremist content” across all of their social networks.
Facebook already has a tool in place that they recently revealed they are in discussions with to provide China access to in order to gain access to China’s 1.4 billion citizens.
Currently the tool is being touted as a weapon to fight terrorism and hate speech but just defining what speech falls under the topic is a slippery slope.
Twitter and Reddit have recently been actively banning conservative content and Twitter has even threatened to ban President-elect Donald Trump for hate speech.
It is also no secret that Governments have long openly banned political content that had nothing to do with extremism or hate such as Japan’s ban of Fukushima news and just recently Italy’s ban on reporting on the referendum ahead of last Sunday’s vote.
The news comes as the United States and Europe governments are separately pushing Internet censorship legislation into law, which has largely been kept off the radar of corporate media news outlets.
The goals of the separate legislation is to crack down on what the establishment is labeling as “fake news” being spread as part of a Russia propaganda conspiracy.
In reality the vast majority of the news that will be censored under the new legislation is nothing more than non-corporate news outlets simply reporting on issues in a manner that is critical policies of the government and establishment politicians, and their hidden power players such as special interests and lobbyists, on matters such as globalization, oversea wars, environmental issues and corruption.
Unlike in the U.S., Europe is making it clear that the censorship tool targets more than extreme content.
Now the EU is threatening to escalate the situation up from “non-legislative” action if these companies don’t take action to censor “hate speech” and “fake news” within 24 hours.
The unelected executive arm of the European Union (EU) is threatening to escalate from “non-legislative” action if Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube do not censor what it considers “illegal” online speech within 24 hours…
The “series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe” developed “together with… the IT companies” included a promise to “review the majority” of flagged “hate speech” within 24 hours.
However, a new European Commission report has claimed this has only been happening in Germany and France so far, and censorship often takes too long. Consequently, one commissioner implied they could pass new censorship laws if the “non-legislative approach” fails…
EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová told The Financial Times (FT): “If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.”
She added: “The last weeks and months have shown that social media companies need to live up to their important role and take up their share of responsibility when it comes to phenomena like online radicalisation, illegal hate speech or fake news.”
And of course “hate speech” is very loosely defined here, so it can basically be used to censor free speech online. We all know what the phrase “fake news” has come to denote — and nearly the entire alternative media is encompassed within it.
It should be no surprise that the same “fake news” the EU wants to censor has been blamed for Brexit and the potential for other countries like Italy deciding to leave the EU as well.
More from Zero Hedge:
The spread of so-called “fake news” has captured the imagination of the entire world since being blamed for Hillary’s stunning defeat on November 8th. The idea that they may no longer exercise complete control of the national media narrative, and therefore popular opinion, has mainstream news outlets and social media giants frightened to their core.
The tech titans of Silicon Valley are so frightened, in fact, that they’ve teamed up to create a centralized database which will allow them to “efficiently” block content simultaneously across multiple platforms. According to Yahoo News, the database is expected to be up and running in early 2017 and more companies could be brought into the partnership over time.Web giants YouTube , Facebook , Twitter and Microsoft will step up efforts to remove extremist content from their websites by creating a common database.
The companies will share ‘hashes’ – unique digital fingerprints they automatically assign to videos or photos – of extremist content they have removed from their websites to enable their peers to identify the same content on their platforms.
“We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online,” the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.
Of course, while the database is being sold as a way to censor “terrorist content” (because who wouldn’t want to stop terrorists?), we suspect that once it’s established the subjective definitions of “terrorist” and “extremist” content will gradually morph over time to include anything that is not deemed mainstream.
To that end, the New York Times is reporting this morning that “European officials” are already calling on the large tech companies to use their new censoring weapon of mass destruction to target “hate speech.” Of course, with Twitter recently threatening to ban President-elect Trump for “harassment and hateful conduct,” a person who was just elected with 60mm votes, one has to question the ability of social media giants to impartially distinguish “hate speech” for legitimate political discourse.European officials pushed on Tuesday for American technology giants to do more to tackle online hate speech across the region, adding to the chorus of policy makers worldwide demanding greater action from the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter.
The rebuke came a day after many of those companies announced that they were joining forces to fight the spread of terrorist content on the internet, agreeing to share technology and information to prevent propaganda and other dangerous materials from being disseminated on their services.
Amid growing security tensions in much of the Western world, governments, intelligence agencies and advocacy groups want Google, Microsoft and other technology companies to take further steps to curb hate speech on digital platforms, as well as to clamp down on how terrorists circulate information online.
But freedom of expression campaigners have warned that such demands may limit people’s ability to communicate across the internet, and they have cautioned that the line between hate speech and legitimate political discussion can be blurry.
European officials are pushing Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more to tackle hate speech across the region. https://t.co/a6qt1wF3Ll
— NYT Business (@nytimesbusiness) December 6, 2016
A report published by European officials said that only 40 percent of online material flagged as offensive was reviewed within 24 hours.
But, as we’ve said before, the tech and media giants who decide to push further left and censor dissenting views do so at their own peril. The 2016 election is evidence that the American population has grown extremely skeptical of a biased mainstream media and to the extent the social media giants wish to match their bias then we suspect they’ll quickly meet the same fate.
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