Independent Political Commentators Censored Amid Democratic Primary Debates

Via Elizabeth Vos 

Update: This article has been updated to reflect that Anonymous Worldwide was suspended from live-streaming on June 17.

While all eyes were focused on the first round of Democratic Presidential Primary debates over the past week, some independent journalists and commentators including Niko House, Shoe0nHead, Vaush, and Anonymous Worldwide were prevented from live-streaming.

Though Anonymous Worldwide wasn't planning on covering the debate during their live Thursday evening broadcast, the deleterious effects of censorship on public commentary during the debates should not be ignored. The content creators were separately notified that their ability to live-stream had been disabled by Youtube.

While this writer has often covered the social media censorship of independent voices in political discourse, the fact that this latest round of silencing coincided with the first Democratic Primary debates raises questions regarding not only the stifling of independent commentary but also the DNC's intent when it comes to allowing actual voter participation in the Democratic primary process.

House announced that his channel's live streaming capability had been disabled via Twitter, writing:


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This writer spoke with House, who said:

"Youtube said it was copyright infringement but they didn’t give me a copyright strike and they never remonetized my video."

House is a progressive political activist, independent journalist, host of Mi Casa Es Su Casa, a college graduate and army veteran who was instrumental in the instigation of the DNC Fraud lawsuit. He supported Bernie Sanders' primary efforts in 2016, and in recent months has expressed support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's candidacy.




Rep Tulsi Gabbard, right, stands with Niko House, left. Image courtesy Niko House, Facebook.

House's Mi Casa Es Su Casa Youtube Channel previously hosted a live-streamed interview with Gabbard and generally focuses on progressive political issues and commentary. As an early instigator of the DNC Fraud Lawsuit, he has vocally criticized DNC corruption and unfair practices on a national level and on the ground in Florida, where he was a first-hand witness to evidence of election interference, and posted a viral video of irregular ballot transportation in the 2018 midterm race for Florida's 23rd district.

At the time of writing, House's broadcast of live debate commentaryfrom the first of the two-day debate had garnered more than 90,000 views on Youtube.

In the wake of the ban, House resorted to streaming live commentary via Twitch. He later wrote via Twitter that his ability to live-stream had been reinstated:

"Holy shit, I guess the outrage worked! My YouTube live-streaming is back up but I’ll only do my debate pregame there. I will do my actual debate coverage on twitch"

However, House was not the only political commentator to face censorship over the past week. The Youtube channel "Shoe0nHead", a youtube account with over one million subscribers, wrote via Twitter that Youtube had likewise suspended her ability to live-stream specifically in relation to her planned broadcast covering the Democratic debates. She wrote:

"hello @TeamYouTube i was commentating on the debates like literally every human being on the internet and now i can’t stream for 90 days? can you help with this please? get ya boy marco on the line."




Image via Shoe0nead, Twitter.

Like House, Shoe0nhead's live streaming capability was eventually restored, but her channel was nonetheless prevented from live-streaming during the debates. Other channels who were similarly prevented from live streaming during the debates but whose accounts were later restored to normal functionality included VaushHugo and Jake and Ranting Monkey.


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Secular Talk's Kyle K commented on the widespread bans, Tweeting:


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Interestingly, the neoliberal-friendly and Russiagate-peddling Young Turks was not censored in terms of their live broadcast during the debates.

On June 17th Anonymous World Wide was likewise prevented from conducting their usual live-stream on Youtube during the same period, discussing the ban via periscope instead.

As previously mentioned, Anonymous Worldwide did not plan to cover the debate directly, defining itself as apolitical if not anti-political. The channel signs off each broadcast of Anonymous Bites Back with "Don't forget to spay and neuter your politicians." Nonetheless, their channel's livestream capability was suspended for a false positive content ID as screenshots published via Twitter show.

Though the show didn't have their live-stream capabilities suspended in relation to the DNC event, their suppression represents yet another indication of a recent uptick in censorship of non-corporate thought on Youtube, specifically in relation to live streaming.

During the Periscope discussion," Anonymous Bites Back" hosts stated that the live streaming capability had been banned despite the Anonymous Worldwide channel never having received a single "strike." This writer contacted the hosts of the channel, who stated that at the time of the ban the channel had - like House - received "no copyright infringement claims or strikes against the account," as seen below:


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Image: Courtesy of Anonymous Worldwide.

Anonymous Worldwide's host told this author that "before the whole shadow-banning stuff started, keep in mind we got 25,000-40,000 viewers on Facebook alone."

In other words: like House, Shoe0nHead, and the previously mentioned channels, Anonymous Worldwide has the potential to reach a large audience when unimpeded by censorship. At the time of writing, the latter's ability to live-stream had not been reinstated.

Was the expression of independent thought while in possession of a large audience the real motivator of the bans, rather than copyright infringement?

If the censorship was motivated by the desire to silence independent voices, then we can say that not only has the neoliberal class that controls Silicon Valley tech giants like Google, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook failed to learn its lesson from Trump's win in 2016: we should expect things to get progressively uglier as we move towards the 2020 Presidential election.