Opinion: On May 31, 2016, the big internet companies Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, and Twitter formed a coalition with European governments to crackdown on hate speech, which has effectively been defined as disagreeing with Islam as a peaceful religion and immigration policies. In order for local and federal authorities to intervene more rapidly, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Microsoft and Google (which I will refer to as Big Internet for the purpose of this article) have agreed to expedite the process of providing actionable evaluations of so-called hate speech on social media. On the surface tackling hate speech may seem like a nonpartisan goal, but this has proven to manifestly not be the case.
On July 13, 2016, just two months after Big Internet became an apparatus of the EU, there was an operation orchestrated by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) deployed more than 25 police units, in 14 different federal states, to raid the homes of 60 hate speech suspects in Germany. In a press release, BKA President Holger Münch was quoted as saying, “Today’s action makes it clear that the police authorities of the federal government and the [states] are resolutely against hate and hate on the internet.” However, it seems that the free speech crackdown only applies to right-wingers; this is made evident by the fact that all 60 suspects were accused of making "right-wing statements” that apparently warranted police raids and interrogations.
It is unclear how far those outside of the “right-wing” must go in order to receive the same treatment from Big Internet or European authorities. In some cases, it would appear that the German government is facilitating hate speech from one side of the spectrum. For example, the German government has touted its partnering with Turkish Islamic Union for Religion (DITIB), described as:
A nationwide, comprehensive [organization of] about 900 clubs ... for the coordination of religious, social and cultural activities of Turkish Islamic mosque communities ..., and thus represents the interests of a considerable percentage of Muslims in Germany.
Indeed, the DITIB is the self-proclaimed “arm” of the Turkish state in Germany. It has tremendous influence and has been a signal booster for pro-Recept Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, propaganda within Germany. Here’s the kicker, DITIB-affiliated mosques have reportedly been using social media to glorify the jihad, defend anti-semitism, and has sent followers off to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS in what it calls the “Holy War.” Yet, there are no raids, no interrogations from local or federal authorities.
Meanwhile, on June 20, 2017, the BKA worked in conjunction with Big Internet to conduct another 36 raids and interrogations of suspects accused of hate speech on social media. Thirty-four were accused of hateful right-wing statements, two were accused of left-wing hate speech. Since 2016, Big Internetcompanies have facilitated the take down and interrogation of 96 private citizens in Germany for so-called hate speech on social media, and majority of the 94 have been Saxon men who spoke negatively of Islam and migrants.
In its misguided political correctness, Big Internet is effectively doing what a caliphate would do: censoring speech critical of Islam under threat of a very real punishment. Perhaps there is hope in the fact that some are standing up for free speech in Europe, seeing clearly through the bias of Big Internet's collusion with European governments obsessed with political correctness, like Germany.
The National Secular Society (NSS) of the UK denounced the EU's "vague definition of 'hate speech'," and stated that European governments "risk threatening online discussions which criticize religion."
Indeed, the NSS pulled no punches in its rebuke of political correctness, having this to say about the agreement between Big Internet and European governments:
The agreement comes amid repeated accusations from ex-Muslims that social media organizations are censoring them online. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain has now begun collecting examples from its followers of Facebook censoring 'atheist, secular and ex-Muslim content' after false 'mass reporting' by 'cyber Jihadists.' They have asked their supporters to report details and evidence of any instances of pages and groups being 'banned [or] suspended from Facebook for criticizing Islam and Islamism.
In the shadow of more frequent jihadist attacks, like the ones that claimed the lives of columnists at Charlie Hebdo, only time will tell if Europeans from Germany to the U.K. will take a stand for their right to speak freely. Otherwise, Europeans will learn to fear of their own governments as much as they do jihadis.
You can follow Pedro directly on Twitter: @pepe_lew
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