Pirating the Platforms
“Complications arose, ensued, were overcome”
First They Came For The Communists, Martin Niemoller (A former junior officer in the Germany Navy)
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
State repression is an age old problem, so age old that it is from this problem that the Magna Carta originates, in this case the Barons wresting some control from the Monarchy.
In our modern era the repression of speech on "platforms" began with the The Daily Stormer, to soon be followed with Alex Jones whose rather presciently titled "InfoWars" channel in a single fell swoop was removed from “all the hashtags”, sorry, platforms. I have not the bravery to state "I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It" which is loosely attributed to Voltaire. However, one of the greatest gifts to "western society" is the USA's first amendment; it is a bulwark against the repression of speech and a signature value of their nation, but seems to be taking on a little water.
I was given a chance to review my attitude to the gift in a not so recent interview that Glenn Greenwald had with Ira Glasser, a former director of the USA's ACLU (see Sources for video). Therein Ira discusses the ACLU defending the rights of a neo-nazi organisation to hold a march in a suburb largely populated by persons of the Jewish faith. The lesson here, just as above with the Daily Stormer and Alex Jones, is that attacks on civil liberties always start with the most reprehensible, or at least peripheral. With that precedent, if successful, the slippery slope begins.
From Marching to Publishing
Persons publishing on communications platforms provided by multi-national corporations but aligned with the USA regime are now subject to an astonishing arsenal of weaponry, none of which are based on law, but on "guidelines". One nasty strike and your channel is "demonitized". Three strikes and your channel is deleted. The platforms have even got to the point of thought crime in the case of Matt Orfalea. You will not be just "deplatformed" from one digitial publishing platform, but all major platforms, advises the USA executive. And now we have politically motivated NGO's such as the "Anti-Defamation League" advising payment processors as to who should be prohibited from receiving donations from individuals. (See sources for The Duran video).
So you can not only be demonetized, but have your entire channel deleted, and are removed from all major digital publishers and also have payment processors impound money from your subscribers. This is not just a censorship regime, but economic coercion too. Just to top it all off a privately owned database of "people who say nasty things" will be shared among the cabal of digital publishers and payment processors with inputs from these politically aligned NGOs. You just cant make this stuff up.
There are two prominent cases which it would be remiss of me to omit: Julian Assange and Craig Murray. In these cases very dubious legal proceedings have been brought against these publishers because they were not subject to censure by the major digital publishing platforms because they were not stupid enough to use them, though the embargo against donations to Wikileaks a decade ago was the canary in the coal mine for payment processor abuse. In this case it was not just “small time” players like PayPall, but Visa and Mastercard.
I use Tor for the vast majority of my internet connectivity based on the principle that I wish not to be easily surveilled by the end points to which I connect. National law enforcement, or military intelligence have "six ways from Sunday", to borrow a quote, to infect my computer and completely surveil me should they have desire.
I connect to youtube via Tor to get the "videos" page of channels in which I am interested and then use youtube-dl to download the videos over Tor. But, youtube is repeatedly and consistently refusing to show the "videos" page because "Tor". This is a lack of convenience I take pleasure in suffering.
Notably the USA's State Department page is completely blocked from Tor. Whereas the Russian Kremlin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence pages are not. Nor is Global Times. Interesting.
The key understanding is that censorship is a product of surveillance. You cannot do the former without the latter.
While the major digital publishers are suffering a little competition, and will do their best to absorb this competition by purchasing the smaller players as evidenced by their past actions, the independent media community are planning counter strategies.
The first is against payment processors. The solution: Post Office Boxes. This is a brilliant low tech solution which would require massive human resources to curtail, and that's why I like it. Algorithm your way out of that one, PayPal.
Sadly, or perhaps deliberately, the other natural course is the use of non-central bank crypto-currencies. It will be interesting to watch where this goes.
The most interesting counter to the deplatforming challenge is detailed in an interview between James Corbett and Ryan Christian in the latest episode of Corbett's "Solutions Watch" series. Like so much other wonderful content, is Not On Youtube.
Both Ryan and James consider the situation an information war, which at this point is hardly hyperbole. They wish to continue to inform their existing communities via the non-major digital publishing platforms which they use (i.e their own websites), but to also try to continue to reach those who are still stuck within the controlled ecosystems of the major digital publishing platforms. Ryan was scratching his head on this one, and came up with an idea based on an old revolutionary concept, "pirate radio".
There are many variants of pirate radio, the simplest being setting up a transmitter one one side of a border and broadcasting into a neighbouring country. Groups like the CIA turned this into a multi-national effort with things like "Voice of America" and "Radio Free Europe". An alternative strategy is to sit in a boat outside the territorial waters of a country and broadcast into it from international waters.
Ryan's concept was to ask his community if anyone had a youtube channel that he could use which would almost certainly begin to receive "strikes" and eventually be deleted. It seemed like a long shot as not revealing your streaming key is a golden rule of youtube publishing. Astonishingly he received a hundred odd streaming keys which he is using.
For those not too versed in live streaming on the major video platforms, it goes roughly like this. You can use several services, a prominent one being "restream.io" which will deliver your video content to multiple platforms (youtube, BitChute, Library and many others) and potentially multiple channels on each platform, simultaneously. The strategy seems to be that he would use multiple of these donated youtube stream keys/channels at once, including his standard non-youtube channels, and both early and late in the broadcast mention that his reliable "can be followed" channels are at Library or BitChute etc. but NOT at youtube.
An Arms Race
ThemTube (or GooTube) as youtube is known amongst alternate media content creators will need to counter this "non-guideline content being broadcast" or however they wish to put it. Their problem is that all they have to throw at the problem are neural networks, or machine learning. (NB: There is no Artificial Intelligence; it is a complete PR term, very similar to “Intellectual Property”).
How to target the “pirate broadcasting”? Well, base it on video or audio. From a video perspective train your neural net to identify Ryan's face, and the same for voice with audio. Now, the people who work at ThemTube are not stupid and they can see the natural counter to this; face paint (or a hat :) and/or voice effects. The key understanding here is that it takes quite some effort to train a neural net and then integrate that into monitoring all millions of channels which are simultaneously broadcasting from youtube.
Thus is born asymmetric information warfare, and there is stuff all that Alphabet Inc. can do about it, especially when, as Corbett said, he will join the pirate broadcasting.
The "pirates" have analysed the "battle space" and chosen their tactics accordingly.
First They Came For The Communists, Martin Niemoller
Magna Carta, Wikipedia
Meet the Censored: Matt Orfalea, Matt Taibbi
Mighty Ira: Ira Glasser, Free Speech and the ACLU - System Update with Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
Mega-database set up to dismantle what's left of the First Amendment, The Duran
YouTube Pirate Streams – #SolutionsWatch, James Corbett and Ryan Christian
I Dig Rock and Roll Music, Peter Paul and Mary (Peter, Paul & Mary - Topic)