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Google, YouTube screening threatens free speech: U of T's Peterson

By Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

University of Toronto Prof. Jordan Peterson speaks at the Sandford Fleming building in Toronto on Feb. 4, 2017. (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

University of Toronto Prof. Jordan Peterson speaks at the Sandford Fleming building in Toronto on Feb. 4, 2017. (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

Google and YouTube’s screening process for offensive content appears contaminated by social justice theorists and political correctness, threatening the voice of half the population that disagrees with their point of view, University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson says.

The free speech advocate said it’s likely not a coincidence that his Gmail account was shut down on the same day that YouTube posted new “hate speech” and anti-terrorism guidelines online.

The action blocked the controversial academic’s access to his popular YouTube channels with videos such as the “unconscious mind of the SJW (social justice warrior)” and “how to stop procrastinating.”

“They made it arbitrarily, suddenly, with no warning, with no explanation and with no possibility of appeal — that’s the process,” he said. “I don’t understand what these fundamentally capitalist companies are doing climbing in bed with the radical left.”

Nicole Bell, a spokesman for Google, said YouTube posted an update Tuesday on their latest efforts to tackle terrorism and violent extremism online.

YouTube says it will not accept hate speech based on race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and possibly other categories.

“We encourage free speech and try to defend your right to express unpopular points of view, but we don’t permit hate speech,” it says. “Hate speech refers to content that promotes violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on certain attributes ... There is a fine line between what is and what is not considered to be hate speech. For instance, it is generally OK to criticize a nation-state, but not OK to post malicious hateful comments about a group of people solely based on their ethnicity.”

The professor has raised the ire of social activists for refusing to use genderless pronouns on demand.

Bell would not discuss Peterson’s account.

However, his Gmail was reinstated after he tweeted about his problem, and media outlets began asking questions and commenting.

Google and YouTube are communications utilities, not governments, and don’t have a fair and open complaint and appeal process in place to monitor the vast amounts of information in their care, Peterson said.

Anyone could choose to be offended by content, Peterson said.

An individual without the wherewithal to retaliate would likely have to accept the censorship, he said.

“They’re on a — what would you call it — an agreeable mission to make sure that no one says anything that isn’t nice by their standards. And I think it’s absolutely reprehensible,” Peterson said. “You know the phone company didn’t interfere with what people said on the phone when we hooked people up back in the 1930s.