Michael Shellenberger, founder of Public, has identified an aggressive attack on freedom of speech around the world from North America to Australia to Europe. He exposes the Digital Services Act, which demands Internet companies “Address any risk they pose on society, including public health, physical and mental well-being.” He highlights the work of Australia’s SkyNews, which discovered Meta-Facebook paying activists to serve as neutral fact-checkers while, in reality, using their power to censor their political enemies.
He also notes the case of C.J. Hopkins, who was ordered by a German court to either go to jail or pay 3,600 Euros for comparing the covid lockdowns to the Nazis. In the United States, a nonprofit organization called Center for Countering Digital Hate, is leading a boycott against X, formerly named Twitter, for not being more censorious.
Shellenberger suggests that Western elites, both governmental, corporate, and philanthropic, are embracing the kinds of totalitarian tactics made famous by the East German Stasi, the Chinese government, and dystopian regimes depicted in movies like “Minority Report.” He argues that the Internet enables this digital totalitarianism and that money, particularly from philanthropic organizations, like the Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Tides Foundation, and Tides Center, Omidyar Network Fund, Carnegie Corp. of New York, Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, Google, and Facebook, is funding the movement.
Shellenberger further argues that there is a bad psychology behind the war on free speech, with elites coming to hate and fear ordinary people after the election of Trump and the Brexit referendum in 2016. He suggests that this is due to the high levels of narcissism and anti-social personality disorders amongst elites.
Shellenberger is now launching a major push to kill or reform Ireland’s proposed hateful censorship law and is building his own fact-checking apparatus in alliance with those news media companies and think tanks that have been censored by institutions, including governments, spreading disinformation. He is also calling on people to donate to the cause in order to fund the investigative research, events, and travel that building a global movement requires.
From North America to Australia to Europe, elites seek censorship, prvacy invasions, and the prosecution of wrongthink as "pre-crime"
The leaders of nations, representatives of international organizations, including the United Nations, and philanthropists say they are committed to creating free and open societies. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook has independent fact-checkers, is open to all perspectives, and doesn’t interfere in elections. And, in response to questions from a colleague at Public, a representative from Geroge Soros’ Open Society Foundations insisted the philanthropy supported free speech.
“In response to your effort to conflate any attempt to address hate speech as a frontal assault on free speech itself,” the Soros spokesperson said, “perhaps the words of the UN Secretary-General will help in illuminating a crucial distinction: ‘Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech.’”
But these words are a thin veil covering an aggressive attack on freedom of speech around the world, from Australia to North America to Europe, where the Digital Services Act, which demands Internet companies “Address any risk they pose on society, including public health, physical and mental well-being,” goes into effect today.
A blockbuster new investigation by Australia’s SkyNews discovered that Meta-Facebook has been paying activists to serve as neutral fact-checkers while, in reality, using their power to censor their political enemies.
The context is that this fall, Australians will vote in a special national election, the Australian Indigenous Voice referendum, on whether to give special political powers to native peoples. Facebook is funding those in favor of the referendum to censor its opponents. “An audit of RMIT Voice fact checks showed the 17 Voice checks between May 3 and June 23 this year were all targeting anti-Voice opinions or views,” Sky News Found.
Meta allowed the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to censor disfavored views even while “knowing it was a breach of the rules Zuckerberg established to distance himself from fact-checking responsibilities,” reported SkyNews.
The RMIT, which is a respected technical university like America’s MIT, “used the powers Facebook has given it to throttle Sky News Australia’s Facebook page with false fact checks multiple times this year, breaching the Meta-endorsed IFCN Code of Principles and preventing millions of Australians from reading or watching Sky News Australia’s journalism.”
How did the fact-checkers abuse their powers? By smearing their political enemies as racists. “Fact-checkers employed by RMIT have led to numerous code breaches,” reports SkyNews, “including one fact-checker using her social media account to label Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, a fear-mongering racist for his views on the Voice.”
As for Soros’ Open Society Foundations, its spokesperson cleverly tucked a call for expanded censorship into her response to our queries.
After saying, “Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech,” the spokesperson said, “It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence, which is prohibited under international law” [emphasis added].
“Keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous” is precisely the justification for censorship that politicians in Ireland and Scotland are making to be able to invade people’s homes and confiscate their phones and computers, as Irish reporter Ben Scallan described yesterday.
Consider the twisted logic. Irish police must invade people’s homes in order to make sure that their hate materials don’t escalate into something that could be illegal. That’s a totalitarian move toward the police enforcing “precrime,” as depicted in the terrifying science fiction thriller, “Minority Report.”
Meanwhile, the UN is now building a “digital army” of censorship activists around the world to wage war on wrongthink, or what it calls “deadly disinformation.” According to the UN, “misinformation” is “deadly” and poses an “existential” threat. The UN’s effort matches the WHO effort, which views speech it disagrees with as a kind of pathogen.
In Germany, a court ordered the American writer C.J. Hopkins to either go to jail or pay 3,600 Euros for comparing the covid lockdowns to the Nazis. The government claimed Hopkins was promoting Nazism when, obviously, he doing the opposite. While some may take offense at the comparison, it makes clear that Hopkins has a negative, not positive, view of Nazism.
In the United States, a nonprofit organization called Center for Countering Digital Hate, whose former communications director worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, has successfully led a boycott against X, formerly named Twitter, for not being more censorious. As a result, advertising revenue to X is down 60 – 70%, according to news reports.
In short, Western elites, both governmental, corporate, and philanthropic, are embracing the kinds of totalitarian tactics made famous by the East German Stasi, the Chinese government, and dystopian regimes depicted in movies like “Minority Report.” Why is that? And how can we fight back?
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The Internet, Power, and Psychopathology
The Internet enables all of this digital totalitarianism. As Big Brother Watch Director Silkie Carlo notes, "The internet gave us the possibility to have the greatest democratization of speech and information ever…It also opens up the possibility for the greatest ever control — surveillance, monitoring, and censorship."
So, too, does money. The Poynter Institute is the go-to organization for spreading misinformation in the form of partisan “fact-checking.” It founded “Politifact” and the International Fact-Checking Network.
The Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Tides Foundation, and Tides Center, Omidyar Network Fund, Carnegie Corp. of New York, Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, Google, and Facebook all fund Poynter and its headlong crusade to censor citizens around the world in the name of protecting free speech.
There is bad psychology behind the war on free speech. Elites came to hate and fear ordinary people after the election of Trump and the Brexit referendum in 2016. Liberals made a deal with the devil, partnering with forces within the national security state, particularly in the Five Eyes nations of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to label populists and nationalists as racists, anti-Semites, and fascists.
Behind that hatred and fear are leaders and bureaucrats high on the spectrum of narcissism, anti-social, and other “Cluster B personality disorders.” They mesmerize and intimidate government officials, journalists, and academics in the same way that past totalitarians did.
The narcissists, in their pettiness and fragility, demand the censorship of their critics, while the leaders with anti-social personality disorders bully their way to the top of various institutions and then force out those people who oppose their ideological and political corruption.
As we have seen, this toxic combination of narcissists and psychopaths transforms America’s institutions into highly partisan religious organizations. Major news media organizations forced out curmudgeonly journalists who were skeptical that COVID came from nature, just as the FBI forced out agents who are, rightly, more loyal to the Constitution than the FBI’s corrupt leaders.
Why are elites cracking down? The reasons are that the Internet allowed it, the elites are funding it, and power-mad individuals have seized upon the West’s decline to take over powerful institutions.
Standing Up For Free Speech
Overcoming overwhelming elite support for censorship won’t be easy. The simultaneity of the crackdown, the extent to which pro-censorship advocates have taken power in institutions, and the amount of money they have is as shocking to me today as when we first discovered the crackdown back in early May. Recently I have come to believe that I will need to fight for freedom of speech not for a few years but perhaps for decades, given how entrenched the pro-censorship elites are.
The good news is that free speech advocates are finding each other and starting to fight back. Next month, we will issue a strong statement in support of free speech. We are building our own fact-checking apparatus in alliance with those news media companies and think tanks that have been censored by institutions, including governments, spreading disinformation. And with luck, the Supreme Court will decide to hear Missouri v. Biden, which could radically alter the U.S. government’s relationship with social media companies.
And now, we are happy to announce a major push to kill or reform Ireland’s proposed hateful censorship law. Yesterday our new Irish Free Speech Coalition launched a website and advertising campaign. We will kick off at a September 16 free speech event in Dublin. Tax-free donations to the cause can be made through the website Censorship Industrial Complex, which describes the global crackdown on free speech.
We can’t do this alone and aren’t. Many people have stepped up to make donations since we first raised the alarm about the global crackdown on free speech nearly four months ago, and we are grateful to all of them. But the situation is more dire than most people realize, and we need support to be able to fund the investigative research, events, and travel that building a global movement requires.
We are nearing the end of the beginning of our movement, which has involved ripping away the mask hiding the real agenda of the world’s censorious elites. The leaders of nations, representatives of international organizations, including the United Nations, and philanthropists who say they are committed to creating free and open societies are, in reality, not. Rather, they are interfering in elections and violating both the First Amendment and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. We can stop them, but we’re going to need your help.