Donald trump he’s back that’s right trump is back in the news and why you may ask well because of this trump’s use twitter google and facebook alleging censorship 7th of july 2021. as you know after the storming of the capital all the major internet platforms suspended all of donald trump’s accounts why well because trump was agitating his followers hours before they stormed the capital In other words they didn’t accuse him of organizing the assault but they did blame him for creating the climate of hatred that provoked the attack and this opens a very serious debate to what extent are we talking about censorship
They are private companies facebook twitter and youtube can make any rules they want and yes you’re right the problem is that these three platforms have the oligopoly of online content that is if youtube takes down a channel it is very difficult almost impossible for that channel to find another similar platform from which to broadcast online but wait a minute because we’re not just talking about a whim of the big tech companies in reality twitter facebook and google are stuck between a rock and a hard place
On the one hand trump and many others aren’t announcing them for violating freedom of speech but on the other hand many governments are pressuring them to remove all of what is considered harmful content listen up facebook and youtube face tough new laws on extremist and explicit videos europe proposes new rules and fines to force social media firms to tackle online video 24th of may 2017.
To give you an idea some of these laws include fines of up to 50 million euros the question is are we really talking about censorship and how reasonable is it to demand that youtube protect us from harmful content today we’re going to answer these questions but first let’s take a look at some history how much freedom of speech is too much in november 2015 a spanish girl was arrested at barajas airport in madrid as she was about to travel to turkey to join daesh the most incredible thing about this story is that the girl in question was not even born into a muslim family this girl was radicalized by watching daesh propaganda on social media there was a time not so many years ago when it was absurdly easy to find radical islamist propaganda videos they were even on instagram
In almost all democratic countries there are laws prohibiting terrorist propaganda that is even if the constitution of any european country recognizes freedom of speech there are some limits an explicit court of violence is one of them the problem that no matter how many laws there are it is very difficult to prevent someone from creating a terrorist propaganda video and making it go viral
it’s the other side of the freedom that the internet gives us back then only one platform had the algorithms to detect daish videos in time and yes that platform was youtube why that’s a topic for another video but the truth is that facebook instagram and twitter had not bothered to prevent extreme groups such as daish and many others from running wild and that’s what set the alarm bells off in many governments think about it no matter how much the police pursued the terrorists every day new followers of daesh were emerging who had been radicalized on the internet and that’s what prompted several countries in europe to come up with their own laws to hold facebook and twitter responsible for the content they had the first and the most significant was germany
Since the 1950s germany has had very strict laws to prevent neo-nazi speech denying the holocaust can be punishable by years in prison and in some cases these laws have led to absurd situations like this one wolfenstein removed from sale in germany due to nazi symbols 22nd of september 2009. by the way as of 2019 germany has relaxed these laws and now at last wolfenstein is legal again in germany happy shooting the truth is that germany has always had quite a few restrictions to prevent extremist speech so in 2017.
they decided to pioneer one more restriction yes we’re talking about the so-called nets de gay law yes that’s how everyone knows this law according to this law youtube facebook and twitter are obliged to remove harmful content within 24 hours of being notified by the authorities if they fail to do so they may have to pay fines of up to 50 million euros the problem the problem is that what may have initially been a law to prevent terrorist propaganda ended up turning into something much worse weeks after the law was passed both twitter and facebook removed the account of a member of the alternative for germany party for posting anti-immigrant messages but then days later twitter also deleted the account of the satirical magazine that had mentioned this politician in order to make fun of her and a few days later twitter also closed the account of a comedian
who made another joke about alternative for germany conclusion if you have twitter in germany it’s best just not to not talk about immigrants neither for or against and don’t think that we’re talking about just a couple of extreme cases to give you an idea in the first six months of 2019 alone youtube had to delete more than 280 videos and let’s face it youtube is the only company that has made its actions public but
The differences between facebook twitter and youtube when it comes to moderating content in another video coming soon if you don’t want to miss it then subscribe to this channel and hit that little bell so you don’t miss any of our updates what is certain is that this german law has created a benchmark in 2020 france passed another law to combat hate speech the difference is that in this case the constitutional court managed to overturn it and this is where the other big problem with legislation that wants to regulate fake news disinformation and hate speech comes in most democratic countries have constitutions that recognize freedom of expression of course all of them recognize certain exceptions.
Such as the right to honor but in this case we are talking about something much deeper we are talking about being able to censor content on the grounds that are difficult to define however within the european union there are more and more voices calling for real policies to curb harmful content at the time of making this video the digital services act which makes platforms responsible for the content they have is being processed but the debate is still open many politicians are afraid that this law will serve to silence certain political positions such as euroscepticism or anti-immigration speech and online platforms cannot be held responsible for the thousands of hours of content they host not to mention how difficult it would be to fit this law into the constitutions of many member states.
There is still no political consensus on this issue and that is why in spring 2021 the european parliament has published the study on the liability of online platforms that’s right the doctrine is clear online platforms are responsible for the content they display not only should they act when there is a copyright violation but also when there is a violation of public decency or morality so this study proposes four different scenarios a do nothing b create media education campaigns among the population c public private regulation and d self-regulation that’s right at the moment the most common scenario in europe is for the platforms themselves to self-regulate that is to say that they create a set of rules and take care of deleting all the malicious content that may have crept in so where’s the problem then well we’re going to look at that right.
The origins of happily ever after what if i told you that the hollywood happy ending was born as a response to censorship yes indeed the happy ending was born at a time when movies weren’t allowed to end badly not at least if they wanted to receive the seal of approval to be shown in cinemas an example mr smith goes to washington is a frank capra film this movie tells the story of an idealistic politician who has to take on all the corrupt senators in washington in theory it doesn’t appear to have any objectionable subject matter right remember that this movie is from 1939.
Criticizing the workings of the us system could be seen as communist propaganda at the time movies had to convey moral values that meant that the bad guys had to be punished the good guys had to win and the moral of the story had to be well moral and i know what many of you are thinking how is that possible if there’s one thing the united states is known for it’s freedom of speech it is very clear in the first amendment of the constitution and yes you’re right the problem the problem is when you consider that cinema is not a means of expression.
But that’s exactly what happened don’t forget one thing we are talking about the beginning of the 20th century back then cinema was a new technology just like internet content platforms are now and that was precisely the judicial doctrine handed down by the u.s supreme court in 1915. watch for the final verdict the exhibition of moving pictures is a business pure and simple and not to be regarded as part of the press of the country or as organs of public opinion within the meaning of freedom of speech mutual film corporation versus industrial commission of ohio 1915.
Cinema wasn’t considered a medium of expression but wait a minute because the story doesn’t end here have you heard of the metoo movement well it’s not new either the harvey weinstein of 1920 was a comedy actor roscoe fatty arbuckle the fatty scandal was the perfect lurid story sex murder and hollywood stars the perfect cocktail to sell newspapers and you’ll never guess who was the media mogul who made the most out of his story exactly william randolph hearst at the time he already had several newspapers across the country from one day to the next hollywood sex scandals became the talk of every bar and barbershop in america.
The whole country was scandalized by the star’s lack of morals and in the midst of this moral panic the states decided to start legislating since movies were no longer considered a medium of communication the various states in the us were able to pass all sorts of censorship laws by 1921 there were already 37 states with censorship and that’s when hollywood decided to act so the motion picture association of america created a code of best practices but how do you create a code of good moral practices well that’s easy who are the greatest experts in public morality at the time
Well obviously the priests that’s how hollywood came to hire this man you see on screen william harrison hayes a presbyterian priest and don’t think they spared any expense mr hayes came to earn a salary of 100 000 a year at the time in today’s dollars we’re talking about 1.5 million dollars a year in addition this man hired a team of priests to help him create the code a code that took years to finish and has since become known as the haze code a censorship code with rules as detailed as this one ministers of religion in their characters as such should not be used as comic characters or as villains extract from the motion pictures production code from 1934 all films had to pass through a court of priests to be given the moral seal of approval and pay attention to one detail we are talking about something much worse than censorship hollywood censorship was not limited to eliminating a specific scene or prohibiting this or that as this was something accepted by the production companies themselves censorship affected the whole story for example have you seen the maltese falcon if you read the book it’s based on you’ll see that there’s an openly homosexual character remember that literature was considered a medium of communication so novels did enjoy freedom of expression.
however in the movie that same character could be neither openly homosexual nor good so he ended up being a simply effeminate gentleman and of course the bad guy in the movie from the 1930s to the 1960s you can find hundreds of examples like this luckily in the 1960s the supreme court changed its doctrine today movies in the united states enjoy the same freedom of expression as any other media however it seems that the same story is repeating itself with another new technology european commission and i.t companies announce code of conduct on illegal online hate speech 31st of may 2016. that’s right.
This code is quite broad that is for the moment the only limits set are to avoid propaganda from terrorist groups clear hate messages that were already banned in most countries the problem is that this code is from 2016 and we are now in 2021 and europe is asking for even more restrictions guidance on strengthening the code of practice on disinformation 26th of may 2021 the big problem that europe wants to solve is no longer hate speech but disinformation that is the fake news and conspiracy theories that have grown like wildfire in the age of the coronavirus the problem is who says what is true and what is not can this really be judged without being free of bias.
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