shadow ban

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By ANISIO PIRES*

A Technological censorship and technology at the service of censorship

The use of technology to silence opinions contrary to Western thought is not new. Now it does not spare even world-famous figures, whose activities are not related to politics. We found the termshadowban” thanks to the American supermodel of Palestinian descent, Bella Hadid. A media star with 51 million followers on Instagram (@bellahadid), whose fame and fortune do not make her forget her roots.

In a recent report by the Russian Today – RT (https://bit.ly/3McdG6p), Bella Hadid denounced that Instagram prevents her from publishing her stories, especially when she comes out in defense of Palestine: “immediately, they put me under the effects of 'shadowban’, through which nearly a million fewer of you see my stories and posts.”

What is shadowban? Technological censorship or technology at the service of censorship, no more and no less. It's so "normal" that even the Wikipedia explains what it's all about: "Shadow banishment"shadowban" or "shadow banning”), or covert deletion, is a covert and usually temporary form of blocking or restriction on social media, the internet and communities Online, with the aim of hiding content inserted by a user in his account through different methods, depending on the functioning of each service”. It would be common practice to hide a user's account, comments, photographs, videos, in short, any type of content so that it is not visible to other users.

Social networks at the service of the West practice the shadowban and other mechanisms of totalitarian control. Most people are unaware of their existence, while these networks present themselves to the world as the defenders of freedom. When they don't censor, they act as ideological police. For example, the Bitly application, used to shorten links, when applied to a publication by RT, warns in 5 languages: “The page you are browsing has been marked as a potential source of misinformation”.

The same is automatically done by Facebook, alerting you: "This content belongs to a publisher that Facebook believes may be partly or wholly under the editorial control of the Russian government." Marc Zuckerberg, president of “Meta Platforms, Inc.”, owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, will never inform that his company is controlled by the Pentagon.

Weeks ago, Facebook and Instagram were banned in Russia. When that happened, champions of free speech protested little. One might think that it was out of “coherence”, given the absolute silence they maintained about the blocking and banning of various Russian media outlets in Europe. But the reason is another. Everything indicates that they were silent to prevent people from knowing the real reason that led Russia to ban them: terrorism.

Anyone who has had their account suspended on Facebook or Instagram for any image or text deemed inappropriate "will be surprised" that Meta, so politically correct to block "inappropriate" content, has decided to "temporarily" suspend its protocols to allow messages of hatred against Russia. This is not a self-interested interpretation on our part, it has been acknowledged without any moral controversy by Meta spokesperson Andy Stone: “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we temporarily allow forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules, with a violent speech like 'death to the Russian invaders'”. As if that were not enough, Mr. Andy Stone leaves open the future possibility that they may also allow hate speech against the entire Russian people: “We still will not allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians”. Yet…

While Meta authorizes hate mail against Russia in the real world, in virtual space (www.meta.com), speaks of its commitment to the future of communication: “The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection (…) so we are changing our name to reflect our commitment to this future”. A future of hate and censorship?

Let's be aware. We can no longer continue issuing opinions on the networks without first taking into account the mechanisms that filter, manipulate and censor our communication. The injustices and arbitrariness practiced by imperialism and by the governments subordinated to it are so blatant that they cannot coexist with the most elementary truths. More and more will be intolerant with the rebels that we insist on telling the truth.

By using Google and social networks at the service of the unipolar world, we are using the roads and vehicles they built to preserve the situation of inequality and injustice in which the world lives. They will tolerate us as long as we write domesticated or seemingly radical messages that only reach a minority.

Let's correct this by thinking about the quality and effectiveness of what we do, especially in networks hostile to the truth, and let's start using alternative networks more and more until the people who build the new multipolar world are able to create truly free and uncensored connectivity channels. In Venezuela, we are making our contribution to this fight by creating our own social network. It is under construction, so we invite you to participate in the https://venapp.com/, making the recommendations they deem necessary to improve and enhance it.

The communicational supremacy of the imperialists has feet of clay. Censorship and widespread manipulation show its weakness. If they ban our voices, it is because they are no longer able to convince or continue deceiving people with colored mirrors. We should all strive to build true communication. Reason is on our side.

*Anisio Pires he is professor of sociology at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela (UBV).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

 

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