Censorship

Rep. Jim Banks lights up LinkedIn for censorship of Americans at the request of China

Rep. Jim Banks lights up LinkedIn for censorship of
Americans at the request of China 1

Editor note: LinkedIn permanently deplatformed Law Enforcement Today and our management team’s personal accounts for covering pro-police stories in 2020.  The ongoing and widespread attacks by Big Tech are why we launched LET Unity – where all of the proceeds get reinvested into telling the untold stories of emergency responders, veterans and patriotic Americans.  To learn more and get in the fight, click here.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) has become one of the leading Republicans in Congress calling out social media companies for targeting conservatives and others who oppose the “regime.”

This week, banks turned his attention to LinkedIn, a platform that is designed for business professionals. Currently, LinkedIn is the only social media platform that operates in China, and apparently that means the Microsoft-owned tech tyrant must protect China at all costs, including the Chinese Communist Party.

Banks on Friday sent a letter to LinkedIn, slamming them for bootlicking the Chinese government by blocking Americans who in any way criticize China.

It is reported that LinkedIn has blocked at least one hundred Americans who have had their LinkedIn profiles blocked by China over the past several months for what they deem to be “anti-China” content in areas of the profile such as “Education” or Experience, the Washington Examiner reports.

However Dan Gainor, vice president at the Media Research center disagrees, believing the number is in fact in the thousands according to his analysis. The Media Research Center is a conservative media watchdog group that tracks censorship on Big Tech platforms.

“LinkedIn is pressuring U.S. citizens to remove posts critical of China’s dictatorship, because apparently ‘regional laws’ compel them to do Xi’s bidding,” Banks said to the Washington Examiner.  

“That’s a lie—LinkedIn is simply selling out America’s values and national security in order to boost its bottom line. LinkedIn needs to pick a side; either serve the Communist Party or support the United States,” Banks added.

Banks continued that Chinese spies utilize the platform to recruit U.S. sources, illegal in the United States, however noted it wasn’t clear if LinkedIn was proactively trying to stop this from occurring while working directly with the ChiComs on their censorship initiatives.

Banks demanded LinkedIn respond to his questions regarding their censorship, questioning them in the letter exactly which CCP speech regulations the company enforces on American users, and asks the company if it has ever handed over user data requested by the Chinese government.

The Examiner said that China blocked other social media and tech companies, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in 2009 while Google withdrew from the communist nation in 2010 over Chinese censorship and intellectual property theft by the Chinese Communist government.

That means currently only LinkedIn and its parent company Microsoft as the only major social media company from the United States still operating in China and forced to comply with that government’s censorship rules.

Currently Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, operates in China in a censored fashion, and Microsoft also provides facial recognition services to the CCP and also has physical data servers in China.

The Examiner said that neither Microsoft nor LinkedIn responded to request for comment.

In his letter to LinkedIn, Banks addressed a statement by the company in which they defended their censorship actions, citing “an obligation to respect the laws that apply to us, including adhering to Chinese government regulations for our localized version of Linked in in China.”

The company has about 53 million users in China, which accounts for approximately 7% of their global total while the company “faces challenging trade-offs in their desire to operate in China,” the Examiner said.

“LinkedIn is really the only U.S. social network that’s allowed to operate in China, and this shows why it’s so hard,” said Adam Kovacevich, CEO of the Chamber of Progress, an advocacy group backed by companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

“China, Russia, and India are all cracking down on free expression online, and U.S. officials should be sticking up for global Internet freedom and human rights instead of sending cheap-shot letters to American services caught in a difficult position,” he said of Rep. Banks.

Kovacevich might be well to look at those same tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and others, which are also “all cracking down on free expression online.”

He continued that the U.S. has retreated in its leadership role and should be addressing issues such as online free speech into talks with foreign nations, especially China.

However not all support LinkedIn’s approach to doing business in China, including a company called NetChoice, a tech trade group that represents Amazon, Google and others.

“It’s really unfortunate when American businesses like LinkedIn are allowing authoritarian regimes to dictate content outside their borders,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of the company.

“And when that does happen, they should actively push back on such demands. China suppressing the profiles of American users should  not be happening,” Szabo added.

The Examiner noted that some scholars who specialize in censorship are particularly angry with LinkedIn’s actions toward Americans in the recent past.

“It’s so cowardly to placate an authoritarian government like the Chinese Communist Party. They’re doing the bidding of a genocidal dictatorship,” said Gainor. “How do the folks at LinkedIn live with themselves?”

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In case you missed it, please find a previous article from Law Enforcement Today about LinkedIn’s censorship. 

DIG DEEPER

The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

SILICON VALLEY, CA- Big tech’s version of George Orwell’s 1984 continued this week when Microsoft-owned LinkedIn censored a former Department of Homeland Security official’s posts about tech censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election.

Law Enforcement Today, as well as our national spokesman and our founder know all too well about LinkedIn censorship. More on that in a bit.

Stewart Baker said LinkedIn has refused to explain why certain content was removed, but believes it is related to his use of the word “rigged” in describing the 2020 election possibly triggering an algorithm which flagged the post.

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail posted a bombshell report which described the verified contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, and describing some of what were referred to as “shocking details” the younger Biden conveniently left out of his recently published memoir, Baker tried to share it.

A former general counsel for the National Security Agency as well as a Department of Homeland Security subcabinet appointee, who now works in private practice, Baker decided to share it on LinkedIn.

In his post, Baker wrote:

“The social media giants that won’t let you say the 2020 election was rigged are the people who did their best to rig it: Hunter Biden laptop was genuine and scandalous—Daily Mail,” Baker wrote while including a link to the story.

Baker’s post did not stay up for very long. LinkedIn informed Baker that the post was removed for violating its “Professional Community Policies,” while warning him that depending on “the severity of the violation, your account may be restricted indefinitely.”  

Under the guidelines, LinkedIn vaguely advises that any content “should be professionally relevant and meant to contribute to the LinkedIn community in a constructive manner.” Users are advised to report content deemed “unsafe, untrustworthy or unprofessional.”

Further, the guidelines advise users not to post anything “misleading, fraudulent, obscene, threatening, hateful, defamatory, discriminatory or illegal.”

Baker was shocked his post got flagged.

“I’ve got more than 5,000 contacts on LinkedIn, and I use it in business almost every day,” Baker wrote in a blog post. “Losing my account would be a blow.”

Baker told media sources that in the ten days after LinkedIn first threatened to suspend his account, they still have not told him how exactly his post violated its rules.

“I’ve also been looking for a mechanism to appeal the original suppression, and I haven’t found one,” he wrote in an email.

At Law Enforcement Today¸ we can absolutely relate to Mr. Baker. As the largest police-owned media company in the country, LET publishes stories which impact over 800,000 police officers and other law enforcement officials across the country.

The stories we publish concern areas of law enforcement, public policy and politics, all areas which impact the law enforcement community in one way or another.

Last September, both our national spokesman, Kyle Reyes, as well as our founder, Robert Greenberg, a respected active law enforcement officer were permanently banned from LinkedIn, where both were premium members.

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LET Unity

Not only did we see two or our key people banned on LinkedIn, but we have also had our content throttled, or restricted if you will on both Facebook and Twitter.

Why did this happen? We have to believe it has to do with what appears to be a bias on behalf of social media companies against anyone or anything which leans to the right. As a site dedicated to law enforcement, clearly conservatism most accurately describes the overwhelming majority of most of our target audience.

So what happened? Last August 24, Robert Greenberg received communication from LinkedIn advising that his account has been “restricted due to a violation of LinkedIn’s User Agreement,” while then referring to specific content which was apparently deemed false by LinkedIn’s cellar-dwelling, soymilk drinking, liberal fact-checkers.

One story flagged as false was a story I wrote, which was completely sourced, including a government-issued press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The story dealt with a man, in the country illegally who raped and murdered a 92-year-old woman as she was walking home in New York City.

The murder occurred in January 2020, and the man had been arrested the previous November on weapons and assault charges, however, was released due to New York’s “bail reform” law and sanctuary policies.

Another flagged story involved a story on August 4, 2020, in which another widely reported story, completely sourced from mainstream news sources reported on “unsanctioned ‘murals’ reading ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Defund the Police’ are ok, but the pro-life message apparently wasn’t. Even though it was in chalk. So they’re suing.”

This involved pro-life activists who wrote a pro-life message on the street in Washington, DC in chalk, and who were subsequently arrested and charged.

The writer for this case cited a Fox News report, as well as an interview conducted by Tucker Carlson of those arrested which aired on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

Other articles flagged included one where former President Trump expressed the “opinion” that his campaign had been spied on by the Obama Administration after information came forth about former acting attorney general Sally Yates.

Yates said she would not have signed off on surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page if she had the information which came forth showing the information used to get a FISA warrant was knowingly false.

Once again, all of this was widely sourced, the president expressed his opinion and the post got flagged.

Finally, we published an article in which then Senator Kamala Harris said at one time she would confiscate guns through an executive order.

A CNN town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire was cited in which Harris clearly said exactly that. In fact, we made it clear that a meme which was going around suggesting Harris would send police to people’s doors to confiscate guns was NOT included in our reporting.

Robert Greenberg reached out to LinkedIn and spoke to some soy boy named Wyatt, who works as a “LinkedIn Member Safety and Recovery Consultant.” We don’t know if he gets an official badge for that position, but it sounds like a really important position for a millennial.

Wyatt told Greenberg his appeal was denied, and the original decision stood. When asked for clarification, Wyatt told him the account was “restricted permanently.”

And what of Kyle Reyes, our national spokesman?

Reyes didn’t know he was even restricted until he logged on to his account. According to LinkedIn’s publicist, the company claims they advise people when they are going to have restrictions placed on their account and advise the reason why. Reyes didn’t receive that notice.

What ended up happening to Reyes, Greenberg and Law Enforcement Today was that we were basically “shadow banned.” In other words, content that we posted on social media platforms through Hootsuite, such as Facebook, Twitter and Facebook were being throttled—in other words, having our reach significantly restricted.

Initially, after Reyes contacted LinkedIn about the throttling, they removed the restriction. That didn’t last for long and eventually Greenberg, Reyes and LET were banned from posting on LinkedIn.

In claiming that Reyes (and LET) violated their “standards of service,” LinkedIn claimed the “content was not relevant to their audience.” The content DID NOT violate their standards of service. They simply made the editorial decision that the content “wasn’t relevant” to their audience.

One such article cited involved a verified threat against police officers, which LinkedIn apparently didn’t feel was relevant to over 800,000 police officers nationwide. It should be noted that police officers, sheriffs, correctional officers and dispatchers, as well as those who retire from those fields are a significant portion of LinkedIn’s subscribers.

Another case involved an article about a truck driver who was robbed, and about one of the armed robbers subsequently being run over by the truck and killed. LinkedIn claimed the article was “graphic and obscene,” and therefore violated their standards. LinkedIn might want to read up on exactly what cops do because unfortunately, a lot of it is indeed “graphic.”

So what are the standards involving “graphic and obscene” content? It says content is banned “if it INTENDS to shock.” [emphasis added] In the case of this article, the intent wasn’t to shock, but rather to inform and raise awareness about dangers to drivers, in particular truck drivers.

Content such as this was widely distributed and was available on mainstream media outlets, as well as on some social media platforms such as YouTube.”

Sadly, much of the content Law Enforcement Today is “graphic” by nature of the job police officers do. They do respond to crime calls, serious motor vehicle accidents, and shootings. Our audience IS first responders and police officers and those who are interested in what police do on a day-to-day basis.

So yes, we can relate to what LinkedIn is doing to Baker. His post wasn’t politically correct, and was against the preferred narrative of Silicon Valley.

Media sources reached out to LinkedIn to find out what exactly Baker had done to violate their rules. They got pretty much the same answer that Reyes and Greenberg got from them.

Misleading and false information has absolutely no place on our platform,” a spokesperson replied in an email.

“While we can’t comment on the specifics of a member’s account due to our privacy policy, we can confirm that we only remove content if it’s in violation of our policies,” the email continued.

“Every LinkedIn member has the right to a safe, trusted, and professional experience on our platform. We’re committed to making sure conversations remain respectful and professional.”

LinkedIn’s actions against Baker was strangely similar to actions Twitter took against the New York Post prior to the election regarding emails recovered from Biden’s laptop. At that time, aside from deleting posts mentioning the laptop, Twitter also suspended the New York Post’s account for two weeks after the reported some contents of the computer.

Silicon Valley, Democrats and the mainstream media…the unholy alliance of the free speech suppressors.

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