Squirm Ban Führer

Another day, another assault on the freedom of speech by right-on, winkle-dicked, Big Tech bottom-feeders. This time, social media Sturmbannführers at You Tube have driven a metaphorical Panzer through the frontier of my channel and spiked one of my cringeworthy promotional videos.

Last month, I received a missive from Team YT to inform me that one of my videos had been taken down from my channel for ‘hate speech’. This had me squirming because ‘hate’ isn’t my game, although any contrary opinion to the virtue-signalling norm is increasingly categorised as such. So, I had a gander.

Most of my videos are geared towards book promotion and are predominantly fatuous. The ‘jokes’ are intentionally absurd in the Gio Compario mode. You see the off-beam creative, and you click on to the site. Well, that is the aim, at least.

When I finally identified the offending footage (they had removed it even from my own offline view, and it was so unremarkable I had forgotten about it), it transpired that it was an old Hitler parody that I had uploaded about a year before.

In the original Pathé piece, the old villain was delivering an impassioned speech at the Krupp factory in 1935, and I had added subtitles so that instead of asking the crowd to reciprocate his unswerving support for them at the ballot box, he is ‘complaining about high-ranking Nazis reading my books’.

The abridged footage ends with Adolf declaring my books ‘bullshit’ and ordering the crowd to boycott my site maxfrances.com

I know – pretty lame stuff, but at 26 seconds in length, hardly taking a liberty with the viewing public.

The clip is hosted on various other YouTube sites, including the British Pathé channel with its rather impressive 2.08m subscribers. So, nothing wrong with the original footage.

The ‘joke’ is of course that Hitler and his crew, having died in 1945, could not possibly have had opinions about my books (about contact centres and recruitment), which had been published nearly 75 years later in 2019. The overall aim of the promo parody was to get people to visit my blog in spite of the ban issued by a furious Führer.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking material, but there you go.

Now, it would not have surprised me to learn that some duckweed algorithm had picked up a sniff of Nazis, and an automated rule had kicked in to shelve it temporarily pending a closer look. An appeal would surely see reinstatement once a real person had, after a cheeky viewing, dragged themselves from the brink of apoplectic hilarity. Wouldn’t it?

After navigating my way through a confounding maze of options and drop-downs, I dug out the appropriate form and appealed the decision. To be frank, the creative is crappy – and certainly Kruppy – and I did not give a rat’s balloon knot whether it ever saw the light of day again. But principles are principles. Peddling crap is one thing; peddling hatred is quite another.

When the verdict was returned, it was a sparse and bland one. The appeal was not allowed, but no reason for this decision was specified. I would have been more comfortable if a panel of deafblind circus clowns had simply declared it manifestly unfunny.

And that was that. No further appeal and no channel of communication to submit queries or to seek clarifications.

This all felt like a gang who would gather outside hospitals and scream ‘Nonce!’ at paediatricians.

At best, the enforcement team at YouTube had protected me from the ‘hate’ that I had allegedly directed against myself. However, even if Hitler were a real 21st century person, he would only have been expressing an opinion rather than vilifying me for any inherent, protected characteristics I have.

If accurate, we would have to conclude that the YouTube droids believe that Hitler is still alive, responsible for the channel, and that he is bulling this guy called Max?

Moreover, it raises doubts about whether they know who Hitler was? Astounding, really.

But the censorship of my asshat film is not the point, and any savvy person will tell you that corporations have rules, and that is that.

Yet social media firms do not operate within corporate bubbles. They have become gigantic, omniscient and have intertwined their platforms into every aspect of modern life to the extent that being a law unto themselves arguably equates to a sinister form of coercive control over whole governments.

In years gone by, we would lament the stranglehold on information exerted via state media by totalitarian regimes, who spewed out a relentless stream of one-sided fake news to indoctrinate the masses. Now we have social media organisations who can determine discourses by platforming some voices in preference to others and administering arbitrary bans without justification. It is all done on the back of do-gooder proxy agendas, yet its inconsistency reflects its disingenuity. Trump got cyber-whacked, whereas top Iranian officials tweet with impunity about ‘removing Israel from the face of the earth’.

They let the Trumpet rant on when it tied in with their financial goals, and they pulled the rug on him when it suited them. This was the President of the USA, so not some council sub-committee.

They answer to nobody. Whether it is a takedown of a poxy vid or a whole democratic process, there is no fact-based arbitration of what runs and what does not. Already, democracies have been undermined by the fake news that these organisations facilitate and control.

It is surely time for worldwide regulation, because COVID is not the virus that will end up dominating our lives in the long run.

Some proportionate taxes might help as well.

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