So much going on lately. Sometimes it feels overwhelming.
From the NyTimes (obligatory archive.is link) YouTube suspends Rand Paul for a week over a video disputing the effectiveness of masks.
The good ol’ “spreading Covid-19 misinformation,” a favorite, along with ‘hate speech’ and ‘inciting violence’.
A YouTube representative said the Republican senator’s claims in the three-minute video had violated the company’s policy on Covid-19 medical misinformation. The company policy bans videos that spread a wide variety of misinformation, including “claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of Covid-19.”
Forthcoming story: Rand Paul suspended from Twitter for criticizing YouTube suspension on mask misinformation
Oh, too late:
Marjorie Taylor Greene gets longest Twitter suspension yet after falsely claiming COVID vaccines and masks don’t work
On Twitter, Mr. Paul called his suspension “a badge of honor” and blamed “left-wing cretins at YouTube,” while linking to an alternative site to watch the video.
And the right wonders why they keep losing. Instead of seeking retribution or rallying support to do something, it just becomes part of his brand, if losing can be considered a brand, I suppose. Social networks, payment processors know they can ban right-wing dissent with near-impunity, in part because conservatives are encumbered by a false idealization of free market capitalism.
Such censorship has nothing to do advertisers being offended or not wanting to be associated with objectionable content. Popular movies and TV shows have preview ads by major brands, so this notion that advertisers are more offended by possible Covid misinformation than depicted sexual acts and violence, is laughable. Nor are they required to by law. There is no legal precedent nor it is incumbent upon any social network or payment processor to ‘prevent the spread of misinformation’. Nor do the users care, even on the left. “I refuse to login or click any ad unless Covid misinformation and hate speech is removed” said no Twitter/YouTube/Facebook user ever. Political division, if anything, means more clicks and page views, as users compulsively refresh their timelines and notifications about the latest issue or person to be outraged about. Social network usage surged in 2020 due to Covid, the BLM riots, and the election, which meant tons of engagement, ad-clicks, and revenue.
I suspect much of this censorship is motivated by an attempt to build political goodwill of the left. Although pundits and House Republicans may talk tough about antitrust, it’s typically the left that will actually do something, as we saw in 1998 regarding the DOJ vs. Microsoft. Having the left suddenly turn against big tech is a worse existential threat than any rhetoric by the right, as the left tends to be better organized and more cohesive politically. Social networks know that a significant number of republicans , due to free market ideology, will never support antitrust. On July, 7th 2021, Biden appointed Jonathan Kanter “to be assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division,” who represented companies against Google. So it cannot be ruled out, but my money is still on nothing happening.