PIERS MORGAN: Free speech is dying and woke Google is helping to dig its grave

Last Wednesday, I wrote a column about the superstar gymnast Simone Biles.

She’d just quit on her Team USA teammates in the Tokyo Olympics, and I didn’t share the widely held view that this was an act of incredibly inspiring heroic courage.

It struck me that given Ms Biles embroiders her own leotards with images of a GOAT to signify she is the ‘Greatest of All Time’ in her sport, then it’s not massively impressive if she then gives up the moment that she makes a big mistake as she did in her first performance on The Vault.

Especially when the first reasons she gave for quitting were that she wasn’t having enough ‘fun’, people were being mean about her on Twitter, and she was feeling under pressure because she was, and this was the shy modest way she described herself, the ‘Head star’ of the entire Games.

Later, she gave a new reason – that she was having issues with ‘twisties’, which are a version of sporting yips that gymnasts sometimes experience when they feel like they lose control of themselves in mid-air.

Whatever the reality, and only Simone Biles really knows, she was instantly heralded by most of the world’s media, and almost everyone on social media, as a stunning iconic hero who had shown astonishing bravery by going public with her mental health issues.

Indeed, she was praised more for quitting than she would have been had she dug deep, battled on and helped her team win Gold rather than the silver medal they ended up with in Biles’ absence.

And I found that ridiculous, so I said so.

Google, the tech behemoth at the centre of the internet universe, had quietly put an advertising block on my column eight hours after it was posted on DailyMail.com. This meant they banned all adverts from appearing alongside it, so the Mail would receive zero revenue from the column appearing on Google. This is a big deal. Google said the column contained 'dangerous or derogatory content.' How could anything I wrote be considered 'dangerous?'

Google, the tech behemoth at the centre of the internet universe, had quietly put an advertising block on my column eight hours after it was posted on DailyMail.com. This meant they banned all adverts from appearing alongside it, so the Mail would receive zero revenue from the column appearing on Google. This is a big deal. Google said the column contained 'dangerous or derogatory content.' How could anything I wrote be considered 'dangerous?'

Google, the tech behemoth at the centre of the internet universe, had quietly put an advertising block on my column eight hours after it was posted on DailyMail.com. This meant they banned all adverts from appearing alongside it, so the Mail would receive zero revenue from the column appearing on Google. This is a big deal. Google said the column contained ‘dangerous or derogatory content.’ How could anything I wrote be considered ‘dangerous?’

Last Wednesday, I wrote a column about the superstar gymnast Simon Biles. She'd just quit on her Team USA teammates in the Tokyo Olympics, and I didn't share the widely held view that this was an act of incredibly inspiring heroic courage

Last Wednesday, I wrote a column about the superstar gymnast Simon Biles. She'd just quit on her Team USA teammates in the Tokyo Olympics, and I didn't share the widely held view that this was an act of incredibly inspiring heroic courage

Last Wednesday, I wrote a column about the superstar gymnast Simon Biles. She’d just quit on her Team USA teammates in the Tokyo Olympics, and I didn’t share the widely held view that this was an act of incredibly inspiring heroic courage

It struck me that given Ms Biles embroiders her own leotards with images of a GOAT to signify she is the 'Greatest of All Time' in her sport, then it's not massively impressive if she then gives up the moment that she makes a big mistake as she did in her first performance on The Vault

It struck me that given Ms Biles embroiders her own leotards with images of a GOAT to signify she is the 'Greatest of All Time' in her sport, then it's not massively impressive if she then gives up the moment that she makes a big mistake as she did in her first performance on The Vault

It struck me that given Ms Biles embroiders her own leotards with images of a GOAT to signify she is the ‘Greatest of All Time’ in her sport, then it’s not massively impressive if she then gives up the moment that she makes a big mistake as she did in her first performance on The Vault

Indeed, she was praised more for quitting than she would have been had she dug deep, battled on and helped her team win Gold rather than the silver medal they ended up with in Biles' absence. And I found that ridiculous, so I said so

Indeed, she was praised more for quitting than she would have been had she dug deep, battled on and helped her team win Gold rather than the silver medal they ended up with in Biles' absence. And I found that ridiculous, so I said so

Indeed, she was praised more for quitting than she would have been had she dug deep, battled on and helped her team win Gold rather than the silver medal they ended up with in Biles’ absence. And I found that ridiculous, so I said so

‘Sorry Simone Biles,’ read the headline on my column, ‘but there’s nothing heroic or brave about quitting because you’re not having ‘fun’ – you let down your team-mates, your fans and your country.’

It was a harsh verdict, but it was also an entirely sincere one.

I believed it then, and I believe it now.

Of course, I was abused, vilified and shamed for having an opinion that differed from the weak, woke Twitter mob. That was to be expected as they despise the whole idea of mental strength. To them, only weakness and victimhood can be celebrated.

But I said what I said from a place of tough love, to counter all the absurdly over-the-top proclamations of heroism raining down on Biles’ head, and I ended the column with this plea: ‘Get back out there Simone, and don’t get sucked into all the weak woke failure-loving Twitter nonsense – you’re too great a champion to be labelled a quitter.’

Today, six days later, Biles did exactly what I implored her to do and competed in the Beam, winning a bronze medal.

It wasn’t as good a performance as the ones that have won her so many Olympic gold medals, but I admire her guts and resilience in getting back out there and competing again after all the furore of the past week.

That, as I said in my column, is what great champions do.

Then I discovered something shocking; Google, the tech behemoth at the centre of the internet universe, had quietly put an advertising block on my column eight hours after it was posted on DailyMail.com.

This meant they banned all adverts from appearing alongside it, so the Mail would receive zero revenue from the column appearing on Google.

This is a big deal.

Google and Facebook have a virtual monopoly on online advertising revenue, hoovering up 80% of the entire market between them.

On nine occasions in the past, Google has 'restricted demand' on my columns by choosing not to buy or sell ads itself, but this is the first time it has ever performed such a draconian blanket ban on all advertising around my column, actually disabling its service for facilitating ads

On nine occasions in the past, Google has 'restricted demand' on my columns by choosing not to buy or sell ads itself, but this is the first time it has ever performed such a draconian blanket ban on all advertising around my column, actually disabling its service for facilitating ads

On nine occasions in the past, Google has ‘restricted demand’ on my columns by choosing not to buy or sell ads itself, but this is the first time it has ever performed such a draconian blanket ban on all advertising around my column, actually disabling its service for facilitating ads 

What is less well known is that they provide the ad serving service for others to advertise too.

On nine occasions in the past, Google has ‘restricted demand’ on my columns by choosing not to buy or sell ads itself, but this is the first time it has ever performed such a draconian blanket ban on all advertising around my column, actually disabling its service for facilitating ads.

And the reason it gave left me baffled.

‘We’ve found some issues that are policy violations that you must fix. No ads are being served.’

Policy violations?

What on earth could they be given I had simply done what I’ve done over 500 times in the past seven years and written a column containing my opinion about a big news story?

This wording sounded very sinister, like something a North Korean official might send a newspaper to silence them on pain of execution.

My bafflement turned to fury when I discovered the answer.

Google said the column contained ‘dangerous or derogatory content.’

Sorry, WHAT?

How could anything I wrote be considered ‘dangerous?’

I just said that I didn’t find Simon Biles’ decision to quit on her teammates to be either heroic or inspiring.

You may disagree, as many did.

Despite woke Twitter's demented shrieking claims to the contrary, I wasn't sexist, or racist, or bigoted towards Simone Biles in any way

Despite woke Twitter's demented shrieking claims to the contrary, I wasn't sexist, or racist, or bigoted towards Simone Biles in any way

Despite woke Twitter’s demented shrieking claims to the contrary, I wasn’t sexist, or racist, or bigoted towards Simone Biles in any way 

I didn't harass, intimidate, or bully Simone Biles. I just criticised her decision to quit and urged her to re-engage in the Olympics, which she did. I also paid her several personal compliments in the column

I didn't harass, intimidate, or bully Simone Biles. I just criticised her decision to quit and urged her to re-engage in the Olympics, which she did. I also paid her several personal compliments in the column

I didn’t harass, intimidate, or bully Simone Biles. I just criticised her decision to quit and urged her to re-engage in the Olympics, which she did. I also paid her several personal compliments in the column 

Or you may agree, as many also did judging by the massive number of comments posted under the column and tweets that I received in support of my opinion.

But what you can’t do is say I didn’t believe what I wrote, because that would be a lie, and nor can you categorise it as ‘dangerous’ when there is zero evidence of it being a danger to anything other than the delicate little snowflake feelings of the pathetically hypocritical and abusive woke brigade on Twitter.

As for ‘derogatory’, who the hell are Google to dictate what may or may not be derogatory in this kind of circumstance?

Despite woke Twitter’s demented shrieking claims to the contrary, I wasn’t sexist, or racist, or bigoted towards Simone Biles in any way.

Nothing I felt about her quitting had anything to do with her gender or skin colour. In fact, I was just as critical about white male tennis star Novak Djokovic when he threw his racquet-throwing tantrum on Saturday, and pulled out of the Doubles tournament, a decision which cost his partner a potential medal.

I also accused Djokovic on Twitter of letting down his teammates, fans, and country.

What’s the difference?

In its advertising policy guide, Google lists four categories of ‘dangerous or derogatory content’ that it doesn’t permit.

The first is: ‘Content that incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or any other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalisation.’

I did none of those things in my column.

The second is: ‘Content that harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group of individuals.’

I didn’t harass, intimidate, or bully Simone Biles. I just criticised her decision to quit and urged her to re-engage in the Olympics, which she did. I also paid her several personal compliments in the column.

The third is: ‘Content that threatens or advocates physical or mental harm to oneself or others.’

I didn’t do that either.

The fourth and final criteria is this: ‘Content that seeks to exploit others.’

Passing comment on the performance of the world’s most famous gymnast is not exploitation, or no sportswriters or columnists could ever work again.

So, by Google’s own yardstick, I did nothing wrong.

It’s hard not to escape the conclusion that the company only intervened with the Biles column because I was criticising a black woman and woke Twitter said that was racist without any evidence to support that claim. And if that is true, it’s utterly shameful.

Google’s punitive action also represents a disgraceful attack on free speech.

In a democracy, I’m allowed to say that Simone Biles wasn’t a hero for quitting.

But by banning advertising because I expressed that opinion, Google is effectively saying that the only opinion they will tolerate on their platform is that Simone Biles IS a hero for quitting.

This reminds me of my departure from Good Morning Britain back in March when I was asked by my employers ITV to apologise for disbelieving Meghan Markle despite spending most of her Oprah whine-athon spewing demonstrable falsehoods, and if I didn’t, I would lose my job. (I chose not to apologize.)

Free speech means free speech, or it’s not free speech.

Google needs to explain why it banned ads from being placed with my column about Simone Biles.

And it needs to do so today.

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