It’s easy for the Left to cheer when racists, fascists, and reactionaries are de-platformed by tech companies. But the censors aren’t our friends. We should champion free speech online — and argue that the best way to protect it is with a socialist program that brings privatized social media platforms into public control.
I’m the host of a podcast and YouTube show called Give Them An Argument (GTAA). Last month, a thumbnail was removed from one of our videos. It was a clip from my interview with left-wing YouTuber Natalie Wynn (“ContraPoints”). The email from YouTube claimed that it violated their “Sex and Nudity” policy. I’m about to show you the image. I’d say that prudes should avert their eyes but…well…
There are at least two odd things about this. First, Natalie is fully clothed in that image. Second, it’s just the GTAA frame around the same profile picture she uses for her wildly popular YouTube channel. YouTube’s censorship machine has never come down on her for using it. So what happened?
I have no idea, because YouTube wouldn’t tell me. The company eventually reversed its decision but never explained to me how the image came to be taken down in the first place.
Very annoying, but maybe just a misunderstanding or algorithmic glitch. Yet a few weeks later, a mob of hardcore Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a last-ditch attempt to overturn the 2020 election. I hosted a livestream about it with philosopher Ryan Lake, historian Djene Bajalan, my producer Forrest Miller, and poet and left-wing commentator C. Derrick Varn. To put it mildly, none of these people are Trump supporters. In fact, a fair amount of the stream was spent parsing the issue of whether Trump supporters technically counted as “fascists.”