In the past year the Guardian has been overtly promoting internet censorship. A while back they uncritically coordinated with Yvette Cooper’s insinuating “take back the internet” programme to make sure we all get “the web
we they want”. Last week they uncritically published an opinion piece from Tim Berners-Lee, where he claims we should:
…push back against misinformation by encouraging gatekeepers such as Google and Facebook to continue their efforts to combat the problem…
While, of course….
…avoiding the creation of any central bodies to decide what is “true” or not.
Hmmm…tough thing to achieve you may think. Which is possibly why Tim doesn’t bother to tell us how he thinks it should be done. In fact we can be pretty sure, being a bit of a genius allegedly, Tim knows pretty well that Governments and corporations are so irreversibly intertwined, their policies and goals so similar, that by instructing Facebook to “take measures” you are, in effect, privatising Orwell’s Minitrue, and creating precisely the “central bod[y] to decide what is true or not” that he affects to fear.
We cn also be pretty sure that if/when Facebook/Twitter and the rest announce the creation of some new “special department” for further “fact-checking”, people at the Guardian will write editorials congratulating them on saving the internet.
That brings us to today. Today the Guardian are – again uncritically – reprinting censorship advocacy, this time by their very close associates GCHQ. This article quotes Paul Chichester, the head of GCHQ’s new National Cyber Security Centre, who says that Facebook and Twitter have a
social responsibility” to do more to “limit the spread of fake news” and control the flow of “misinformation”.
There is not a single word of analysis, doubt or even equivocation in the article. The headline reads [my emphasis]:
“Facebook and Twitter should do more to combat fake news, says GCHQ“
And that’s all the story is, a stenographic report of what Chichester said. Not a single question is asked about the implications of what said, or indeed why he might be saying it. It is a press release. It tells us what the people in power think and, worse than agreeing, simply refuses to acknowledge that disagreeing is even a possibility.
The “journalist” (Josh Halliday) who put this piece together doesn’t acknowledge that state agencies would have an obvious vested interest in controlling what the citizenry reads online, or that mega-corporations such as Facebook or Google could abuse this “plea” to take advantage of their users. He’s content to just reprint the head of the spy agency’s opinion, word for word. He is, essentially, reducing himself from a journalist to a state broadcasting service.
And he most likely has a long career ahead of him.