Visitors stand in front of the quotation from Martin Niemöller that is on display in the Permanent Exhibition of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Niemöller was a Lutheran minister and early Nazi supporter who was later imprisoned for opposing Hitler’s regime. US Holocaust Memorial Museum

 

Whether you like what I write about or not, whether you are for or against oil, gas, nuclear, coal, Pipeline Online is real, legitimate news media in Saskatchewan and Canada, accepted within the legislature during press gallery events and anywhere else. Just like CBC, CTV News, Global News, Regina Leader-Post or the Brierpatch, for that matter. Real news, providing real coverage, as protected by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Apparently Facebook thinks so, too, because it just started cutting off some people’s access to Pipeline Online news links.

The morning of June 14, one person at Kindersley reported that Facebook is now cutting off posts from Pipeline Online. “In response to Canadian Government Legislation, news content can’t be viewed on Facebook,” said the screenshot. “You can no longer share or view news links or content on Facebook, including news articles and audio-visual content. posted by news outlets. You can no longer see links or content from any news page outlets, even if you search for them or previously followed them.”

 

As far as I can tell, Facebook is only doing this to a small number of Canadians, kind of like a trial run. And it may only be cutting off smaller media sites, at least according to the Canadian Press, as published by CTV News.

 

This is all about federal legislation saying Facebook and Google will have to pay outlets for clicks. In response, they are moving to shut down all news links on their sites.

Social media is the public square today. No one goes to old style news stands anymore. If you’re not on social media, as a news outlet, you’re dead in the water. That applies to all news media, from your local radio station to legacy print to CBC.

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Reddit is doublethink

With the threats from Facebook and Google heavy on my mind, I attempted an experiment to see if I could expand my views with a different social media beyond the ones I’m already using. I’ve been experimenting with Reddit in recent weeks. But I soon found that it’s “karma” system of upvotes and downvotes soon meant that anything unpopular with the masses will soon get downvoted into oblivion, and more importantly, if your karma goes negative, your voice is silenced. You can’t even post in some forums. You have been smothered. Cancelled.

I posted the above on the subreddit r/Saskatchewan. How could anyone possibly be against free speech? And within hours I found it was being downvoted into oblivion, as was I. One comment blatantly lied about me and my reputation as a journalist, and got at least 22 upvotes!

The irony of a post about free speech being smothered in a forum presumably meant to offer free speech is not lost on me. Reddit is the closest thing I have seen yet to the “doublethink” George Orwell spoke of in 1984, and the closely related “groupthink.” In my case, you say anything positive about oil, gas, coal, or in any manner question manmade climate change – you are persona non grata. But in this case, I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about free speech. And the downvotes flowed in earnest.

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Alberta premier silenced

Not so ironically, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith found herself being silenced on Facebook, too, but in a different way, on the very same day.

On Twitter and LinkedIn, she posted on June 14:

Big tech and government censorship is becoming a danger to free speech around the world. My Facebook account has been banned from posting content for a “few days”. As the Premier of a province of 4.6 million Albertans- if they can prevent me from communicating with you, imagine what they can do to any one of us. Regardless of our political leanings, we must all stand against censorship. CC:

@elonmusk & @finkd #abpoli #cdnpoli

 

This is happening now. Whether you hate my guts or love what I write, whether you love or hate Danielle Smith, this move will affect you and all the news you consume: left, right, centre, period. This is the silencing of voices, in Smith’s case – the recently and legitimately elected leader of a province.

What happens when the same censorship is applied to media or politicians you do support?

I can tell you this: It feels like being gagged. Whether by corporation or government or both, being silenced is all the same.

After the Second World War, German pastor Martin Niemöller said:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

—Martin Niemöller

If you’re looking for the quote, you can find it on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. There, it’s inscribed on a wall. For good reason. We’re seeing that reason today.

This is 1984 in real time. Today, they may be coming for me and Danielle Smith. What will happen when they come for you?

 

Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online. He can be reached at brian.zinchuk@pipelineonline.ca.

 

UPDATE: At around 10:30 a.m. on June 15, Danielle Smith tweeted that she once again was able to post to Facebook. There was a substantial uproar about her being cut off. Now she’s back. Interesting, that.

 

Pipeline Online provides the in-depth coverage on energy issues in this province that no other media comes close to. It does NOT receive federal journalism subsidies. However, with recent realized action  from Facebook to block news links, it’s important to follow Pipeline Online in other manners. The easiest is to check each morning at PipelineOnline.ca, with the top story posted at 7 a.m. Monday to Friday, and additional coverage throughout the day and weekend. But you can also follow on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can follow editor Brian Zinchuk online at LinkedIn as well (you’ll see more stories that way). Finally, you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter

 

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