The progressive tech censorship machine appears to be wholly operational. The apparatus went through a few test runs which targeted InfoWars founder Alex Jones, conservative comedian Steven Crowder, and several others, but now the campaign to silence right-wing thought online seems to be in full swing.
As part of its offensive, the hard left has now honed in on one of the most popular pro-Trump Reddit internet forums, which shows it is not just content to silence prominent right-leaning pundits, but also willing to go after everyday people who wish to voice their support for the president.
Reddit Quarantines Pro-Trump Forum
Reddit, a bulletin-board style site that allows users to post news, information, and opinions in smaller, topic-specific subforums, hosts discussion on a wide range of topics. Recently, the site put the “r/The_Donald” group behind a quarantine screen due to supposed violations which include incitement to violence. This move was made in response to a Media Matters for America report that some of the forum’s members were encouraging violence against Oregon law enforcement and other public officials.
A Reddit spokesperson explained to The Verge that the service does not allow threatening speech on its platform. “We are clear in our site-wide policies that posting content that encourages or threatens violence is not allowed on Reddit,” he said. “As we have shared, we are sensitive to what could be considered political speech, however, recent behaviors including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy.”
According to the Media Matters report, some commenters wished for violence against Oregon police officers attempting to apprehend Republican state lawmakers who fled the state Senate to stop a climate change bill from passing. One of the posters wrote, “none of this gets fixed without people picking up rifles.” Another claimed, “I [have] no problem shooting a cop trying to strip rights from Citizens.”
The offending posts were removed, and Reddit has also taken action against the individual users making the comments. This is not the first time the group has run afoul of the Reddit’s rules. In 2016, the site hid some posts on the forum due to controversial content.
After this latest move, Reddit posted a statement addressing the moderators of “r/The_Donald,” and noted their efforts to remove problematic content from the forum. “As we have discussed in the past, and as detailed in our content policy and moderator guidelines, we expect you to enforce against rule-breaking content,” the company wrote. “You’ve made progress over the last year, but we continue to observe and take action on a disproportionate amount of rule-breaking behavior in this community. We recognize that you do remove posts that are reported, but we are troubled that violent content more often goes unreported, and worse, is upvoted.”
Other Censorship Tactics
Reddit and other online service providers have the right to enforce their rules. However, it seems that in situations such as these, a simple and fair solution exists: Punish the offenders, not the entire forum. Even social media companies like Facebook and Twitter don’t go as far as Reddit has in this instance; they ban individuals, not everyone with whom the rulebreakers interact. But instead of taking action only against those who engaged in the offensive behavior, Reddit quarantined the entire channel, which could indicate that its objective goes farther than just policing bad behavior. Indeed, the “r/The_Donald” forum is one of the most prevalent places online for Trump supporters to congregate, and the majority of its members are not inciting violence. But in the lead-up to the 2020 election, the hard left seems to be pulling out all the stops.
Even now, Twitter has decided to apply a warning label to verified politicians who violate their terms and conditions. This would hide from the public tweets considered to be controversial. These messages would be hidden from the company’s search results, and the user would have to click past a warning if he or she wishes to view them. Of course, Twitter’s intended target is apparent; it aims to make it more difficult for people to view President Trump’s posts. It’s not hard to imagine how liberally the organization will apply this filter to Trump, who has relied heavily on the social media platform to reach his followers.
Creating barriers between the public and conservative content is a concrete method of censorship, but the rise of fact-checking sites is a more subtle method of guiding public perception. Sites like Snopes and Media Bias/Fact Check – the latter of which hires people who are typically not journalists – use subjective “fact checking” to determine if a story is accurate, and inform the public whether or not a site is credible.
But the purpose may go beyond simple truth-seeking; it could also lay the groundwork for covert censorship efforts. If these groups label a particular site as propaganda or fake news, it could provide an excuse for tech companies like Google to minimize the reach of that outlet. For example, Media Bias/Fact Check labeled CNS News, a popular conservative media site, as “Extreme Right, Propaganda, Some Fake News.”
As most know, when the left says “extreme right,” they typically mean “anyone to the right of Elizabeth Warren,” and when they say “fake news,” they usually mean, “anything with which I disagree.” The organization does not apply this label to left-leaning news outlets such as CNN, which has published an astonishing number of fake news stories about President Trump, or Rolling Stone, which deceptively claimed that conservative speaker Candace Owens was a member of the alt-right.
It has become apparent that the time for conservatives to seek other methods of communicating their ideas is now. The hard left’s censorship crusade isn’t over yet – there are still plenty of conservatives who might need to be silenced.
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