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Tech censorship against animal agriculture

Stephen Weststeyn for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 January 2021

Whatever happened to open discussion?

The 2020 election marked an astounding point in history with the president of the U.S. censored for his political speech, but few people realize that tech companies have been actively censoring speech in a variety of other forums – including animal agriculture.

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Tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok claim they are promoting science or “fact-based” information from authoritative sources, yet the reality is they are promoting one-sided information bubbles. Credible information about milk and dairy is being suppressed while information from animal activists and plant-based proponents is being promoted. Instead of pointing people toward the importance of eating a balanced diet, these tech companies actively promote plant-based eating while suppressing, censoring and shadow banning information about the importance of animal-based foods.

In 2019, Google quietly updated their search algorithm claiming the changes give preference to more authoritative websites and organizations that are fact-based and supported by science. But, while they claim they are giving preference to science, Google promotes unestablished vegan and plant-based eating information, while a variety of low-carb, high-fat (LCHF); ketogenic and carnivore-diet websites, which speak of the benefits of animal-based foods, are buried and suppressed. The change has amplified vegan-activist website nutritionfacts.org, a website that promotes fake vegan propaganda that is not backed by scientific research. There is no scientific basis or fact that plant-based eating is any healthier than eating a balanced diet with animal-sourced foods.

Dairymoos.com suffered a 90% reduction in organic search traffic, even though being a dairy farmer, I should be an authoritative source on dairy and cows. Many of the questions that dairymoos.com answers about cows and dairy that used to rank high in Google’s search results have now been surpassed by vegan websites.

Facebook has taken a similar stance to Google in censoring content about food. Facebook allows vegan companies like Spero and Else Nutriton to sell their products with false and misleading dietary claims without any scientific or factual basis, meanwhile censoring groups like the 1.6-million-follower group Banting 7-day Meal Plans. Banting is the common South African name for the LCHF or ketogenic diet. The group only shares recipes and inspiring before-and-after pictures.

Multiple tech platforms have banned people from sharing how they kill animals for food, even though animal-based foods have been an important and necessary part of history. Dr. Shawn Baker, a medical doctor and leading carnivore-diet proponent, had his Twitter profile-header picture censored because it was a picture of a lion eating raw meat. Twitter deemed this graphic content.

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For centuries, meat and killed animals hung freely in market squares, yet there is a notion that people today should be censored from seeing this type of content. It socially conditions people to think that eating animal products is bad or wrong instead of being a necessary part of a healthy diet.

TikTok has been a place that’s had more freedom, but the platform is becoming quickly overrun with vegans who actively attack farmers’ educational videos. With just one click, they can report you for bullying or graphic content, and your video is immediately taken down. It can take days to appeal, and the reach of the video is impacted even after you win, and it goes back up. Activists do not want farmers to be able to show their healthy animals or the truth about farming. TikTok enables them by allowing their tools for “community safety” to be weaponized.

One of my banned videos was of a cow getting her hooves trimmed. It was removed for “violent and graphic content,” even though it is a painless and necessary procedure. Meanwhile, That Vegan Teacher (a huge money earner for TikTok) can sing a song about how people that drink cow’s milk are pieces of excrement that support rape and murder and get millions of views. She can freely spread radical opinions and misinformation just like this every day with zero interference.

TikTok is intentionally murky in its community guidelines. This allows them to be a publisher instead of a platform. Creators are not in control of their own content. According to the new guidelines, “slaughter or other non-natural deaths of animals” may not be depicted. But, what does that mean? An old cat is fine but an educational video showing a stillborn calf is not? The guidelines also ban “gore in which an open wound or injury is the core focus.” So, no veterinary medicine or treatment of animal injuries can be shown either.

Life and death, injury and healing are present on any farm. By not allowing people to learn about it or see it, the public is being further removed and sensitized. What’s more, if we are not given a fair chance to defend our practices or even just answer basic questions like, “What happens to your bull calves?” people like That Vegan Teacher get to answer for us and tell our story.

Freedom of speech used to be an upheld American ideal, yet that principle is quickly becoming lost in the waves of technological rule. Animal-sourced foods are part of a healthy diet. Farmers should be allowed to be the authority on how food is produced on their farms. The problem with tech companies determining what content is authoritative is that it prevents an open forum of ideas where real truth, science and facts can bubble to the surface.  end mark

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Stephen Weststeyn is a California dairy farmer. Check out his blog, Dairy Moos.

PHOTO: Graphic courtesy of Stephen Weststeyn.

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