Censorship destroys trust in public health. The public health response since 2020 including lockdowns, were made worse by censorship. Successful groups recognize that modern social media embed censorship in their products as a feature – for sale to advertisers, either directly or through demonetization. Successful groups organize around the major networks and make use of tools that allow them to promote themselves via these major networks, while maintaining their own email addresses, communication tools, and meet-ups for in person interaction.
Any successful organization must control (1) its own ability to contact members and (2) maintain in person activities through events such as meet-ups. Any group, no matter how benign the messaging, that depends on social networks for coordination, will eventually be influenced by censorship.
Paid Censorship is A Feature of Modern Social Media
“If I had a group like this at the outset, it would have meant so much for my sanity,”Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Twitter)
Censorship via corporate, advertiser-driven, media has driven a great deal of confusion over the past two years. Topics become forbidden. Information from different regions disappears if it disagrees with a profitable product. In aggregate, 2019’s pharmaceutical spending of $6 Bn on advertising would be the 2nd largest entity behind Amazon. There are inherent conflicts of interest in taking these funds. There are inherent conflicts of interests as employees at regulators like the FDA and CDC move into the private sector. Stating these conflicts of interest isn’t a claim of conspiracies – it’s a common issue that must be discussed such that it can be controlled.
Software Tools for Communication
- Phone numbers – Old school, but they work
- Email – Essential to have individual emails
- YouTube – Censorship and demonetization can occur without warning.
- Twitter – Accounts can be banned or suspended without warning
- Facebook – Accounts, Groups and Events can be banned or suspended without warning
- Newsletters – MailChimp, Substack are examples – these can be used to track email addresses.
- Back up social network presence is essential – preferebly in a distributed instance, such as Mastodon Social. Fully hosted servers can be purchased (link).
Examples Make Good Templates
If you’re looking to learn something, a great way to apply a skill is to imitate someone who is already skilled in the art. The NoAgenda podcast has focused on Off The Grid (“OTG”) for over a decade. The Free State Project in New Hampshire is an organized attempt to influence politics by Libertarians that spans over twenty years.
Example 1: NoAgenda
NoAgenda is a twice weekly show that deconstructs global media coverage twice a week (Thursdays, Sundays) – inherent to that deconstruction are; topics not covered in the media, censorship by the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). The show’s founders have followed the ‘value-for-value’ framework where they don’t take advertisers – it is completely funded by donations from listeners, who participate as ‘Producers’. Because the show is run by media savants and has a network of software experts supporting their efforts, their broadcasts don’t depend on any other software networks for distribution – Adam Curry is even the founder of Podcasting 2.0, another distributed system.
The NoAgenda audience, approaches distributed networks with the following assumptions:
- Any controlled network with advertisers will eventually trend to censorship because a big advertiser, “won’t want to be associated with that kind of content.”
- Censorship can occur at many points in the media supply chain – often it comes through payment systems (such as Plaid) or network service providers (such as Amazon storage) that such broadcast methods depend on.
- Distributed systems can follow on past models for distributed communication – HAM radio is a good example.
- From a social media standpoint, NoAgenda uses hosted instances of Mastodon – even though Mastodon has attempted to block NoAgenda as a user.
- In person gathering is core to maintaining community – meet-ups are core to the NoAgenda network. The meet up website was created as part of the value-for-value network by a producer.
- Twitter is used to promote the show, nothing is done on Facebook.
- The NoAgenda Newsletter – they use MailChimp – is used to manage emails and have outreach before each show that dries listenership.
- There is a ‘troll room’ that listeners use during broadcasts to facilitate communication.
Example 2: Free State Project (Link)
In 2001, a white paper theorized that a concentration of Libertarians could effect change if they concentrated their effort and moved to one state. In 2016, the Free State Initiative announced it had achieved its target. With the rise in lockdowns and confusing public health response to the Covid-19 Panic, New Hampshire has remained the most open of the New England state because of the Free State initiative. The Free State initiative recruits people to the state via Facebook, where it also arranges Meet-Ups by region. The group also uses Discord servers for communications and regional groups have their own communication methods.
Meet-Ups – Welcoming New Members
Meet-ups and in person connections are crucial to growing a community. If the current goal is to make it easy for people as they leave the mass hysteria, then meet-ups are an excellent way to help them see things are different outside the bubble.
A Final Note on Censorship as a Business Model
Censorship is a component of advertising. If someone is sponsoring, or paying for a service that is based on promotion, then they can choose not to promote themselves near another business. McDonald’s will not want to promote itself right next to Burger King; Coke will not want to be next to Pepsi; Round-up will not want to be next to a trial lawyer.
Positive promotion involves the brand out-bidding the other potential advertisers to secure all of the other available advertising space.
Negative promotion involves the brand paying to silence messages that conflict with their goals. This can be overt, or it can be tacit – such as when a news network avoids running news stories.
Modern advertising creates changes to past practices:
- Pricing: Pricing software makes auctions and bidding simple, extracting full rents from bidders. Auctions get brands to pay the most possible amount for the ad – winners win big and can pay a lot. Losers cannot afford to enter the game.
- Inventory: Digital advertising has infinite inventory. The deep personalization made possible on every advertising platform (Facebook, Google, Twitter) allows much greater inventory than a printed newspaper from 1955.
- Paid content: Paid content is when media channels develop a story for a targeted audience and do not make it clear that the content was sponsored. A stealthier version of this occurs in academia, where large companies have the resources to sponsor research because of profits – while low profitability, but perhaps effective methods struggle to attract research attention.
- Referral persuasion: Peer persuasion via referral and peer advertising makes message selection and promotion even more important to big brands. Persuasion is most impactful when it comes from friends and known acquaintances. Twitter and Facebook ads are the same format as their messages. Google ads look the same as search results. Users create messages which brands then promote as ads. The platforms are incented to promote messages in line with what brands will want to purchase – effectively circulating the kinds of messages that can lead to promotion.
- All of these practices – pricing, infinite inventory, paid content, and peer persuasion combine to create more feedback loops which further drive media messaging away from openness and deeper into censorship.