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8 Jul, 2020 21:57

Much ad-o about nothing: ‘Expert hate police’ slam YouTube over $60 worth of Trump & Biden ads on ‘extremist’ and RUSSIAN videos

Much ad-o about nothing: ‘Expert hate police’ slam YouTube over $60 worth of Trump & Biden ads on ‘extremist’ and RUSSIAN videos

Hate! Extremism! Russia! Election meddling! The new Politico article has it all, breathlessly reporting on the new scandal about political ads for both Donald Trump and Joe Biden running ahead of ‘problematic’ YouTube videos.

Trump and Biden ads were shown ahead of videos from Ruptly, described as “a Berlin-based media outlet controlled by the Kremlin,” and channels “connected to the so-called Identitarian movement, a trans-Atlantic group of white supremacists,” Politico proclaimed on Tuesday.

This is according to a report by something called the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), quickly picked up by other professional fighters against “extremism.” 

Buried inside the Politico article is the admission that both campaigns have spent “less than $60” in total on the ads, according to Google – YouTube’s parent company – and that neither actually picked where the ads would run. That was the doing of YouTube algorithms that make the determination based on the target demographics. 

The role of AI in making these determinations is something worth investigating, but Politico chose not to. Instead, they provide free PR for GPAHE, which styles itself as a nonprofit “devoted to building a diverse global community by exposing and countering racism, bigotry and prejudice and promoting human rights that are central to flourishing, multicultural societies and democracies.”

The two people behind this word salad, who are mentioned by name in the piece, are CEO Wendy Via and Chief Strategist Heidi Beirich. A cursory search shows both of them are alumni of the notorious Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a marketing outfit posing as a “hate speech” police until internal scandals forced its leadership to resign en masse last year. Politico doesn’t mention any of that, of course.

Also on rt.com Who watches the watchdog? Hate monitor group SPLC embroiled in harassment scandal (VIDEO)

Beirich and Via apparently decided to double down on “hate fighting” and go global, only without the benefit of Morris Dees’ direct marketing databases. And what better way to make a name for their new outfit than to generate a report alleging that “white supremacists” and Russia were profiting from US presidential elections?

We have, indeed, heard this song before: it was called ‘Russiagate.’ 

For the record, Ruptly is a news agency that does not hide its affiliation with RT. It specializes in raw video footage, rather than editorial content. The videos cited by GPAHE, featuring nationalist and anti-immigrant events in Italy and Austria, show the audience what happened, not what they ought to think about it. GPAHE’s objection to Ruptly doesn’t seem to be the content it features, but its identity as a Russian-owned agency. Tell us again who the bigots are here?

Interestingly, GPAHE’s push against Google comes as a coalition of NGOs is organizing an advertising boycott of Facebook, with the explicit aim of forcing it to remove “hate speech” – a category unknown in US law and usually arbitrarily defined as anything these groups dislike.

Also on rt.com What is the real goal of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign against Facebook? Hint: it has nothing to do with ‘hate speech’

It just so happens that many of the groups involved in this effort had partnered with the SPLC to pressure Facebook into hiring them as fact-checkers and gatekeepers in 2018. In other words, all too often the talk about hate speech translates into activists basically extorting tech platforms, for both prestige and profit. It’s a lot easier to pay them off than get dragged in the press, after all.

The toxic effect this has on free speech across social media platforms isn’t a bug, but a feature of this approach. After all, conventional wisdom insists that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are to blame for Trump’s 2016 triumph over Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed by all the proper-thinking people rather than the “deplorables.” 

In forcing the platforms to delete “hate,” the various grifters that have sprung up since 2016 are both purging the public square of politics they disagree with, and getting paid. By the time people realize that this loss of free speech is nothing like “flourishing, multicultural societies and democracies,” it will be far too late.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.