Readers with exceptional memories may recall that at the end of 2017, we discussed some potential answers to online denial and fake news, under the umbrella term of technocognition. A year and a half later, it’s looking like Big Tech is finally starting to roll out some of those changes, in addition to a sorely-needed crackdown on hate speech.
Or, in the eyes of some conservatives, Big Tech is attacking free speech (another issue we’ve talked about recently and cover somewhat frequently.)
Unsurprisingly, the conservatives being denied a chance to make money off of YouTube videos harassing gay journalists or otherwise stoking hate, fear and denial are none too happy about this. Yesterday Breitbart had a number of stories that used Project Veritas footage to attack Google, with one claiming YouTube deliberately suppressed conservative accounts. (Project Veritas, of course, is the Orwellian-named group of James O’Keefe, the guy famous for making fake news by selectively editing videos to attack liberal groups, accidentally stinging himself by forgetting to hang up the phone, and failing to defend pedophile Republican Roy Moore.)
At the same time that these stories headlined Breitbart, CFACT sent out an email pitch for funding that claimed that because the talking points of “the Left” have been “defeated by hard facts and logic,” “they are clamping down on free speech.” Big Tech sites like Facebook and YouTube are supposedly “changing algorithms, putting up liberal talking points, and outright censoring information that doesn’t fit with the far-Left narrative.”
But CFACT, with its long and storied history of taking industry money to attack realities that are unhelpful to industry, isn’t going to let that happen!
The email tells subscribers that along with traditional tactics like “partnering with our extensive network” on “an interworking strategy” including sending letters to Congress, CFACT plans to “bypass the biased, old guard media,” by “training a digital team” to use “sites like Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and the rest to defeat biased narratives.” Given that Wikipedia expressly forbids editors with a conflict of interest, it will be interesting to see if the group has any (further) luck injecting denial into the constantly-updated online encyclopedia.
At the same time, CFACT assures readers its “top policy writers” (lol) “and media experts are undertaking a multi-pronged effort to mobilize awareness for this problem on the radio, print media… and on website and social media forums.”
You read that correctly. A group who claims they are being censored on social media have decided the solution is...to go complain about it on social media. Because that’s what censorship means, right?
Finally, CFACT says it will be launching a new series of YouTube videos that offers a “response to the leftist narrative dominating the environmental conversation.” Again, they are addressing their complaints about being censored on YouTube by posting videos on YouTube.
While this is obviously a silly excuse for CFACT to latch on to the larger culture wars, let’s not lose sight of the aim here. Conservatives and climate deniers spent years successfully working the refs in the media when it came to false balance, making journalists hesitant to critically cover stories that might engender negative pushback.
This initiative is no different. They are effectively charging Big Tech with allegations of liberal bias despite the fact that there is no evidence of this so that they can get even more preferential treatment, allowing climate denial and hate speech alike to continue to proliferate.
It took a while, but as CFACT mentions, “old guard media” finally stopped giving in to false balance, and has largely left climate denial behind. Hopefully Big Tech, with all its AI and disruption and nerds, can learn its lesson a little quicker than media. After all, we don’t exactly have another few decades for them to figure it out.
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