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X Re-Joins Pro-Censorship Advertisers’ Alliance

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Given how X has gone out of its way to reveal the depth and breadth of online censorship via the Twitter Files, this makes for an awkward reunion: the company has decided to rejoin the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM).

It’s a pro-censorship, World Economic Forum-affiliated advertisers’ group, that achieves its objectives through the “brand safety” route (i.e., the censorship “brand” here would be demonetization). And last summer, it was scrutinized by the US Congress.

GARM is one of those outfits whose roots are very entangled (comes in handy when somebody tries to probe your activities, though) – and the chronology is not insignificant either: formed in 2019 as a World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) initiative, partnered with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Then came another “partnership” – that with WEF (World Economic Forum), specifically, its Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment, and Sport project – a “flagship” one.

In May 2023, the US House Judiciary Committee wanted to know what exactly was happening here, and whether “brand safety” as a concept, as exercised by these entities, could be linked to censorship of online speech.

So the Committee subpoenaed the World Federation of Advertisers (and GARM), asking for records that might show whether these groups “coordinated efforts to demonetize and censor disfavored speech online.”

Committee Chairman Jim Jordan was at the time concerned that this conduct might have run afoul of US antitrust laws.

For X, despite the strides the platform has made toward protecting users’ speech since the Twitter takeover, the GARM relationship is most likely simply about (ad) money – and one of the several efforts to make the platform profitable at last.

Those who were hoping for a “free speech absolutism” on a platform like this might be disappointed, the Congress might investigate some more; but ultimately, the move represents a “realpolitik-style” compromise.

And so X is “excited” and “proud” to be back as a GARM member. The company’s “Safety” account posted something about “the safety of our global town square” apparently being relevant to this decision, but did not elaborate.

Now listed by GARM along with X are YouTube and Chanel – and, in between, some of the biggest pharma and telecoms out there.

Big Money, one might say.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

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