Editor’s Note – As the technological realm becomes more pervasive, whom can we trust? Each week, Liberty Nation brings new insight into the fraudulent use of personal data, breaches of privacy, and attempts to filter our perception.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only presented a perfect opportunity for surveillance to spread across the globe – not unlike, well, a pathogenic virus – but also for censorship to mutate into its next strain. To question the authorized narrative is a grave threat not only to individual lives but public health. At least, that’s what we’re being told.
Our society is engaged in a tug-of-war between technocrats who urge Americans to believe the “experts” and an increasingly large portion of the public that no longer sees the authorities’ expertise as trustworthy. With growing talk about how wrong the experts often seem to be, the Coronavirus has brought this issue to the fore.
Unsurprisingly, tech platforms have been at the forefront of the changes in our society – from contact tracing and GPS tracking to censorship aimed at enforcing adherence to the official story.
Conspiracy Theories Could Kill You
“Fake news” has become the rallying cry for censors, and this is especially true during the pandemic – because it could apparently lead to sickness or even death for those exposed.
Conspiracy theories or alternative ideas about the pandemic are hastily being deleted from social media under the label of “misinformation.” Perhaps the content getting the most attention for being banned is a 26-minute video titled “Plandemic,” starring biomedical researcher and anti-vaccine activist Judy Mikovits. It is no longer available on YouTube – although the site now boasts plenty of videos rebutting it – and it has also been deleted from Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter, which all contend that it contains false information about the COVID-19 pandemic. This clip of a longer, yet-to-be-released documentary features Mikovits making various claims that have been labeled false – primarily that billionaires arranged the pandemic to bring into force compulsory vaccination. Mikovits also has a personal and professional beef with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, accusing him of fraud after working under him in the past.
Her claim that wearing a face mask can “activate the virus,” was the root of the video’s removal from Facebook, a spokesperson for the company said, because “Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm.” According to Digital Trends, the Facebook Post had already gained 1.8 million views, 17,000 comments, and almost 150,000 shares before it was taken down.
Meanwhile, Vimeo “stands firm in keeping our platform safe from content that spreads harmful and misleading health information. The video in question has been removed by our Trust & Safety team for violating these very policies.” YouTube took it down for “content that includes medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice for covid-19.”
Mikovits is not the only one to have had her content taken down. On her recently-created Twitter account, she highlights one YouTuber, “Young Pharaoh,” who had a video removed after he discussed her book Plague of Corruption. David Icke, a British writer and conspiracy theorist, has had his entire YouTube channel and Facebook account erased for making unsanctioned claims about the Coronavirus. Internet broadcaster Steven Crowder has managed to stay on YouTube, yet he has repeatedly emphasised how carefully he has avoided certain statements on the virus, precisely to evade a ban – regardless of his personal opinions.
Despite being reposted by various YouTube channels, the video has been removed each time. Podcaster Phil Valentine tweeted: “YouTube just yanked Plandemic from my YouTube page. I have appealed a decision and have demanded an explanation. There’s no reason why a different opinion about the coronavirus should be banned in a free society. Unless we’re no longer a free society. #PlandemicDocumentary”
An army of fact-checkers have come out of the woodwork to dispute Mikovits’ claims in the mainstream media – but in a society where the public is only allowed to hear one side of the argument, is “misinformation” or a “conspiracy theory” really anything but an alternative viewpoint?
The Mainstream Shrinks
Mikovits and Icke may have ideas well outside the mainstream even during normal times, but surely a medical doctor who criticizes the official response would not be censored in such a way. As it turns out, even some of them have stepped too far outside the orthodoxy. Two California doctors, Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, made a video, published on YouTube by ABC affiliate 23ABC News, criticizing the stay-at-home orders. They claimed that COVID-19 death rates are no higher than those of the flu and are likely overestimated due to pressure on medical professionals to record deaths as resulting from the virus even if there were other complications. “Are we being pressured to add COVID to maybe increase the numbers and make it look a little bit worse than it is? I think so,” Erickson said.
The doctors called for businesses to reopen – but YouTube disagreed, and deleted their video, despite its 5.3 million views.
This is hardly the limit of YouTube’s effort to control the narrative. In late April, CEO Susan Wojcicki said the platform would remove any content that fails to back up the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus recommendations – despite serious questions surrounding the group’s credibility. On April 28, the Google-owned platform also announced that it would introduce “fact check information panels” to the U.S. version of the site. This initiative was launched in Brazil and India last year. The information boxes will provide “additional context” on videos, including a fact-check rating by approved third-party sources like The Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.
The health authorities roundly criticized the doctors’ claims, but some have asked: Even if the assertions are faulty, what benefit can there be in censoring them? With a lively debate and exchange of ideas, we can learn better how to handle a similar situation in the future. Of course, learning isn’t the goal here – being “right” and in control is.
In response to the ban, Dr. Erickson simply remarked, “Anytime you push against the grain, you are going to have people who don’t like it.”
That’s all for this week from Tech Tyranny. Check back next week to find out what’s happening in the digital realm and how it impacts you.
Read more from Laura Valkovic.