YouTube public policy director, Juniper Downs addressed a Senate Committee Hearing on “Combating the Spread of Extremist Propaganda” last week, where we learned that more than 100 non-government organizations (NGOs) and government agencies are working with Google in their “Trusted Flagger” program to police YouTube for content ranging from so-called hate speech to terrorist-recruiting videos.
The overwhelming majority of Google’s “Trusted Flaggers” don’t want to be publicly associated with the program and they have confidentiality agreements in force to prevent their participation from being revealed to the public. Of these 113 program members, 50 joined in 2017 as YouTube stepped up its content policing, with plans to have 10,000 Google reviewers and engineers around the world working take down content that violates their policies by the end of 2018.
YouTube’s machine learning technologies also received a major cash injection in 2017 and are now taking down “nearly five times as many videos in violation of our policies than they were previously. Last June, only 40% of the videos we removed…were identified by our algorithms. Today, that number is 98%,” according to Downs’ statement.
Since 2016, YouTube has had a hash-sharing database with Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, in which they compared the “digital fingerprints” of terrorist content to stop its spread across platforms. I wish I could say that all of this socially-just reeducation of “terrorists” being meted out by the tech giants has the POTENTIAL to be abused but we already have mountains of evidence that a massive abuse of power has been ongoing for at least three or four years already.
It’s clearly not all about stopping terrorism. I’ve seen thousands of cases like that of professor Jordan B. Peterson, known for opposing political correctness and who had a video of his blocked in 28 countries earlier this month. Tens of thousands of people, if not more have been put out of business as online publishers and creators for expressing political views and for supporting candidates that are not those of their tech overlords.
While Twitter shadow-bans users it doesn’t like, YouTube is “taking a tougher stance on videos that may be offensive, but do not violate our policies,” says Downs, who has an extensive background as a social justice attorney in Santa Clara, California. She continues, “Identified borderline content will remain on YouTube behind an interstitial, won’t be recommended, won’t be monetized, and won’t have key features including comments, suggested videos, and likes. Initial uses have been positive and have shown a substantial reduction in watch time of those videos.”
This is America’s version of China’s Orwellian Sesame Credit. We are a notch away from thoughtcrime and of getting our proverbial “chips” turned off, as described by Nicholas Rothschild to the late Aaron Russo. Your grandpa’s Fascism ain’t got nothing on the all-encompassing, algorithmic, panoptical Fascism being delivered by Silicon Valley.