My experience of real-time censorship on Twitter

I had a very odd experience this week, while I was away in York, and since it seems to be little known, I thought I’d share it with you.  In brief, I encountered real-time interference with the tweeting process while I was on twitter.

Over the last year or so Twitter has taken to interfering with the user by displaying all sorts of unwanted material when you hit the search button.  These are topics that are “trending” – attracting lots of tweets – although if you look at the number of tweets you can quickly see that Twitter is gaming the process to promote certain subjects.  They’ve also added “moments” which are much the same, but where they don’t even pretend that it is other than a choice.

These are objectionable as they tend to be sensationalist, chose to drive clicks and traffic, and so tend to disturb you from what you were doing.  They are intending to steal your attention.  And it works.

I found myself looking at a “moment” which was about free speech, a long term interest of mine.  The tweets consisted of establishment types and others gloating about some new form of censorship, where the victim would also be jailed.

I forgot myself enough to reply to two of them, pointing out that the revolution always devours its children, and did they want to be imprisoned too, for something they said.

Two of these replies I posted.  When I composed a third tweet, and pressed the send button, it did not send.  It hung there.  I thought that I had missed the button, so I clicked again and it sent.

The next time the same thing happened.  But when I clicked send again – I knew that I had already pressed send once – still nothing happened.  In fact it sat there.  The screen would not refresh, even.  But … I quickly found that I could press Cancel.  I did, and my control of the system returned.

Of course one might assume this was network trouble.  But it wasn’t.

A couple more attempts, and I realised that something or someone was watching me tweet, and blocking my attempts to respond negatively to tweets on this “moment”.

I confirmed this very simply.  I stopped tweeting to that moment, and went off and tweeted replies elsewhere.  I had not the slightest difficulty all evening.

Twitter is a rich company.  It’s possible for them to employ herds of minions to censor comments on certain threads, or whatever.  It could also be a bot, I suppose; but the sudden cessation is suspicious.

It’s all very awful.  It’s made worse because you can’t be sure that it is happening.  Thinking back, I believe that this has happened to me before, but as I wasn’t expecting it, I dismissed it as glitches in twitter.  I can do so no longer.  It was really, really, conspicuous this time.  Twitter is silently manipulating which opinions are displayed on its server.

Twitter is a nasty company.  It pioneered the trick of “shadow-banning” people; allowing them to post but ensuring their tweets were not seen by anyone else.  It’s very hard to protest censorship that you don’t know is happening, which is of course the point.  Now that shadow-banning is known, it probably happens less.  This new nastiness is right in line with their previous approach.

What a world we live in.

Fortunately US Republicans have caught on, and are starting to call for social media firms to be broken up.  Let’s hope this happens soon.

More on the ban on Norwich church by Norwich council

I wrote yesterday about the banning of a Norwich church by the City Council.  Thankfully the widely-read Cranmer blog has picked up on this disgraceful story.

This is the New Inquisition: the demand for theological orthodoxy has given way to prohibition of ‘feeling insulted’. And you might be next. Indeed, as His Grace has previously observed, this blog may well be closed down because someone (just one) complains to the police that religio-political polemic makes them feel uncomfortable and causes them distress; that they feel ‘insulted’, despite His Grace’s best efforts ‘to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions’. This blog is, after all, a public space and His Grace is publishing alarming material. He probably not infrequently falls foul of equality and diversity demands, or transgresses the bounds of acceptability for those of other faiths or ‘disordered’(© Benedict XVI) sexual proclivities. His Grace never means to insult or cause distress, but the intention or motive is irrelevant: if the beholder feels offended, His Grace may be reported to the police under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and they are obliged to investigate.

And now, if they determine that no crime has been committed, you can rely upon some jobsworth from bureaucratic officialdom to override the law and mete out their own brand of summary justice, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. This blog does not agree with all of Dr Clifford’s message, but, by God, it stands foursquare with him against the misuse and abuse of power by Norwich City Council.

And so does this blog.

A correspondent has pointed me to what is said to be the leaflet.  Since I understand that Norfolk police have advised that, despite everything, it violates none of our new and excitingly vague laws against saying what we think, I give it here.  It reads as follows:

WHY NOT ISLAM

The Inauguration of President Barack Obama is an alarming development. Behind his seductive charm and eloquent rhetoric lurks a dark and dangerous agenda. His speech should alert all who dimly perceive the world-wide Islamic threat. Yes, he challenged terrorists, but he also proposed cooperation with the Islamic world. Does he not realise that in one sentence he betrayed the ‘free world’?

1. WHY ISLAM IS NOT PEACEFUL

It is undeniable that Islam’s global jihadists – some quietly, others violently – are plotting the overthrow of all we have known for centuries. They are preparing for ‘USAistan’ and ‘UKistan’ in no uncertain terms! Tragically, our secularist Governments – which Islam aims to subjugate and replace in any case – are playing dangerous games by ignorantly distinguishing between militant and moderate Islam. The only difference between moderates and militants is between those who keep their mouths shut and those who don’t! Western Governments and other secularists are deluded by the deceptive mantra ‘Islam means peace’ (reinforced by the early, pre-abbrogated Sura 2: 256 and the frequently misquoted Sura 5: 32). But it means nothing of the kind! The Arabic word for ‘peace’ is ‘salaam’, the Hebrew equivalent being ‘shalom’. No, ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’, submission to Allah. The only sense in which the Pax Islama could mean ‘peace’ is when tribute-paying non-Muslims are silenced by conquest and reduced to a state of dhimminitude or ‘second class’ citizenship. To properly use Sir Iqbal Sacranie’s deceptive expression (used to shield Islam from its critics after 7/7) ‘the Qur’an is perfectly clear’, it states: ‘Make war on them: … Fight those who believe not in Allah … Nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are of the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians), until they pay the jizyah with submission, and are utterly subdued’ (Sura 9: 14, 29).

2. WHY MUSLIMS ARE NOT ISLAMIC

Yes, you have read it correctly. Muslims are not really Muslims. They are properly called ‘Muhammadans’ – followers of their prophet Muhammad. The god they claim to submit to (the true meaning of ‘Islam’) is in reality the ancient pagan moon god of Arabia. For all their protestations against ‘idolatry’, their crescent moon symbol of Allah may be seen on every mosque. This imagined god is not to be confused with the living God who has uniquely revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Since Muslims reject the true God, only acknowledged by true Christians, Christians alone are truly ‘islamic’ since they alone submit to God! Invoking an absurd piece of Islamic rhetoric, the Lord Jesus Christ was only a ‘muslim’ in the sense that He, as the Son of God, submitted Himself to the will of His heavenly Father. While Jesus may be regarded as a ‘muslim’ in this sense, Muslims are arguably not Muslims because they fail to submit to the living God! Their hostility to God in Christ makes them strictly ‘anti-muslim’!

 3. WHY THE WEST MUST SHUN ISLAM

So, Muslims need rescuing from Islam! At the same time, the West needs rescuing from Islam! To implement this twin rescue mission, two directives must be pursued:

1. Reliable information must be made available to community, educational, church and political leaders about authentic Islam. The loveless concept of Allah; the incoherence of the Qur’an; Islam’s appeal to the baser instincts of human nature; the degradation of women involving female circumcision and forced marriages; honour killings; the killing of apostates, its bloody jihadism and a fallaciously-promised erotic paradise for suicide bombers (murderers not martyrs); all these features must not be hidden. In responding to the growing threat, Western Governments are failing to face reality. The distinction between moderate and militant Islam misses the point that the religion itself is the source of the problem. Indeed, no other religion on earth can claim to match the violence of the Islamic agenda. Seemingly-benign Muslim communities will always be breeding grounds from which their more militant members can recruit jihadists.

2. With sensitive yet courageous compassion, Christians must use all proper means to evangelise Muslims. In the process, there must be no concessions to liberal as well as Muslim denials of the deity and grace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and only Saviour of the world. In short, the case for the pure, life-transforming faith of biblical Christianity must be courageously made. On the religious education level, the RE component of National Curricula must ‘put the record straight’. Teachers must stop pretending that Jesus and Muhammad are on a par and that the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an teach similarly-positive values. Without denying that too often Christians have failed to demonstrate the compassionate virtues of its Founder, the true character of Muhammad’s programme and its devastating dictates must not be hidden from our children. Yes, the Christian Gospel forbids and condemns hatred and violence. The same cannot be said of the message of Muhammad. The children of Western schools must learn the difference between the mercy of the Sermon on the Mount and the hatred of the Hadith. The children of Muslim citizens must also be exposed to the purity of Christ and not the poison of Muhammad.

4. WHY JESUS CHRIST

With a continuing and growing assault on our Christian heritage, never was there a greater need to get to grips with the truth of the Bible text: ‘No man ever spoke like this man’ (John 7: 46). This was the response of amazed men who heard Christ. What truths explain their astonishment?

1. NO MAN EVER SPOKE LIKE JESUS CHRIST

And why? He was no ordinary man. He was perfect and sinless. He is the ‘God-man’ (Matthew 1: 23); ‘God manifest in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3: 16); the Eternal ‘Word made flesh’ (John 1: 14).

Thus, He spoke words of truth, purity, love, kindness and compassion. He spoke with divine unction, grace and authority. No one else, before or since, ever spoke like Him. He is Creator, King, and Lord of the Universe.

On the other hand, Muhammad was an ordinary man. He was imperfect and sinful. He spoke words of error, impurity, hate and cruelty.

2. NO MAN EVER LIVED LIKE JESUS CHRIST

His life backed up His words. In lip and life, He was perfectly consistent. He brought blessing, healing, comfort and joy to people. His many miracles confirmed His deity.

His tender touch declared the compassion of God. He liberated women from the abusive treatment of selfish men. He rejected violence as a method of spreading His message. No life has ever been lived to match the life of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, Muhammad’s life contradicted many of his more noble sayings. His life is not a good example for ‘private character’. His claims cannot compare with Christ’s. Spreading his message by the sword, he brought violence and bloodshed to those who refused to submit to his ‘Allah’. He humiliated women. His tenderness was reserved chiefly for his own sexual indulgence and his stomach (according to wife – one of fourteen – A’isha).

3. NO MAN EVER DIED LIKE JESUS CHRIST

While His life and preaching angered the religious establishment of His day, nothing could justify the hatred directed at Him. He was guilty of no sin. Expressing God’s mercy to us hell-deserving sinners, Jesus, Saviour of the world, died for our sins.

He died, ‘the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3: 18). In His agonizing crucifixion, He breathed nothing but love and kindness to His enemies. Such dying! Such love!

On the other hand, Muhammad died, burdened by his own guilt. Sadly and tragically, his death did not terminate his cruel conquests. Others perpetuated his vicious legacy.

 

4. NO MAN EVER BLESSED

THE HUMAN RACE

LIKE JESUS CHRIST

His impact on history is not just the effect of a perpetuation of His memory. Jesus rose from

the dead! He lives! The Gospel is the greatest blessing the world has ever known! It has

brought forgiveness, love, joy and peace. Christ has mended broken hearts and lives.

He has given hope to those in despair. Through Him, the light of heaven has dispelled the

darkness of death.

 

He has liberated individuals and nations. The Gospel has delivered people from

ignorance, slavery, poverty and degradation. All that is truly good, noble, pure and

beautiful comes from Him (even if apostate believers – crusading Roman Catholics and

deity-denying Protestant Liberals – have corrupted His truth). Christ’s resurrection

influence continues still where He is accepted, trusted and served.

 

On the other hand, Muhammad died, to rise no more, except to be judged by Christ when He

returns. His tomb is not empty. His legacy is ignorance, cruelty, fear and oppression. The

continued influence of his teachings is a threat to all that Christ represents.

 

In conclusion, the case for Christ and against Muhammad is compelling in every respect.

Assessed by every test that may be devised, there is simply no competition. So let us all

respond as did the men in our text! May we all acknowledge, believe, trust, love and

surrender to the incomparable Christ. May we all rejoice in Him, and seek to make Him

known throughout the world.

 

I am well aware that many in the secular West desire Christ no more than they desire

Muhammad. Therefore, I must warn them. Even if they never suffer from some jihadic

atrocity, they will stand before the judgement seat of Christ, when He returns to judge the

world in righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5: 10).

 

While opportunity remains, come to Christ! If you are a Muslim, renounce Muhammad,

and come to Christ! Then, everything I have tried to express will become wonderfully and

experientially true. I invite you all to trust and serve Him with me. Amen!

 

Dr Alan C. Clifford

Norwich Reformed Church

 

www.nrchurch.co.nr

95% of UK ISP’s implementing censorship machinery

From slashdot.org:

“The UK government stated in 2006 that they wished to see 100% of UK consumer broadband ISPs’ connections covered by blocking, which includes” — but is not limited to — “images of child abuse. 95% of ISPs have complied, but children’s charities are calling for firmer action by the government as the last 5% cite costs and concerns over the effectiveness of the system. According to Home Office Minister Alan Campbell, ‘The government is currently looking at ways to progress the final 5%.’ With a lack of transparency in the IWF list, firm government involvement, and blocking that only ‘includes’ (but may not be limited to) images of child abuse, it looks like the writing is on the wall for unfiltered, uncensored Internet connections in the UK.”

It will soon be 100%, it seems, with the IWF – an unelected quango – deciding which sites may be accessed from the UK.  No-one wants child porn on the web, of course.  But child-porn is the excuse, not the reason.  What this gives the establishment — not even the elected government, for heaven’s sake! — is the power to block sites they don’t like, without appeal or control or, indeed, even our knowledge.

Now that the establishment has a list of sites which every ISP is blocking, how long before entries in it are added for political reasons?  That sites which are (e.g.) seen to be politically incorrect are added?

I give it two years at most.