While most indie media was focused on debating the way people talk about Kanye West and the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an unprecedented escalation in internet censorship took place which threatens everything we all care about. It received frighteningly little attention.
After a massive purge of hundreds of politically oriented pages and personal accounts for “inauthentic behavior”, Facebook rightly received a fair amount of criticism for the nebulous and hotly disputed basis for that action. What received relatively little attention was the far more ominous step which was taken next: within hours of being purged from Facebook, multiple anti-establishment alternative media sites had their accounts completely removed from Twitter as well.
As of this writing I am aware of three large alternative media outlets which were expelled from both platforms at almost the same time: Anti-Media, the Free Thought Project, and Police the Police, all of whom had millions of followers on Facebook. Both the Editor-in-Chief of Anti-Media and its Chief Creative Officer were also banned by Twitter, and are being kept from having any new accounts on that site as well.
“I unfortunately always felt the day would come when alternative media would be scrubbed from major social media sites,” Anti-Media’s Chief Creative Officer S.M. Gibson said in a statement to me. “Because of that I prepared by having backup accounts years ago. The fact that those accounts, as well as 3 accounts from individuals associated with Anti-Media were banned without warning and without any reason offered by either platform makes me believe this purge was certainly orchestrated by someone. Who that is I have no idea, but this attack on information was much more concise and methodical in silencing truth than most realize or is being reported.”
It is now clear that there is either (A) some degree of communication/coordination between Twitter and Facebook about their respective censorship practices, or (B) information being given to both Twitter and Facebook by another party regarding targets for censorship. Either way, it means that there is now some some mechanism in place linking the censorship of dissident voices across multiple platforms. We are beginning to see smaller anti-establishment alternative media outlets cut off from their audiences by the same sort of coordinated cross-platform silencing we first witnessed with Alex Jones in August.
This is about as acute a threat to our ability to network and share information with each other as anything you could possibly imagine. If new media outlets are beginning to silence dissident voices together in unison, that means we can see entire alternative media outlets not just partially silenced but thoroughly silenced, their ability to grow their audiences and get information out to heavily populated parts of the internet completely crippled.
This is huge, this is dangerous, and this is being under-reported. When I was removed from Twitter in August for “abusing” John McCain, there was a large and outraged uproar on Twitter, and my account was quickly restored with an apology. And I’m really grateful for that, but the phenomenon of multiple high-profile alternative media outlets suddenly being silenced in unison by the two biggest social media platforms should be generating more outrage than some ornery Australian blogger losing her Twitter account, not less. This should be the top story in alternative media, because it affects us all.