The right to protest is under attack by Priti Patel …

and Twitter and Facebook are ready to silence us.

By Gordon Liddle

Twitter is not your friend. Facebook is not your friend. Social media organisations are, for the most part, corporate monopolies. If ever the time arises when the great unwashed try and organise to save themselves, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google will abandon us and side with the establishment, or with the fascists. We are almost at that stage. I’m losing count of the times I get suspended on Twitter and on Facebook. Someone dislikes your opinion or political outlook and dobs you in on some spurious claim and the next minute you are facing a social media ban.

I’m losing count of the times I get suspended on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sometimes it is the algorithm itself which concludes that you are in breach of the ‘code’ of the platform. Certain words trigger a reaction, as can particular phrases. The route to appeal is usually limited to a few clicks which, quite often, don’t lead to re-instatement. They may even lengthen the ban. Trying to place satire on Facebook for instance, particularly if strong language is part of the spoof or situation, can result in a ban. Artificial Intelligence doesn’t understand parody. Quoting a phrase out of context to illustrate an absurdity can also result in a sanction. Sometimes bans are an inevitable consequence of trying to stop abuse, bullying, lies and rampant racism, but they can throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Then there are the codes of individual groups, particularly on Facebook. Many have a list of things not to do within the group and if you join the group. Well, you agreed not to infringe those rules. However, Facebook itself can override the group rules and impose its own restrictions once again.

if Trump was banned for lying, why is the Tory Party still allowed to Tweet?

Now this is probably a good thing in the round as, obviously, a group which has been set up by a psychopaths intending to burn down a school is obviously a group that should have an intervention. However, the fact they can see all of our interactions even in closed groups is a worry.

Recently, after being removed from office, Trump was also kicked off Twitter. His obvious string of false claims and lies became too much for the platform. I think this was wrong. I prefer the position which says that sunlight is the best disinfectant. At least on Twitter Trump could be seen in broad daylight; exposed, ridiculed and fact-checked.

At least on Twitter Trump could be seen in broad daylight; exposed, ridiculed and fact-checked.

But if Trump was banned for lying, why is the Tory Party allowed to Tweet? The GOP? The NRA? Why are the Tufton Street propaganda fraudsters allowed to publish at will? Johnson and his present set of cronies have been proved to be inveterate liars and grifters, yet the platforms are awash with their falsehoods and conceits. Where is the line drawn and by whom?

This year has seen the Tories completely mishandle the pandemic. Boris Johnson’s failure to deal with the Covid crisis has lead to over a 120 thousand deaths in the UK. What did they do wrong? The mistakes they made were partly the result of blind dogma, partly the result of inexperience, and partly the consequence of the intentional running down the NHS and other tools of the state over a period of many years. Their failure was also, obviously, partly because of the nakedly fraudulent way the Conservative government doled out contracts worth vast amounts of public funds. The contracts went to incompetent cronies. All this, the Conservatives did under the cover of the pandemic. The Conservatives have acted so with seeming impunity, without fear that mainstream journalists will challenge these actions seriously and take them to task.

Boris Johnson’s failure to deal with the Covid crisis has lead to over a 120 thousand deaths in the UK.

In 1947 The Mont Perelin Society laid the foundations of the fight back against societies that prioritised social justice and welfare. Hayek’s book ‘The Road to Serfdom’, was the clarion call for right wing economists to become the only narrative of corporations and politicians, becoming what we now call neoliberalism.

The only welfare that was conceivable, according to these think tanks, became welfare for the rich. They would fight a rear-guard action against social democracy for decades to help make this economic philosophy the dominant one. The resulting, huge, expansion of unregulated financial capital led to radical shifts in the markets, turbo charged under Reagan and Thatcher. The rich became even more parasitical in the UK; they are rentiers of assets and capital instead of long-term investments and trade. There is more and more speculation.

The rich became even more parasitical in the UK

Meanwhile the drive against wages, and wage suppression, was further amplified by globalisation, whilst the gains we took for granted in the UK have were slowly undermined and debased. In the USA, rampant capitalism and built-in racism were part of the system from the start; US citizens never reached the heady days of free at the point of service health care that has long existed in the UK.

Nowadays, corporations spend hundreds of millions on setting up think tanks and propaganda units masquerading as benevolent charities. These churn out an endless spiel of Randian style philosophy that lionises billionaires. Huge sums of money and influence are now regularly brought to bear to lobby and persuade.

A key target of these right wing think tanks is the repeal of any improvements to welfare standards and life conditions for the many and the reduction of taxes on corporations. These corporate propaganda units consistently undermine confidence in good governance and erode compliance with State institutions by pushing forward populism and demagoguery as a solution: the strongman, to ‘save us from socialism’ and take back control. Make America Great Again. Get Brexit done.

corporate propaganda units consistently undermine confidence in good governance

The tsunami of corporate, black money funding the propaganda war is overwhelming. Where does this leave us? While dark funding promotes Farage and Tommy Robinson, politicians like Jeremy Corbyn, who act according to their conscience are smeared, lied about and ultimately destroyed. Journalists who investigate and provide an honest analysis are ignored and attempts made to immediately silence them. The access of journlists of integrity to news events is removed and they have to strike out on their own on social media platforms. But honest journalists can easily be blocked from YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and removed from being fetched up by Google search algorithms.

There is a lot to protest about. There is a lot to say. But this week an important line was crossed by our government. The Tories, encouraged, perhaps, by the success of their larceny, and despite the trail of graves, grief and misery they have laid behind them, have decided to attack the right to protest itself.

We are about to have the right to decide to protest removed.

We are about to have the right to decide to protest removed. No groups will be allowed to protest without state, or rather police, consent. On top of that, Roma people and and Travellers in general may have their vehicles removed if they are not sited in pre-determined areas. But be in no doubt, this measure will be popular with the public who support Boris, who are constantly fed tropes by the right-wing press about the Roma community. We know where this all leads. .

The new protest and criminal changes laws are being rushed through the House in the middle of legitimate protests made by women after the death of Sarah Everard. We saw the shameful scenes of burley police men forcibly arresting young women who were protesting male violence and murder.

If we cannot protest in huge numbers, if we cannot protest to disrupt, as Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter have done, what alternative ways are there to protest? What options are they leaving us with: a rolling protest: a general strike, civil disobedience, a riot? Who will be the first of us to land in jail? Hearing Patel wants to change the rules on local elections to get rid of proportional representation in local government and introduce first past the post, I wanted to register my opposition. But I have a dilemma. You will soon have the same dilemma as I do. Twitter and Facebook are ready to silence me.

And how do I communicate our opposition? As I stated before: Twitter is not your friend. Facebook is not your friend. They are on the other side. Already on Twitter, many left voices are being muted or removed. It takes weeks sometimes to fight to get them back and some don’t ever come back.

We have been groomed into a false belief that Facebook and Twitter are benign, simple communication tools for us all to enjoy, but the minute the Tory government faces real opposition Twitter and Facebook will tighten their censorship and control. They may well even be removed. These media organisations know what we are thinking and planning, and they know about everyone you communicate with and they share that information with the Tory government.

Gordon Liddle was born 1956, Horden, County Durham, United Kingdom Married, lives and works at his Derbyshire studio. BA Hons, Sheffield Psalter Lane Art College Gordon has had numerous positions and travelled extensively through the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, Africa and Europe, with particular interests in religion, democracy, politics, economics, MMT, and culture. The results of these studies form the basis of the series of works now under way. Numerous works bought by private collectors #Madonna Victorian Mood Bought by Andrew Cavendish the 11th Duke of Devonshire is owned by the Chatsworth Collection. ‘Celestial Teapot’ was exhibited at La Galleria Pall Mall in London for one week in 2013, 4 days at Art Basel in 2014. Currently working on Gaia, The Sixth Extinction Series, of paintings, woodcuts and hopefully etchings soon. Also writing two books and a book of poems and rants. Gordon is on Twitter @sutongirotcip and his website is 

One thought on “The right to protest is under attack by Priti Patel …

  1. Terrific Gordon. These bastards are really going for it.

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