United Kingdom

PETER HITCHENS: Did YouTube use its Shadow Banners to censor my views? 

Last week I was censored, but in a thoroughly modern way. I did not even know it had happened until I was alerted by others. 

I still do not know for certain who was responsible. Those who wanted to hear what I had to say did not even know they were being stopped from doing so.

It took place, as so much now does, on the internet. I gave an interview about the Virus Farce to two clever young men, Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster. 

I am pretty sure (but cannot prove) that I was the victim of something called Shadow Banning, which is as sinister as it sounds. Someone had fiddled with the computer codes called algorithms, which guide the searches everyone makes on the World Wide Web [File photo]

Calling themselves ‘Triggernometry’, they successfully present frequent programmes on the supposedly open-to-all YouTube platform. 

This is now owned by the Left-wing internet giant Google and, like almost all such outfits, is based in California.

I said what I have been saying here for months – that the crashing of the economy and the stifling of personal liberty were utterly out of proportion to the danger from Covid-19. 

I pointed out they were damaging to public health and to the future of our society. I gave evidence for my view and quoted eminent experts. I do not think I said anything that was false or abusive.

But, within a couple of hours of launching the interview, Konstantin and Francis noticed a very strange thing. It was almost impossible to find, even if you knew where to look. 

Those who wanted to hear what I had to say did not even know they were being stopped from doing so. It took place, as so much now does, on the internet. I gave an interview about the Virus Farce to two clever young men, Konstantin Kisin (above) and Francis Foster

They went public with the problem and immediately found that plenty of other people were having the same difficulty. The interview just didn’t come up, even if you searched quite hard.

I am pretty sure (but cannot prove) that I was the victim of something called Shadow Banning, which is as sinister as it sounds. Someone had fiddled with the computer codes called algorithms, which guide the searches everyone makes on the World Wide Web.

A number of people, including Toby Young in The Spectator and the LBC presenter Iain Dale, joined a public protest against this. Also on my side was Freddie Sayers of the website UnHerd. 

A few days before, he had been brutally informed by YouTube that they were removing an excellent interview he had conducted with Professor Karol Sikora, the distinguished cancer expert.

A number of people, including Toby Young in The Spectator and the LBC presenter Iain Dale, above, joined a public protest against this

Prof Sikora had said: ‘When the history books are written, the fear will have done much more damage than the virus, including large numbers of cancer and cardiological patients not being treated and dying unnecessarily.’ 

This is no doubt controversial. But Prof Sikora is more entitled to say it than most.

UnHerd received a message (beginning cheerily ‘Hi UnHerd’) from a nameless spokesman for something called ‘YouTube Team’. 

In some electronic kangaroo court, they had decided the Sikora interview had ‘violated their guidelines’. They did not say why or how. They explained in their message that they did not allow content which promotes ‘violent or dangerous acts’. Prof Sikora didn’t do that. They also warned against material that was ‘shocking, disrespectful or sensational’. Which it also wasn’t.

I have looked at those guidelines and can see nothing which justifies this action. But YouTube almost immediately threw out UnHerd’s appeal against this blatant censoring. UnHerd has some powerful friends and made a big fuss. YouTube eventually gave way, admitted it had made a mistake, and put the interview back. It was all a bit embarrassing.

You can see why they might not want to do that again. Then, within days I, too, was being censored, but in a different way. In both cases, the subject that caused the trouble was criticism of the Virus Panic. 

My readers here at The Mail on Sunday, readers of my MailOnline blog and those who follow me as @ClarkeMicah on Twitter, know I have been making this case with facts and logic for months. But millions are unaware there is any dissent from this policy. Does someone want to keep them ignorant?

I’ve had no traceable response from YouTube to my complaints, apart from what looked like an automated reply. But, again, after a considerable fuss, they sort of backed down – the interview is now reasonably easy to find.

But what about people who don’t have my contacts, allies or clout? Their stuff can be taken down or Shadow Banned in silence. 

Prof Sikora had said: ‘When the history books are written, the fear will have done much more damage than the virus, including large numbers of cancer and cardiological patients not being treated and dying unnecessarily.’ This is no doubt controversial. But Prof Sikora is more entitled to say it than most

I remember, nearly 30 years ago, the extraordinary day when the mighty Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda revealed it had for many years had an official censor in its office, cutting out anything that might upset the Kremlin.

It was no surprise, but it was so blatant that the revelation still had the power to disgust me. Soon afterwards, this shady figure retired, we thought forever. 

But it seems the censors have come back and I am not at all comforted that these days they wear sweatshirts and baseball caps, and say ‘Hi!’ before wielding their blue pencils and banishing dissent to the unheard shadows.

Cate’s great, but beware of BBC bias

Coming very soon is Mrs America, a US-made series. In it, the marvellous actress Cate Blanchett plays (or perhaps caricatures) a hate-figure of the ultra-feminist American Left, Phyllis Schlafly

Be warned. 

The non-impartial BBC is about to screen a new drama which will take sides on perhaps the biggest debate ever held in history – are women liberated, or harmed, by being marched out of the home and into wage-slavery?

Coming very soon is Mrs America, a US-made series. In it, the marvellous actress Cate Blanchett plays (or perhaps caricatures) a hate-figure of the ultra-feminist American Left, Phyllis Schlafly. 

They hated her because she was clever, and a woman, and saw the dangers of their cause. 

They still hate her. 

Watch it but – as so often with modern TV shows about history – look up the facts for yourself.

My new best pal in the drugs war? Stormzy!

I don’t suppose the rapper Stormzy is a keen reader of my articles, and I have no idea what sort of hideous noises he makes, but we are now shoulder to shoulder, brothers in arms and hand in hand.

For Stormzy, whose real name is Michael Omari, says he has stopped smoking marijuana, after realising the drug was harming his mental health. And because of who he is, his message is likely to reach a lot of people who urgently need to hear it.

He said: ‘I have suffered with mental health problems for the past few years… When I used to feel depressed, I would lock myself away and smoke weed and I would just get worse and worse and worse.’ 

Professor Sir Robin Murray, a psychiatrist who has warned for years of this danger, thinks the singer’s admission could have a significant impact on young marijuana smokers. 

For Stormzy, whose real name is Michael Omari, says he has stopped smoking marijuana, after realising the drug was harming his mental health. And because of who he is, his message is likely to reach a lot of people who urgently need to hear it

He says: ‘The evidence is very clear that heavy cannabis use can cause mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Young people may be reluctant to believe this when a psychiatrist like me says it but are much more likely to accept it when a star like Stormzy says it.’

It is interesting just how little coverage Stormzy’s confession has had. Could there be a media bias in favour of legalising this drug? 

Might the Billionaire Big Dope Campaign scent final victory, as a bankrupt British government looks for new sources of tax and considers legalising dope to obtain such a source?

Let us hope more attention will be paid to another piece of news about this nasty weed, before any such rash, irreversible step is taken.

As my colleague Stephen Adams reports this week, a study of almost 300,000 teens and young adults has found smoking marijuana has been linked to a huge increase in violent behaviour. Regular users are almost three times as likely to have committed a violent offence as non-users.

Prof Murray says: ‘This is not a surprise to those of us who follow the scientific literature, or see patients who heavily use cannabis. However, it may be a surprise to the many who think cannabis is a chill-out, anti-violence drug.’

It’s not a surprise to me, either. I have been reporting for years on the correlation between marijuana use and violent acts – including many terrorist outrages here and abroad. I have generally been met with disbelief and derision. Well, this is quite normal for me. 

First I am mocked for saying something. Ten years later everybody claims they have always agreed with me. Why not save yourselves the ten years and listen the first time around?

As my colleague Stephen Adams reports this week, a study of almost 300,000 teens and young adults has found smoking marijuana has been linked to a huge increase in violent behaviour [File photo]

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