In the News July 14
Racist Killings in Buffalo, New York
Shootings Used to Justify Censorship and Criminalization of Resistance
Immediately after the Buffalo mass killing by a racist neo-Nazi on May 14, New York Governor Kathy Hochul called on social media giants to further censor postings. Referring to the manifesto the shooter posted, she said the heads of technology companies “need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information.”
The killings of 10 Black people and wounding of three others was also live-streamed. “[M]ore information is coming out about the manifesto, where [the shooter] was radicalized — absolutely on social media platforms. And we’re also watching to make sure that the social media, the leaders of these social media companies, are going to take responsibility and do much, much more to do monitoring themselves of content that is placed on their platforms before it is spread,” Hochul said.
The killer, Payton Gendron, had also promoted and applauded the racist mass killings of Black people at a South Carolina church by Dylann Roof and the New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant. He was also connected to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, including posting pictures of himself wearing symbols of the Nazi Azov Battalion. According to reports, the connections were such that the live stream of the killings was posted by these Nazis in Ukraine. These are the same neo-Nazis funded and promoted by President Biden, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and others in office who repeat their Nazi slogan Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes.
Hochul called for a “trigger” mechanism to automatically shut down postings using algorithms designed and decided by the Big Tech oligarchs. She wants a system that would immediately alert policing agencies “when racist content or of any manifesto type materials that shows a propensity or desire to harm others, to kill them, to maim them, to have, you know, mass casualties. This is all telegraphed.” She said the technology giants “need to have algorithms in place that’ll identify very quickly the second information is posted so it can be tracked down by proper law enforcement authorities.”
She deliberately leaves out the political dimension which is that the Big Tech oligarchs and police agencies already monitor social media. When it comes to those who kill Blacks or for example, who planned the January 6th insurrection, they turn a blind eye, but when it concerns material which holds Israel accountable for the wanton deaths of Palestinians in the occupied territories, the Big Tech oligarchs consider pro-Palestinian material as “hate speech.” They declare it is aimed at “harming” the Israelis and thus subject not only to censorship but now police charges.
It is well-known that social media oligarchs unjustly censor freedom of speech by many organizations and individuals, those that support Palestine, as well as anti-war activists and those who oppose the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its war games, arms and militarization of Europe, numerous independent webpages, journalists and more. Whole pages are simply shut down without cause or warning based on claims by these oligarchs using their algorithms.
Much of the censorship is pushed by the U.S. government, its agencies and think tanks, like the Atlantic Council. Given this call for algorithms to be used to alert policing agencies, censorship will not only involve these types of measures but also possible criminal charges. New York State, for example already has laws criminalizing those it considers are using “hate speech.” This includes a law for Domestic Acts of Terrorism Motivated by Hate in the First Degree, even though what constitutes hate and terrorism are not defined.
The January 6 televised hearings and information gathered also make clear that neo-Nazis like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and others openly organized on social media — and were not and are not being censored. Far from contending with the problem of Nazi violence and killings, and promotion of them by the social media oligarchs, Hochul’s call will give them yet more power to censor freedom of speech while also criminalizing resistance.
TML Daily, posted July 14, 2022.