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UKC Climbing Forums: Censoring Now
Guardians of the Overton Window: The Need to Censor & The Right to Censor
UKC is getting bigger and attracting more readers in it’s recreational domain. Thus it’s reach, extent and influence becomes more important, and readers should be aware how this manifests, not just in the domain of sport, but also in politics.
I have no shame in telling you that I am banned from posting on the UKC climbing forums; nor was it the 1st occasion. I am dangerous - they say! Dangerous to the community stability, possibly even dangerous to the whole of society. For asking the wrong questions, for sharing the wrong information, for thinking the wrong answers; quite simply - for going against the flow. I was given many chances to quit such provocation, but by turn I was provoked by the banal discussion which assumes and accepts the edicts of the ruling class and the narrative distributed by the media.
Do we accept that UKC managers have the right to set the narrative ? Do users have the right to know how it is being set ? You may recognise any media source as having it's political leaning and UKC is just another such. Worthy of discussion however is the pretence of neutrality, or the pretence of moral high ground 'for the common good'. The particular pretence which has classified my dismissals has been - support of 'nonsense conspiracy theories'. I can assure you that if I engaged in real nonsense - it would be ignored or dismissed as drivel - no-one would take any notice. People do not get angry at nonsense, rather, they get angry when the evidence countering their belief system is too strong, and this has always been the case in which my discussion has led to censoring. What is noteworthy - UKC moderators do not have the time to read every forum post, so they rely on users raising an alert. Thus, the vigilanté-users who raise an alert will be those with strong political leaning, and a self assured conviction to act as guardians of society.
Since early 2020 I have run foul of the moderator's decisions on numerous occasions, as I am critical of pandemic politics. Recent discussion has proved conflictual over attitudes to environment and climate change. Up till my most recent ban in August, I was able to communicate with UKC management, and thus learn why a ban was effected. Various rulings varied from 'conspiracy nonsense' to 'offensive language' ( I plead 'not guilty' in either case ). In the past, a banned poster has been made invisible to current posters with a block on their profile - but with access replaced by a notice stating 'This member has been banned, most bans are temporary'. (see example - banned poster Fiend ).
It is evidently necessary for forum managers to moderate content, as posts may (for example) contain foul or abusive language, or superfluous commercial propositions. The discussion of interest begins where members post contributions having political content. For a climbing forum, you may imagine that posts with political content are never appropriate - and should always be banned. However, UKC invites discussion of climbing and unrelated topics within the provided sub-forums - such as Cycling, Running or Politics. The sub forum Off-Belay invites content from any subject domain - ie. unrelated to climbing.
UKC climbing forums have a potential reader / member outreach of 50,000 persons; their own 4 year survey shows that active but occasional contributors during a four month period may be as low as 7,000. More active contributors may be as low as 2000 over a two week period. The UKC forum 'raison d'être' is to facilitate discussion amongst members and attract funding for provision of this facility by attracting advertisers. The key figure which drives the forum's worth - relevant for any day, month or instant is 'users on line' which typically varies from 100 to 300. The moderators may argue that discussion which offends their key member base - could turn them away and thus reduce the forum popularity ... and hence revenue. UKC publishes Posting Guidelines which define good posting behaviour - very reasonable, except that certain categories are vague enough to allow subjective judgement from a moderator.
So that is where the discussion starts - the grey area of posting content - which is neither incorrect nor abusive - but rather judged unacceptable from the perspective of the current societal ideology - that promoted via the media and backed by the ruling class. This is largely a left-centrist viewpoint, for which The Guardian and BBC are deemed as standard setters. The promulgation of such specific social and political perspectives is evidently regarded as wholly positive by those who are persuaded of it's societal benefits. Those who disagree will note how UKC in common with other social media - steers public debate to promote 'acceptable' debate and ideology' - that which critics and sceptics will label 'the narrative'.
UKC forum managers (and their allies) may profess their own independent belief in the views that they protect. They are however acting in unison with the larger social media platforms which declare their intent to 'save lives' or 'save the planet' thus applying pressure in accord with government directives, woke ideology or the World Economic Forum. The UK based Trusted News Initiative encourages all media to unite in telling the ‘BBC truth’, while OFCOM proposes penalties for the spreading of misinformation. While these groups ostensibly protect the public from illegal content, their collective powers to categorise sceptical views as misinformation and disinformation, supported and promulgated by the fact checkers - spins an ever tightening web of lies which supports a chosen ideology. Beware !
Interestingly, attempts to discuss conflictual politics on UKC will quickly reveal a 'majority' viewpoint amongst other thread contributors (largely left-centrist), giving a strong impression that any resistance is from a tiny minority. Less apparent are the number of critics who have already quit the forums due to adverse group reactions (smearing, defamation, ridicule) or the numbers who have actually been banned. In other words, UKC has, with the passage of time created a select group of members whose ideology is not representative of the public at large. UKC has created that which is easily recognised as an echo chamber; to be sure, there is discussion with friction and dissent, but the range of 'suitable' discussion is limited by moderator action and mob-pressure. Under sway of this group bias, few in the ‘tiny minority’ find it profitable to speak out contrary to the mob rule.
Have you reader - been censored or banned on UKC ? Tell us about it in the commentaries below ! Or maybe you have been banned on another such platform ? This would also be of interest. All will help to create the bigger picture and scale of censorship across social media platforms.
Update (added to original article 18/10/23)
A new thread was started ( 13/10/23 ) in the Off Belay sub-forum, by a poster with controversial views querying 'The Best Place for Unbiased News', in which he says 'he's had it - using the BBC as his default news source'. Bravo! Reader response was to vote him 2x Dislikes for every Like. The thread was later moved into Politics after topping 100 comments.
The ensuing discussion revolved around alternative news sources, whether the BBC really is unbiased, and the way the BBC has treated latest troubling events between Palestine and Israel.
I was itching to participate, but a trial post assured me this was unauthorised - as ever
The various alternative media sources - cited as counterweight to the BBC - centered on MSM stalwarts including Reuters and CNN. But of what value if these are also Trusted News Initiative partners ? Someone said it was enough for him to counterbalance The Guardian with The Telegraph. One more adventurous suggestion named Al Jazeera.
Had I been able, I would have listed my alternatives, which are 'fringe' ie. outside of the MSM but notably classed both Right and Left :
Frontline: DoubleDownNews, UnHerd, The Daily Sceptic
Diverse: Intercept, Counterpunch, Democracy Now, The Hill, Redacted, Pressenza, Kim Iversen, Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Spiked, Yanis Varoufakis, Glenn Greenwald, Bret Weinstein, & even GBNews. Also many Substack authors.
Radical: Corbett Report, OffGuardian
NB. I should say that I do not wholly believe any one of these, they are the sources from which I learn and form my own opinions
The UKC purge seems to have been highly effective! - all discussion was safely within the Overton Window. All dissenting voices have indeed been either frightened off, silenced or intimidated. Did I say 'all' ? Is it always necessary and desirable to name a spade how it is? The OP may well be a radical who has found subtler ways of stimulating meaningful discussion - and at least he hasn't been kicked off the platform :)
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