To the shock of many the alt tech platform Bitchute has commenced removing what it deems to be extremist content under the auspices of a report commissioned by the UK anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate.
Founded in 2017 as an alternative tech platform, BitChute is a UK based video hosting site which up until now has been viewed by most as being a free speech haven for those purged from YouTube. In recent months it has snowballed in popularity and traffic with many mainstream conservative outlets transitioning over to it as the likelihood of being scrubbed off YouTube increases.
It is for this reason that shock was expressed following the removal of the BitChute channel of the Scadandavian ultranationalist group Nordic Resistance Movement and related content this week.
In an email sent to the group ‘community guidelines’ were listed as a primary factor for the act of censorship with some voicing the fact that Nordic Resistance Movement being classed as having terrorist links another reason. There were apparently no prior warnings given before the immediate ban on the group’s account.
Prior to this there have been small cases of censorship on the site with overtly terroristic content of the whtie nationalist and Islamic variety removed and certain videos only viewable through a VPN. While not as formiddiable as other larger tech, outlets BitChute does have a set of community guidelines which prohibits harassment and violent extremism.
“When we remove channels it’s according to our rules, incitement to violence, terrorism, pirating movies, are some examples of rules we enforce” stated an official BitChute account in relation to charges of censorship brought against it.
Most worryingly, in July of this year, BitChute issued a statement in relation to the Hope Not Hate report on it promoting extremism which while affirming the right to free speech opened the door on cooperation with the group on combating extremism.
While BitChute stands out as one of the alt tech luminaries that have held the line well against censorship and which provides an excellent platform for political radicals to flourish it is vital they keep their nerve.
Despite recent censorship they are likely not malicious and more than likely worried about the safety of their company from backroom threats and legal repercussions. As of writing, BitChute is still a viable site, albeit one where the spectre of censorship could still rear its head.
While it is perfectly reasonable to take exception to the group in question, one must appreciate that once precedents are set there is no stopping the censorship machine. While it is an overtly neofascist organisation with potentially violent tendencies, the Nordic Resistance Movement’s ability to maintain an online podium must be safeguarded for moral reasons.
Like YouTube beforehand, deplatforming begins with the hardcore fringes but doesn’t end there. We have ended up in a situation where everyday conservative commentators like Steven Crowder or Tucker Carlson face removal from YouTube precisely because of initial precedents set similar to what was done by BitChute this week.
BitChute and its owners are in a hard place and deserve slack for the service they provide. However that slack must tighten the moment it becomes clear it is being sanitised likely under duress from outside forces.