Social media censorship


When Censorship backfires

This week has seen the most remarkable situation unfold in the media I have seen for some time. In fact, it reminds me somewhat of the George Orwell book 1984. However, the attempts at controlling speech, and the distribution of opinion [albeit it marketed somewhat as fact within a discussion format] has backfired in the most spectacular way. It is almost like the powers that be have not learned anything from the Brexit situation. People do not like being told what they can or cannot do by authority like figures or organisations. Of course, they will obey reasonable laws to keep society going smoothly, but they will not be told they cannot watch something or hear someone say something. These are steps too far for most of us in society.

There is of course, always the argument that hate speech should be censored, but we do of course then need an agreed upon foundation that defines what hate speech is. In most cases it would be clear I believe to any reasonable person. Sometimes the lines are of course blurred, and somewhat stretched in this arena.

This, however, is something completely different. There is no hate speech. Just a discussion of ideas, and theories which are outside the mainstream way of thinking, are possibly true and equally possibly completely fabricated. However, there was no hate speech or incitement to violence, or in fact incitement to any action at all. In fact, a discussion which from my own social media, which is an eclectic mix of approx. 5000 connections on facebook from a ranging demographic pool, has opened up both reasoned and rational conversation in a considered way.  

So, what’s happened?

Earlier this week, the podcast YouTube channel London Real filmed a live interview with the conspiracy theorist David Icke. Nothing new there. In fact, Icke has been a guest now 5 times on the popular channel fronted by ex-Wall Street banker Brian Rose. The interview was one of the days most watched live streams with over 64,000 concurrent views at its peak. It was immediately removed upon the interview concluding.

So, who are Brian Rose and David Icke, and what exactly has happened this week?

Brian Rose is an MIT graduate, ex Wall Street and City banker who left his career to start a podcast in his bedroom. That Podcast was London real. Over the past several years that podcast has grown into a YouTube channel with over 1.5M subscribers and has a loyal fanbase. In recent years Brian Rose has taken the audience he has and started to run online course and seminars to monetise the audience through sharing and teaching from his media experience gained from starting form the ground up with this venture. It is clear Brian Rose is a highly intelligent, and calculated businessman, whose been mentored by Dan Pena to create a 7 figure business from his podcast.  

One of the things most endearing to audiences about Brian Rose is his willingness to share his own story, warts and all. His failures and challenges he faced with mental health and drug addiction have been a key topic he has discussed with experts on his show.

London real has had an array of guests over the past 11 years from across the broad spectrum of society. They range from the ex-criminal to the ultra-wealthy and business success stories.  London real has become popular because of Brian Rose’s willingness to listen, and challenge when needed. The Podcast gives the guest the chance to get their story across and to speak their truth. Brian Rose has become skilful at delivering long form, typically 90-120 minute interviews, that are engaging and more importantly; watched!  

David Icke is the former footballer and sports broadcaster, turned professional conspiracy theorist- or conspiracy realist as he likes to be known. David Icke transitioned from well respected BBC presenter to the subject of public ridicule following his appearance on the Wogan show back in 1990. It was then that he announced he was the “son of a God head” and the earth would soon be devasted by tidal waves and earthquakes. Over the coming years he wrote several published books outlining conspiracy theories. One of the most ridiculed is about the leaders of the world being shape shifting reptilians. I am not even joking here.

So, what was so horrendous within the London Real interview which got it banned from YouTube instantly, and at the time of writing Facebook, and other major platforms have also banned the interview?

Within the interview David Icke airs his thoughts, theories- although portrayed as fact, on the corona virus, Covid-19 and of course, the conspiracy theories around 5G and its suspected link to the deaths attributed to the Covid-19 outbreak.

I don’t want to break down those theories in detail here, and of course a quick Google search will help you find the London Real website where the full episode is currently live. I will say however the things discussed seemed well curated and put together. The guest was challenged by the host at appropriate times, and in a world where freedom of speech is a freedom to be protected, it appears that there is an effort to take this away from these 2 people.

It is a change in approach to dealing with David Icke for sure. As previously mentioned, he has been a guest on London real now 5 times. None of the previous episodes, where significantly controversial topics are discussed have been censored. David Icke is also a guest on a significant number of online media outlets including podcasts, YouTube channels and blogs. Whilst he is prolific online, and within the media, he is typically ignored by the establishment. The tactic seems to be to let him spout his theories, and let those akin to conspiracy theories follow him because what he is saying and doing is harmless, and the more attention he gets the more people will just think he is crazy, and his theories are ridiculous. [FACT: Some of them are mental- Shape shifting reptilians being my favourite from the crazy box].

This episode of London Real however is different. It has hit a nerve somewhere. Immediate, and severe action is being taken to limit the distribution of this interview. An argument could therefore be made that maybe, just maybe this time David Icke has hit a nerve, and is on point with some of the things he is saying. Alternatively, it could be that the current situation is so unprecedented in the world, that this may be the start of [mis]information shut down. The issue for those that do not trust the governments and mainstream media is that this overtly looks like an attempt to hide the truth.

Of course, there are always two sides to every story. YouTube and Facebook are publicly owned companies [YouTube as part of Google] and therefore have their own right t decide what is aired on their platforms. They will of course have a “terms of use” but at their own discretion they can remove any content they believe is not in the best interest of the company to be displaying and promoting. Of course, the decisions here have been taken as they feel the content was not in the best interest of public safety under the current situation we are facing. It remains to be seen whether any government influence was issued to aid this decision.

However, in a world where YouTube and Facebook are 2 of the biggest media outlets on the planet. A world where content is provided by creator individuals typically, and not large corporations. The question has to be asked should these companies be stopping such content being distributed. From what I saw there was no recommendations to do or do not do something. It was one man’s opinions [of course he was portraying them as facts] being discussed with another who has for 11 years challenged his guests in engaging long form interview discussion format. Of course, the social media outlets will argue that the interview could be seen to incite behaviour within the general populous that may be detrimental to public health given we are under a lock down due to the wish to stop the spread of the corona virus. This is of course not a UK issue, but a global one.

What has happened during this week, since YouTube removed the video and banned the video interview however has been quite remarkable to watch. It is almost like there is no understanding of human nature and behaviour. The more it became clear that “we” were not meant to watch this video, the more human curiosity spiked, and it became essential watching. As I stated earlier on Brian Rose is a clever man and has of course used this to his advantage and gained enormous traction on the promotion of this video through regular social media posts outlining every time a road block to it’s distribution is put in his way. A few such roadblocks have come from of course YouTube and Facebook but also Vimeo, and other platforms. There is a real concerted effort to stop people watching this interview.

I last heard the video had been watched more than 3 million times on the London real website alone. It will have been downloaded a significant amount of times to keep “hard copies” of the interview as the internet goes to work to try and prevent the spread of the discussion. I suspect that total of views is escalating rapidly due to the mass media coverage of the interview being shut down initially by YouTube, and now Facebook and other platforms. Plenty of mainstream media such as the BBC, and ITV in the UK, as well as global outlets have covered the censorship of this video. Most trying to be careful in not directing the audience to where to find the video online- however that is clearly backfiring as the London Real marketing and PR team kick into full force to push this out hard to the world.

“The department of truth” is really flowing in full force with this and it really does seem like we are starting to live in an Orwellian state! Lockdowns, and media censorship may just be the start of what is to come. Or maybe the reaction to this interview is appropriate given what is seen as a torrent of online fake news, and misinformation that is being spread regarding Covid-19, and 5G and what is of course inspiring people to commit criminal acts of damage against 5G towers across the UK.

Have you seen the interview? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

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