Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

They’re coming for the podcasters

It’s time for anyone with a podcast to get listed with, stop using Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and move to Podcasting 2.0 compliant apps. Traditional media and the government will soon be coming for podcasts and podcasters. If podcasting is going to be a platform for free speech the media silos need to be avoided at all costs. Podcasters are a threat to their dominance of the national narrative.

A New York Times article by Reggie Ugwu starts out talking about a podcaster who was banned from Twitter but still has a podcast that can be found on Google Podcasts. The podcaster reportedly expressed sympathy for the shooter that recently killed 8 people in Atlanta area massage parlors. There was no context. No links to the audio. Not even a link to the podcast. There was no way to verify what the Ugwu was saying.

He had already been banned from Twitter, but on his podcast he could give full voice to his hateful conspiracy theories.

The podcaster argued that the man in Atlanta who had confessed to killing eight people at massage parlors last week, including six women of Asian descent, was the one who had truly been victimized — the casualty of a supposed Jewish plot.

“Your heart goes out to the guy,” he said.

New York Times

Then a few paragraphs down Ugwu talks about Steve Bannon. Is he saying that Bannon is the guy espousing the sympathy for the shooter? He certainly links the two ideas together but never says it outright.

After Twitter last November suspended the account of Steve Bannon, the onetime adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, for suggesting that several officials be beheaded, he continued to enjoy large audiences with his podcast, available on both Apple and Google’s services.

New York Times

What makes me not trust Ugwu further is the lie that Bannon “suggested that several officials be beheaded”. That just did not happen. Anyone with a thinking brain can recognize hyperbole.

There was no e-mail address for Ugwu that I could find so I tweeted at him to see if he could clarify that bit in the article. I have not yet received a reply.

Google, for now, is taking the correct position. They are choosing to not edit their podcast index for so-called “hate speech”. But how long will this last? The pressure is on.

Told of the white supremacist and pro-Nazi content on its platform and asked about its policy, a Google spokeswoman, Charity Mhende, compared Google Podcasts to Google Search. She said that the company did not want to “limit what people are able to find,” and that it only blocks content “in rare circumstances, largely guided by local law.”

That hands-off approach to moderation recalls the original position of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which have become more vigilant in recent years in their attempts to rein in the spread of harmful content.

New York Times

The concept of “harmful content” should be offensive to any American. In fact, I find this New York Times article offensive for promoting the silencing of different opinions. It is repugnant for anyone that calls themselves journalists to promote the de-platforming of any person regardless of opinion.

Ugwu inserts the paragraph below as if the comparison to podcast app features are analogous to search features. This makes zero sense. Who needs to manipulate playback speed of a search?

Though the company likens its podcast platform to search, Google Podcast’s own product description notes significant experiential differences, including the ability to manipulate playback speed, create playlists and download and store content.

New York Times

Ugwu holds up Apple and Stitcher as pillars of virtue for banning Alex Jones and Infowars.

Google Podcasts is also one of the few remaining homes of Alex Jones, the “Infowars” broadcaster, who was banned in 2018 from Apple, Spotify and Stitcher for repeated violations of their policies on hate speech and harassment…

… Many provocative podcasts, including several hosted by fringe and far-right figures, exist on nearly all the platforms. But the decision to ban Mr. Jones signaled a new willingness among leading services to take action against content they consider beyond the pale.

New York Times

If your podcast is about nutrition and your advice goes against the current USDA Dietary Guidelines you should be concerned. If you’re a medical doctor and you give your opinion or experience doesn’t agree with the WHO, CDC, or the NIH you should be concerned. If you’re a libertarian talking about the evils of an ever expansive government you should be concerned. If you are an advocate of differing opinions, regardless of how repugnant you may find them, being necessary for a healthy republic you should be concerned. If your ideas or beliefs are outside what is currently in fashion or “approved” you should be concerned.

How much longer will controversial speech be legal?