Conservatives Fighting Online Suppression – And Winning!
It is a terrible thing that internet giants have been suppressing the voices of conservatives accused of being "haters" by left-wing money-machine fear-mongers. It is terrible that energy must be expended defending them. But at least we have two victories to report, and maybe, just maybe, the fever has peaked, as digital goliaths consider potential blowback from their political activism. Once they start eliminating voices, they may become legally liable for everything they permit to remain, for one thing. There are a lot of hungry lawyers out there, after all.
Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch was abruptly cut off from online fundraising when PayPal blocked him. He writes:
On Saturday afternoon, the Soros-funded hard-Left website ProPublica published a hit piece calling upon PayPal and other new media giants to block Jihad Watch and other groups that have been defamed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as "hate groups." ProPublica's Lauren Kirchner complained that Jihad Watch's "designation as a hate site hasn't stopped tech companies – including PayPal, Amazon and Newsmax – from maintaining partnerships with Jihad Watch that help to sustain it financially. PayPal facilitates donations to the site. Newsmax – the online news network run by President Donald Trump's close friend Chris Ruddy – pays Jihad Watch in return for users clicking on its headlines. Until recently, Amazon allowed Jihad Watch to participate in a program that promised a cut of any book sales that the site generated. All three companies have policies that say they don't do business with hate groups."
The Left media said "Jump," and PayPal immediately said "How high?" Just hours after the ProPublica piece appeared, PayPal blocked Jihad Watch. I received an email early Saturday evening from PayPal's Ronita Murray, saying: "Due to the nature of your activities, we have chosen to discontinue service to you in accordance with PayPal's User Agreement. As a result, we have placed a permanent limitation on your account."
What was unacceptable about the "nature of [my] activities"? PayPal didn't say.
As this became known, PayPal heard about it from people canceling their accounts and contacting them in protest.
You all did it, with your messages to PayPal, and cancellations of your accounts. And I'm very grateful to all of you. Free people stood up. https://t.co/C8ZlVHqNGw
— Robert Spencer (@jihadwatchRS) August 22, 2017
Salil Mehta, a well known statistics professor and writer on probability, was unaccountably completely blocked by Google. Almost a non-person in the digital world. He wrote (via Zerohedge):
On Friday afternoon East Coast Time by surprise, I was completely shut down in all my Google accounts (all of my gmail accounts, blog, all of my university pages that were on google sites, etc.) for no reason and no warning. A number of us were stunned and unsure, but clearly we know at this point it wasn't an accident. Here are some examples commented from best-selling author Nassim Taleb, and they have been retweeted by government officials, and the NYT and WSJ journalists.
Even his email was disabled by Google. https://t.co/Zj9g9MpKzr
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) August 19, 2017
My ads-free blog itself is a probability theory site, with 27 million reads and has somewhere near 150k overall followers. It's been read by Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Nobel Laureates, multiple governments, celebrity athletes around the world, deans of many universities (on the syllabi of same), and a number of TV news anchors. So it's been a great boon for Google to be noticed so kindly by essentially a charitable site promoting math education. What great people from all corners of the world and at all levels who can enjoy Google, until it suddenly died Friday afternoon.
This story, too, ends happily, albeit at the price of a hassle. Mehta tweeted his gratitude for support:
brief statement on Google pic.twitter.com/GSaAk0WA5O
— Salil Mehta (@salilstatistics) August 22, 2017
It turns out there may be a downside to acting like totalitarian mind controllers. Let's hope the lawyers are telling their clients about the liability potential. That's more meaningful to the digital oligopolists than public onion ever will be.