In what many are seeing as a blatant act of censorship, prominent conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s entire podcast was inexplicably removed from Apple’s podcast network this past Wednesday.
This incident has rekindled concerns about big tech’s increasingly unchecked power over public discourse, and whether today’s digital giants are stifling freedom of expression.
The sudden removal caught Beck off guard.
He voiced his confusion and exasperation on Twitter, sharing the terse and uninformative notice his team received from Apple.
“We found an issue with your show, The Glenn Beck Program, which must be resolved before it’s available on Apple Podcasts. Your show has been removed from Apple Podcasts,” it read.
When Beck’s team followed Apple’s link for more details, it merely reiterated that the show had been removed.
Amid the bewilderment, Beck addressed his team on air: “I cannot imagine what they are basing this on. Have we even had strikes? Nothing, right? This is crazy. Crazy.”
He urged his audience to rally support and appeal to Apple for the podcast’s reinstatement, emphasizing that the potential reason behind its removal, most likely a technical glitch, should not necessitate such a massive community push to rectify.
However, for the hours that followed, searches on Apple Podcasts for The Glenn Beck Program yielded no results, effectively erasing years of content.
The Twitterverse soon caught wind, causing the topic to trend and mobilizing support from both conservatives and free speech advocates across the spectrum.
Apple finally broke their silence six hours later, restoring the show. But not entirely.
In a statement to Variety, Apple disclosed that the removal was over a “trademark dispute”.
But Beck was quick to point out that out of his show’s over 3,000 episodes, Apple only restored 1,915 of them, leaving a significant chunk of his work still inaccessible.
On his Thursday broadcast, Beck elaborated on the ordeal: “Apple totally deplatformed me…removed every last episode from Apple Podcasts. It was removed with no explanation — for several hours.”
He went on to address Apple’s trademark dispute claim.
Highlighting the absurdity of their justification, Beck clarified there had only ever been a single trademark issue with just one episode, which was swiftly resolved on June 29th.
“Why would you remove over 3,000 episodes for a dispute with one?” Beck rightly questioned.
This incident underscores the precarious nature of free speech in the digital age. Beck, reflecting on the experience, pointed to the profound power of tech middlemen.
“If you’re a conservative, the threat of deplatforming is always there,” he said. “Companies like Apple, Google, and Meta can shut down your speech, our speech, literally with a keystroke.”
“The elites have always wanted to control what you see and what you hear. Now big tech is giving them the means to do it.”
Beck’s ordeal serves as a chilling reminder: In our modern world, where information dissemination is often governed by a handful of tech giants, the right to free speech can be curtailed with alarming ease.
The elites, Beck warns, have always sought control over narratives, and now, big tech appears poised to grant them that capability.
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