Full video transcript:
Hi, I’m Michelle Malkin.
Although I started in the metro newspaper business in 1992, my years as an independent conservative blogger and Internet entrepreneur have been the most journalistically enriching.
I launched my first website in 1999, my namesake blog in 2004, my first group blog HotAir and my YouTube channel in 2006, my Twitter account in 2008, and my second group website Twitchy in 2012.
Early adopter status was important for non-Leftists who saw the disruptive influence and narrative-setting opportunities that new media and social media offered. I was ridiculed by mainstream media colleagues for wasting time on the Internet. Derided as “just a blogger.” And mocked for starting a Twitter aggregation business…before everyone else, including Twitter itself, copied the idea.
But you can’t win the game if you’re not on the playing field.
Now, recent revelations by industry insiders about how social justice progressives embedded in the tech world have rigged the alternative media playing field are no surprise to those of us who’ve been here from the start.
I want to share three incidents that may help shed light on the current censorship campaign online that threatens true diversity of ideas in the social media marketplace.
Number One: In 2006, YouTube yanked down my two-minute innocuous, harmless, nonviolent, nonprofane, nonhateful, and nonthreatening video called “First, They Came.” It spotlighted authors, editors, politicians, and other targets of Islamic intolerance and violence. Among those featured in the video on radical Islam’s war on Western free speech: Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered by jihadist Mohammed Bouyeri for his outspoken criticism of Muslim misogyny; Salman Rushdie, whom the Ayatollah Khomeini cast a fatwa upon after he published the “blasphemous” “The Satanic Verses”; Oriana Fallaci, the fiery journalist put on trial in Italy for “defaming Islam;” and the editors of the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, who faced death threats for publishing cartoons of Mohammed, which prompted violent riots and terror plots around the world.
I contrasted the plight of those killed with the hordes of Muslim protesters in London’s safe spaces fearlessly waving their signs demanding that the faithful “Behead all those who insult Islam” and “Exterminate those who slander Islam.”
YouTube informed me that the video contained “inappropriate content.” I complained across social media — posting additional YouTube videos calling attention to the ban. But “First, They Came” stayed deep-sixed on my YouTube channel. Other bloggers and video consumers tried to subvert the censors by posting the clip on their sites; it became a game of whack-a-mole as the YouTube police hunted it down.
Counterjihad activists nicknamed YouTube “JihadTube” or “Dhimmitube” to mock the censors’ acquiescence to Islamist restrictions on acceptable speech by infidels — as Islamic radicalization videos festered on the site and continue to fester to this day.
Three pieces in The New York Times covered my skirmish over the little video. Reporter Tom Zeller Jr. reported that YouTube had emailed him a statement suggesting that my video “violated the company’s terms of service.” YouTube also told the newspaper, “Our customer support team reviews all flagged videos before removing them.”
The statement “specifically referred to the part of the YouTube user agreement that forbids users from submitting material that is ‘unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, violate any law, or is otherwise inappropriate.'”
George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen wrote in a New York Times magazine article on “Google’s Gatekeepers” that he “watched the ‘First, They Came’ video, which struck me as powerful political commentary that contains neither hate speech nor graphic violence, and I asked why it was taken down. According to a YouTube spokesman, the takedown was a routine one that hadn’t been reviewed by higher-ups.”
Only after receiving unusually fair exposure in The New York Times did the video magically reappear on my channel.
Number Two: In 2007, YouTube yanked another of my videos. This time it was an episode of my show “Vent” for Hot Air. I exposed Universal Music Group hip hop artist Akon as a “misogynist” and included excerpts from Akon’s vulgar music videos as well as onstage video footage showing him sexually abusing a teenage girl at a nightclub in Trinidad.
UMG claimed our video podcast infringed its copyrights and submitted a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), pressuring YouTube to pull the episode down. This was a clear attempt to suppress my video by abusing the DMCA. And it turned out that YouTube and UMG had a corporate relationship – or “strategic partnership” – as they called it.
As the EFF pointed out, UMG wielded a “bogus copyright claim” against me to squelch video criticism of one of its superstars. YouTube helped trump my First Amendment fair use rights by appeasing a corporate partner…until we fought back and blew the whistle.
Number Three: Not long after launching Twitchy, my tweet aggregation site, we heard from countless conservative users whose accounts were suspended after being targeted by left-wing trolls who falsely marked their adversaries as spam. This speech-squelching mob tactic was dubbed “twitter gulag.” Instead of abandoning the playing field, conservatives on Twitter banded together to expose the flag-spamming swarms. Initially, we were laughed at, but Twitter was forced to respond and reinstate victims. Fast forward to 2018– a half-dozen years later. The Twitter gulag practice we battled in 2012 ominously foreshadowed the far more nefarious and systemic shadow-banning practices perpetrated by liberal Twitter engineers themselves against conservatives and Trump supporters.
In the past, my experiences showed me that there were a few good and principled First Amendment advocates on the Left– the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jeffrey Rosen and Tom Zeller at the New York Times for example – who were willing to speak up for the free speech of all online. But those rare unicorns have grown even rarer on the polarized politicized platforms built by Silicon Valley militants who preach about the open internet while facilitating the censorship and targeting of those with views with which they disagree.
I got into journalism and onto new media because I believe more and better speech is always the answer to false and flawed speech. In my skirmishes with the speech-squelchers over the past dozen years, the most effective strategies have involved relentless exposure of the First Amendment hypocrites and their double standards; information-sharing and organizing among targets; and a stubborn commitment to stay on the field…do not yield.
Ultimately, diversity is not our greatest strength. Unity in the face of retributive censorship is.