censorship 1776 United: Censoring the Second Amendment Forrest Cooper February 18, 2021 6 Comments, Join the Conversation There's something strange about the way we talk about censorship. The word itself bears negativity like a bad omen. Being accused of censorship produces a loud response, but it often goes unchallenged behind closed doors. Censorship itself produces a suspicion: what are they hiding from us? And the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. 1776 United is, at first look, an apparel company that isn't shy about what it believes. This has long been a virtue in human history, but that boldness has had consequences. This time, the censorship didn't come for their opinion, rather it went straight for the actual Second Amendment itself. An event took place this week where the quiet part was said too loudly. When we talk about censorship, we often think of someone reading two opinions about a subject, and deciding which one gets to be read by others. Another way we think about censorship is when true information that would seriously impact society is hidden in order to protect a status quo or motivate a certain outcome. And when we think about censorship and guns, what we typically expect is discrimination against firearms content by limiting its reach through artificial barriers and obstacles. But a kind of censorship we didn't expect took place this week when independent fact-checkers decided to place warning labels on the actual Second Amendment itself, hiding it behind a fact-checking statement saying the included content is false. 1776 United decided to run some tests on this, and here's the story: How and when did the Censorship of 1776 United start? We noticed a big push last year. We call those who represent our brand our Militia so that we don't have to call them ambassadors or influencers. But when in October (of 2020) an actual militia in Michigan was plotting to kidnap the Governor, Facebook went on a banning spree for anything that had the term militia. At that time my personal account and my manager's accounts were permanently disabled. We tried to appeal it, and were told we couldn't. We quickly realized our closed group for ambassadors and a private fan group of 15,000 people were both deleted. Our ambassador's personal Facebook and Instagram pages were getting taken down left and right because they basically had the term “militia” in their profile. We lost access to our Facebook page, half a million followers, and luckily our marketing company still had access to our Facebook ads. After January 6th, 2021, our jokes and memes were getting flagged as fake news and later that week the whole Facebook Page disappeared, with no explanation or reason. This included the personal profiles and groups: no explanation to date. That hurt us because we rely on Facebook for a large portion of our sales. Somehow our Instagram is still up and running. With HR127 being brought forward in early February of 2021, somebody tipped me off to a very small page where the phrase of the Second Amendment was being censored. So we tried to replicate what we saw with an experiment. On Monday the 15th of February, First I posted a screenshot of the censored post, and it was fact-checked and censored behind the fact-check wall. Then I took a screenshot of the actual Second Amendment on Google and the same thing happened. They were trying to tie it back to some misquoting of George Washington. They were saying the Second Amendment was fact-checked as not true. I'm not sure if it was caused by an algorithm or not, but it happened. How have you pivoted to get around Censorship? We are refocusing on our Ambassador platform. We are building a community outside of the typical social media platforms. We're also looking at new social media platforms as well. We're basically acting like Facebook doesn't exist anymore, and our Instagram ROI has been dropping dramatically, so we're not putting the bulk of our efforts there. We're not focusing on one platform at a time, instead, we're focusing on the ambassadors. We're interested in anyone, no matter how many followers. We're worried about what comes next, so we are putting our efforts into people, not just programs. We had a t-shirt design that was not made public, that had the Georgia state flag on it. We never made it available for purchase. Shopify took it down without telling us why. The Georgia state flag has the confederate flag as part of it. What was the Explanation that the Fact Checkers used when they put the Second Amendment behind a fact check wall? They eventually took the fact-checking wall down but if you can still find the page, there is a statement loosely attributed to George Washington put beneath a quoting of the Second Amendment. The whole thing is then listed as false, and that was applied to the Instagram Posts of the Second Amendment. The article used to justify marking posts containing the text of the Second Amendment as containing false information pointed to a previously made challenge of spurious quotation attributed to George Washington. While the quote itself might be in question, using it to place a form of censorship on the Constitution by hiding it behind a soft wall itself carries a dubious weight. Another example of the dangers of censorship is shown when the same obvious misquote is applied to two different people, and only one is fact-checked as false. Censorship has been a hot topic for some time now, and more than ever, we're faced with asking the question: What do we mean by censorship, and what can we do about it? Part of the problem of censorship is the reliance on other institutions, for if someone has the ability to pick and choose what information is seen, heard, and made available, that is a form of power that cannot be taken lightly. The solution on a national or international level is one heavy question, one that we continue to face, answer, and engage with. But part of the solution to the problem of censorship is similar to the problem of politics: we need to pay serious attention to our own choices, and that means holding ourselves accountable not only to our virtues, but how we act on them. 1776 United is doing this by deliberately seeking ways to be less reliant on platforms that have shown to be unreliable. Instead, they are building on foundations they believe to be stronger. 1776 United can be found on their website at https://1776united.com/ Or on Instagram (for now) at https://www.instagram.com/1776united/ RECOIL has it's own solution to Censorship, and it has a benefit to you as well. By subscribing to RECOIL, CONCEALMENT, or OFFRID, you can have premium reviews, how-to's, and more delivered to your door, for less than the off-the-shelf price. Support us and the 2nd Amendment and get 25% off a 1-year subscription to any of our firearms titles Use any of the links below to subscribe to RECOIL, OFFGRID, CONCEALMENT, or Gun Digest and you'll get 25% off from us to say thanks for your support. This works on all our titles. SUPPORT RECOIL SUPPORT CONCEALMENT SUPPORT OFFGRID SUPPORT GUN DIGEST More on Censorship This isn't the first time a Clothing Company was Censored. Read what happened to Arrowhead Tactical Apparel. American Contingency faced some of the greatest Censorship to date. 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