By Tyler O’Neil
On Tuesday evening, Google sent a conservative website an ultimatum: remove one of your articles, or lose the ability to make ad revenue on your website. The website was strong-armed into removing the content, and then warned that the page was “just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website.”
“Yesterday morning, we received a very bizarre letter from Google issuing us an ultimatum,” Shane Trejo, media relations director of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Michigan, wrote on The Liberty Conservative. “Either we were to remove a particular article or see all of our ad revenues choked off in an instant. This is the newest method that Big Brother is using to enforce thought control.”
The ultimatum came in the form of an email from Google’s ad placement service AdSense. The email specifically listed an article on The Liberty Conservative’s site, stating that the article violated AdSense’s policies.
“As stated in our program policies, Google ads may not be placed on pages that contain content that: Threatens or advocates harm on oneself or others; Harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group of individuals; Incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization,” the email stated.
The email warned The Liberty Conservative that it must either remove ads from that page, or “modify or remove the violating content to meet our AdSense policies.”
“Please be aware that if additional violations are accrued, ad serving may be disabled to the website listed above,” the AdSense email warned. “Please be aware that the URL above is just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites that you own.”
Trejo argued that the article Google specified “contained no offensive content.” Rather, it “was merely distinguishing the many differences between the alt-right and literal Nazis.”
The Liberty Conservative writer suggested that the article was singled out because it was written by former Liberty Conservative contributor James Allsup. Allsup was involved in the “Unite the Right” riot (which Trejo described as a “rally-turned-riot”) in Charlottesville, Va. Trejo said the article was targeted because “it was authored by a man deemed to be an ‘unperson’ by the corporate elite.”
“Due to financial constraints, we had to comply with Google’s strong-arming tactics for the time being,” Trejo admitted. “An independent publisher such as The Liberty Conservative needs revenue from the Google ad platform in order to survive.”
Despite this necessary surrender, The Liberty Conservative writer remained optimistic. “We look forward to the day where rival ad platforms who respect the intellectual freedom of their customers can outcompete Google, but those days have not arrived yet,” he wrote. “These tech companies have us all by the short hairs, and post-Charlottesville, they are all working in unison to enforce the Orwellian nightmare. Nobody is safe.”
Chillingly, Trejo called on “all conservatives and libertarians” to “realize that the Orwellian nightmare enforced by private hands is just as harmful to human freedom as if the dystopia was enforced by the hands of government commissars. The results will be the same, as freedom of expression will be sacrificed to the God of political correctness.”
This was not the first time The Liberty Conservative faced censorship, Trejo added. “In the past, Facebook banned users from sharing content immediately after they posted our controversial article criticizing a ‘libertarian’ Washington D.C. thinktank official who denigrated Ron Paul,” he wrote. But this was the first time the site faced demonetization.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that Google was targeting critics in academia and journalism. The company has come under fire for firing senior software engineer James Damore after he published a controversial memo inside the company. Ironically, he accused Google of being an “ideological echo chamber,” and his dismissal arguably proved his point.
Following the riots in Charlottesville, one website in particular became notorious for its hateful attack on Heather Heyer, who died in the riots. Daily Stormer was a white supremacist, neo-Nazi website, and its article was genuinely hateful, so the web hosting company GoDaddy gave the site a 24-hour notice before removing the site from the Internet. Google later announced that it would cancel the domain registration, removing the possibility of Daily Stormer remaining on the Internet.
Daily Stormer was legitimately hateful, but its removal from the Internet can set off a slippery slope of Internet blacklisting, which has arguably already begun. Google’s ultimatum to The Liberty Conservative may be the next step in that direction.
If Trejo is correct, and the article in question was targeted merely because of its author rather than for any particular “hatred”-inciting content, AdSense’s threat violated its own policies — unless the very name of a Charlottesville rioter is to be considered “discriminatory” speech towards minorities.
Daily Stormer was disgusting, and because The Liberty Conservative article has been removed from the Internet, PJ Media could not ascertain whether it was legitimately offensive. But even if it was, these attacks set a dangerous precedent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a cash cow that uses its coffers to slander mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as “hate groups.” The SPLC began by tracking real hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and black nationalist groups, but later it added mainstream groups to its list.
The SPLC publishes a list of “hate groups” — along with a “hate map” — that lists Christian organizations like D. James Kennedy Ministries, the Family Research Council (FRC), Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association (AFA), and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), along with other groups like the American College of Pediatricians and the Center for Immigration Studies. It also lists Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”
This matters because in the summer of 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins III broke into the FRC, aiming to murder everyone in the building. Corkins later pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, the shooter said he targeted FRC because it was listed as an “anti-gay group” on the SPLC website.
The man who shot Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), James Hodgkinson, also “liked” the SPLC on Facebook, and the SPLC repeatedly attacked Scalise.
Since the events in Charlottesville, the SPLC has received wide support. George Clooney and his wife Amal pledged $1 million to the group, and J.P. Morgan pledged $500,000. Apple CEO Tim Cook was even more generous, announcing his company would give $1 million to the SPLC, that it would match any donations from employees, and that it would set up a system in iTunes software to let consumers directly donate to the organization.
CNN broadcast the SPLC’s “hate map” on its website and Twitter account this month (with the FRC still marked on the map). In June, the charity navigation website GuideStar adopted the SPLC “hate group” list, marking each profile of the targeted organizations as a “hate group.” ABC and NBC parroted the SPLC’s “hate group” label against Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) last month.
If Google is targeting websites with any connection to white supremacists, in order to take them off the Internet after Charlottesville, and Apple and CNN are partnering with the SPLC to tar mainstream conservative, Christian, and anti-Islamist groups as on par with the KKK, it is not a stretch to think that Google might start targeting mainstream sites next.
Should Google, Apple, and GoDaddy decide to “fight hate” by following the SPLC and abolishing all of its “hate groups” from the Internet, the Left would effectively silence the Right overnight.
The Liberty Conservative is not National Review, but it’s not Daily Stormer, either.
Many turn to the words of Lutheran Minister Martin Niemöller, who warned in the time of the Holocaust, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.” Then they came for other groups, and he did not speak out. But: “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
First they came for Daily Stormer. Then they came for The Liberty Conservative. Then they came for the Family Research Council. LGBT activists speak openly about “punishing the wicked,” by which they mean anyone who refuses to take part in a same-sex wedding.
Internet blacklisting should scare any American who loves free speech. Every American should speak up about websites being removed from the Internet, because once tech companies start “fighting hate,” it doesn’t end with Daily Stormer or even The Liberty Conservative. The SPLC won’t let it end there. Americans must speak up, or their views might be next on the blacklist.