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Category Archives: Censorship

Venezuelans defy censorship to broadcast their own news bulletins – from their balconies – FRANCE 24

Posted: July 6, 2020 at 4:49 am

Laura Helena Castillo is one of the founders of "Bus TV". She told our team how they came up with the idea to keep on broadcasting local news from their windows and balconies after La Cruz went into lockdown. Theyve started referring to the project as "La Ventana TV", which means Window TV. When lockdown began, at first, we were worried because weve always carried out our projects in the street, in close contact with people, and we had to stop it all. So, we decided to try and develop other activities that would allow us to respect social distancing measures.

We did our very first news bulletins from our windows in mid-May. We got this idea because we had seen how balconies had become a space for expression in Europe during lockdown, allowing contact with the rest of the world. People were singing, playing music and applauding

The very first window news bulletin was delivered in mid-May. In this video, you can hear someone saying, This afternoon, starting at 4pm, La Cruz TV will be broadcast from the balcony of our neighbor, Mrs. Rosa Elena Marrobo."

Then, Daro dresses up in an elegant outfit and reads the news bulletin into a microphone from one of the balconies in the neighborhood while Mariln films him [Editors note: even though these videos are never posted online]. Different people in the neighbourhood offer up their balconies. Weve also rented a speaker from one of the neighbours so that people in the neighbourhood can hear.

"Testing, hello, hello, testing La Cruz TV has a project during quarantaine thats called La Ventana TV", says Daro Chacn in this video.

"Today is May 16, 2020. Weve been in quarantaine for 61 days in Venezuela. Whats happening in La Cruz? The sale of proteins, vegetables in La Cruz were a major help for the community during quarantaine", says Daro Chacn in this video.

For the time being, weve only done three news bulletins from the windows. We had to stop everything for more than two weeks because a woman in the neighbourhood was suspected of having Covid-19. So we didnt want Daro or Mariln to take any risks. But wed like to do two televised news bulletins a week, which was our rhythm with La Cruz TV.

"Three balconies, three episodes of La Ventana TV"

The start of a televised news bulletin presented on a balcony.

These flyers provide information for La Cruz residents.

Article by Chlo Lauvergnier.

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Are Facebook and Twitter Finally Paying the Price for Censorship of Conservatives? – National Legal and Policy Center

Posted: at 4:49 am

Has the dam broken following the build-up of conservative frustration over one-sided censorship against them byFacebook andTwitter?

Evidence of that which had built up for weeks turned into a flood over the last ten days.

What had been a quiet trend of sign-ups by publicly known conservatives including many elected officials turned into an out-and-out campaign to urge followers to join them in social media alternative platformParler (originally Par-lay per the French spelling; apparently the English literal pronunciationis acceptable now too). According toreport by Business Insider, tech data trackers said Parler reached No. 2 for Top News apps on the App Store.

According to data Sensor Tower has provided to Business Insider, Parler has seen a 246% increase in US downloads this week compared with a week prior, the site reported. On Wednesday Parler saw the biggest number of daily installs its ever had: Users downloaded the app an estimated 40,000 times in 24 hours, Apptopia told Business Insider.

Perhaps the most ominous signal came from Trump re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale, whowarned Twitter on June 19th that its days are numbered, after the liberal-leaning platform unnecessarily labeled a humorous-but-innocuous video parody of Fake News CNN posted by the President as manipulated media. The creator of the video, popular conservative meme-maker Carpe Donktum, waspermanently removed from Twitter last week.

It marked a turning point for Parscale, whose only previous statements about Parler were onlycriticisms for its functionality and technical shortcomings, compared to Twitter.

Twitter has recently upped its negative disclaimers and sometimes outright censorship on some tweets posted by President Trump, who is its most famous user. Last month Twittershielded a tweet by Trump that said, during the riots following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, that said, These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I wont let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you! Twitter warned readers that the tweet violated its policies for glorifying violence.

Twitter alsoplaced a warning on a June 23rd Trump tweet in which he wrote, There will never be an Autonomous Zone in Washington, D.C., as long as Im your President. If they try they will be met with serious force! Twitter said it violated our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.

Trumps apparent November opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, has not experienced similar treatment from Twitter, despite the campaign itselfposting obvious manipulated media to make Trump look bad.

Facebook has also gotten into the speech suppression act against Trump, after receiving pressure from its own leftist Silicon Valley employees and other Democrats over its policy to not restrict or delete his posts. Last week CEO Mark Zuckerbergsaid the platform would start labeling political content that violates its policies an apparent about-face fromlate last year, when he said he believed free speech should prevail when it comes to political content.

Also last week,Project Veritas released new videos of whistleblowers who captured former Facebook colleagues saying they suppressed conservative content. If someone is wearing a MAGA hat, said one content moderator, I am going to delete them for terrorism.

And several large corporate sponsorssaid last week they would halt advertising, after they were pressured by liberal groups like the NAACP to punish Facebook over its failure to censor hate speech. This may have been the last straw for many conservatives, who know the label hate speech is applied broadly against them for noncontroversial statements.

Parler is positioned to possibly take away users from both Facebook and Twitter, because it allows up to 1,000 characters per post. Twitters limit is 280, while Facebook is long-form friendly so Parler is a potential happy medium for both.

Hundreds of conservatives have set up on Parler, but most still exist on Twitter. Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Lara Trump have Parler accounts, as do many Republican Congress members, andother conservative personalities. But the Big Kahuna, the American president, is still a holdout.

Its about time yall joined me on @parler_app, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentuckytweeted on Wednesday. Whats taking the rest of you so long?!

This platform gets what free speech is all about, and Im excited to be a part of it, said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Lets speak. Lets speak freely. And lets end the Silicon Valley censorship.

Join us on @parler_app at @Jim_Jordan! tweeted the conservative Congressman from Ohio. They dont censor or shadow ban.

On Friday Parler was the top downloaded app in the News category in the iPhone store, outperforming Twitter and Reddit,according to CNBC. Itout-downloaded Twitter again on Monday.

Will there be enough Start Parler activists to motivate a Quit Twitter campaign? It increasingly looks like a possibility.

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Chinas hue & cry over apps ban contradict its own rule of internet censorship – Economic Times

Posted: at 4:49 am

New Delhi: Indias decision to ban 59 Chinese mobile applications, including ByteDances TikTok and Tencents WeChat, may have become a topic trending on social media apps in China but Beijings own record with globally popular social media platforms are appalling with tight censorship that disallows own citizens to access information available worldwide.

China blocked Facebook besides Twitter and Google services in 2009 following riots in Xinjiang. China has most extensive and sophisticated censorship regimes in the world. Described as the "Great Firewall," a number of methods are employed to control online content, including website blocking and keyword filtering, censoring social media, and arresting activists.

Chinese government agencies have absolute authority over the internet in China. The Central Propaganda Department and the Ministry of Public Security in 2014 established the Cyberspace Administration of China as the main body for internet censorship in China.

The Great Firewall prevents users from accessing foreign news sites such as the BBC, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook has billions monthly active users worldwide, with primarily no footprint in China.Thats because Facebook is banned in China. The Chinese government controls content it deems is not in the interest of the state. The list is long.

Chinas hue & cry over apps ban contradict its own rule of internet censorship - Economic Times

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Cyberpunk 2077 Deemed Too Risque In Japan, Will Receive Heavy Censorship – Geek Culture

Posted: at 4:49 am

CD Projekt Reds Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up to be arguably the most expansive RPG to date, in terms of character creation and the exploration of various mature themes, such as sexuality and violence. However, it might not be as well received in some countries than others.

In the case of Japan, it looks as though the game will be receiving more than just an M rating it will be heavily censored in various areas.

According to Australian press Press Start (via Games Radar), the sexually-explicit content in the Japanese version of Cyberpunk 2077 will get a major overhaul, where underwear will be permanently added to naked characters, and will also include the revision/removal of various art that depicts genitalia in the game, such as posters or billboards.

This most likely will also mean that players may not be able to customise their characters genitalia, or even pubic hair, to say the least.

One main reason for this form of censorship for Cyberpunk 2077 could be due to Japans laws with regards to pornographic content, by way of Article 175 of the Criminal Code. This law effectively means that any depiction of exposed genitalia in an obscene manner must be at least partly censored.

Despite it being a game, Cyberpunk 2077 does tick those boxes, which would mean any cyber-penises and vaginas would have to either be heavily pixelised ( la the adult industry in Japan), or covered entirely, hence the decision for CDPR to use underwear to cover up those naughty bits.

READ ALSO: Netflix Nabs Legendary Disney Animator Glen Keane For Over The Moon Feature

Additionally, there could be selective revision of various depictions of violence, specifically those that involve dismembering and mutilation of the human body, as well as the depiction of exposed innards.

However, the report did not state whether the aspect of making non-binary or homosexual relationship choices will be censored. Seeing as it is a major talking point in the game, and given hundreds hours have been poured into developing the code for quest lines involving them, it might be a little more troublesome to do so.

Interestingly, it appears that Japan will be the only country that will censor Cyberpunk 2077, as Australia another country notorious for heavy censorship in multimedia will not be censoring the game at all, and only giving it an R18+ rating.

Cyberpunk 2077 will release on 19 November for PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.

Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witchers body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as Mind Flayer and Magic Missile, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.

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Why on-screen mobsters, from The Godfather to The Sopranos, are so obviously Catholic – ABC News

Posted: at 4:49 am

From Michael Corleone to Tony Soprano, on-screen mobsters are far more violent than virtuous.

Yet despite dealings in organised crime and their ability to justify murder as "business" these men, and their families, identify as Catholics.

Baptisms, confessions and other religious sacraments are strewn throughout The Godfather trilogy and the HBO series The Sopranos.

You might think that religion like pasta or Italian curse words is just another tool that screenwriters use to emphasise the mobsters' migrant backgrounds.

But there's more to it than that. As one film critic argues, Catholicism was inserted into this violence-laden genre to get movies past American censors in the early 20th century.

Critic and author Martha Nochimson says the story starts in the 1930s with the introduction of the Motion Picture Production Code, commonly known as the Hays Code.

These moral guidelines prohibited films from featuring nudity, drug trafficking, the ridicule of clergy, and other content deemed profane.

"The original Catholicism was really grafted onto the gangster movie by the censors," she points out.

"They said the gangster had to be punished at the end, and there should be some moral spokesperson, preferably a Catholic priest, in the meanwhile."

The 1938 picture Angels with Dirty Faces typified this morality-based model.

The film depicted the friendship of a hardened felon, played by James Cagney, and a Catholic priest, who sought to stop youths from following a path of crime.

But Dr Nochimson says the Code's attempts to sanitise mobster movies weren't successful.

"The audiences did not identify at all with the moral spokesperson, they identified and this is a problem with the gangsters," she says.

James Martin SJ, a Jesuit priest based in New York City, says audiences now expect these kinds of storylines to involve Catholicism.

"Most of the mob movies that people are familiar with The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Irishman, most recently are about the Italian mob in the United States, which is largely Catholic," he says.

"The Italian-American experience was centred around the Church for the immigrants in the 1900s, right all the way up to 1950, 1960.

"And by now it's kind of a trope ... I think people expect them to go to church."

Despite being a fan of The Godfather and The Sopranos, Fr Martin points out that fictional depictions of mobsters are often laden with racial stereotypes.

"I think the difficulty for a lot of Italian-Americans, like myself, is the portrayal of, 'If you're from Italy you're from the Mafia,'" he says.

James Fisher, an emeritus professor of theology and American Studies at Fordham University, says the role of religion in these films reveals something more about Italian-American life.

For example, in the 1940s the era at the beginning of The Godfather the traditionally Italian neighbourhoods of New York City enabled first and second-generation immigrants to "transplant the values of the old world to the new".

He contrasts this with the late 1990s, when The Sopranos began airing.

"There was a tremendous exodus of Italian-Americans from those neighbourhoods in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and East Harlem to places like New Jersey," he says.

"Over time, the Italian-American customs that had been so tightly reinforced by the life of these close-knit neighbourhoods, they all kind of dissolve."

While Tony Soprano may be a less observant Catholic than Michael Corleone at least in terms of church attendance religious rituals, figures and structures are still omnipresent in The Sopranos.

The children are sent to Catholic schools, the Virgin Mother is regularly invoked with cries of "Madone!" (Madonna), and when men are "made" (or inducted into the mobster family), they say their oath before a card of St Paul.

"They haven't thrown away all the [Catholic] structure, but the structure is empty," explains Dr Nochimson.

She says Carmela Soprano, Tony's wife, has a particularly interesting relationship with religion.

Throughout the show, Carmela wrestles with the knowledge that she's an accessory to organised crime and her desire to renounce evil. When times are bad, she prays and goes to confession.

But despite being a married woman, she also has a "thing" for the local priest and, in a heated scene during the first season, shares a spiritual-meets-sexual encounter with Father Intintola.

"Allen Coulter directed this episode and he told me ... he directed it like a parody of a porn movie," says Dr Nochimson.

In the scene, Fr Intintola gives Carmela communion in front of a blazing fire. We see an extreme close-up of her tongue and lips as she takes the holy wafer and wine.

"What she does in this episode is what she does with Catholicism all the way through," says Dr Nochimson.

"She uses it as a bridge to satisfying wants and desires that, in the Christian faith and in all major faiths, have been classified as sin."

Carmela Soprano's storyline isn't the only one where sacred rites clash with selfish and sinful objectives.

One of the most iconic scenes from The Godfather splices Michael Corleone at the baptism of his nephew promising to be a good Catholic, renouncing Satan with the brutal murders of the five mobster family heads.

For Fr Martin, it's an image that's difficult to get out of his head even in deeply sacred moments.

"Every time I do a baptism, and I say, 'Do you reject Satan?' ... I'm focussed on the baptism, but I think about that scene, because I saw that scene long before I was a priest," he says, laughing.

"It's a marvellous bit of filmmaking ... it's life versus death, water and blood, so there's a lot of heavy symbolism there."

Fr Martin has another perspective on mobster films, having actually played a role in one appearing as a priest in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman.

The 2019 film chronicles the life of an Irish truck driver-turned-hitman (Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro) who works for an Italian mobster.

And Fr Martin says it's a movie that deals with Catholicism in a more sophisticated way.

"I think there is a sense of repentance, remorse and regret that I didn't see in some of the other films," he says.

"I mean, Michael Corleone doesn't ever seem to be upset about what he's doing. It's just business.

"At the end of The Irishman, no one wants to be Robert De Niro's character he's alone, his family has rejected him, he's sick, everyone's dead. It's not glamorising these people at all."

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Banned Book Club gives deeply personal context to government censorship and violence – The A.V. Club

Posted: at 4:49 am

Its hard to imagine a world where Banned Book Club could be more relevant than it is right now. If its not clear from the title, the graphic novel revolves around a group of young people who meet to read and discuss books banned by their government. Its set in South Korea in the early 1980s, a time that most Americans are entirely ignorant of but may find upsettingly familiar. Not so far removed from the Korean war and under the weight of a military regime that used censorship and violence to maintain control, a group of students gather in secret to read titles like Pedagogy of the Oppressed and The Feminine Mystique.


Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada

Iron Circus Comics

At the center of the story is Kim, a young woman caught between the needs of her parents (and their small restaurant) and her desire for more education and opportunity. As she meets and befriends the rest of the students in the titular club, she realizes that not only is there a whole world beyond what she knows, but also that her government has been lying to herand everyone elsewithout consequence. Several of Kims friends are targeted by the government and subjected to surveillance, arrest, and worse.

Even if it were just based on the history of the Fifth Republic and the abuses meted out on Korean people, Banned Book Club would be a powerful and illuminating read. What makes the book even more potent is its basis in the real life of writer Kim Hyun Sook and her friends. Kim worked with her husband Ryan Estrada on the story and script, relying not just on her memory but also extensive research and interviews. Estradas name may be familiar to fans of his Poorcraft series from Iron Circus, his self-published Broken Telephone comic, or his excellent guides on how to read Korean that have been floating around online for a while.

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Kims very real understanding of the dangers and threats from this time period, paired with Estradas expertise in pacing and comedic beats, have resulted in something special, and Ko Hyung-Jus art brings it to vibrant life. The book has a lot in common with manga and feels far closer to that than traditional American comics; its printed in grayscale and characters are drawn relatively simple, with some features slightly exaggerated. Hyun Sook and her friends are young and enthusiastic, and the expressions Hyung-Ju depicts show how, even in the face of all-too-prevalent danger, they maintain idealistic verve. Its hard not to feel energized and encouraged by the books insistence that the world must bend towards justice, and it ends on a realistic but hopeful note by providing context for current South Korean politics.

Banned Book Club joins a growing category of books that tackle not just history, but the insight it can offer to current events. It often seems like people are using the term unprecedented to refer to whats been happening in the U.S., politically speaking; but there is a lot of precedent to be had, if readers go looking. Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes was published this month as well, and both books offer powerful insight into the relationship between censorship and violence, as well as the threat that a lack of information poses to a people.

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The Last of Us 2 Censors Abby Scene in Japan | Game Rant – GameRant

Posted: at 4:49 am

The Japanese game ratings board censors an inappropriate scene in The Last of Us 2 involving controversial new character Abby.

The Last of Us 2 is quite easily one of the most brutal and graphic video games ever made, with realistic visuals lending extra weight to the terrible violence that's depicted in the game consistently from start to finish.The Last of Us 2 takes its violence a step further than most games, having enemies scream out in pain, call each other's names, and more. However,The Last of Us 2's extreme level of violence isn't the reason why the Japanese version of the game is censored.

WhileThe Last of Us 2 is significantly violent, the game also features some sexual content. In fact, there is an explicit scene in the game that shows two characters having sex, and it's this scene that's been censored in the Japanese version of the game.

RELATED: The Last of Us 2 Director Neil Druckmann Responds to Game's Internet Hate

Please note that this article will have some spoilers forThe Last of Us 2.

Click here to see the censored scene.

The censored scene in question happens fairly late in The Last of Us 2. Abby goes to talk to Owen at the aquarium, they argue, and then get into a bit of a fight. The two of them then start kissing and eventually have sex, with most versions ofThe Last of Us 2 showing nudity and even some of the act itself. However, the Japanese version ofThe Last of Us 2 cuts away shortly after the kissing starts, fading to black and picking up a bit later in the story.

The reason whyThe Last of Us 2 was censored in Japan is due to the country's game ratings board, CERO. CERO prohibits video games from depicting explicit sexual content, meaning the Abby and Owen scene was out of bounds.

In future, it's possible that CERO will become more lenient when it comes to this kind of content in video games. As the video game industry has matured, sex scenes in games have become more common, with the argument made that if movies and television can depict sex, then video games should be able to do so as well. There once was a time when stuff like this would result in a game being slapped with an Adults Only rating, but that is no longer the case.

The Last of Us 2 is available now, exclusively for PS4.

MORE: The Last of Us 2: The Ethics of Misleading Trailers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Being Rebooted by Seth Rogen

Dalton Cooper is an editor for Game Rant who has been writing about video games professionally since 2011. Having written thousands of game reviews and articles over the course of his career, Dalton considers himself a video game historian and strives to play as many games as possible. Dalton covers the latest breaking news for Game Rant, as well as writes reviews, guide content, and more.

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6 Apps & Websites Blocked By China As Part Of The Countrys Internet Censorship Policy –

Posted: at 4:49 am

China has a very strict Internet censorship policy, better known as the Great Firewall of China, that prevents the countrys citizens from accessing global websites and applications.

While users can still access some of these websites and apps by using VPNs; it is not accessible by the general public. Some of these websites are popular social networking platforms we use daily and some include news and media websites.

The Great Firewall of China is a combination of legislative actions and technologies enforced by the Chinese government that tracks and censors all forms of domestic internet.


The Great Firewall also control which keywords can be searched and blocked popular memes like the Winnie The Pooh when internet users compared the Chinese President, Xi Jinping to the popular cartoon bear.

Due to the Firewall, many Chinese alternatives such as Baidu, Weibo and others have become successful that filled the void for these popular social media websites.

Heres a list of every website that Chinas Great Firewall has blocked in the country:

From Google services to YouTube to the basic search engine website, everything has been blocked by China since 2010 and still remains inaccessible to date. One cant even access Google Maps in the country if you are visiting and has to rely on the local GPS services.

The country banned Google and its products in a move likely to control the content. The Chinese authorities blocked more websites as the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approached and hasnt changed since then.


Facebook was blocked in China in 2009 as Xinjiang independence activists used Facebook as a part of their communications network to stage protests in the country.

In order to get unbanned, Facebook is now working on a censorship project for China. The website will allow a third party to control and regulate content on Facebook that will help the social media website do business in China again. Other apps owned by Facebook like WhatsApp have also been banned to prevent the spread of information in the country.

Wikipedia was blocked by China in early 2004 ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The website was later restored without political articles, however, all versions of the website were permanently banned in April 2019.

The website hosts content surrounding Taiwans independence that seemed objectionable by the Chinese Government.


Instagram was blocked by Chinese authorities when images of the Umbrella Revolution going on in Hong Kong started to appear on the platform.

The Chinese Government feared the pro-democracy posts on the platform regarding the Hong Kong protests would influence sentiments in the mainland as well.

Unsplash/Yucel Moran

Twitter has been blocked in the country since 2009 and resulted in the launch of Weibo as an alternative. There have been cases in the past where Chinese citizens have been sentenced to one year in a labour camp for retweeting content deemed objectionable by the Chinese authorities.

Washington Post also reported in 2019 that state security officials would visit its users in China and order them to delete tweets or entire accounts.


Media websites like The New York Times, Washington Post, HuffPost, The Guardian, Daily Mail, amongst many others, have also been banned in the country. The websites have been banned to prevent Chinese citizens from reading any news that is critical of China and its policies.

These are only some of the websites that have been blocked by Chinese authorities, however, there are plenty more that you can check out in its entirety here.

Photo: Unsplash/konkarampelas (Main Image)

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Turkeys Erdogan plans to censor the internet after family member insulted online – Reclaim The Net

Posted: at 4:49 am

Its a family affair over in Turkey. That is that states top officials seem to be once again pitting themselves against a majority of the countrys population. Online.

And this is happening in a state where top echelons of power are what you might generously call a bunch of control enthusiasts.

Its an unnerving sight perhaps to those accustomed to at least a formal semblance of a separation of family and state.

(Think of your president or whoever might be the top authority shuttering access to online networks just because somebody insulted a member of their family. If you just cant see it congratulations, you might actually live in a democracy.)

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But back in Turkey President Erdogan is fighting political opponents trying to provoke him on the internet. And according to reports they seem to be very much so succeeding.

Namely, Turkeys president and his authorities are fending off devilish social media users by imposing internet censorship and likely real-world consequences, such as jail time, as a legitimate way to protect Erdogans family honor.

The triggering event is also where the plot thickens. Turkeys finance minister, Berat Albayrak who conveniently happens to be Erdogans son-in-law on Tuesday took to Twitter to announce that he and one of Erdogans daughters had just welcomed their fourth child.

But some internet users understood this as a cue to question the paternity of the child. Likely just for the lols.

Well instead of taking it that way the sequence of events sent Turkey a NATO member and EU-membership candidate into yet another digital censorship tailspin.

As per Turkeys president:

We will keep chasing these cowards who attack a family and the values they believe represented by them through a baby.

That said many of us born into totalitarian/cult-of-personality regimes are capable of sniffing them out as soon as we set our eyes on them and this further quote from Erdogan happens to be very unsettling:

These platforms do not suit this country. We want these platforms to be banned, taken under control.

And Erdogan is warning that new legislation might be adopted that would force (Western) tech companies registered in the country to become legally accountable to Ankara as business entities.

But lets just wait as the likes of Facebook, YouTube, etc, are probably doing just now and see how all this verbal bravado actually translates into any real-world action.

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Censorship Is Not All Bad | HuffPost

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 9:50 am

By Barry Jason MauerUCF Forum columnist

Censorship is not all bad! Free-speech idealists argue that the solution to bad speech (misinformation, lies, abusive language, etc.) is not censorship but more speech. But bad speech can, and often does, drown out the good.

A classic form of bad speech is hate speech. Jeremy Waldron, a law professor at the New York University School of Law, describes it this way:

"Its aim is to compromise the dignity of those at whom it is targeted, both in their own eyes and in the eyes of other members of society. And it sets out to make the establishment and upholding of their dignity... much more difficult. It aims to besmirch the basics of their reputation, by associating ascriptive characteristics like ethnicity, or race, or religion with conduct or attributes that should disqualify someone from being treated as a member of society in good standing."

Thus, hate speech is really anti-speech because it aims to shut down the speech of others. And in the United States, hate speech has shut down the speech of minorities and women for hundreds of years. Defenders of hate speech often disguise it as "pride," "state's rights" or "religious freedom." But we are mistaken to treat anti-speech as if it were normal speech, deserving of protection. We can and should be intolerant of intolerance.

Although the United States has a First Amendment protecting free speech, it does not extend to the workplace, the classroom, or the dinner table. It is limited to the press, to religion, to assemblies, and to petitions. And as every journalist, parishioner or public assembly participant knows, there are powerful limits in these arenas, too. We don't have absolutely free speech because we live within the confines of powerful and interlocking institutions: family, education, entertainment, commerce, career, the law, the military, religion and others.

These institutions offer benefits to their members but also constraints and a narrow range of choices of expression. If these institutions were to offer too much freedom, they would be unable to perpetuate the social relations that keep them functioning. So speech inside an institutional context is limited, but speech outside of an institutional context typically has less power. Speech is limited either way.

The question, therefore, is not whether we ought to have constraints on speech but what kinds of constraints?

Censorship is an institutional constraint. When we hear the word censorship, we often imagine a banned book (i.e. schools and libraries removing the book). This is censorship at the point of reception. Protests erupt. Demand for the banned book goes up.

Censorship happens more frequently at the point of distribution than it does at the point of reception, such as an institution refusing to distribute a speech or a text through its channels. This type of censorship rarely leads to protests because outsiders rarely hear about it.

The most common form of censorship is self-censorship, or censorship at the point of production, which means you have internalized the censor's rules and decided to abide by them of your own volition. Perhaps you learned that the benefits of compliance outweigh the costs of resistance, or you rationalized that you can't win anyway.

We may self-censor for good reasons, such as politeness, but sometimes we self-censor because we see someone else made into a negative example and we fear it could happen to us.

For instance, some journalists who otherwise might have criticized the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq silenced themselves rather than risk reprisal--from the government, their corporate owners, or those in the public who were for the war. The result was that journalism inflicted a major blow to its own integrity for behaving as an administration mouthpiece, and Americans became among the least-informed people in the world about the war.

Beyond self-censorship, there are other limitations: ideologies--such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia--that prevent us from even thinking certain thoughts, such as thinking of others as human beings with dignity and rights.

We have too much censorship in some areas of our society and too little censorship in others.

There is too much censorship from some plutocrats who suppress the truth about their misrule. They silence whistle-blowers while their propagandists hog the microphone. They maintain these beliefs either through outright censorship or through a pretense of balance in which the media referee fails to penalize those who lie consistently and brazenly. Might we have learned about the lead poisoning in Flint, Mich.'s, water earlier if we could have heard more of whistle-blowers and less of the politicians' denials?

If we hold to ethical principles, such as truth and justice, we can encourage or demand censorship as needed. For example, we should encourage ordinary citizens to participate in democracy, but ban unlimited political contributions by corporations. We should encourage the release of classified information that reveals government abuses, but ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists once they leave office.

If you want to change the levels of censorship in our society--in other words, to benefit society by loosening or tightening censorship--the best approach is to appeal to the stated values of our institutions. Thus, to loosen censorship by expanding press freedoms, appeal to journalistic institutions as watchdogs of the powerful. To expand academic freedom, appeal to the university's stated aims to seek truth and benefit humanity.

And to appeal for greater censorship, apply the same appeals to our higher values.

Barry Jason Mauer is an associate professor in the UCF Department of English. He can be reached at

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