Issues & Insights

If You Thought The COVID Thought Police Were Bad, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

The COVID pandemic unleashed Big Tech censors in a big way. Day after day, a handful of 20-something Silicon Valley leftists tweaked their algorithms to block, demonetize, and de-platform anyone who dared say anything that wasn’t in sync with government talking points, on the grounds that such “misinformation” posed a serious threat to public health.

Of course, the disease itself proved this campaign to be pure folly. COVID has officially claimed more than half a million lives in the U.S. How many would have died had Big Tech not decided to act like Big Brother? Our guess is, half a million.

So now that COVID is fading from the public’s list of concerns, we can all go back to normal, and social media platforms will once again live up to their promise of being the online public square, open for the free exchange of ideas. Right?

Not. Bloody. Likely.

Already, Big Tech is sharpening its algorithms to go after the next target – imposing speech codes regarding “climate science.”

A new report from a United Nations global warming “working group” complains that “misinformation” spread on social media poses a dire threat to humans because it’s contributing to “delayed action.”

“Rhetoric and misinformation on climate change and the deliberate undermining of science have contributed to misperceptions of the scientific consensus, uncertainty, disregarded risk and urgency, and dissent,” the report says, and “has sowed uncertainty, and impeded recognition of risk.”

The report goes on: “Resultant public misperception of climate risks and polarized public support for climate actions is delaying urgent adaptation planning and implementation.”

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial page was delighted, braying about how the U.N. report “broke new ground by finally highlighting the role of misinformation in obstructing climate action.”

The editors say that “It was the first time one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s exhaustive assessments has called out the ways in which fossil fuel companies, climate deniers, and conspiracy theorists have sown doubt and confusion about climate change and made it harder for policymakers to act.”

You can bet that Big Tech censors are nodding their heads and figuring out how to combat this terrible “threat.”

We’ve already had a first-hand experience with this when Google’s AdSense informed us recently that it wouldn’t run ads on two of our editorials challenging the accepted global warming narrative. Google says these editorials contained “unreliable and harmful claims” because they “contradict authoritative scientific consensus on climate change.”

Google AdSense content violation.

(Never mind that the scientific “consensus” is often wrong. But judge for yourselves how harmful these editorials are: “The Wreck of the Global Warming Narrative” and “Those Ugly Climate Models.”)

AdSense graciously lets publishers click a “review” button, which supposedly prompts them to take a second look at the ruling. Our appeals were denied. No explanation given.

So, we tried to ask Google for clarification. If we were supposed to “fix” these violations, we wanted to know what, exactly, needed to be fixed. But since there’s no option to contact a sentient being, we filled out a “contact us” form asking for the company – twice – to provide specifics on what fixes would satisfy the AdSense thought police.

We never heard back. Not even an acknowledgement that our message had been received.

But then, one day, the supposedly offending articles suddenly disappeared from the list of violations. Again, there was no notice. No explanation. Nothing. We could try to reach out again, but what’s the point?

In our dealings with Google, we were reminded of an old Saturday Night Live ad for the “phone company” with Lily Tomlin doing her Ernestine telephone operator character, in which the tag line is: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.” Replace “phone company” with Google, Facebook, Twitter, GoFundMe, or any number of other “woke” tech giants, and the ad is as relevant today as it was in 1976.

Actually, today’s tech giants are worse. The AT&T-Bell System monopoly might have provided lousy service, but its telephone operators didn’t cut off phone calls because they didn’t like what people were talking about.

Some readers might respond to this by saying “So what if Big Tech blocks certain content? These are private companies and they’re free to manage their networks how they see fit.”

There’s a problem with that proposition. Their unprecedented size means Big Tech can impose huge roadblocks to general sharing of information, which is worrisome enough. But as we’ve noted in this space, they are increasingly censoring content at the behest of government.

Just last week, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy demanded that Big Tech companies provide the government with data about COVID-19 “misinformation” on their platforms. Murthy had previously complained that misinformation “can cause confusion, sow distrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Notice how Murthy’s lament almost perfectly matches what the U.N. is now complaining about when it comes to global warming?

So, keep this in mind. The left isn’t just going to hand back the controls it amassed during COVID. It will look for new ways to use these tools – emboldened by the public’s demonstrated pliability in the face of “public health” authoritarianism – to control still more aspects of our lives.

All in the name of the “greater good.”

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

13 comments

  • I laugh at all the pompous editorials talking about the Free World versus totalitarian Russia. That era has come and gone. Freedom is rapidly being extinguished in what was formerly called the Land of the Free. The so-called Free World is rapidly looking more like the Old Communist World. They got free, and we got canceled. Cancellation culture has evolved into bank account and asset seizures, egged on by Obama and Biden getting Canada’s head tyrant to classify protesting truckers as domestic terrorists. Europe is seizing yachts and assets of rich Russians, as if that is going to make them love and obey their new European oppressors. Now that seizing property and cancelling is accepted practice: How long will Biden & the Dems wait to begin seizing assets of Trump supporters and climate contrarians? This is worse than the founding USA Puritan colonies, which also demanded total obedience to their dogma (causing William Penn to found a free colony, Pennsylvania).

    What can you do when half the population supports tyranny because they are the tyrants and enjoy having the power to censor and impose their will? They are free, but to hell with you they say and act. Cancelling whole countries like Russia must be intoxicating. Perhaps a template for what is coming domestically in a country with so much blind Trump hatred that even the GOP turns a blind eye on massive election irregularities like in Pennsylvania (which counted several hundred thousand more mail-in ballots than were mailed out). In the old days, the USA had investigative reporters who would pounce on the story. Today, even old-fashioned audits are forbidden. Strangely enough with the consent and collaboration of the anti-Marxist GOP. How crazy is that, the Marxist Dems and anti-Marxist GOP in cahoots to sacrifice truth on the Anti-Trump altar? No wonder freedom is disappearing.

  • Since when did the young become the mouthpiece and enforcers of violations of human rights? It boggles my mind but proof positive that 12 + years in government/taxpayer funded indoctrination is highly effective. Mao is proud!

  • Stop using the services that these tyrants can censor. IT’s really simple. Stay off facebook and twitter and they can’t get you. There are other platforms.

  • Reigning in the Neo Stasi of Big Tech needs to be new the top of the list for a new Republican majority, should it materialize next year. These ‘fact checkers’ – who in reality are just needy guys who can’t get dates with real girls – need to be taken to the woodshed and convinced that differing opinions are not the same as ‘misinformations.’ And the public needs to know that none of the climate models used to promote so-called c’climate change’ have ever been right.

    Never.

    Not once.

    As a trained scientist I can appreciate how data is manipulated to reach expected outcomes, but only as a means of improving the models and/or data collection methodology, but certainly NOT to be included as statistically significant data added to peer-reviewed studies! There are other tricks that are used too…

    Looking through the data tabs – when available – reveals another common trick; using a much lower threshold of significance to claim correlation. to put it simply, a correlation of 1.00 would demonstrate a perfect, absolute correlation between inputs and observed results, which justifies complete faith in the results and methodology. This basically never happens in science.

    Social sciences, such as sociology and social psychology (the ‘soft’ sciences) use a correlation coefficient of around 0.30-0.35. So-called ‘hard sciences’ (physics, nuclear science, engineering, etc.) rely on a correlation factor of around 0.99 – or higher.

    I’ve observed correlation coefficients of social sciences (0.30-0.35) being used with climate data, which I believe to be fraudulent as it’s using ‘soft science’ criteria to evaluate data that should be evaluated against ‘hard science’ criteria.

    This alone renders ‘climate change’ science total garbage. Add in the fraudulent practices of using ‘fudged’ (i.e. fake) data in so-called peer-reviewed studies and we have a scandal of global proportions.

  • Scientific consensus once held that the earth was flat.

    Nothing wrong here, move on.

    • Indeed, scientific “consensus” does not mean that there is unanimity on a particular issue. It simply means that those participating in the consensus agree not to openly disagree. When you are punished with potential loss of livelihood for disagreeing, consensus is pretty easy to achieve.

  • Ma Bell had been broken up by the time SNL first aired. Lilly Tomlin was on Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-In. Your points are valid, but you could make the point better using the IRS. They’ve been at this a whole lot longer and are universally hated.

  • Safe space: A place where you can hide from the truth and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

  • If the globalist nut-jobs are so worried about “climate change”, maybe they should stop spraying those chemicals and metals into the skies, maybe they should stop their weather engineering that we now have absolute proof of. Who do these totalitarian mental-cases think they’re fooling??? THEY are the cause of the “climate change” and they are doing this only to usher in their worldwide dictatorship through the false-flag threat of “climate change”.

  • Yes, Big Tech has proved to be a nightmare. But given that Washington favors the TechLords’ censorship and won’t act against it, we must take the only route still available to us: decentralization. Eschew the giants for smaller providers of software, Web hosting, and communications. Build cell-structures of citizens that the big powers cannot control. Above all, don’t give up.

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