Monday, September 25, 2017

Censorship (n.) Censor (n.) - Are we being censored?

Someone who attempts to moderate and supervise morals, conduct, and content, usually with official approval.

The act of behaving like a censor.

Censored YouTube videos:

History & Etymology

The word censor comes from the name of a position in the Roman government whose job it was to take census data, and enforce the moral code dictated by the government of Rome.

The duties of a Roman censor were three fold:

Performing the census, registering and collecting information about the citizens of Rome. This is where we get the word census from.
Regimen Morum, the enforcement of public morality dictated by the roman government, and
The administration of state finances, and the development of state buildings and public work projects.

Number 2 is where we get the definition of the word censor and censorship. The Roman censors had several tools for enforcing the moral code of the roman state.  The most common were degrading Roman citizens, branding, and fines. Degrading only meant to lower the social status of some one.
For example there was a class of people called Equestrians who were granted state funded horses, and these people could be degraded and have that privilege taken from them. Censorship didn’t necessarily mean removal of citizenship.

This made the position of Censor a feared and coveted position in Rome.


In 1914 the oxford english dictionary records an early use of the word censor to refer to an official who checks private correspondence during war time for any information that might compromise any war efforts.

This use of the word referring to someone that redacts information from a letter is where we get the idea that censorship is only when content is completely or partially removed. I don’t think this is really the only way in which the word censorship could be used. A lot of dictionaries I checked didn’t define censor as removal of content. They generally referred to suppressing content.

After investigating where the word actually comes from I believe the word censorship can be applied much more broadly.

What’s happening with Google, YouTube and other large tech companies I believe falls squarely under the definition of censorship.

Just as the Roman government provided privileges to it’s citizen, so does YouTube, and other services, and they can take away some of those privileges, if you don’t abide by their moral standards.

When a video is put into a limited state, the “SandBox”, that’s similar to having your horse and other privileges if you were a roman in the equestrian class.

And having your content demonetize would be analogous to being degraded, and having your rank stripped from you.

They may not be forcing you or your content off the platform, but they are still censoring you. You’re being encouraged to conform to someone else's moral code.

What Google, Facebook and other big tech companies are doing is censorship. At least by my definition.


No comments:

Post a Comment