As winter goes on, Big Tech continues to freeze free speech.
Big Tech continued its biased censorship in January, with YouTube and Meta-owned Instagram providing particularly striking instances of anti-free speech insanity. YouTube’s censorship targeted 2024 election and pro-life content, affecting two presidential candidates and their respective followers and viewers. Instagram, meanwhile, checked its sense of humor at the door and went after satirical memes.
Below are the worst cases of censorship MRC Free Speech America recorded in its unique CensorTrack.org database in January.
Google-owned YouTube banned YouTuber after he posted a video with then-presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Influencer Shane Ginsburg, who posts videos under the username Shaneyyricch, said in a Jan. 9 X (formerly Twitter) post that YouTube banned his channel on the same day he posted his interview of Ramaswamy. At the time, Ramaswamy was still a GOP presidential candidate. The interview reportedly included controversial topics like ending birthright citizenship and only allowing paper ballots for voting, but it’s unclear exactly why YouTube disabled Ginsburg’s channel. “In the past 3 months I’ve taken this channel from 0 to 150,000 subs and 185 million views,” Ginsburg wrote in his X post. “This is blat[a]nt censorship in front of our eyes. I had zero strikes on this channel and was given no reason for the ban.” The screenshot he included of YouTube’s message merely asserted the account had “severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines.” Subsequently, Ramaswamy made an X post bashing Google-owned YouTube’s decision. “If Google is going to rig this election, just end the charade & say so,” he wrote. “That seems to be the message they’re sending.” YouTube did not respond to an MRC request for comment.
YouTube fact-checks Fox News video of Joe Biden gaffe. YouTube imposed an irrelevant Jan. 6 related fact-check label on a video showing the president and Democrat 2024 presidential frontrunner making a mistake. “Biden refers to Jan. 6 as ‘July 6’,” Fox News titled the video, showing Biden confusing the dates in a speech. YouTube imposed its generic context label that linked to a Wikipedia article but did not address what Biden said in the video. Instead, the label read, “On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., was attacked by a mob of supporters of then-U.S. president Donald Trump, two months after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.”
Instagram censors meme mocking anti-human climate alarmism. The Atlas Society posted a meme that depicted a New York Post headline on its Instagram account: “Humans May Be Fueling Global Warming By Breathing.” Below the headline was an image or meme of soldiers preparing to shoot someone, captioned, “It’s time to stop global warming … .” Instagram imposed a “Sensitive Content” filter warning over the video, saying, “This photo may contain graphic or violent content.” The platform appeared to miss the fact the meme was satirical or humorous. Instagram did admit the post was not violating its rules in its popup: “This post doesn’t go against our Community Standards, but may contain images that some people might find upsetting.”
Users have to click through a link to view a photo with a sensitive content filter. Instagram does provide controls for sensitive content, but these simply filter the number of such posts that appear, rather than removing the interstitials. According to Facebook, Instagram’s sister-company, users fail to click through similar interstitials 95 percent of the time, constituting a very effective form of censorship.
Instagram fact-checks more humorous content on meat lovers. Meta-owned Instagram was on a roll this month for censoring humor. Gatlin Didier, a cattle rancher and Instagram user who almost exclusively posts comedic videos, posted Jan. 5 what he humorously described as his “worst nightmare.” The top of the video meme included words from a fictional exchange between himself and a judge. “Judge: I sentence you to eat ONLY veggies the rest of your life. Me:”, the meme read. Underneath the words, Didier included the now viral video of a man attacking a Las Vegas judge in court just after he had been denied bond, implying what the cattle rancher’s own violent reaction would be to the thought of being forced to be a vegetarian. Humorless Instagram slapped a fact-check label under gatlin_didier’s post claiming that the video was “False Information” and that “The same information was reviewed by independent fact-checkers in another post.” Instagram further claimed that “The same false information was reviewed in another post by fact-checkers,” adding that “There may be small differences.” The platform linked to a fact-check article published by AFP’s Arabic section. The article did not, however, seem to be relevant to the meme, since it argued that the video of the criminal attacking the judge was not related to Gaza. The censored post did not contain any reference to Gaza.
YouTube censors then-presidential candidate Chris Christie’s explanation of his pro-life stance. Google-owned YouTube placed a fact-check context label on a Jan. 3 video from Christie. The video was: “Christie On Abortion Ban: It’s My Position.” It featured Christie’s interview on ABC’s The View during which he explained his pro-life policy stance. Anti-pro-life YouTube then imposed a context label with a link to the government website National Library of Medicine. Instead of addressing Christie’s arguments, the label just defined abortion, “An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed healthcare professional.”