Having just read through the newly leaked document from Google that covers censorship and their own handling of free speech online - I can see that it really isn't the kind of document that some of the alternative press have been declaring.. But it does contain interesting information that is worth thinking about and particularly in terms of how it applies to Steem.
If you are unaware, a document has been released via Breitbart news entitled 'The Good Censor' - you can download it via Scribd here.
In the spirit of free will, I am going to comment on this in a completely free and unlimited way, since that is what feels good and what generates the most potential for growth and understanding. Thankfully we have the Steem blockchain here to facilitate this - out of the grasp of 'concerned' onlookers! Some bits will not be pretty, just like life.
The report states that it was created by over 30 people from around the world providing insights into the situation of free speech online and what people want/need from 'tech giants' and social media operators.
This is such an important topic and long overdue, it is just a shame that this has had to be leaked from Google rather than them having addressed this years ago in public. The document speaks about the need for transparency, but since Google is really about as transparent as a block of coal, we shouldn't be surprised that this is how it has come out.
Blow by Blow Breakdown
I am not going to quote everything from this document as it is quite long and you can read it yourself if you like. I am just going to pull out parts that feel relevant to me in the context of the free speech, blockchain based social eco-system - Steem.
As the “we’re not responsible for what happens on our platforms” defence crumbles, users and advertisers are demanding action...
Source: Page 22 @ Google Leaked Doc
So the introduction to this document tries to set out the precedent for change in terms of how free speech is handled online by claiming that social network operators just can't get away with saying that they aren't responsible for the communications they carry. In truth though, they absolutely could push for this and entirely different approaches could be found for resolving society's problems and imbalances.
You will notice that in general, governments and entities that contain power hierarchies will tend to always choose control and limitation, rather than freedom and empowerment. This means that rather than look to help the population to evolve, balance and heal their psychological and emotional issues - perhaps taking major steps to empower world peace along the way; such groups will tend instead to just try to slap down a controlling fist onto whatever they can - as if they were swatting away a fly that has distracted them from their cocktails.
No matter how much flowery language is used by such groups to frame their actions in a 'nice' way, the reality is that the psychology of humanity has not yet collectively evolved enough to the point where the majority of people have learned that we can only have real peace when control is totally ended and our real emotions are allowed to be processed free from judgements and denials that hold us back and cause us to feel bad and possibly act out our anger instead of own it and be responsible.
What kind of an example of personal responsibility is being set by those who try to control others?
That kind of example is one of denial of the responsibility for self to know the limits with regards to overstepping control of others' free will. If you want people to treat each other kindly, then you must start by treating them kindly and not by controlling them.
The early utopian period of the internet has collapsed under the weight of bad behaviour....
Source: Page 25 @ Google Leaked Doc
I had never heard of Jason Pontin before, but I see his an academic and business character around MIT with an obvious focus into computing. He appears here to misunderstand the nature of utopian understanding. Utopian ideals do not deny reality, they do not block out that there are problems, rather they are simply an aim to aspire to in order to have a kind of balance that is necessary for us to thrive and maximise enjoyment in life.
By claiming that 'bad behaviour' destroys utopian ideals, we completely deny the negative aspect of life that has the correct function of helping us to improve. Utopian ideals are not the same as 'positive thinking'. My idea of a utopian system or society is one that honestly accepts it's injuries and needs for balance and takes steps to pro-actively integrate and heal them, without deleting ideals along the way.
Human beings en masse don’t behave very well. They particularly don't behave very well if there aren’t clear rules, and especially if speech is unaccountable, consequence-free, and in many cases anonymous. What happened on these networks is that, in the absence of rules and consequences, everyone has
behaved maximally badly. - Jason Pontin
Source: Page 28 @ Google Leaked Doc
This is such a judgement laden and almost psychotic comment (when compared to the version of reality that I live) that I hardly know where to start. First of all, who gets to decide what is 'well behaved'? Is your idea of what is 'well behaved' the same as someone elses? Not necessarily. To determine that literally ALL human beings 'don't behave well' smacks of some kind of egotist or a school headmaster who basically hates humans for 'not being controlled enough like I am'. The emotional denial in his words are palpable.
Humans, apparently ALL humans, simply don't behave well if they are free to do what they want. Maybe he is speaking for himself? Maybe he has spent too much time with AI.
The reality here, Jason, is that the human heart and emotional system has been so held back and denied by the kind of thinking you are espousing here, that whenever they have had an opportunity to express, they have done so in an out of balance way. This is not evidence of an inherent and absolute error in 'human programming', rather it is evidence of extremely unloving mental ideas about control that say the kind of things that you have said here. Only when we unconditionally accept free will and emotional expression can we stand a chance of being truly free, self empowered and balanced.
It IS true that not many humans live this way but it is NOT true that you and your rules are the only salvation for humanity. On the contrary, such rulemaking has had it's day on the Earth and you will find out soon enough.
Relentless, 24/7 online conversations encourage people to dive-in with their opinion before it's too late, even if they’re misinformed. And because we think with our emotional brain before our rational one, instant responses amplify emotion-led discourse not thoughtful debate. The social norms that hold society together and keep people from hurting one another offline, shift faster online. It’s more tempting to be nasty and aggressive when there are no warning signals or hurdles to slow people
down. And because the internet removes physical communication barriers, users are detached from the effects of their actions.
Source: Page 30 @ Google Leaked Doc
As expected, the inevitable blame of emotions continues apace. You see, we just can't think and feel emotions in an integrated way.. Sorry, but that's impossible.
Well, sorry guys, you are wrong on that. Integration of emotion and thought is the role of the heart and that is where you are going to have to go now if you want to stay relevant or even survive on Earth during this challenging period. Just sit and stop thinking with your brain for a while and feel into your heart. Listen inwardly and feel unconditionally. Notice how your mental acquisition of information wants to drive you away from this. The more you learn to transition now into your heart center, the easier you will find life and the more successful your thinking and action will be, I promise.
It is true that some people are more aggressive online because they face no physical comeback from it - however, it is also true that such people tend to also act that way in private with their family and people you never meet. By having their presence known online, we gain insights into our world that otherwise remain hidden and that go on to cause great harm in private. I suggest we do not try to hide the real state of humanity behind a veil of acceptability that your 'gentile' mind judges to be appropriate. Yes, people need safe spaces to be themselves away from trolls, but no, no-one gets to 'organise' that for anyone else on the basis of which emotions are deemed 'acceptable'. Contrary to common mistaken mentalising, emotions are not the cause of problems, they are only responsive and respond in part, always, to the thoughts involved. Thought patterns need to change first, not emotions.
Because the internet helps people to bunker down, surrounded by similar opinions, mindsets and behaviours, opportunities for learning and life-changing experiences are threatened. These closed filter bubbles and echo chambers make positive and transformative political debate less likely, not more.
Source: Page 33 @ Google Leaked Doc
For hundreds of years we have had almost total disconnection on this planet and in the last 100 years we have seen a continual move towards homogeneous brainwashing through mainstream media and centralised education systems. If people choose to freely associate with those who are like them, while it may limit their thinking to some extent, it is still an improvement over the 'old world' where we couldn't hardly find many people who thought like us at all and ended up being surrounded by the same problems Google is describing online, except we were either alone or forced to compromise. While 'echo chambers' are a problem, they are one that people knowingly choose and can knowingly choose to leave too. As long as they maintain the right of free association (which is something that at least in Britain has not really existed for a long time - e.g Anti 'Rave' laws making it 'illegal' for more than a certain number of people to converge together!).
Across the supranational platforms of the net, local stories become global events. People unite across borders and time zones. But this global explosion has created a land grab for power. Regional laws lose their significance and influence. Borderless filters aren’t relevant everywhere - who decides what is or isn’t censored? Jokes and critique don’t always translate well. Crummy politicians jump on the confusion
to expand their influence. Users’ bad behaviour falls between the cracks.
Source: Page 34 @ Google Leaked Doc
This sounds like the writing of an emotionally repressed teenager more than an evolved, aware human being who has balanced awareness of human needs. Or perhaps that frustrated school head master again:
Oh noez.. people are being free and doing the things they do! They are slipping through the cracks of my Paternal control grip on them... They just aren't learning to be like me fast enough.. What can I do to 'help' them?.
Source: Page 37 @ Google Leaked Doc
This is an interesting diagram, I have never been to many of these places, but I can imagine it to be somewhat correct. Let's carefully notice now that USA, UK and Germany are NOT considered to be as higly free as we might prefer or need. I know that most people already know that, but let's think for a moment - is it possible that these countries are truly less free and we are being sold a rosy image of them? I think so - it's just that the control is 'accepted' and 'well reasoned' in these areas from the perspective of the authors and so their blindspots and denials has them thinking inaccurately here.
As an example, we are talking about the UK here - a country that just made a big deal about 'suddenly realising' that Cannabis has medicinal qualities (despite this being widely known for 1000s of year) and that has now announced 'medicinal cannabis will be legal' and yet which has all but removed THC from the versions that will be available. This is such a huge denial it is ridiculous. CBD, the other medicinal component in cannabis has been available legally in the UK for years now and so this 'new' legalisation appears to amount to absolutely nothing.. Denial is epidemic. But I digress.
Source: Page 43 @ Google Leaked Doc
This I can believe, but at the same time, other leaked documents have shown that governments were given direct autonomy to control the free flow of information in Google long ago - so is this really an accurate graph? I suspect the reality is that a huge amount of material is censored in addition to these figures, with no actual 'asking' being involved on the part of government.
“For a business, free speech can only be a meaningful value if it doesn't really cost anything”
- Sarah Jeong, VICE Motherboard
Source: Page 45 @ Google Leaked Doc
Wow - that's quite an admission from VICE. I have noticed that they have gotten way more controlled and 'fake' since hitting the 'big time' after their early days. When Shaun visited North Korea to report on their authoritarian control, who knew that only a few years later their corporate voice would have turned into 'Free speech can go to hell, we want profits'.
Source: Page 47 @ Google Leaked Doc
This is a largely accurate description based on my lengthy experience with all of this. Take a look at my recent video of my comments on Facebook being deleted automatically, often when I mention Steemit.
Germany has some of the world’s toughest laws around hate speech, put in place after World War II. To ensure the same rules apply online, it created the controversial Network Enforcement Act. Often referred to as the “Facebook law,” social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Reddit can be fined up to €50 million for leaving posts classified as hate speech online for more than 24 hours.
Source: Page 58 @ Google Leaked Doc
I was not aware of that. Perhaps Google are taking note after receiving the world's largest ever fine not so long ago for illegally delisting competitors and others in their search engines over a number of years! This blatant censorship for competitive edge shows how Google really operates on some levels behind the scenes!
Tech firms have been tightening their terms of service. Recognising the anxiety of users and governments, tech companies are adapting their stance towards censorship, and changing their terms of service to reflect the current mood. This could mean taking a more hardline approach to hateful content, as Twitter has done, or preventing the monetization of questionable videos, as YouTube has done.
Whatsmore, companies are publicly declaring these new values, making them as intrinsic to the platforms’ identities as their unwavering support of freedom of expression once was.
Source: Page 62 @ Google Leaked Doc
This is literally the kind of move towards bootlicking and top-down control that so many of us have known was coming for so long. People laugh at Alex Jones, the over-the-top salesman/conspiracy creator/definer, but a large part of his anger is based on the truth of what these groups do behind the scenes and have been planning for so long. A large part of his position has been that world events are deliberately planned years in advance in order to push a narrative later that allows the aimed outcomes to be brought to pass. For example, numerous wars have begun with 'false flag' events where violence was caused by individuals presenting as if they acted for one 'side' in the conflict, when in truth they were actually from the opposing side - sent in to stir up tension and set the scene for a war that would not be supported without such a 'catalysing event'.
The more that people are controlled in life, the more they are likely to feel angry - you cannot censor and control people and genuinely expect that to solve the problems. Those who seek to control others once will do it again and again - since to them it represents an achievement, when in reality it just fuels the problems they claim to be trying to solve. Any move to censor and control/limit free will WILL cause a backlash and WILL bite you in the ass. You have been warned - perhaps for the last time.
Choosing To Censor like 'good' 'Europeans'
Source: Page 66 @ Google Leaked Doc
I am sure this part of this document will fire up many people, especially in America - but also in Europe. The image being presented here is one of America being a place of freedom and Europe being a place of 'civilised tranquility'.
In a way, there is some truth to this - HOWEVER, it is essential to understand the deeper truth to this. I feel that the image being portrayed here is either naively put together or has a hidden agenda - probably both.
The controls in Britain, where I am located, are actually pretty harsh. As a child I felt deeply controlled at nearly all times in a terrifying way as a result of the state dogma and absurd control of free will here. Far from creating 'friendly', 'nice' people who are balanced - what this has done is forced unprocessed issues down and out of sight - just as might be found in some kind of Victorian nightmare. Instead of creating calm and pleasant spaces, what this has done is upset and anger many people who have simply given up on creating change since they either meet with violence from police (see the various riots and rave movement in the last few decades) or they just can't gather the resources needed to live with dignity in the way they really want and need to.
Favouring 'dignity' over 'liberty'?
Favouring 'civility' over 'freedom? Really?
That's a 'good' thing?
There is no possible way to experience real civility when you are not free. That is like trying to experience health while eating at Mcdonalds every day - not gonna happen.
If you deny freedom to gain civility, then you have not gained civility, period.
Can dignity exist without liberty? Not in the mind of a sane human being. Liberty is the ability to do as one pleases - how exactly is dignity at odds with that? It isn't.. Unless.. Unless..
Unless you consider that you are talking about SOMEONE ELSE! Ah, yes, now it makes sense. It is perfectly logical to view someone else as dignified (in your eyes) if they aren't being so troubling as to think for themselves and do as THEY please. As long as you have liberty to enjoy a world where everyone else is dignified enough to bow down to your model of what dignity is and not dare to have their own version - then everything is 'tickety boo'.
Open minded individuals will realise that what I have just described is the mindset of a tyrannical dictator.
Source: Page 68 @ Google Leaked Doc
Unfortunately, as you can see, the authors of the document, whe are not identified as being part of Google, have identified that the social network operators have already started leaning towards the 'European' civilised model of things. Leaving freedom behind. The gutless, non self empowered people on the networks, often drive them on to make these decisions too - not understanding the basic premise that so many fought and died for in world wars - that:
you cannot give away liberty in exchange for security.. Doing so means that you will have neither.
Source: Page 70 @ Google Leaked Doc
This last image I have taken from the document spells out the motives and justifications for the actions of these networks. Partially financial, partially practical and partially led by the fear of free expression.
Conclusions for now
I don't think this document is some kind of 'smoking gun' pointing to what really goes on behind the scenes. If anything it seems to be a document produced for Google to help them get feedback on their present situation and might have absolutely no baring at all on what they really do now or in the future.
For me, this document serves as a helpful marker to identify the kind of thinking that is being held among the 'influencers' who somehow have the ears of these groups - or perhaps who are just sympathetic to where the group wants to go.
In my next post on this I will address why Steem is my chosen social platform for the future and how I see us solving the problems identified by this document without needing to resort to any of the control and domination suggested by the authors here.
Wishing you well,
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