Newly leaked documents from Google and Pinterest reveal ongoing efforts to censor independent media, Christian websites, and unpopular opinions.
(TMU) — As more and more Americans question the practices of tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, the topic of censorship on social media and in search results continues to be a hotly debated topic. Do these companies essentially act as publishers, and if so, should they be regulated as such? Should the government make efforts to break up the tech giants? These questions and more need answering as the public grapples with the reality that “Big Tech” is gaining more control over what we see, hear, and read while surfing the internet.
Now, more fuel has been added to the fire as the controversial conservative investigative outlet Project Veritas has released leaked documents which show Pinterest blocking links of alternative media websites and search terms related to Christianity and abortion. The apparent blacklist is part of a “porn domain block list” designed to keep the social media platform free of sexually explicit content. Veritas published the internal documents and reportedly interviewed a company insider who claimed Pinterest directly and indirectly censors content related to pro-life and Christian themes, as well as alternative health sites, and several independent news websites known for challenging the U.S. government narrative on a range of topics, including the War on Terror. These sites include ZeroHedge, The Anti-Media, NewsWars (operated by Alex Jones’ Infowars), The PedoGate, Tracking Vaccinations, and Organic Healthy Tips.
Other documents leaked to Project Veritas include a large text file titled “Sensitive Terms List” containing search terms that Pinterest considers “sensitive.” A user searching one of these “sensitive” terms will received modified search results per Pinterest internal policy. The documents note that search terms are assigned an “abusive,” “sensitive,” and “brand unsafe” value. Pinterest employees have the option to either block auto-complete results in the search bar, show the user a warning, or remove the term from recommended or trending feeds. The so-called “Sensitive Terms List” reveals that Christianity-related terms like “christian easter” and “bible verses” were marked as “brand unsafe.”
This is not the first time Pinterest made the news for censoring certain material. In February, the platform also blocked searches related to “anti-vaccination” material.
However, the company is not alone in their efforts to remove unpopular opinions and alternative media from their platforms. One day after Project Veritas‘ report, the Daily Caller reported that a whistleblower within Google leaked screenshots of two apparent blacklists of websites which are being scrubbed from the search engine’s results. The Daily Caller reviewed documents and found that employees are instructed to add the line “# REMOVE url” to ensure that a “fringe” website is removed from Google’s “featured snippets” search results. The “featured snippets” feature is responsible for finishing users sentences when they type questions into Google’s search box. The document suggests that the removal of certain websites from featured snippets is being conducted manually by a human employee rather than the result of a mistake by an algorithm or artificial intelligence.
The Caller also reports that a second blacklist, called “all_fringe_domains,” is designed to block websites labeled “fringe.” Some of the websites being blocked include “the American Spectator, Breitbart, Breaking911, the website of pastor Brian Jones, the website of Bring Your Bible to School Day, Consortium News (published by Robert Parry), St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church, speakerryan.com, The Franklin Society (a cryptocurrency blog), Free Thought Project, The Gateway Pundit, and The Gorka Briefing”.
The leaked documents reported on by the Daily Caller and Project Veritas raise a number of questions regarding how much control and influence the Big Tech giants have over public discourse. Even more worrisome is the fact that websites like the Free Thought Project, the Anti-Media, and ZeroHedge have been facing waves of censorship for over a year, with both the Anti-Media and the Free Thought Project being purged from Facebook in October 2018.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.