(Versión española)

Since the culture war began, there’s one issue that has been a very notorious difference between the sides: Censorship.

One of the sides believes in free speech, even for speech we don’t agree with or that is offensive; the other side believes free speech is only ok for things they agree with, and anything offensive should be banned. This isn’t really, per se, an issue of left or right; both political sides do it; but it’s very clear that in recent years, the left has been much, much more in favor of censorship than the right (much to the dismay of moderate leftists like me).

This ongoing issue of censoring because of ideological reasons has been steadily increasing through the years. In the beginning, people would be banned from social media for not agreeing with far left politics, without actually breaking the rules of the site. Then the far left would justify it by claiming “it was racist/sexist/homophobic/whatever” be it real or not; and just tell them to build their own social media.

So they did.

Alternative social media like Minds of Gab were created, with the idea of been completely against censorship; and while some of them have failed in that idea *ehemGabehem*, they’re still less censorious than Twitter or Facebook, and as such been places of more open discussion. Because of that, there are attempts to take them down by stripping them of their methods of getting revenue, under, again, ideological excuses like “they’re racist”, because they allow free speech, and as such, someone, maybe, could use their site to say something racist. The mere possibility of that happening justifies taking the whole site down, apparently.

People banned from social media or from youtube, or who lost youtube monetization, tried to use patreon to stay afloat, until patreon started to also ban people for ideological reasons, without having break their rules, and even outside of their platform. And again, whenever a social media, or any person, lost their income in such a way, the response from the far left was akin to “just make your own “patreon” site”.

So they did.

Some patreon alternatives arose, such as Hatreon or Subscribestar, and they were taken down by paypal, again under the accusation of been “racist” or “sexist”, because they allowed free speech. In fact, platforms such as paypal or mastercard are actively trying to get rid of alternatives to patreon, or twitter, facebook, youtube, etc. So, what is the point of telling someone that “they can just build their own X”, if they will be taken down for ideological reasons no matter what? And why are sites that should be only concerned about processing payments or donations be policing what anyone says on another part of the internet? Is all of this a deliberate attempt to control people on the internet? We have seen several cases of people been banned from all important media on the internet at the same time; youtube, facebook, twitter, patreon, paypal; all at once. This is a heavy case of collusion.

And this is not a simple, petty matter. We are not talking about someone just losing a social media account and not having fun for a while. We have reached a point when there should probably be a serious discussion about what place some platforms have in society as a whole, and what should be done, or not, about it, if we don’t want to turn into a cyberpunk dystopia where a few corporations control everything you can say or do.

Just think about it: If the existing, most powerful, platforms are actively colluding to take down any new competition, be it social media, patronage platforms, youtube, etc, that will mean that at some point the only way you can communicate or win money in an effective way on the internet will be through those few; no alternatives. That means that if they want you out, for any ideological reason, you’ll be practically erased from the internet.

Sure, you still can go to forums and small places, but we all know that there’s no comparison between some small forum and twitter. You’ll have no reach; whatever you say will not be known; if you work in anything related to social media, or that needs to be spread through the internet, you’re completely screwed if you’re banned from facebook or twitter. If you get your income through patreon, and they ban you because they don’t like your politics, you’ve effectively lost your job, since there’s no alternative. If you set up your own site, you can be banned by server providers, or denied service by paypal; both of those have happened; and be again unable to get money because there are either no alternatives, or those who exist are so small they are not workable.

And we are not talking about “Nazis” here. We are at a time of the culture war where even center-left people are been called “Nazis”, and obvious jokes on twitter may brand you the title of alt-right. We are not talking about people been banned for been extreme right, we are talking about people been banned for not been far left.

This is not something I have the answers for; there’s a solid case to make that these are private companies and as such they can put the rules they want; but, if they ban you for stuff that doesn’t break their rules, they should also face consequences , and as I said earlier, it’s probably the time to have a discussion about at which point a social media or provider has become so essential for people’s lives that it should become public forum, or if there should be something to prevent this companies to have an absolute monopoly over people’s lives on the internet.

What its clear is that censorship is bad, and telling someone to “do their own X” is not a realistic expectation to have.

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