YouTube Shooter's Claims Backed Up by Twitter Engineer


Just because she was crazy doesn’t mean she was totally wrong.

The woman who shot and wounded three people before shooting herself to death in Tuesday’s attack on YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, was apparently furious that the video-sharing website had arbitrarily blacklisted her videos to keep them from getting wide distribution.

Even if it’s true, it’s no excuse for violence, of course. But the shooting definitely brought the practices of Silicon Valley into the public eye again, and as an undercover expose released early this year showed, arbitrary decisions that amount to censorship are par for the course for social media companies.

The shooter in Wednesday’s attack has been identified as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a 39-year-old vegan activist from San Diego who believed YouTube had cut into her viewers by relegating her videos to “age-restricted” status, according to Ars Technica.

On her now-deleted website, Aghdam wrote that the age restriction on an exercise video she maintained was not sexual in nature amounted to suppression of unpopular views.

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“There is no free speech in real world & you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system,” she wrote, according to Ars Technica. “Videos of targeted users are filtered & merely relegated, so that people can hardly see their videos!

“There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!”

On another video, she called YouTube “close-minded.”

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Stipulating again that nothing justifies the kind of attack like the one Aghdam carried out on Tuesday, her complaints about arbitrary content decisions being made by social media giants have already been backed up by a former Twitter employee who didn’t know he was being recorded.

In an expose released by video provocateur James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas in January, a man identified as former Twitter engineer Abhinov Vadrevu explained how it works.

“One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control,” he said, according to Project Veritas.

“The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content. So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.”

That, obviously, has political ramifications — especially when the targets of the “shadow ban” are almost always conservatives.

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In one of the Project Veritas interviews, a man identified as Mo Norai, a former content review agent for Twitter, laid out why that was.

“A lot of unwritten rules, and being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, very liberal, a very blue state,” Norai said. “You had to be … I mean as a company you can’t really say it because it would make you look bad, but behind closed doors are lots of rules.”

“There was, I would say … Twitter was probably about 90 percent anti-Trump, maybe 99 percent anti-Trump.”

Granted, Twitter and YouTube are different companies, but YouTube’s parent company of Google has already demonstrated a willingness to stifle conservative content by skewing its search results toward liberal political desirability.

(Sometimes it’s just jaw-dropping. As of Thursday, Google still answered the question: “What political party did Abraham Lincoln belong to?” by returning “The National Union Party.” Honest people call Lincoln a Republican)

YouTube, Google, Facebook and Twitter are all private companies who are free to conduct their business however they see fit, even if it damages conservatives and democracy in general. But the point here is not necessarily ideology.

The point is that when they exercise power this arbitrarily, when the rules of the game are rigged so badly — against conservatives in one case, or against a particular vegan activist in another — the companies have abandoned their responsibility to be neutral brokers.

In the process, they’ve abdicated their moral authority — kind of like the Democratic Party and the mainstream media did in the service of Obama/Clinton liberalism. There’s a pattern here.

Nasim Aghdam was clearly crazy to do what she did. But she might not have been totally wrong about what was done to her.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.