Continuing sectarian censorship on Libcom

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akai
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Jan 20 2016 07:14
Continuing sectarian censorship on Libcom

A couple of months ago, comments made under an article concerning an meeting of some Amazon workers were disappeatedred by a user given admin privs. Now the ad mins themselves are participating in disappearing comments and closing them. Needless to say, this goes beyond preventing other parties from making their comments and corrections. Considering the fact that a wide variety of opinions, accusations and conflicts are played out here, this act of censorship is quite a remarkable case of censorship. Readers should be asking themselves why rank and file unionists more directly involved are being censored.

Jim
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Jan 20 2016 10:13

What are you talking about?

Jason Cortez
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Jan 20 2016 11:29

okay can we not use the term censorship as it just muddies the water. Questioning the reasons for comment/content removal is better way to proceed. I have no axe to grind here, but from previous threads, terms like censorship divert the disscussion into arguments of meanings and often semantics.

Akai, I remember you mentioning this in another thread, but dont think I can remenber which, perhaps a link and/or a short decrisption would be helpful for onlookers to understand what are the issues here. I realise that your OP is mainly aimed at getting an answer from the admins, but if you wish to get other users to support your position, they need more information.

MT
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Jan 20 2016 14:09

Here is the article with admin note that they respect the user's wish to keep the discussion deleted (WTF?!):
https://libcom.org/news/cross-border-amazon-workers-meeting-30092015

And here is the debate on the deletion, so the admins know very well what this shit is about:
https://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/discussion-deleted-cross-bord...

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jura
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Jan 20 2016 14:33

Anyone trying to wrap their heads around this can read the original discussion in Google's cache.

MT
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Jan 20 2016 14:57

Oh, I thought it is part of the https://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/discussion-deleted-cross-bord... and didn't check. Thanks for pointing out. This makes it look even worse...

akai
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Jan 20 2016 15:37

Jason, I am not usIng thIs term censorshIp lIghtly. So don't tell me what terms l should or should not fInd approprIate. ThIs Is what was put today at the bottom of the lInk MT lIsted:

admin: comments on this article have been disabled following a user request. If you need to view comments you made please contact site admins.

So, thIs Is a very InterestIng thIng for me.

On thIs sIte, there are many thIngs l agree wIth or dIsagree wIth. lf l dIsagree enough, l mIght wrIte an explanatIon and dIscuss. Only once l have ever thought somethIng should be deleted - where there were accusatIons agaInst Paul AvrIch made by hIs lunatIc and abusIve relatIve.

lf you look what has happened, a person who Is clearly mentally Ill and abusIve, who wants to kIll all anarchIsts etc., used thIs forum In very bad faIth. https://libcom.org/history/sasha-emma-anarchist-odyssey-alexander-berkma... DespIte a few readers feeIngs that thIs content, whIch probably Is slander, should be removed, It Is stIll up a month later.

There are lots of thIngs on LIbcom that people could be offended at. But l thInk It Is hardly practIce for the admIns to censor thIngs; sometImes they lock a thread whIch Is really abusIve.

However, the topIc comments were deleted before. ln fact, the fIrst artIcle Itself contaIned both factual mIstakes and was very mIsleadIng. lt Is also common that people correct or dIsagree wIth thIngs and comment It. l was let to know It Is InapproprIate to say somebody Is lyIng, although there are tons of sImIlar thIngs on thIs sIte. l actually apologIzed for It, but l suppose that the topIc of comment dIsappearance Is related to somethIng else. l already know that you cannot make accusatIons about the IntentIons of the admIns, so l just poInt out that there Is clearly uneven and unfaIr treatment goIng on. People can draw theIr own conclusIons why the admIns want to promote one sIde or the story and prevent any other versIon.

And before you brIng back the whInIng about how hard It Is to be an admIn, you need to save It for thIs case cause the bIg work In beIng admIn does not exonerate you from such bad decIsIons.

Jason Cortez
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Jan 20 2016 17:23

Just to let you know I am not an admin or have any moderation privileges. I was making a suggestion, not a command. you are coming over as overly defensive here, but i guess that just reflects the strengh of feeling. As I mention I have not got a side to take here. If it is in fact a case of sectarian admins, i wish you luck.

XirmiX
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Jan 21 2016 17:07
Jason Cortez wrote:
okay can we not use the term censorship as it just muddies the water. Questioning the reasons for comment/content removal is better way to proceed.

Yeah, because euphemisms make it all the better >_> (being sarcastic here in case somebody didn't understand).

Jason Cortez
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Jan 21 2016 21:13

Never suggested using euphemisms instead. Try reading my post again.

no1
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Jan 22 2016 13:56

Aren't the libcom collective going to explain why commenting has been disabled below that article? It's quite strange!

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Ed
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Jan 22 2016 19:56

Yeah, sorry for the late reply guys, we're all really busy with lots of other site (and non-site) related things..

Anyway, we removed the posts after some quite strong complaints from a user. However, we see how it could come across as censoring criticisms of and that's really not our intention. More generally, we're really trying not to take sides in the wider IP vs ZSP feud as we know decent people from both sides (which I realise is more likely to make enemies on both sides but there we are).

As such, as a compromise, we want to give akai copies of her posts and we'd encourage her to make a blog post out of them. That way both IP and ZSP views on the Amazon campaign get a hearing and readers can make up their minds from that.

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Steven.
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Jan 22 2016 20:41
Ed wrote:

As such, as a compromise, we want to give akai copies of her posts and we'd encourage her to make a blog post out of them. That way both IP and ZSP views on the Amazon campaign get a hearing and readers can make up their minds from that.

Or alternatively we could remove both. Although we would rather not do this for obvious reasons as both sides have presented interesting information which we would like to host.

MT
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Jan 22 2016 21:38

Ed, Steven., are serious? Or is this some kind of bad twisted joke?

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Lugius
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Jan 22 2016 23:23

So posts are removed on the basis that a user has made "quite strong complaints". Does this apply to all users?

What are the complaints?

akai
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Jan 23 2016 09:15

l think honestly you have made a bad error in judgement and are promoting a double standard.
There are lots of things on this site that people can complain about, as l have mentioned earlier. People in my union were not happy with an article which denied our presence in the workplace. lt is factually wrong. We also think that this article is misleading in a number of ways. Finally, we suppose that on Libcom there are still readers that do not support mainstream unionism or legal unionism and would be confused by the wrong characterisation of what is happening.

All this taken into account, it would seem very normal that anybody can reply to or discuss any article on Libcom, especially people who have more direct knowledge of some things, by virtue of their comrades from that workplace.

lf admins think that anybody crossed some line, they could, for example, contact the user they felt did this, saying what they considered inappropriate. At least one admin told me that he considered it inappropriate to call the author a liar, which l agreed with and apologized for. Also, if anybody said l wrote something which cannot be proven, l could be offered a chance to prove or retract.

However, this standard simply does not apply to the majority of articles or discussions on Libcom and l believe the readers are aware of this. ln one discussion l named, a disgruntled relative of one anarchist historian made allegations about his uncle's embezzlement. When l attempted to investigate this, l found that this person was infamous for false allegations on the internet. The person in question is also dead and cannot tell his side. Yet despite these quite serious allegations, they are still online.

l would like to ask the admins about why some user gets the privelege to have the comments turned off, while the rest of us mortals are subject to the feedback of all users? Obviously, l think that if the admins go down that path, they should allow all users to switch off the comment functions, because one user should not be in this position.

Also, the admins can delete threads like the Schmidt thread, because of its content, which l assume some people object to.

Finally, about your offer:

First, the comments were already deleted but a worker at Amazon (struggling with google translate to read them) had copied them and l reposted them.

(About censorship, we can also tell about the interesting deletion of an Amazon FB group where our comrades were active. All of the contributions of the workers from our union, plus other workers who were critical of things, were disappeared by one person. Thus a lot of the sources for the evidence were lost. So - make back ups to fight these types of censors.)

Second, l suppose the more appropriate thing is to help Amazon workers who have a critical approach towards the mainstream unionism happening there, as well as the usurpatory role of a few political activists salting at the company to get a text published. l have proposed this but it probably will take some time. At which point it can be published on our own website, which is not subject to the censorship of Libcom admins.

Third, it isn't right to give more work to people who are already busy.

OK, there are additional things to mention, but little time. l would just add a personal note: one of our comrades who started the union had very severe personal problems and tried to take her own life last week. lt is nothing so directly related to her work, but her overall feeling of hopelessness in life, where she feels disposable. Over the last year, a few of our members have gone through personal crises and one was related to the mobbing one faced at work from a supervisor. A number of our comrades changed their jobs, especially because of the actions of the supervisors.

One of the reasons l stress this all is to point out that l believe the main reason that our colleagues made this union and decided to be with us is that we give a supportive atmosphere and that they were just tired of being treated like dirt. At work and in their personal lives. Nobody there is or was a professionalized type activist, nobody there went to work in Amazon because they thought it would be cool to organize workers and present themselves to the public as if an international movement of workers. As such, they do not act as professional unionists do. They also do not hold tiny meetings with a couple of other workers and pretend that the masses of workers are mobilizing.

Unfortunately, from the beginning, they've had a rough time with the professionalized ones. On various occasions they were told they don't exist. They were (in Poland), told by members of that other union that they are not "real" because they do not comply with all the social partnership oriented laws. All of these laws are meant to keep workers from organizing themselves by requiring a lot of bureaucracy and promises to comply with the bourgeoise laws. Because of these laws, a cadre of professional or professionalized unionist arise, who are the "only ones" who claim they can do things, because they understand and comply with all the paperwork.

People need to know what the practice is of creating a union of people signed on paper, under the direction of salters and chairmen and what the practice of rank and file unionism is. And that the former type of union fight the latter by promoting clientele unionism and trying, often literally, to participate in the non-recognition of the rank and file.

Also among the insults and attacks were issues like censorship and lies on FB.

All in all, the issue boils done to the choice of tactics for unions. To have a chairman who is a supervisor (and anti-immigrant) or acknowledge the workers' real problems with supervisors. To sign people on paper and become a leadership cadre, or encourage rank and file work that grows organically and doesn't mimic the tactics of the mainstream unions? To comply with the formal requirements creating by the capitalists, for example, to make collective disputes and follow all the procedures meant to create worker representation and postpone action, or to take action?

lt is rather clear which tendency is represented by certain European networks, l would suppose that the average Libcom admin, not being from the place in question, or perhaps for some other reason. might not fully understand these issues. However, a certain usership on Libcom, whose decline is unfortunate, is not interested in creating myths about unions and maintain that certain practices in unionism are just unfortunate and actually prevent the working class from self-organizing themselves and making more direct confrontations than those that are possible through the constraints required by mainstream legal unionism.

What Libcom folks like Ed are doing, in my opinion, is making some personal politics. ln his explanation, he says that their is a feud and they take "no sides" because he knows decent people on both sides. Well, l also know a lot of "decent people". l know decent people in that union (among the rank and file - not the cadres), l know decent people in Solidarity, l even know "decent people" in the government - strange as that might seem coming from an anarchists. What l am saying is that "decent people" is a personal assessment of one's personality. But that there are some "decent folks" in Solidarity doesn't mean we are gonna shut up about what they do. When we crashed Solidarity's big party a year or two ago, the Solidarity bosses called fascists in to deal with us - but many members of Solidarity stopped to talk to us and support the workers who were screwed by this union.

ln my experience, that's how decent people act when confronted the situations like the unfortunately betrayal by the union leaders.

On the other hand, when confronted with critical or independent presences, such as the ZSP union in Amazon, we have seen reactions such as this: constant public claims denying the existance of the comrades, or contradictory claims acknowledging them but claiming they are "illegal" and the workers should not join them (the former not even true) or simply ignoring and failing to support the workers when they were fighting for claims last year. (Most of which were won.) Even if they are insulted and don't want to support those people personally, the problems affected hundreds of people, most of whom were cheated and received no help from the mainstream unions, which actually failed to support the claims of the workers. ln the case of the chairman of Amazon, he actually went against the claims of the workers (which include both our members and other people - because the majority of the Amazon people have not joined any unions) issuing a class collaborationist statement in the press. Where dozens of workers had contacted media to try to expose what was happening and called the place a work camp, the lP rep in Amazon, who is a supervisor, said it is not true and talked about how they want to make Amazon a better workplace, look forward to dialogue, etc. ln other words, the militant attitude of the workers was brushed off and the negotiator, who also enforces the bosses' orders against workers, stepped in as an intermediary.

Readers can decide whether or not this is decent without being dragged into some infantile explanation about there being decent people in this union or that one. And yes, they can have copies of the article in question if they want to see. But they cannot make any considerations if a "anonymous user", the admins give admin rights to deletes the comments and then the admins do it.

lt seems l have lived to see an unfortunate event again, where a site which once was famous for many users critical of mainstream union action, censors users who are critical of mainstream union action.

lf the admins themselves, by virtue of whatever ideas they personally have, are soft on this kind of shit, they can defend it. At least then we would know their views. But here l think, at the very best you have exhibited some partisan buddy protecting and very unfair treatement of users.

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Steven.
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Jan 23 2016 10:39

Hi, just to say it's not fair to single out Ed here. We do take collective responsibility for decisions we make but TBH this was on me. I appreciate everything people here are saying. We are also very busy and have a lot of other things to be getting on with. I'm sure you can understand having a site with a lot of users it is pretty much impossible to keep everyone happy. However it seems we have fucked up here.

I would like to thank Akai for the informative comments here, and I'm very sorry for your comrade who is having such a terrible time. I feel it is worth pointing out that if the tone and type of language used in these posts had been used in the original comments, then probably none of this would have happened.

We'll take this back and discuss it internally and decide what to do. But I hope people can appreciate we have been put in a very difficult situation. And just to reassure people on a level that our decision had absolutely nothing to do with politics, and was solely to do with the practicalities of running a website.

MT
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Jan 23 2016 11:42

Good to hear that you are going to undelete the discussion.

Still, I would like to ask you, if you used such approach in the past. I am not reading everything that appears here, but so far I have not seen such action taken by the libcom admins (meaning deleting discussion; not mentioning using that horrible note as a justification...). Therefore I am still worried why this thing happened because I cannot find any other logical explanation than a personal one. Really, why anyone should be deleted just because of commenting bullshit written by someone who even claims has basically only a second(or third?)hand information about what is really going on? And I think this was clear even back then and akai just repeated it here again today (perhaps in a calmer way). You don't have to agree with anything said but the "solving" the issue your way (and justfying it!) was simply shocking to me. So, I am trying to remember if I have seen something like that in the past and I can't.

akai
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Jan 23 2016 11:58

Steven and Ed,

Ed, l am very sorry if you think l singled you out. l didn't mean that the responsibility is yours. But you are the one that offered a reason and l wanted to argue against your reason. And using your reasoning, l am sure you are a decent guy smile, but that has nothing to do with the fact that l cannot agree with your reasoning.

Steven, l have been on editorial collectives of websites, and, BTW, even more diverse than here. l appreciate the tough calls one has to make. However, l will repeat, l don't think being busy with stuff actually justify it. lt may explain why people feel under pressure, make bad judgments etc., but can't really explain why people make that call on one item, but do nothing on other items.

As for the comment on the tone and language, here l can make some autocriticism. The fact is that l am pissed and if l was more pissed at these people than l was here on this thread, mostly address to the admins and users, it was because here just l think you were using really bad judgment and l take into account that, in fact, you are probably largely unaware of lots of things. ln the other situation, there is a long history of treachery.

This said, l could suggest that if you were concerned about the way l said something, you could point out the "offending parts" and suggest l tone it down ... which l would do. On the other hand, l personally find it disturbing that there is so much stuff on Libcom that is very rude and agressive - basically on the level of people telling each other to fuck off - that does not receive any attention. Not that l am suggesting you censor people for being rude. You know, as l said, l dealt with the complexity of this issue myself for many years. But there is also a bit of a difference between people who just want to troll or who are generally abusive and people who sign everything with their own name and generally want to critically discuss. The latter group of people, lMHO, are just looking to have that discussion and are willing to debate their ideas and maybe even would admit if they wrote something unfair - they can be held accountable for their words, because they are not really too anonymous. (Not that everybody knows these people, but the admins do.) This is where admins also have their responsibilities and can either talk to the people involved or talk to themselves and make decisions like in favor of censorship.

When this was deleted the first time (and the user who did that was not named and did not apologize for that), l think Steven told me that l was wrong to call the writer a liar or imply that the writer intentionally gave misinformation. l wrote OK and apologized for it.

l don't know how many writers on Libcom are called out for saying something nasty to another user - despite the widespread use of insults. l also don't know how many users apologized.

So, to sum up .... a user under a pseudonym, a user with admin privs deleting stuff and not apologizing, an admin deleting stuff.... A user asking for stuff to be removed because of the bad tone.... No information from the admins about whether any of the criticism was based in truth or not ... no idea on the part of users such as myself as to what merits censorship or not because l cannot find the objective line of bad behaviour here...

You do know that treating the same issue in different ways leads to problems?

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Steven.
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Jan 23 2016 13:40
MT wrote:
Good to hear that you are going to undelete the discussion.

Just to say we didn't say that would definitely be the case, we need to discuss with various parties.

Quote:

Still, I would like to ask you, if you used such approach in the past.

We have removed comments and discussions where our posting guidelines got breached in the past, although other than the odd comment here and there we haven't done it much recently.

Quote:
Therefore I am still worried why this thing happened because I cannot find any other logical explanation than a personal one. Really, why anyone should be deleted just because of commenting bullshit written by someone who even claims has basically only a second(or third?)hand information about what is really going on?

There is no personal justification, as we have no personal connection with any of the parties involved. However there are relevant factors which we cannot disclose as they were in confidential correspondence. Hopefully people will realise that as we basically never do this, and we weren't happy doing this, there is a reason, but we can't really go into detail at the moment.

MT
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Jan 23 2016 13:45

And in what moment will you?smile

akai
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Jan 23 2016 15:02

Ah, it's a secret.

So, what could l have written that deserves censorship? Let's see. (Not only l commented.) l said that this union was not the only union, so that info was false. l guess l talked about the supervisors among the union - which the company already knows, because 1. that union says so itself 2. the first named representatives were supervisors. Hmmm, can't be it. Hmmm. what else. About exaggeration of the membership? That's a standard problem, but has no effect on anything. About the fact that people were generally not invited to the meeting and only a handful participated in it or the demo? Well, the photos and so on where in the mainstream press, so no secret.

So more and more curious explanations.

l prefer the guy who was ill and became a nazi on Stormfront more.

So, maybe 1. your discussion with "various parties" should include the one you censor 2. lf there is anything that threatens to safety of any worker or isn't generally known or discussed in Poland and should be confidential, that particular part should be deleted.

So, admins - what is it? Did l (or somebody else) write something that needs to be kept secret? This is a new explanation - before it was about "tone".

Also, nota bene, much l want l said in the original is actually now here too. So, does that mean that the points here should also be subject to censorship?

lf l am missing something, maybe you can just come clean privately. l am willing to cooperate.

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Lugius
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Jan 27 2016 01:53

Steven wrote:

There is no personal justification, as we have no personal connection with any of the parties involved. However there are relevant factors which we cannot disclose as they were in confidential correspondence. Hopefully people will realise that as we basically never do this, and we weren't happy doing this, there is a reason, but we can't really go into detail at the moment.

It's all very mysterious and I don't understand why this justifies removing comments. I asked a question earlier about the nature of the complaints made which libcom collective is acting upon. But no answer so far - will it be answered or should I just give it a miss?

If you can't go into detail at the moment, does that mean that detail will be gone into in the future?

Curious Wednesday
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Jan 29 2016 14:37

Another example of libcom's sectarian censorship: on this page [url= https://libcom.org/news/tunisia-2016-22012016 ] https://libcom.org/news/tunisia-2016-22012016 [/url] my OP was subtly censored by libcom admin.

Originally it read "A massive movement is erupting in Tunisia at this very moment and at the moment I can only find this radical site that's reporting it" - ie with a link to this http://dialectical-delinquents.com/news-of-opposition-5/january-2016/ - the January 2016 page of Dialectical Delinquents' "News of Opposition" page (I sent the same report anonymously to Anarchist News: http://anarchistnews.org/content/tunisia-2016 , where the link still stands). Over the last few days on this site this link has been withdrawn so that it now reads as if the only "radical site that 's reporting it" is libcom blog. If I'd wanted to refer to libcom I'd have put "A massive movement is erupting in Tunisia at this very moment and at the moment this bunch of petty political manipulators aren't bothering to report it" .

Nymphalis Antiopa
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Jan 29 2016 16:15

More fool you for bothering to send stuff to them.

They get away with this kind of censorship because they give off an image of being open to everybody - they even once allowed some EDF arsehole to parade his obnoxious crap in a long drawn-out "discussion". Bit like The Guardian comments. Then they censor stuff without anybody knowing it's being censored (also like The Guardian). Some of the discussions even have the appearance of being interesting, and undoubtedly they attract people with some significant facts worth publicising. But it's like what the Situationists criticised in their critique of the ideology of dialogue "It is necessary to break clearly with the old confusion, and therefore with its partisans, whether they be open, cunning or simply unconscious.... We are in fact trying to initiate dialogue everywhere that that state of mind manifests itself in a radical direction. For that state of mind is itself divided by a struggle between its truth and its organized cooption by the ruling powers." - http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/10.dialogue.htm

S. Artesian
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Jan 29 2016 16:19

I'm interested in the Libcom response-- did you remove the link to the Dialectical Delinquents website?

If so, why?

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Khawaga
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Jan 29 2016 16:52

I am wondering the same thing. But I can confirm that one of the admins did remove it. It just seems unnecessary.

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jef costello
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Jan 29 2016 17:48

It seems odd to remove that link, I can see why there'd be no love lost between libcom and that site but as it's sharing useful info it seems, at least, very petty.
I've defended libcom in the past as it is a website and there are limits to what can be done but this is a bit concerning.
In the case of the dispute between organisations then I can see why libcom doesn't have the resources to arbitrate (nor the power / authority etc) but it's hosted discussions and disputes before and these are of a pretty serious nature. At the least they could have been moved to a discussion thread.
Removing the link, unless it is to a hostile site ie. far-right or likely to bring swarms of DDOS trolls, seems petty and pointless.

S. Artesian
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Jan 29 2016 18:06
Quote:
petty and pointless.

Word(s).

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gram negative
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Jan 31 2016 14:34

EDIT: removed after explanation was posted by admins

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Joseph Kay
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Jan 29 2016 23:30

Nobody removed a link. The post was converted to a forum post because it wasn't in the news style (fwiw it was also 'featured' meaning the updates in the comments bump it in the 'featured' block).

Looking at the revision history it doesn't look like there was a link there to begin with? Speculating; there's a possibility converting to a forum post stripped out bbcode from the link. But that doesn't explain why it's not visible in the original version.

In either case, the original poster could just edit the link in.