by UnHerd Staff
Tuesday, 26
October 2021
Video
17:30

Ash Sarkar: Left and Right must unite against tech censorship

Freddie Sayers spoke to the Novara editor about her channel's disappearance from YouTube
by UnHerd Staff


Earlier today, a YouTube channel with 167,000 subscribers and over 40 million views vanished. It was one of the UK’s best known Left-wing political websites, which according to the outlet is ‘among the top 50 most watched news and politics channels in the UK’.

The channel was Novara Media, which was mysteriously reinstated by YouTube two hours later.


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Novara Media’s press statement

According to Novara’s senior editor Ash Sarkar, Novara had received no prior warning and one ‘strike’ (YouTube operates a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy) before the channel was removed:

We could only appeal in the way that everyone else can, which is that you reply to this anonymous email. You’re not even sure if there’s a human on the other side of it. And that’s why we thought that the only means that we have for getting an explanation is by going public and drumming up support.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

On the role of Big Tech:

It’s a bad thing that private companies have got so much influence, but the fact is they do. And so when they do play such a key role in our democracy, and when they play such a key role in making sure that journalism can reach an audience, there needs to be some kind of democratically decided regulation of those platforms, because it has an impact on our democracy.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

On lessons she has learned:

Well, I think that what you see there are people trying to make sense of a rapidly changing landscape and they’re kind of grasping for arguments which suit the thing that they’re trying to focus on at the time. And I know that I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that…we don’t have a political framework of treating these as public utilities, having some kind of democratic oversight, and people grasp for the nearest available argument… And I think that that is something which has been a weakness in my own politics, right. This is something which I’ve gotten wrong.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

On the Left’s attitude to free speech:

There has been a censorious turn to the left. It’s no good denying it. And there has been, I think, a tendency to say, because this conversation has the potential to bring in viewpoints which we deem hateful and harmful, that this conversation shouldn’t be happening at all. That is something which I disagree with.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

On Novara’s cross-political support:

What was really great is that support came from all sides of the political spectrum. Because it doesn’t matter where you are on some of the big issues of the day, we can all agree that an unaccountable American tech company having this much control of whether a fully regulated, British journalistic outfit is allowed to operate — that’s an incredibly sinister thing.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

On the Trump ban:

Well, one of the things that I was saying at the time is that this isn’t something to celebrate. This is not something to just sort of go ‘woo, Trump, we don’t like him, he’s a racist, he’s a fascist. He’s currently corroding democratic norms. It’s a good thing that Twitter is able to just kick him off’, because I was like ‘well, what if next time, it’s a socialist president? What if next time it’s somebody on the left?’
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

Would Ash interview Anjem Choudray?

No, I absolutely would not. And the reason why I wouldn’t is because Anjem Choudary does not need to win the debate in order to have effects which I think are incredibly harmful in order to be able to recruit, in order to radicalise, and potentially turn people towards violence. He doesn’t need to win the debate.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

On moving beyond the political divide:

This is much bigger than right versus left, UnHerd versus Novara, or anything else. What this is about is the ability of journalism to function, unimpeded by unaccountable tech giants. And that is something, it does matter where you are on the political spectrum, we all rely on journalism in order to make sense of ourselves socially, culturally, politically, it’s the lifeblood of a democracy. And if YouTube or Google or whoever else it is can just shut it off, no explanation, no justification, no warning. That is something incredibly dangerous indeed.
- Ash Sarkar, UnHerdTV

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George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago

https://twitter.com/ayocaesar/status/1401576601473724418
“cancel culture is democracy in action” Ash Sarkar
you’ve just been democracy’d by youtube thats all Ash

Last edited 1 year ago by George Glashan
Mirax Path
Mirax Path
1 year ago
Reply to  George Glashan

This is the Ash Sarkar we all know and loathe. She, Owen Jones and Novara media have been the most poisonous actors on the UK media scene for the last 6 years.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
1 year ago
Reply to  George Glashan

That’s priceless.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

So the Left, including Novara, has been intolerant of free speech–more specifically freedom of speech for their political opponents–for years and now the censors have come for them. I’m sure the irony is not lost on anyone.
Big Tech is now alienating both left and right so I think the chance of meaningful regulation of their activities is significantly more likely and certainly overdue. I wonder if Youtube will sit idly by while Novara loudly criticizes them for their recent actions?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

False flag… The Left is not troubled by censorship 1/100th as much as the Right – and so now this pops up so the Left (hard left, neo-Marxist, Post Modernist, intersectionality Equitiests) can say ‘SEE We are just as abused by the Media as Right Wing – and even although this us utterly preposterous, incidents like this one give them their ammo to say the Right are not censored, canceled, and de-platformed, more than the Left are.

A LIE. Like the Neo-Marxist Biden’s mad words: “White supremacy ‘most lethal’ threat to America, Biden says” I never met any White Supremacists, or saw them causing any issues – they are a bogeyman used to excuse the Left Rioting and crime, and spending, and CRT, And so the NSA, and all the American Covert Secret Police can be turned onto the innocent Americans who disagree with the NWO, WEF, fringe Democrat Party ideologies. ‘The Patriot Act is now used against American Patriots! Give government your freedoms and you are NOT getting them back.
Like the Facebook ‘Whistleblower who seems a Facebook plant to allow them to censor the Right much more: “The filings also allege Facebook “failed to deploy internally-recommended or lasting counter-measures” to combat misinformation and violent extremism related to the 2020 election and January 6 insurrection.”

she is funded by a Soros Mark II Billionaire, “Omidyar’s philanthropic networks have often been compared to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Through the network, the billionaire eBay founder has spent millions generating support for the Green New Deal, a dark money group supporting Democrat political candidates, and “racial justice” organizations.”

And the whistleblower – Frances Haugen – says Facebook NEEDS MORE CENSORSHIP against the Right, not less as she first implied…. (she was on the team which blocked Hunter’s Laptop being covered) She wants everything the Right believes in called Hate Speech and Misinformation and blocked – and so 1984 becomes real.

It all is pure false flag, the Left saying they are having their Freedom of Speech attacked – When THEY are the ones destroying Free Speech.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Excellent point but a minor quibble. That filthy thief Frances Haugen is not a “whistleblower” and she should never be referred to as such. She is a disloyal, disgruntled employee who stole internal documents. To keep “us” “safe?” Safe from what?
See my letter in The New York Times making this point.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I never met any White Supremacists, or saw them causing any issues”
I actually sought out people accused of “white supremacy” in the USA, and never heard even one of them express the view that white people are better than any others. 

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I disagree and believe that Freddie’s interview was not particularly helpful.
Let’s focus on the language, and remember the STONEWALL series. What was so brilliant about that was the interviewer asking to define certain terms: What is “two spirits,” for example? (Perhaps we should ask Justin Trudeau, he seems to know.). This happens (almost) all the time, not just Freddie, but when people throw out terms like “far right, “hate speech,” and proclaim that speech like this makes people “unsafe,” the world has gone mad, and language has lost its meaning. The Left is brilliant at this, and it has been accepted on the right.
Consider how this could have been more like the STONEWALL interviewer. When Ash threw out terms like “far right” and “hate speech” he should have called for example. My view is that “hate speech” is that anything that the extreme left disagrees with. Note the similarity to “two spirits” and other “gender fluid” terms which have no meaning, but one inherently “knows” that these concepts cannot be opposed. 100+ sexes or gender–not sure what the proper word is.
Finally, Freddie’s crie de couer for something like a “Grand Alliance” is misplaced: they are the enemy, they must be defeated at all costs. As a Yank I know zero about Novara and the journalistic standards boards she was referring to, but just because she is seemingly pleasant enough and has a nice cat does not mean that she can be part of a Grand Alliance. She is the enemy, and must be defeated. On the other side, Bari Weiss, formerly of The New York Times, is also the enemy, but with her, whom I know more about, I’m willing to declare a temporary truce while we fight the even greater enemy, the extreme, fascist left, but there is no (premanent) Grand Alliance, just a temporary truce.
I implore Freddie in the future to have his guests define their terms, a la the STONEWALL interviews…..

David Slade
David Slade
1 year ago

Tech censorship is one of the biggest threats to our democracy and our freedom of thought in recent times, so any allies are surely welcome – regardless of how they have opined in the past; ‘more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents’ etc.

I would be interested to see if Novara media has the grace to return the solidarity shown to it by the likes of Unherd, Spiked, GB news et.al or if, as has been suggested elsewhere on the comments, they will simply use their cancellation to gas light the Right.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Slade
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

I have absolutely no doubt that Ash Sarkar is going to turn into the lefts version of Uncle Albert – droning on from now to kingdom come about how “…I remember, durin’ the time that YouTube shut us down…”.

They will all be dining out on this story for years.

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago

“It (Novara Media) was not a fringe channel that platforms cranks, conspiracists and extremists,”

LOL, Freddie its coming up for Halloween, not April Fools.

Last edited 1 year ago by George Glashan
George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago

Why don’t Novara Media just make their own social media platform?

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago

a) novara is registered with ipsos et al – democratically accountable UK institutions
b) YouTube isn’t registered with anyone, or accountable to anyone apart from their clients (not users, but advertisers and the likes of the PRC, amongst others)
If YouTube is worried about content, it should go to the relevant national democratically accountable body (their parliament or executive, if they have no recognized regulatory body) and ask if this or that content is ok.

Then, and only then, should they act.

If they choose to rub someone out “because we think it offends community guidelines” – whatever they are – turn YouTube or whoever off. Maybe we can’t. Perhaps we should work out how. I’m pretty sure if YouTube ceased to function in the UK, for 5 minutes, they’d wake up and smell the coffee.

The current situation is obscene.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Simpson
George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago

Youtube are not obligated to host anti-Semites.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

From “free speech is a right wing trope” to “left and right must join together” and it only took a 2h shutdown by YouTube.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago

Big Tech is now about where Big Oil was in 1910, i.e. too big, too abusive, too unregulated. It will be broken up in the end.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

It will be broken up in the end.
That was my initial instinct but I’ve read articles, and comments on Unherd, noting that the US’s major internet platforms are a counterbalance to China’s internet platforms, so the US government is reluctant to break them up and reduce their global clout. That makes sense.
I’m guessing the possible solution to the problem of Big Tech overreach will be regulation. The most common proposal I’ve seen is establishing a government watchdog to impose content and moderation standards. Now the government decides what’s appropriate content and what isn’t. Seems like the cure might be as bad as the disease.
Regulation of Big Tech is another issue I’d like to see Unherd cover.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

If Big Tech is to be regulated by the government (much more than currently), with massive involvement of the US government, this will end badly. The US government does nothing well, and is controlled by either extreme leftist fascists of those who are sympathetic to them.
The point has been made that people who do real harm, juntas, dictators, traffickers use Big Tech but Trump cannot? And Jack took information about Hunter Biden’s laptop off Twitter as “fake news” (nothing fake about it) at a crucial point before the election? This is beyond parody but the consequences are very real. There was no election interference by Russia, but there was by Twitter….

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think the best response is to make them live up to letter and spirit of the law regulating internet forums. As long as they don’t have editorial control they are exempt from a lot of the restrictions and regulations placed on traditional media (including risks of libel/defamation lawsuits). But if they want to exercise editorial control and censor their unfavored views, they face the same risks of, say, a newspaper publishing false information. That last one may not seem like a big deal right now considering how many get away with it, but even in recent years libel lawsuits have seriously hurt some major publications.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Big Tech and Big Oil are NOT similar as one merely extorted money for a needed commodity, and the other is all thought control and propaganda/censorship to destroy the Constitutional and economic West and so bring out the Plutocracy and New World Order,

One was economic power, the new one is political power. They control the voters, then the Politicos Tech wishes to win get in and they control YOU. And Big Tech are not benign, they are evil. They manipulate the voters information and views, fund the Political campaigns, and thus own the Political Puppets in office – and so will make their New World Order happen – and you will belong to them.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

You guys need to get real and grow up. YouTube is a foreign company. If you had content on a Chinese or Chinese financed platform or a Russian one or an EU one, you would have *no recourse* – they wouldn’t need to justify anything to you and there is not a thing you could do about it, and they would not suffer any consequence for wiping you out, not one jot.

If you don’t like the YouTube policies, there is *absolutely nothing* preventing you from making rival media platforms, individually or as a group, or lobbying the government here to allow, say, the BBC to offer as a service (as a utility) the same type of technology. It’s just tech, and all you need is pots of money and very very good tecchies. The hidden subtext is that you crave the *global* mass audience presence platform – and their power is stemming from the fact that you crave them. Instead, be *truly* independent, go your own way, do your own thing, ditch the US giants until they come to you. I, for one, will still support you.

Last edited 1 year ago by Prashant Kotak
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

no, youtube and Facebook and their ilk in Social Media cannot be gotten around.

What is the value of a One telephone system? Nothing as it cannot call anyone. What is the value of a phone system which has 0.003% of the world’s phones linked on it? Very little as it has little actual utility.

You cannot just make your own phone system because you do not like the one now. You are forced to use the system which is the universally adopted one. Same with Tech/Media. They have you trapped, and you are stuck.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago

Shouldnt censorship just follow the local laws of the region where it is being watched? That’s why we have laws, we do not need Big Tech to create new laws.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

Ash Sarkar complaining about censorship and now, as the victim of it, wants to rethink. Ironic.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
1 year ago

At 12:50, Sayers backs Sarkar into a corner. She mentions Katie Hopkins, and accuses her of ‘racism’, to try to wriggle out of responsibility for the censorious leftist ideology to which she and the rest of Novara adhere. “There should be a democratic discussion about the limits of free speech”.

Lee C
Lee C
1 year ago

Good riddance to a disgusting antisemite