/ From the Editor

YouTube is Killing Free Speech: But There is a Future with FreebirdTV

An open letter to all parties engaged in online content creation. Vloggers, viewers, memers, creators, and commentators- lend me your ears.

As you know, YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have an effective oligarchal monopoly on information dissemination on this planet. This would not be an issue if these megaliths were committed to impartiality and free expression- but as we all know all too well, this is not the case. If you are producing content that does not comply with ever-more restrictive guidelines, you will be demonetized on YouTube; or even banned entirely, as the firearms community has recently discovered. We know Twitter hates conservatives. Facebook has taken a side in public, at last, confirming what everyone knew already. Google has long abandoned the motto "Don't be evil" in favor of "Do the right thing."

Who decides what the right thing is? Google, of course. James Damore disagreed with what the right thing was in favor of trying to improve the company for everyone, by rejecting ideology in favor of evidence. That, apparently, was the wrong thing to think.

A year ago almost to the day, I predicted the last round of demonetizations on YouTube and Twitter bans that took out Jared Taylor et al and called for content creators to put aside differences to build a new home.

In any event, I failed to gather enough support for this ambitious idea. I think I am a decent writer, but I am a low-quality YouTuber! At the time I proposed that we needed a new video hosting site and a magazine that would represent the interests of free speech and content creation. We can look at the recent coverage of the state persecution of Count Dankula in the media for proof that I was (and remain) correct. Though that project failed, you are currently reading the manifestation of a part of that dream. Republic Standard exists because my plan failed. I began writing on Medium.com, and from there began working on a small news site that was undergoing a revamp with people I encountered through my writing. Though that project also fell short, I did encounter the man who would become my business partner at Republic Standard.

He is the site owner of the Freebird Forum (which also provides the comments threads beneath each article here) and this magazine- suffice to say he understands computers like few others. This weekend he said, in passing;

"I am working on a way to stream/host content so it can't be pulled down."

Content that cannot be removed! It sounded too insane to be summed up with such a nonchalant phrase, but I have gotten used to being surprised at what is possible and the nonchalance with which my partner makes the improbable a certainty. In our first 75 days of publishing this magazine, we have received in excess of 100,000 hits. This for a conservative, open house magazine with the bare-minimum of gatekeeping, purely for quality control. There is a market for our ideas, we are proving it every day. My mind lit up with the possibilities of these words- that it was possible to build an independent video hosting site from scratch and make it open to all- and we immediately set about discussing the practicalities. By the end of the day, my partner had constructed the first version of FreebirdTV.

tv.freebird.is-screenie

FreebirdTV works. It is scalable and based on open-source software; which means that in effect, we are limited only by the size of our server farm and processing power. Open source software means that those creators with developing skills will be able to customize their channels like never before. Livestreaming works also, again- we are limited only by our ability to handle traffic. Best of all for content creators who have been financially penalized by YouTube for having the wrong opinions, FreebirdTV is monetizable through Adsense and many other revenue generating options.

The initial build that is live on the site was intended as a test version; in reality, we are in open beta as of right now

What we realized immediately was that we had, almost by mistake, skipped straight through a development process that usually requires millions of dollars and months of engineering. A hobby programming project became a real-world possibility literally overnight. What do you do with that kind of realization? Well, we think we are doing the right thing right now. We are coming to you, the people, to ask for your input on what you want to see from us next.

A fundamental ethical principle we hold at Freebird and Republic Standard is the commitment to freedom of speech. Though I am a conservative writer and Republic Standard is primarily a conservative platform, we will publish anyone who has something to say and can comply with basic quality standards. Freebird.is is a free speech forum that has no censorship of ideas. The forum members effectively self-police, and up to date there has been exactly one case of a member being banned, and that has since been revoked after discussion with the community.  Amazingly, there is no need for “trusted flaggers” or the SPLC to intervene! From a forum to a magazine, and now to video, we aim to break discussion free of the chains of censorship, for the benefit of creator and audience member alike.

We are utterly committed to the preservation of your right to free expression. left or right, communist or nationalist, authoritarian or libertarian- it does not matter on these platforms. Your ideas matter. You matter. Our freedom matters and that freedom has to be broad enough to allow all ideas to be expressed and criticized.

Going Free and Clear from the Cult of YouTube

Making the break from such a huge and in many ways still creator-profitable site as YouTube is hard for content creators, and we are not demanding that you delete your account. We fully recognize that in the initial period at the very least, FreebirdTV will be an ancillary site for many creators- the YouTube audience will always be larger. We ask for patience, dialogue, and a little faith. It is day two of a journey that could last a lifetime or crash and burn tomorrow, and it's up to all of us, regular people like you and me, to see what happens next.

While nothing lasts forever, I think we can say with some confidence that Google and YouTube will dominate the mainstream for years to come. Purely by having such gigantic brand identity, your traffic is always likely to be higher on YouTube up until the day they pull the plug on your channel. That being said, if you have read this far into an article about alternative platforms I guess that you are not a mainstream creator or have been marginalized by YouTube as "not advertiser-friendly." Maybe that means that you give a damn about free speech and how we express that online today, and in the future.

What kind of agenda is at work when a private company attempts to censor political opinions through attacking the finances of content creators? It is abhorrent to me that any business can tell you what opinions may and may not be heard. This is too much power for any government to handle, let alone a single, planet-straddling company. The leftist writer Chris Hedges describes this as inverse totalitarianism, and though I do not agree with him on many things, he is correct on this.

Data Collection

FreebirdTV will follow the same ethical principles of data security as Republic Standard and Freebird.is. While in operating these sites we will collect data we highly encourage users to take steps to guarantee their privacy if they wish. We will never disclose, sell or otherwise disseminate your digital footprint, metadata, browsing habits or any other information we acquire about you to anyone for any reason. I would rather see our servers burned to the ground than betray this trust between us. This trust goes both ways- we will defend ourselves with extreme prejudice from any attack on ourselves, or the platforms we operate. Just to be clear.

Why FreebirdTV is Important

Our Neo-Reactionary-in-residence Julius Roy-Davis covered the concept of The Cathedral in his first piece for the site, and I do recommend you read it.

For the uninitiated, the concept of the Cathedral represents the idea that in contemporary America, real power is held by the organs of mass propaganda: the higher education system, which generates the ideas, and the mainstream media which is responsible for manufacturing consent for them. ~ Julius Roy-Davis

If you can accept that this idea holds some water, what is the future for us if the ideological left controls the curriculum of our schools? When the universities are factories for social justice activists, the news media is fake, and social media companies and search engines push progressive agenda with their services, we see the Cathedral in all her terrible majesty. Imagine how it is to grow up in this online age when one set of prescribed opinions dominates our culture from Kindergarten to the office environment. It is hard enough for adults to recognize this to be a serious problem, never mind the problem this presents for our children’s learning.

The solution as we see it is to decentralize this power structure, and that begins with reclaiming online space.  What does that look like? It looks like startup platforms like FreebirdTV and the other video sharing sites that are being built. It looks like you sharing content from these sites preferentially to the same content hosted on YouTube. It means we take responsibility for the future, down to the micro-actions of sharing cat videos from one site instead of another. These tiny actions on a large enough scale are the sledgehammer that cracks the Cathedral. We must return this power to the users, the creators, the viewers. To you.

Google teaches our kids what to believe through ideologically biased SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Facebook mines and sells your data to enable people to target their advertisements, while restricting the appearance of conservative and alternative media sites in your news feed. I do not say that it is possible to out-compete these platforms entirely, but that is not the point- the point is that the free flow of ideas in service of the truth is stifled by these companies, and that is tyrannical. We can subvert social media. We can make our own video hosting. We can reclaim the internet.

I want you to accept that the old way of doing things is dying out.

If you are a content creator on YouTube with a large audience that has been demonetized, you know I am right. Look at how you have had to diversify your revenue from advertising to donations, and don't get me wrong, that is great! Getting your eggs in a few baskets is a good thing, of course. Even so, this is the silvery gleam of the sword that is giving your career the death of a thousand cuts. I said a year ago that eventually you will be deemed no longer suitable for YouTube, and your channel will be deleted. It has already happened to many. I say then that we must work together, a real partnership between platforms and creators that rejects the idea that the platform controls what are appropriate topics for discussion. That idea is wrong. That idea is dangerous. That idea is tyrannical.

It is our belief that what has held back many creators from moving from YouTube entirely (and what has encouraged certain previously "edgy" creators to tow the line) has been that there is no viable alternative platform that can be monetized. Until now.

We see the effect of this censorship-by-defunding with the shift in focus of many creators to livestreams, to take advantage of superchat donations. While these are reasonable tactics to use to ensure revenue stream, we must recognize the finite nature of this solution. Not only this, but this plays right into the hands of YouTube's ideological aims. Ideas that may have once been transmitted in a five-minute video are now often buried in a 2-hour long debate. Is this optimal? Is this really where we want to be?

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."  ~ Noam Chomsky

Free speech is not and never has been a partisan issue. It is fundamental to a free society, and we are so close to losing it forever- my homeland of the United Kingdom is perhaps the most shocking and egregious example of this reality.

FreebirdTV is more than a platform, it is not some "get rich quick" ploy and, like the truth, it is not for sale at any price. We will need help. We will need investment- and probably quite soon on that front, to purchase more hardware to cope with the demands of traffic. We will need the support of viewers and content creators also, for without you there is nothing to see and nothing to do. We ask you for your support, and to make yourselves known. We must work together- my prediction that YouTube will expunge all non-compliant content has already come true, and it is only going to get worse. They will never be persuaded of the validity of our arguments, so they must be fought against, with all our might.

This is a fight for the future, the only future that matters: a free future. You and I may disagree on everything under the sun, but how am I served by never having the opportunity to hear your argument? Could I not be convinced of your truth? The argument must be heard for the sake of freedom itself. Your voice of dissent must be heard!

In conclusion my friends, we are at what can be a defining moment. This is an utterly surprising piece to be writing to you, but on these pages, I have not typed a single word that I believe to be untrue and I do not mean to begin now. I swore an oath to follow the truth wherever it may lead, and here we are, and though I am a natural pessimist I am, for once, a believer.

I think FreebirdTV has the opportunity to be the free speech platform that has been so sorely needed. We need your help to make this a reality and I call on you to join with me in this great endeavor. Please comment on this article with your thoughts, even if you think I am a lunatic.

We can do this, if we believe in it, and work like never before. We can fight for freedom of speech and a free internet. We must fight for it- together. The alternative is silence.


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