You'll probably have heard that Google is currently facing a damaging boycott from many big name companies. Volkswagen, PepsiCo, Walmart, Starbucks, AT&T and Verizon, amongst others, have withdrawn their adverts from YouTube because they became aware that their products and services were being displayed next to content that they deemed unsavoury. If these corporations continue to withhold their advertising dollars from YouTube, it could eventually cost Google hundreds of millions in lost revenue.
Now what kind of content don't these big companies want to be associated with on YouTube? ISIS propaganda videos perhaps? Beheadings? Calls to Jihad and Islamic world domination? Videos advocating the subjugation of women? Quran quotes calling for death for the infidel?
No. These companies apparently aren't concerned with any of that. Instead, it seems they're far more concerned with the people who are speaking AGAINST those things...like us, for example. Yesterday morning, this email arrived in the Fuel Project inbox:
Monetisation of YouTube videos is an important revenue stream for ministries like this one, and the fact that Google are now caving into pressure from big companies to penalise our voice is concerning. Here's the video in question so you can make your own judgement about its content. It's about a year old and was monetised until yesterday, so we know this is only happening in response to the recent pressures.
The loss of revenue from this one video isn't going to put this ministry under - we'll survive - but what's concerning is what this signals for the future of 'net neutrality' for Christians. Because in truth, it's more than just this one issue. We're now seeing people being banned from Twitter for expressing the 'wrong' opinions in tweets. Recently, all testimonies from ex-homosexuals and their ministries have started to be blacklisted and removed from Vimeo. We're now seeing social media giants and government rallying around the idea that 'fake news' on the internet should be silenced (for 'fake news', read 'news that doesn't fit the pre-approved ideological narrative') Google, apparently now feeling pressure to become the arbiter of 'true news', has taken steps to bury some websites to make sure they won't show up on searches any longer. They're also penalising some dissenting YouTube channels under what they call, a 'Restricted Mode'. With this mode switched on, videos on those channels simply become invisible without some extra hoop-jumping for the viewer. The bottom line is that freedom of speech on the internet is at risk right now, because if you challenge the Leftist dogma of our age, there are very real efforts from big corporations, the dispossessed traditional media, social media, and even the government, to label you a dangerous extremist, to punish you, and even to shut down your voice online.
As a Christian ministry committed to speaking the plain truth, we know which way the wind blows here. We know our voice increasingly doesn't fit the mainstream narrative. We're aware our opinion, in the world's eyes, is increasingly the 'wrong' opinion. We have videos not just on Islam, but homosexuality, transgenderism and other hot-button topics and the punishments for such videos are only likely to increase. Indeed, there may soon come a day when YouTube imposes even harsher conditions, or shuts us out entirely. A day when all Christian websites will all be buried in Google searches. I wouldn't expect it to happen instantly. These things always happen in slow, incremental stages. But if this dangerous trend continues, we have to wonder how the Christian voice will be heard online in the future. We may well look back on these first few decades of the internet as a golden age - an idyllic but bygone era of freedom when we could use neutral outlets to speak without recriminations.
Like I said, we can cope with the loss of revenue from one video. But if the online environment were to continue becoming more hostile, I'd like to think that we could be sufficiently non-dependent on the internet giants that we could absorb the impact and keep going through alternative avenues. This whole episode has just re-emphasised how important the Patreon campaign is becoming for this ministry. We launched it at the end of last year as a way for people to provide direct support. As you'll see, we're still quite a distance from reaching our first target on there, so if you can spare just $2 a month, please prayerfully consider becoming a patron to help give us the stability we need for today, and the resilience we need for any challenging times ahead. You can do so by clicking here:
(PS - If we one day disappear from social media abruptly, you'll know what happened! Come find us on our website at thefuelproject.org.)