The internet’s war on free speech

The web was meant to empower us all. Right now, it’s empowering censors

14 May 2016

9:00 AM

14 May 2016

9:00 AM

The dream of internet freedom has died. What a dream it was. Twenty years ago, nerdy libertarians hailed the web as the freest public sphere that mankind had ever created. The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, written in 1996 by John Perry Barlow, warned the ‘governments of the industrial world’, those ‘weary giants of flesh and steel’, that they had ‘no sovereignty where we gather’. The ‘virus of liberty’ was spreading, it said.

Now it seems that the virus has been wiped out. We live our online lives in a dystopian nightmare of Twittermobs, ‘safety councils’, official procedures for ‘forgetting’ inconvenient facts, and the arrest of people for being offensive. The weary giants are asserting their censorious sovereignty.

This week it was revealed that Facebook has been suppressing news stories from conservative sources. Facebook, used by 1.6 billion people, bigs itself up as a neutral distributor of news and facilitator of global chat. Yet, according to a former editor there, popular conservative stories are often kept off Facebook’s trending bar, either because the curator ‘didn’t recognise the news topic’ or ‘they had a bias’.

People log on to Facebook imagining that the stories they see are chosen by user ‘likes’, rather than by editors who decide what us web plebs should and shouldn’t know. In truth, this stuff is curated for us by our moral betters in Silicon Valley, who dish up decent liberal stories that might enlighten our mushy minds while hiding weird conservative news that might turn us Obama-phobic or funny about immigration.

The most surprising thing about this Facebook story was that anyone was surprised. Social media sites, vast planets of cyberspace, may advertise themselves as free meeting points for humanity, but for a couple of years now they’ve been casting out moral undesirables, blocking the offensive and engaging in political censorship.

Facebook has suspended gay users who have reclaimed the term ‘faggot’ to describe themselves. The former punk and proud tranny Jayne County has been thrown off Facebook for using the word ‘tranny’. After the Paris terror attacks, the comedian Jason Manford had his page taken down after he said that if God wanted the killers to do this, then He was a ‘massive c**t’.

Last month Facebook deleted a post criticising gay marriage, written by a Sydney academic, on the grounds that it breached ‘community standards’. The post was only reinstated when Tim Wilson, a former Australian human-rights commissioner, accused Facebook of censorship. If you’re conservative, don’t like mass immigration or cleave to the Christian view of marriage, watch your words online.

Facebook’s bans are political. In September last year Angela Merkel was overheard asking Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, what he planned to do about offensive posts about the refugee crisis. ‘We need to do some work,’ he said. And he did. In February he said that in Germany, ‘with the migrant crisis here and all the sensitivity around that’, his service would clamp down on xenophobic posts.

Twitter, too, polices its users’ chat. It once described itself as ‘the free-speech wing of the free-speech party’; now it has its own Trust and Safety Council, stuffed with NGO people and feminists who aim to make it more ‘pleasant’. This isn’t about banning morons who make death threats; it’s about morally managing the conversation. In the words of Twitter’s British head of policy, Nick Pickles, the web has helped to make ‘challenging, even upsetting viewpoints… more visible’ in a way that is ‘not always comfortable’. So Twitter must think up ways of ‘drowning out’ uncomfortable viewpoints.

We’re witnessing a massive shift in the whole idea of the internet; from an open platform for the discussion of ideas to something that must be moderated and editorialised. Some argue that, as privately owned platforms, Facebook and Twitter are free to publish or take down anything they like. But it’s more complicated than that. These are vast entities. A full seventh of humanity uses Facebook. This gives it historically unprecedented clout. Facebook has more power to shape the agenda than any media mogul, pope or king in history. He who controls Facebook’s trending bar controls the present. Being turfed off the site for saying stuff its bosses don’t like seriously degrades your ability to be an engaged public person.

Facebook is now effectively the biggest public square in history; if we don’t have free speech there, we have a problem. Moreover, Facebook and Twitter’s move towards censoriousness isn’t simply a case of private companies doing their own thing. State bodies are pressuring internet giants to restrict free expression. From the Culture Select Committee’s grilling of Twitter bosses in 2013 over their failure to tackle ‘trolls’ to Merkel’s pressure on Zuckerberg, we’re witnessing attempts by the state to outsource censorship to private companies.

Consider the right to be forgotten. Endorsed by the European Court of Justice two years ago, this ‘right’ allows people to call on Google to remove from its search results links to old news reports about themselves that they find embarrassing. In the first year, there were 218,320 requests for links to be removed; 101,461 were granted. That’s 101,461 pieces of information you’ll never find if Google is your main means of perusing the past. One of the great liberties of cyberspace — the freedom to rummage through the events and ideas of yesterday — has been pummelled.

Increasingly the state is barging into the online world. In Britain hundreds have been arrested for the crime of being grossly offensive online. Between November 2010 and November 2013, more than 350 people were arrested for stuff they said on social media. In 2014, a 19-year-old was arrested after tweeting a joke about the Glasgow Christmas lorry crash that killed six people. Police Scotland took to Twitter to issue an unfunny warning: ‘Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media and any offensive comments will be investigated.’

Last month, Greater Glasgow Police went one better, instructing people to ‘Think… before you post’. Before we tweet or blog something, they said, we should ask ourselves: ‘Is it true? Is it hurtful? Is it illegal? Is it necessary? Is it kind?’

What’s with this Stalin-like invasion of the realm of speech? When the Chinese erected their Great Firewall online in 1997, Europeans scoffed. The internet was unpoliceable, they said; the wall would fall. Instead, we’re copying the Chinese approach. China’s Internet Surveillance Division has two cartoon police characters which warn web users to avoid posting ‘sensitive’ or ‘harmful’ material online; British cops now do the same.

It’s hard to remember a time when the state and assorted moralists have been so open about their urge to crush offensive thoughts. The Blairite idea of hate crime, under which everything from infantile racist blather to the mocking of the religious came to be considered criminal, has mashed together with technology and its speeding-up of the culture of complaint to give rise to some of the strictest constraints on thought and speech in British history.

Last month, the Guardian launched a campaign against the openness of the web, demanding something be done about the ‘dark side’ of online chat. Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Select Committee, got in on the act. She said we needed ways to curb abusive commentary online because, in making some web users feel scared, such trolling can ‘actually stifle debate, lead to censorship’. So, the argument goes, we need censorship in order to guarantee a better kind of free speech. This is the digital world we all increasingly inhabit, where freedom is censorship, and censorship is freedom.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • Child_of_Thatcher

    Social media are one of the few places where people can get the real news and discuss it uncensored. One reason why Angela Merkel has been desperate to do a deal with Google Facebook and twitter to keep people from knowing what is going on in places like Cologne. Criminalization of free speech is an important step in suppressing opposition to the mass third world immigrant invasion and occupation of Europe.

  • Jojje 3000

    People from MSM join the PC leftists in attacks on the free internet, both have the hidden agenda to stopping people-to-people communication and restore the old central-to-da-people. As usual the law becomes the tool for a repressive group.

  • Richard Lutz

    No speech should be criminalized bar that which directly incites high crimes like murder or is intended to cause death as when falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre to cause a panic that will result in people being crushed to death; but some self-serving elites dearly want to suppress views they oppose.

    Nothing has changed in the nature of man since Thucydides wrote: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” It is an immutable law of nature that the weak are subject to the whims of the powerful; so the weak must organize themselves so they are collectively powerful or remain subjects.

    As power hungry psychopaths naturally rise to positions of power in society, like vomit floats, it is incumbent on the people to put in place measures to reign in the elites via constitutional and legislative safeguards. The most important of all the safeguards is free speech and the right to bear arms. The latter underpins all our rights and freedoms so the people have the practical means to defend them. If the pen fails we must take up the sword. You can find out more about the right to bear arms and the militia by visiting the MIS website (www.militia.info).

  • right1_left1

    Free speech to many appears to mean the opportunity to use the foulest of invective and expression.
    What it should mean is that no idea should be censored
    Quite different.

    Hands up those who think this site is free of censorship of ideas ?
    Having said that the site is much freer than most.
    Try offering criticism of the BBC on the BBC websites.
    I assume they still allow comment a bit more insightful that such and such was awful/wonderful etc.

  • James Chilton

    In the interests of free speech, proscribe Facebook (and Twatter).

  • Give our God Immortal Praise

    Gays and moslems tend to complain the most. Thus it’s down to them we have so much censorship.

    • davidofkent

      I can’t agree with that. The biggest complainers are middle class liberals. Nothing is too trivial for them to fail to demand that the government does something about it.

  • Damaris Tighe

    Isn’t it amazing how fast things have moved in the last few years? The march through the institutions is complete. The marchers have arrived, settled in and are now flexing their muscles.

  • Cyril Sneer

    The narrative is now going against the establishment and they’re trying to silence us.

  • evad666

    Strange that since Cologne most of us now check Breitbart every morning.
    SJW’s are pushing the agenda of National Political and Economic suicide today in The EU our own young are poorly educated, unemployed, untrained and disenfranchised.

    • Patrick

      Strange I never really thought why I check breitbart for my news first. You nailed it on the head. I don’t think I can trust any other news outlet, which shows how the news around the western world seems to have only one view point (pro migrant/pro ROP/anti west/anti white) even those that call themselves conservative.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Breitbart will cover anything the establishment MSM avoids… which is a heck of a lot.

  • Speech has never been free from reaction either by banning or suing or jail and violence. Even so it will endlessly reappear like a three headed dog and just because Facebook and Google now very largely comply with the CIA in both reporting and containing information does not mean that yet another source cannot spring up. In the book The New Digital Age written by Google’s Chairman he says that soon electronic visas will be in place so that to access one country from another by Internet will require a pass. Even now Google has divided itself in national entities when searching online ready for the borders to be established by law.

    • Although you’re right so far, once governments start getting involved and passing laws it may become at least a lot more difficult and less people will feel the courage to speak their minds. That is the great danger, rather than whatever individual companies are doing.

  • Sir Johnny Foreigner

    The comment sections on the Telegraph online have been closed down as they were seen as a meeting point for Brexitiers and a thus a threat.

    • evad666

      I suggest the comment thread of the Telegraph was closed off as it was a meeting point for all dissenters. Its closure will I have no doubt increased Breitbart’s traffic especially as that site was the first to report the Cologne Assaults.
      The BBC still refuse to address the now EU wide question of Muslim child rapists.
      5488 victims spread across 45 English towns and Cities to date .
      As many now realise like at the Guardian Comment is most definitely not Free.
      We now need to address the bias in Facebook.

    • Prof Raus

      Another reason may have been that the comments were, mostly, more interesting and better written than the articles. I wonder if advertisers are happy?

      • Jojje 3000

        Yes right, but why didn’t they put ads among the comments ?

      • wibbling

        Page views plummeted when the reading community was excluded.

        • 70sgirly

          For me, the whole point of subscribing to the DT was so that I could comment. Obviously I’ve cancelled my subs.

        • Cyril Sneer

          Hope so, and I hope it keeps going down.

          • JabbaTheCat
          • Cyril Sneer

            It’s down from March.

          • JabbaTheCat

            But it’s higher than February etc., etc., the point being that the truly insignificant number of former commenters is neither here nor there on the almost 140million they’re currently clocking…

      • David Prentice

        You have a point. I used to head straight there after the football for a bit of a stoush with opposing fans. Hardly visit the Telegraph at all now.

    • Sean L

      I had a phone call from the Telegraph a couple of weeks ago asking why I was no longer a subscriber – I cancelled about a year ago. I told her it was far too conservative nowadays. We needed more celebrity features, with a greater emphasis on health and beauty. It should also demonstrate a greater awareness of racism and women’s issues, I concluded. Not.

      • iranu

        Nobody needs to subscribe to read the DT. Just delete cookies from the site and you can read as much as you want.

    • WFB56

      A good reason to cancel your subscription, I cancelled mine.

    • vichy_dave

      Exactly, and of course, the BBs want their gongs from Dave eventually.

    • maic

      This is a pity because the oncoming referendum should be openly discussed and debated. I live in New Zealand where I have to say there is no newspaper of any quality. A few months ago I took out on online subscription to the Telegraph because I was impressed with the quality of its columnists and the space given to readers to air their views in the Comments section.
      Now there is a new format – not an improvement- and no comments section. If any reader knows the Telegraph’s official reason for this I would appreciate you advising me under Reply. I am thinking of cancelling my subscription and putting time and money supporting an outlet which does encourage free and fair debate.
      It’s a continuing and valuable education reading and assessing the comments and conclusions of other people whether or not you agree with them. So well done Spectator and whatever you do keep your Comments section open. Being able to spout your views – whether wise analysis or foolish rubbish – is surely the mark of a genuine democracy.

      • “Being able to spout your views – whether wise analysis or foolish rubbish – is surely the mark of a genuine democracy.”

        I heartily agree.

        There are some channels at Disqus for Telegraph comments if you want to carry on commenting:




        • maic

          Thank you for that information.

        • Bendys

          I just posted these two links on the Not The Telegraph Letters, and I’ve been violently attacked by their trolls with the accusation of “anti-Semitism” and then immediately banned altogether.
          Nothing democratic about Disqus.

          • Disqus channels are moderated by the users who create the channels, so its not necessarily (and probably isn’t) anything to do with disqus. The Basic Rules seen on the right hand side are just bog standard and only limit things that could lead to legal action – merely posting those two links would not have breached those rules. Ultimately if you don’t like a channel you can start your own.

          • Bendys

            I did. Violently attacked even there. Nothing that doesn’t support what those people are pushing is allowed.
            You can see for yourself what I said. It’s among the newest comments.

          • You did what? Started your own channel? Where is it?

            I don’t think you read my comment properly. I believe those people with the grey “Mod” icon are ordinary disqus users. They are in charge of that channel.

            I read the thread that I think you’re referring to – couldn’t be sure because the comments I think were yours were deleted. My conclusion from it is that its the rt link they were objecting to, not the getbritainout.org link. That’s their right, they are running the channel. If you don’t like it, start your own, don’t blame disqus. Disqus are not moderating your comments on this spectator thread or banning you here, are they?

          • Bendys

            You can’t start a Disqus channel without Disqus people interfering. Which they did on my page in great numbers, and that’s what they do on all the channels belonging to the site.
            So they already erased my comments ? My, my..
            I only posted the links and I was suddenly attacked by a group of people calling me “anti-semitic” and “Putin troll”, although I had not said anything. I asked them to prove the links wrong, which of course they couldn’t, and they just continued their attacks and had me banned.

            I was banned from the “Science” Disqus Channel for daring to post research and links to books which showed the dangers of the GMOs which the “Science” channel was pushing, and all my comments were deleted.

            Their “Religion” channel is a relentless anti-Christian hate website:
            And so on.

          • I see. Well in that case all I can suggest is you publish your views using some other media such as one of the blogging websites. Since the RT is Russian state-funded media it could be that which people are objecting to. At least disqus are still allowing you to comment outside the channels. Anyway sorry I can’t help you further.

          • NoToNanny

            No record of you via that link, Bendys.

          • Bendys

            Yep. They erased all my comments immediately and then blocked me.
            But you can try posting that info yourself and comment about it and see what happens.

      • iranu

        Nobody needs to subscribe to read the DT. Just delete cookies from the site and you can read as much as you want. No point in giving them money when they don’t respect the readership.

      • David Moore

        I imagine they closed the comments for the same reason The Guardian has scaled back their comments massively, the cost of ‘moderation’ was high and many of the columnist perhaps got a bit tired of the, often rightful, kicking they received in the comments.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Cancel your subscription and carry on reading the Telegraph like the rest of us. The secret is to delete all cookies from the website.

        • sparrow-hawk

          I find there’s little worth reading anyway. And I was for years a coupon subscriber to the print version. Got tired of finding little that was positive, virtually ZERO science reporting, and a quality of journalism that was becoming dire.

    • David Prentice

      I suspect the hands of the noxious Emma Barnett and the unlovely Radhika Sanghani and their unhinged, 24/7 crusade against “nice guy sexists”. Now they can post their godawful sermons in peace, untroubled by the ruffians “below the line”.

    • The Reincarnated Sausage

      I’m sure the Telegraph shut down disqus in the run up to the Brexit vote.

      It’ll be interesting to see if it is reinstated after 23rd June, won’t it?!!

      • Bendys

        Disqus is a rabidly anti-Christian, pro GMO’s, pro gun control, pro lgbtxwz site.
        Just visit their home channels and try to post something against the official line, and you will see armies of trolls descending on you and ridiculing you. And when they can’t intimidate people in this way, they simply erase all the comments they don’t agree with, and ban people from the sites.
        Makes you wonder who is really running the site and what are their intentions.

  • wibbling

    It is simply thoughtcrime.

  • Jackthesmilingblack


  • Ingmar Blessing

    Everytime I read something like that I have to think about that until a few years back I was convinced, that freedom of speech and all other basic human and also democratic rights were truly protected by the left/liberals. And that they were engaged in a constant war against right wingers who wanted to abolish freedom of speech and get rid of all sorts of things, our societies have accomplished and push us back into a tiny and reactionary box.

    It’s incredible, how brainwashed I was and how dense the left propaganda is that I and surely most others are surrounded by. School, church, television, newspapers.. everything is tightly in the hands of left/liberal spins.

    Without the Internet, I’m sure, I’d still be on that track. No knowledge about Sweden, about Cologne, Islamic teachings, the EU, the migrant flood, and stuff, that is so screwed that even if you have the proof lying in front of you, it’s hard to believe it. If that is not there in the first place, how would someone ever get to the idea, that the general narrative is wrong?

    It’s the left that has to lose a lot – everything to be precisely – when the Internet goes on being the alternative machine that it is. No one wants to hear how the world should be, they want to know how the world is. The Internet can get you that. Therefore I do not wonder about the attempts to control the web.

    Facebook by the way has a cartel suit running in Germany currently. The government allowed the cartel bureau to sue FB. I bet, they wouldn’t have done it if FB had fully cooperated before that.

  • WFB56

    The Guardian and Maria Miller, quite a pair.

  • Lize_L

    Freedom of speech is fine but it mustn’t bring about violence. You don’t agree with what is being said fine.
    The internet is useful but also filled with garbage. Especially what they call ‘alternative media’ filling their pages with articles about: the end of the world, flat earth, hollow moon, Obama-antichrist, demons and fallen angels, etc.

    • Vinnie

      the beauty of the internet is you can turn off the computer if you don’t agree

    • Bendys

      It’s just as full with the other side’s drivel: “Christians are bigoted morons who are running the world and need to be forbidden”, “GMO’s are safe to eat”..

  • Jacobi

    Free speech on the internet is now being critically denied .

    I do not use Faced Book or Twitter but even on routine comment in journals, restriction and blockage are now the norm. The techniques employed are various.

    Careful selection of topics allowed, and denial of others, now standard in the BBC and other broadcasters.

    Growing number of blogs without comment.

    Increasing censorship of comment by sub-contracted “advisors”.

    politicisation of ordinary words.

    The Spectator is one of the few left although not without it’s faults. Effects are many, but mainly a decrease in sensible objective comment, although with unrestrained it is the opposite.

    The “no cash if you fail “ Legal Industry are the main culprits here. And by the way I advise RT from time to time. Yes it is an propaganda machine, but you frequently get some stories such as the recent Berlin demonstrations against Merkel, which the Beeb won’t run.

  • Jonah Varlik

    Once objective truth has gone, all that is left is power

  • Keith Nolan

    Well what can we do to change this? We need to fight back and absolutely crush anything that stands in the way of free speech, our most fundamental paramount value.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “The internet’s war on free speech
    The web was meant to empower us all. Right now, it’s empowering censors” Make that petty censors.
    That must have been hard to write with a straight face.
    ” We are unable to post your comment because you have been blocked by Spectator Blogs. Find out more.”

  • My innocuous, jovial, SFW comment has been deleted. If you want to fight censorship on the internet, you may wish to start a little closer to home…

    • Cyril Sneer


      • Cyril Sneer

        Flagged. Fake profile.

  • Duke Amir Often

    You are not moaning about free speech, you are moaning about an assumed right to be published by Facebook. It’s daft. We commentators have no right to be published by the Spectator, you have no right to be published by Facebook.

    Also, if you feel that Google is suppressing information, use one of the many other search engines. It ain’t hard.

    • David Moore

      No they are not. They are moaning about Facebook pretending to be neutral, while in reality they are far from it.

  • Mickey Kovars

    Orwell was right on.

  • CockneyblokefromReading

    Debate, and words themselves, are censored on this very web news/forum!
    You cannot state the word that is the opposite of heaven (even though
    the writer of the article can), and you cannot state the word that is the female for dog. And, as we all know, even when debating the very word that is seen as an abusive word for black people, you have to say “the N word”. You wouldn’t be able to quote the lyrics from Oliver’s Army.

    • Daidragon

      That’s what freedom is all about for the right wing isn’t it? Having the right to use the racial and gender insults that our grandfathers used without repercussion.

      • Cyril Sneer

        B tch can be directed at men and women so it’s hardly a gender insult, it has other meanings. As for the N word, again depends on context. Perhaps it wouldn’t be used as much if blacks themselves didn’t use it on each other, in entertainment media such as TV, movies and music all the time.

        I don’t like censorship, it’s not necessary and more often than not it’s used for nefarious goals It’s the cornerstone of the left wing – censorship and of course, slander.

        Oh by the way, no race owns a word, to think like that effectively means you’re a racist and that you support racial division.

        • SunnyD

          even Trevor Phillips has sanctioned use of the N word

          • CockneyblokefromReading

            If Philips spins any more, we could attach a coil of wire to him, put some magnets near him, and we could have ourselves a generator.

      • CockneyblokefromReading

        Freedom (whether for right or left) is about being able to speak out, to say words, to write words – even if they offend. I don’t think the past has anything to do with it. It is not polite to use the N word as an insult because it offends. However, it is (or should be) perfectly ok to say the word when talking about the word itself…but you cannot. It should be ok to use it as, although it offends, you are not using it in an abusive context. All the major forums will censor it. That isn’t right! If we start a discussion about how the word c u n t is seen as a horrible word by so many people, we should be able to discuss it. There’s a massive difference in using a word as an insult, and discussing that word. The fact that, on here, I cannot say the opposite of heaven, or female dog, is totally absurd. It’s beyond ludicrous.

    • Cyril Sneer

      You mean I can’t say “heII”!? The heII with that!

  • ErikFBerger

    It is not just right-wing opinions that will be suppressed and censored. Try to post on the internet about the risks with vaccines or share a link to the documentary film Vaxxed (exposing the corruption behind the claim the “vaccines are safe”). Or argue for alternative cancer treatments and recommend people to avoid Big Pharma’s Chemo drugs. Or claim that GMO or water fluoridation is dangerous. Zuckerberg has stated that Facebook will do its best suppress “conspiracy theories” and “pseudo science”.

    • Cyril Sneer

      Or try to post about the people behind vaccines and fluoridation and see how far you get. I am fo course talking about the Chosen People.

      • Cyril Sneer

        79 comment fake profile.

        What a sad pathetic person you are. To copy someones disquss profile. I must have really got under your skin jew hater.

    • Jack Rocks

      There’s a real, genuine problem with being an anti-vaccer. The consequences of people not taking vaccines are a public health issue. It only takes a small percentage to render the entire population vulnerable again (herd immunity). If you don’t think they work you really need to explain the eradication of many diseases that used to be commonplace.

      • Bendys

        That’s what the pro-vaccine side always says.
        Without allowing the other side to present its evidence against the safety of the vaccines.

        • Jack Rocks

          … because there isn’t any.

          • Bendys

            Because it is suppressed.

  • Erdogan burgers advertised as “delicious and juicy”, and served “with goat’s cheese – naturally” prompt “concrete threats” they felt unable to guarantee the safety of the restaurant’s employees – with owners forced to close the business “until further notice”: http://www.thelocal.de/20160509/cologne-burger-joint-forced-to-close-after-erdogan-burger-row

  • Truth

    Twitter also suspended Azealia Banks account for her political beliefs. Disgraceful.

    • James

      They suspended her account because she was racially abusing people and generally being loathsome and foul. I don’t think her political beliefs came into it.

      • Trailblazer10

        Don’t believe what the media tells you.It was for her political beliefs.

      • Truth

        Everyone is racist on Twitter and nothing happens. The KKK and David Duke have been on Twitter for years without any suspension.

  • Paul

    In the 1980s capitalism and the West won the economic debate. Since then the left has pursued a sort of cultural & social agenda which it appears to have won with the same certainty that the right won the economic argument. Anyone alive in the 60s and 70s could not possible have foreseen that the western liberal democracies would have turned voluntarily to the liberty denying society we now live in. They would have been further shocked if told that this was driven by the left. Maybe Orwell would not have been shocked though.

    • Duke Amir Often

      Orwell was such a dab hand at shooting rightists, he may have been surprised that his name is so often invoked in support of the right.

      • Jack Rocks

        I’m not sure he was. He took part in one attack where he threw a “bomb” (grenade). Later he was shot in the neck and that was the end of that.

    • The Reincarnated Sausage

      Orwell knew exactly what was coming. So did Huxley. I think Huxley’s Brave New World was closer to our fate than 1984. Huxley and his brother, the eugenicist Julian Huxley were also members of the Fabian Society

    • Rob74

      The signs of change are all around, you only have to look. What the future will look like is unsure but it won’t be the one that the hard left are trying to foist on us.

    • Lawrence Newman

      Tbf, the Left do have a history of silencing and killing people.

    • sparrow-hawk

      The Sixties were a golden age of anti-establishment rebellion and creativity, without the Internet. There were alternative newspapers which were avidly read by our (then young) generation. Free speech was the norm. Those on the establishment side may have been critical & defensive, but no-one ever suggested free-speech should be curtailed. “Hate speech” was an utterly unknown term, and the Left were just the Left. Today they’ve morphed into the Lefto-f@$cists.

  • Always_Worth_Saying

    The Daily Telegraph’s comments section has gone altogether

    • Ipsmick

      Just as well when you consider the comments that were posted there. I couldn’t believe that people could be so unpleasant.

      • AWoLsco

        “I couldn’t believe that people could be so unpleasant.”

        My experience too.

        Never before did I encounter such a concentration of sycophantic, grovelling, pro-semitic, septic jessies in all my life.
        Speaking as a committed Christian and rabid Scottish nationalist, I consider my being banned from the site a great honour.

        • The Reincarnated Sausage

          Yes. I was banned from the Telegraph Disqus commentary too……several times. I was totally blacklisted. Even using a VPN, my posts got deleted.

          The Telegraph was so desperate to control free speech that it hired an army of troll to harass and abuse its own readership. Do you remember Fabian_solutions? Mad as a box of bananas

          • Mike Christie

            Didn’t Fabian resurface as “Telemachus” or am I thinking of someone else?

          • The Reincarnated Sausage

            She’s appeared a few times under different guises. Her carefree use of the bold typeface and her general demeanour of advanced psychosis gives her away every time

      • Mike Christie

        You have clearly never sampled the comments at Breitbart.

    • The Reincarnated Sausage

      It got so bad on the Telegraph, the Disqus commentary was unreadable. Just paid left wing trolls abusing anyone with right wing views. It made the Guardian seem sane.

      • Escape from the EUSSR asylum

        Not quite just the SWP-type chaps—but of course they mostly were. A few of them were actually Chinese disinformation operatives. Remember “Zhanglan”?! (@telegraph-80b04bee-11a4-487c-9020-b786db1bf0b7:disqus ) I don’t know why they bothered! They were certainly wasting their time—now they just simply pay RT and Press TV to plug stories about the Yuan replacing the Dollar—perhaps it is cheaper that way! Who knows why they did that—it certainly didn’t really work—perhaps they were practising their new propaganda tactics on the foreigners, in English, first, before trying it on on their own new middle-class population, in Chinese!

  • The web was designed for information exchange but it is just a tool. Individuals choose how to employ it. For every story of censorship, there is one of free speech and empowerment.

  • Cyril Sneer

    I have to laugh at the abject morons touting Breitbart as some kind of paragon of free speech. Breitbart is intensely biased in its own manner. Certain subjects are never mentioned on Breitbart and comments alluding to same are ruthlessly purged. Try expressing the slightest criticism of Israel or any of its policies in the Breitbart comments and see how far you get – Breitbart and its writers are bought and paid for and follow their paymasters’ instructions like the lickspittle invertebrates that they are.

    • Jack Rocks

      You seem to be quite anti-Semitic. It’s not really a good look.

      • Bendys

        So now criticism of Israel is “anti-semitism” ?

        • Mike Christie

          That certainly appears to be the case on many supposedly Right-wing websites nowadays.

        • stickytape

          Well any criticism of Islam has been racist for years, but I didn’t hear you condemning that very much.

          • Bendys

            You didn’t hear me condemn anything, as I started commenting here only yesterday.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Many religious Israelis are anti-Gentile. That’s not a good look either, but we allow them a free pass. Why do you think that is?

        • Cyril Sneer

          Why don;t you post your home address you fake piece of sh t.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Post your one first, Neil.

      • Cyril Sneer

        That is a fake profile. This is the real one. You can tell because my profile has thousands of comments.

        I do not hate Israel, quite the opposite.

    • David Moore

      Breitbart doesn’t pretend it’s neutral.

      • Cyril Sneer


    • The Reincarnated Sausage

      Maybe some of what you say is true

      However, Breitbart is now one of the few places where people like me have a voice at all.

      The Telegraph doesn’t even have Disqus anymore.

    • Bendys

      Your criticism of Breitbart would be much better if you didn’t use such harsh words.Which inevitably provoke the accusation of “anti-Semitism”.
      Unless that was actually the intention.

      • tonyjakarta

        Don’t you get sick of hearing the words anti Semitism? why is so wrong to dislike Jews? I personaly do not believe they are the chosen people.

        • Bendys

          The word is being thrown around too much. In order to silence any criticism.
          And I think anybody and anything should be open to criticism. It’s only fair.

        • Lawrence Newman

          If someone says they dislike dogs, nobody bats an eyelid. If someone says they dislike Jews, people lose their minds.

          • Paddy Nolan

            Waddya mean ? big nose

      • Cyril Sneer

        I’m so so sorry. I quite forgot that nowadays any criticism of Israel constitutes “anti-Semitism”.

        • Cyril Sneer

          Why don’t you f ck off and get your own profile.

          Post your home address you fake piece of sh t.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Yeah, yeah, yawn. We all know you’re just another stupid, fat, middle-aged loser, probably balding to boot, who couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. Probably some kind of nasty pervert as well; your sort usually are. I bet a forensic examination of your computer would land you in some hot water….

      • Cyril Sneer

        Your replying to a fake profile. This is the real Cyril Sneer and I’m not anti-semitic, I’m pro Israel. That fake profile posts falsely under my name and he’s a dishonest jew hating b tch who copies peoples profiles then posts anti-jewish sh t under them.

        You can tell the fake profile as it only has a few comments. This real profile has over 14k comments.

        • Bendys

          Wow.. I had no idea.

    • chizwoz

      Comments on an article are hardly a meaningful medium for free speech though. Breitbart isn’t claiming to be a social network where anyone can interact with anyone else and where there’s constant to and fro. Breitbart is a news and opinion site. It’s whole purpose is to be largely a 1-way conversation.

    • Lawrence Newman

      Try condemning the barbaric practice of circumcision and the sucking of baby genitals by Jews and you will be banned. But that queer Milo is allowed to write an article promoting the genital mutilation of infants because he has a fetish for it.

    • Cobbett

      It’s neo-con sh*t.

    • Cyril Sneer

      The above post was not made by me. I have complained to discuss many times about a fake profile someone has created. These are not my words.

  • grutchyngfysch

    I think Mr O’Neill is beginning to get confused between the quite worrying involvement of States in how the internet is used and how companies choose to police their own policies. Facebook is a company. They are not obliged to represent anything one way or the other – any more than Breitbart is obliged to run articles defending Stalinism. Don’t like their policy? Don’t use facebook. This is the point of liberty: you cannot compel others to enjoy its freedoms in the same way. The compromise is that you grant each other space to live as much as possible; and then if you don’t like something you can say so: even if it invokes the words “you can’t say that”.

    “You can’t say that” is only an oppressive phrase when it is coupled with coercive power. PC becomes oppressive because it it both authoritarian and totalizing and co-opts the State to achieve its aims. As far as I can tell, nobody compels anyone to use facebook, and as long as that’s the case, they can curate their articles how they please, just as I am pleased not to take my news from facebook.

    • Trailblazer10

      Fbook is used by so many and their tinkering shapes information and opinion. It is a very dangerous situation.

    • Sean L

      It’s really not that simple. Facebook has greater reach than any state. An entity of that scope is not just another voice that one is free to ignore. The public realm is itself a coercive power. People may not be compelled to use Facebook by force of law but that’s not the only form of compulsion. Just because it’s “a company” doesn’t render it any less monolithic than a state. On the contrary, as a global entity it has powers beyond any state. And PC doesn’t require the state for its aims: Private companies ruthlessly enforce PC, as do autonomous entities such as universities, with no assistance whatever from the state. It’s all licensed by the dictatorship of the public realm, which is all the more powerful for not being identifiable with any particular entity or person. You may be nominally free not to use a particular public forum, but in virtue of its being public one can still be in thrall to it even in the decision to renounce it, in isolating oneself from society. Private corporations can be no less oppressive. Huxley’s Brave New World was set in the year AF (after Ford). He was alluding to the levelling effects of techniques of mass production. One could imagine a future dystopia where the f stood for Facebook or some such..

      • grutchyngfysch

        I’d certainly recognise that Facebook is powerful but the issue is with how you respond to a global corporation. You talk about the tyranny of the public realm but what is unspoken (or at least rarely spoken) is what this means in practice. If you are, as Mill was, instinctively hostile to the power of custom how do you limit its power? If it is by the use of power where will that be vested? You must posit a source for the authority by which you can limit such power which is not itself custom. The only answer is the State. This is why libertarians end up as neoliberals enforcing culture through central authority. It’s actually a good approximation of why PC exists in the first place: that same suspiscion of public custom on race demanding that the powers of the State be used to curtail custom. O’Neill often writes that persuasion ought to be the primary means of debate and I certainly agree. But I am thinking about the next step where persuasion is unsuccessful. At that point you have to either accept the existence of custom as a necessary limit on State power (in which at any time persuasion is at least possible) or resort to reinstating coercive State power.

        All I am personally proposing is that we cannot change the fact that Facebook is powerful without using that coercion unless we withdraw our custom from it and work to provide alternative services to compete with it. It is powerful but it is not all powerful, and if enough people withdraw from it, the consensus it constructs will be left exposed by the existence of competing consensuses.

  • Since every public forum on the internet is private property and, as such, there is no protection for free speech there. The few places where moderation is at an absolute low and almost all speech is tolerated – certain subreddits and ‘chans, for example – provide an interesting window into humanity. To some, they present a compelling argument for the protection of free speech… to others, they provide evidence for the need for moderation. If there is ever a part of the internet that makes you think “I daren’t go there”… go there.

    • chizwoz

      You need to distinguish between free speech as legal principle and free speech as a philosophical principle needed for open discussion.
      Of course private sites can block who and what they want. But they’re no longer about open and honest discussion once they’ve done that.
      The problem with Facebook is one of false advertising. You can’t call it “trending news” if that’s not actually what it is.
      Call it “our favourite news stories” so that people understand what’s going on.

    • Lawrence Newman

      MAybe you’re just a weak-spined mangina.

      • What makes you think that? My comment doesn’t tell you what my opinion is, and it doesn’t tell you if I’ve been bothered by something on an unmoderated site. I think you’re reading something into my post that isn’t there.

  • RizOnTyne

    The excuse to regulate the whole internet came when governments encouraged children to have access to the internet without creating virtual policed-safe-zone for them to inhabit.
    Until such virtual policed-safe-zones are created for children, everyone will be treated as a minor.

    • Trailblazer10

      The excuse will be the risk of terrorism the governments have created. Their “solution” will be relentless spying on everybody, and removal of freedom to criticise government policy.

      Don’t worry, the EU will soon have an army to enforce “EU values” on the citizens.

      • RizOnTyne

        I agree that would be suggested as an excuse, but the real security services (MI?), rather than local police forces, will do what security services do, regardless.

  • tonyjakarta

    The right to post ones thoughts online has been under attack for some time, until recently the Telegraph allowed its readers to comment albeit on selected articles but at least there were comments often more entertaining than the article to which they related, now sadly there are no comments allowed at all which is why I now read the Spectator.

    • I was banned from the Daily Express for telling UKIPers they were going to lose the referendum.

      • Rob74

        Being wrong shouldn’t be a bar to posting.

        • But UKIppers are so fragile at the moment; they so desperately want to win but know they will lose.

          Just go to the Express and make that point and you will be shouted down.

          • Bigbluesky

            Make your mind up! First you say that if you say UKIPers are going to lose the referendum you will be banned, next you say that you will be shouted down if you make that point. How can that be as your post won’t be there if you have been banned. Seems like your full of sh*t as per usual.

          • “First you say that if you say UKIPers are going to lose the referendum you will be banned,…” I WAS banned for saying this – past tense.

            “…next you say that you will be shouted down if you make that point. ” They had a good go at shouting me down first but when they couldn’t they ganged up to be me banned.

            “How can that be as your post won’t be there if you have been banned. ” See explanation above.

            “Seems like your full of sh*t as per usual.”
            Wizard Rule 64: A rude response is no substitute for a sound argument.

          • Bigbluesky

            Wizard Rule 65: Wriggle like a worm when caught out lying.
            Wizard Rule 66: Talk more sh*t when wriggling doesn’t work when caught out lying.

          • I’m sorry my response has upset you by destroying your arguments but you do need to stop getting so upset when this happens.

            And please don’t try to rewrite my rules. Here are the real 65 and 66:

            Wizard Rule 65: Only people with weak arguments will try to stifle debate.

            Wizard Rule 66: Socialists give the poor charity and pity. Capitalists give the poor the ability to support themselves and self-respect.

          • Bigbluesky

            Wizard Rule 67: Utter more sh*te when people prove that you have been caught out lying yet again.

          • Oh dear – you don;t like being shown up do you.

            Wizard Rule 67: Nice people make terrible leaders.

            I have rules from:

            Wizard Rule 1: God didn’t create religion; religion created God.


            Wizard Rule 84: A cliché is no substitute for intelligence.

          • Bigbluesky

            First of all lie your face off then write a load of sh*te that nobody is interested in:
            Wizard Rule 1: I thought I was God but it turns out I was a Dog.
            Wizard Rule 84: I am a cliche and I think I am intelligent.

          • I ride off slowly into the shimmer desert heat leaving Bigbluesky laying in a pool of blood in the middle of main street as the music of Ennio Morricone plays in the background.

          • Pretty_Polly

            What an unpleasant post.

          • What an exaggerated expression of horror.

          • Bigbluesky

            You really are not the full shilling are you. No, its far worse you are actually suffering from delusional psychosis. It’s time you were locked up before you harm yourself or more importantly someone else.

          • Do calm down – I like movie references. Most movies have the bad guys killed at the end and so it was the easiest parody I could think of.

          • On dear – I have upset you.

            You have to realise that if you post on here then some people may disagree with you. Getting upset never helps you cause. I suggest you spend an afternoon in bed with a large black woman. Light some candles, put a nice romantic CD on (I always use Military Marches of the Coldstream Guards) and dress up in fancy costumes. If you can avoid crush injuries you should achieve a calmer state of mind and cure any latent racism. The Buddhists call this nirvana and I call it exhaustion.

          • Pretty_Polly

            Your posts are shocking.

            This example is truly dreadful..


            Wizard rides off slowly into the shimmering desert heat leaving Polly laying in a pool of blood in the middle of the street while the music of Ennio Morricone plays in the background.’

          • “truly dreadful”

            There is a word for an exaggerated expression of horror and I can’t remember what it is – can you help me?

          • Pretty_Polly

            That post of yours about me lying in the road in a pool of blood was disgusting.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “Once Upon A Time In The West”
            Best western ever.

          • Pretty_Polly

            Disgusting that you make excuses for a repulsive comment.

          • Bigbluesky

            Wizard Rule 69: Write as much tripe as one can.
            Wizard Rule 70: Believe in the tripe I write.
            Rules 67 and 68 are out in the ether somewhere.

    • Epidermoid

      I cancelled my subscription when that happened. Odd that sites that proclaim their love of liberty liberty are so ready to ban opinion they disagree with, the Guardian of course being the worst offender.

  • If you want a good laugh go here:

  • But if you want a better laugh go here:

  • SeaNote

    First, kill all the moderators.

    • Bill Cook

      When I hear the word ‘moderation’ I reach for my gun *

      * Just in case the sort of people this article speaks of are reading, when I hear the word ‘moderation’ I don’t actually reach for my gun as I haven’t got one.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Now you’re talking.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    ” We are unable to post your comment because you have been blocked by Guy Fawkes’ blog. Find out more.”
    Gutless Guido, dictated to by Disqus.

    • Epidermoid

      Please advise. I too have been blocked on a site I like for no reasons given or apparent. What do you mean “dictated to by Disqus”? Does Disqus have any control over who comments?

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Firstly, my comment has been edited/abbreviated by some unaccountable scumbag (and I say this with all due respect) presumably in the Mod department.
        When you click on “Find out more”, Disqus comes up.
        Following a confromation on 1st Februry last at Terminal 5, when a BF officer called me a racist. I decided this event deserved a wider audience. In the responst to my complaint said officer denied he had acused me of being a racist. HE IS A LIAR. And his collegue who supported his version is also a liar.
        An irony here, a Gestapo style uniformed thug calling a member of the travelling public (namely a Brit) a racist. He then went into what I can only describe as a psycotic episode. Thank goodness these thugs are not armed.
        Censoring began when I started calling Border Force traitors, and asserting BF were not fit for purpose An argument not difficult to make: Using Pakistanis with recently issued British passports as Immigration officers, letting the wrong people in while keeping the right people out. Muslims helping brother Muslims I venture to suggest. Male Muslim immigrants that organised the industrial scale rape of British children in towns and cities throughout UK.
        Face it, mass immigration of third world Muslims into western Europe is shaping up to be the blunder of the century, and the reasons are painfully clear. US led destabilation of the Middle East created this crisis. So isn’t it about wicked Uncle Sam put his hand in his pocket?
        Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

        • Epidermoid

          Thank you for that.

  • chalkhillblue

    The Guardian is now certainly one of the biggest enemies of free speech in this country, as its online “moderation” proves.

    • stuartiannaylor

      “Comment is Free” Lols. Guardian has had a coup by the Americans, wikileaks and snowden needed to be stopped.
      Look at Katharine Viner and her cronies who are anything but liberal, not sure if Rusbridger sold out or was duped.
      The core changes to “The Trust” has ended its independence as most things are gagged in a world moving ever right.

  • Hegelman

    The Spectator is better than the frightened little souled Guardian. But then, who wouldn’t be? I have been censored on Spectator for the most harmless jokes. You are going the Guardian way.

  • bengeo

    Tell that to your bosses The Barclay Brothers who closed all The Telegraph’s comment columns.

  • Sue Smith
  • Sgtsnuffy


  • Kiltish

    Have you noticed how B O’N and his ilk spend most of their time talking about talking? What’s that all about?

  • Chris Wedge

    Whenever I see big social media companies uniting with feminist NGOs to censor criticism of their precious lie-filled ideology, all I think is “See? This is why libertarianism doesn’t work. A truly free market will use that freedom simply to quash itself – and let the big guys rule all. The closest thing to a free market is one where powerful players aren’t allowed to bully their smaller competitors out of business – like a democracy.” People under the impression that only governments and government influence can censor are simply ignorant of how feminism actually started to rise to power in the 70s.

    It didn’t target Parliament. It zeroed in on publishing houses for books and newspapers. It took on the TV and radio media. Even before then, the suffragettes took to the streets to push boys as young as 14 to their deaths in the World Wars while scoffing at the idea of a woman risking her life, and expand their (rich white women) vote in order to take all the seats of power for themselves. Of course, this included government, but it’s important to note who fell first.

    The way I see it, the problem isn’t that laws are being made – it’s that the wrong ones are. Take Pakistan for example. The government are pushing hard to repeal blasphemy laws and enshrine legal rights to free speech in their nation. Who opposes them? The people, who go so far as to assassinate politicians who “insult Islam” then laud the murderer as a hero at his funeral – and that’s what needs to be done as far as I’m concerned. Enshrine free speech into law. Not just legal protection from censorship by the State, but also from any private company who claims to host a space for political discussion. Yep, you should be allowed to sue not just the State, but also a company, for stifiling any point of view they find questionable, as long as that point – no matter how abhorrent – is being made peacably. This law will fundamentally reduce the power of both corrupt governments and corrupt news congolomerates to hide the truth from the public, similar to how innocent until proven guilty laws work.

    That way, it won’t matter if it’s a group of people with government jobs trying to stifle the fact that rape laws are written specifically to ensure that women cannot be convicted of the crime, even if they rape someone, or some private news organisation trying to cover up scientific reports about transsexualiy and gender disphoria so that they can whip up hysteria regarding “men dressing up to rape our wimminz!!11” (funny how they never talk about women putting on suits and fake bulges to rape our sons, huh? Feminist when it suits them.)

  • Cobbett

    What a poxy country.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      So hate it and leave it.

      • Cobbett

        That’s the plan….thanks.

  • Cyril Sneer

    Hi, the posts below are not made by me. I’m not anti-Israel. Someone has copied my profile and despite my complaints to disquss their profile has not been deleted. I changed my profile pic and they change theirs to match.

    Can anyone help here? I want this other profile deleted. You can tell my real profile – it has over 14k comments, the fake profile only has a few hundred.

    How can anyone be so sad and pathetic to stalk me and copy my profile even when I changed my profile pic multiple times. Pathetic. Whoever you are, you’re pathetic. Clearly I’ve got under your skin. Perhaps faker you can give me your home address and we can sort this out in real life you piece of sh t.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      What you are describing is identity theft, which surely is a crime in YUCK. You might want to check “EUSSR 4 All!”, the most recent username of Mad Jock McNutter (Jonathan D. MacDonald), the biggest loony in cyber space, though it’s a tight field. Objects only to be objectionable, disagrees just to be disagreeable. Almost never has any original to contribute. For some 12 years he wrote almost daily insisting that I was Japanese. Then inexplicably he reversed himself and insisted that I was a Brit expat resident in Japan after all.
      Former BNP member (which is where I got his personal details), possibly crashing in a drug addict squat somewhere in Rochdale, He also insisted that the Japan Alps didn’t exist, and the Trans Siberian train wasn’t operating in the 1970s. The train I rode when I first visited Japan in 1970. But my all-time favourite was his quite serious assertion that I was a guard at a Japanese WWII PoW camp. Must have been a previous existence.
      I haven’t seen his inane comments for a while, so maybe he’s kicked the bucket. Now that would really make my day. You out there, Jock?
      Jack, the Japan Alps Brit
      But what is most amazing aspect is that publications such as the Telegraph, Spectator … didn’t ban him outright. Presumably part of their cruel “mock the loony” policy.

      • Escape from the EUSSR asylum

        Constantly writing off-topic nonsense to spam the pages … you probably give the moderators at least one excuse for their existence … are you sure you are not actually paid by the Russians, the Chinese, Pakistan or Iran to do this?!

    • Escape from the EUSSR asylum

      Try contacting the Spectator directly. I wouldn’t really recommend you doing that however.

  • licjjs

    As someone who has had two comments on here labelled ‘pending’ during the past week I wonder if this link will survive. I have not noticed much comment or outrage in the media about the antics portrayed, even from that pillar of ethical conviction, Peter Mandelson. I have no idea what was wrong with my two comments as they were made in reply to someone else and were merely factual but related to a certain country’s actions in the first half of the 20th century. Let’s see if this link survives the scrutiny of whatever sensitive soul will read it.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Pending or something means your comment is heading for File 13.
      Have you noticed, when the Mod Maniacs disapprove, your recommendations are culled?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Was that anti-blasphemy legislation ever enacted? To appease the Muslims and keep them on side, obviously. Blair sent a letter to every Mosque, essentially saying. “Vote Labour” and we’ll bring in anti-blasphemy legislation. Labour also intended to introduce Holocaust denial legislation, but the Muslims knocked that one on the head.
    Britain, a great country to be from. A long way from!
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

  • realheadline

    Cracker, Nagger, Taco Vendor, Fish Head — free the net, nobody ever died from free speech. And quite frankly … I don’t give a flying F’ck about your feelings. Find a good psychiatrist.