ByGuy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall
The increasingly heavy-handed restrictions used by the likes of Facebook and YouTube are backfiring. Their suppression of Dr Judy Mikovits Plandemic film has simply made her books soar to No. 1 in the bestseller charts.
Attempts by the tech giants of Silicon Valley to stop the spread of misinformation by pulling down a Covid-19 documentary are starting to make the planets botched attempts to contain coronavirus look successful.
There are few certainties in life, and even fewer during these difficult times in which we find ourselves. Although the infamous troublesome twosome of death and taxes are having something of a field day at the moment, the certainty I would like to discuss is the depressingly constant presence of censorship and, specifically, how spectacularly counterproductive it is. This has recently been demonstrated most effectively by Silicon Valleys attempts to stop wrong-thinking people from using their platforms to spread their message.
With all the liberal tolerance we have come to expect from the billionaires of the San Francisco Bay Area, big tech has proved even more censorious than usual since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all started pulling content off their sites or banning certain people from using them in the name of public safety. The latest example of this is the documentary Plandemic. A 23-minute clip of the film appeared on YouTube featuring a scientist of dubious reputation, Dr Judy Mikovits. During the clip, Mikovits makes a number of claims and assertions, suggesting that billionaires are encouraging the spread of Covid-19 in the hope of somehow making money. She also claims that they plan to mandate experimental and poisonous vaccines on the public.
The clip, which showed Dr Mikovits talking with Mikki Willis (a filmmaker and father, according to his credit in the film Im unsure what relevance the latter has, but I digress), racked up millions of views on YouTube and was widely shared on Facebook and other social media. This, in turn, prompted the typical media outrage and fightback. Fact checkers, journalists and YouTubing doctors all moved swiftly to dismiss her claims (in the name of science, not clicks, of course), until finally YouTube and Facebook pulled down the video from their sites, saying it violated their terms of service.
What was the result of the mainstream media and big techs attempts to silence Dr Mikovits for what they perceive as her irresponsibility? Its made her latest book a top 10 best-seller on Amazon (it was briefly at number one earlier this week), putting her tome in the storied company of Michelle Obamas Becoming, Sally Rooneys Normal People(which has just been made into a BBC drama) and the Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyers latest offering.
It also rocketed straight into third place on the New York Times bestsellers list, sandwiched between Obamas Becoming and Erik Larsons The Splendid and the Vile, a study of Winstons Churchills leadership. And hey Google, guess what? Its in the non-fiction list.
Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science, retailing at $17.91 plus shipping, is now temporarily out of stock, following an enormous surge in demand prompted by the outcry against the banned clip of Plandemic.
No doubt the media and big tech will chalk this one up as a win, because the clip is now unavailable on their platforms, but one imagines the royalties from her spike in book sales will cushion the blow for Dr Mikovits. She certainly seems happy, judging from her tweets. She is also now one of the most famous scientists on the planet and receiving even more coverage (some of which you are reading right now) because her censorship has become the story.
There is a term for this type of occurrence: it is known as the Streisand effect. The name comes from a case back in 2003 where the actress and singer Barbra Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for $50 million to remove an aerial photograph of her California home from his collection of 12,000 publicly available photos documenting coastal erosion in the Golden State. Before the Funny Girl star brought the action, the photograph of her home had been downloaded from Adelmans website six times two of which were by Streisands lawyers. After the case became public, the picture was downloaded more than 420,000 times over the course of a month, and Babs lost the case anyway. Oops.
As surely as what goes up must come down, and as inevitably as a homophobic preacher being caught short surrounded by rent boys and amyl nitrate, censorship of something will always lead to more people looking at it. It is, therefore, not only morally wrong, but as counterproductive as trying to dry out an alcoholic by locking him in a liquor store.
Dr Mikovits isnt the only person whose star has risen thanks to Covid-19 inspired censorship by tech giants. David Icke had barely been mentioned as anything other than a punchline since the mid-1990s, until YouTube pulled his channel when he started sounding off about 5G causing coronavirus.
Outside the realm of Covid-19, InfoWars founder and living, breathing meme Alex Jones became more famous than ever after Silicon Valley unilaterally banned him from every major platform and social network. Outspoken right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos dined out on being too dangerous for Twitter for at least a year before offence archaeologists found an old comment that derailed his career.
Silicon Valley needs to accept that people are going to think, say and post whatever they like and should be allowed to do so on their platforms.
The alternative is that they take the same responsibility for what goes out on their platforms as a publisher does, and face the inevitable libel suits.
The middle ground they are currently inhabiting in order to maximise profits while still pandering to their liberal, globalist, metropolitan agenda is unfair, untenable and disingenuous. It has to stop.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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