A friend happens to run a web-archiving service and has been coming under intense pressure to remove allegedly “false” Web-pages from his archive’s records. This would be censorship by that Web-archive. I sent him this note arguing that he should not:
Once you get into doing that, you will lose all credibility yourself.
Right now, your credibility is that you censor nothing. Censoring is not your function. If you start to censor, then you will be taking sides in partisan conflicts. That’s for others to do — NEVER a Web-archive, because then it’s a selective Web-archive, and that means untrustworthy AS a “Web archive.” The beauty of being a Web-archive is that it makes no content-judgments. (Its users do, whenever they select a Web-page as being something that’s important enough to be archived; but that is their decision, to copy that page, not your decision.) Because if it does — if a Web-archive makes any content-judgments — then it is doing what it should NEVER do. It’s not equipped to make such judgments, of what is worth copying and preserving and what is not. Making such judgments is only for CONTENT-PROVIDERS, and their audiences, to do. If you do it, then your credibility will be shot. (Users will come to know that what they archive there might subsequently become removed. If pages become removed by you, you won’t be reliable to them as an archive.)
But I go even further; I have argued against ANY censorship, at all, ever, even by a content-provider.
The ultimate arbiter regarding what is true and what is false is inevitably going to be the recipient of the given statement, and not the people who produce or ‘authenticate’ it. If that recipient simply has faith in other persons as ‘authorities’ or ‘honest’, then that recipient becomes the mental slave of those particular producers of ‘truth’. Because of such ‘authority’, that individual’s judgment is then being controlled by others. It’s a 1984-type mentality, ideal for any dictatorship to survive; it is deadly to any democracy — it is the mentality that kills democracy. The only individual who has the actual right to censor what one receives is oneself.
However, I failed there to note something that is important regarding how censorship is, in fact, practiced in the United States and other multi-party dictatorships; and this highlights why you especially ought to avoid all content-judgments:
As you know, Democrats expose themselves to Democratic Party (generally called “liberal”) ‘news’-media, and Republicans expose themselves to Republican Party (generally called “conservative”) ‘news’-media; so, the two groups often disagree, but both Parties are controlled by billionaires (just different factions of billionaires); and, therefore, the supreme filter (which excludes the most-essential facts — the facts that all of them want to be secret) is the billionaire-class itself, which controls both Parties and clearly does not represent the public, even though it controls the U.S. Government. Consequently, for example, essential truths (such as these) get excluded by all of the mainstream U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media (which are owned and controlled by U.S.-and-allied billionaires). The multi-partisan consensus, or mainstream, in a multi-party dictatorship will therefore exclude the truths that are the most essential ones in order for the public to be able to understand the socio-political reality. And that’s what a dictatorship does (it filters out the most-essential truths) — regardless of whether it is a one-party dictatorship or a multi-party dictatorship. Such truths, as these, can be found only outside the Establishment’s ‘news’-media.
A common way that billionaires deceive the public to think that their multi-party country is a democracy is to propagandize, via media they own or scholars whom they fund, against the Government’s, or against “publicly funded,” media, as if all censorship comes only from governmental officials, and to ignore that the billionaires control not only for-profit and non-profit media, and endowed university chairs, but also the Government itself, which is being run by officials whom billionaires have themselves helped to place into power; so, attacking only the Government’s media is a fake way of attacking the entire system of mass-deception that the billionaires control. The form by which billionaires control the media — by a corporation, or by a non-profit, or by the government — is actually almost irrelevant.
If the most-essential truths in order to understand the socio-political reality are being filtered-out, then the voters are effectively being controlled; then they are not free agents, democracy then can’t possibly exist there; they are effectively being controlled. The most-essential truths are the ones that both liberal and conservative ‘news’-media hide. You can’t do anything about this, but the worst thing to do would be to add to their censorship.
Your service is for historians. We rely heavily upon the records that you store. We do not expect any filtering, at all, in what you do, because we expect your service to be entirely impartial. Do you not agree that far too much partiality already exists in the Web-content itself, and that anything which you might do, to add yet another layer to such partiality, will be a disservice to the historical profession?
A common phrase is “History is written by the victors,” but if you will be umpiring the Web, then you will be participating in the determination of whom the “winner” will end up being. Would that be rigging the game — even if doing so ‘after-the-fact’? Should you be an umpire? Should your judgments be in the picture, at all? If they are, then why shouldn’t your users distrust your judgments, and distrust you as an archive?
I hold that there is no alternative: If you add to the judgments, then not only do you become part of the problem, but you can’t reasonably be excused for your being part of the problem (of rigging ‘democracy’). You simply don’t belong in the picture, at all. The participants in the game do, but you certainly DO NOT. The participants can be excused for judging, because that’s an essential thing for them to do in order for anyone to participate in any game. But if you judge, then you can’t be excused, because judging isn’t part of your function. It would not only be unprofessional; it would be unethical; it would be prejudicial, even though your exercise of judgment is coming after the game was played. It would be yet more of “History is written by the victors.” It wouldn’t be merely retrospective. You don’t belong in the game, at any time. You are not an umpire. You are not a judge. Only the participants in the game have a right to do that. You don’t.
Unfortunately, there are content-editors and producers, whom the billionaires’ organizations hire in order to filter out the essential truths. I hope that you will not affirm what they do, but will, instead, just passively let and allow and store, at your archive, whatever contents that they publish and which their readers copy into your archive, so as to allow that to constitute 100% of the content-judgment, the entirety of the game, that ends up being stored in your archive.