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Podcast censorship (of a sort)

(UPDATED) In one sense of the term, podcasts are censored from the only directory most people will ever use, iTunes. Some of the same podcasts don’t show up in the indexes that podcast applications like Overcast maintain.

Not by any coïncidence whatsoever, all the affected podcasts are by conservatives. This shadowbanning seems to be deliberate.

Technical facts

The concept of a feed has never been adequately explained to laypeople. The current sense of the word refers to e.g. infinitely scrolling Facebook or Instagram “content.” Of course that’s another sense, but the original meaning referred to RSS, an acronym whose expansion is pointless, so don’t bother.



I checked for many left-wing and right-wing podcasts in iTunes and in my beloved podcast application Overcast. Marco Arment, its prickly creator (takes one to know one), had written: “I’m not equipped to consistently enforce appropriateness of content, so I filter through the iTunes podcast directory.”

In my testing, only right-wing podcasts have their feeds suppressed (or “censored” in this context).

Listed and available

  1. Beauty & the Beta

  2. Dekonstruktiv Kritik

  3. Fallen State with Jesse Lee Peterson

  4. Federalist Radio Hour

  5. Feminist Current

  6. Get Off My Lawn (see CRTV below)

  7. Jim Goad’s Group Hug

  8. Alex Jones (InfoWars); Episode 911 of the Joe Rogan podcast, which featured Alex Jones, was for some months unavailable on any directory

  9. Lipstick, Heels, & Western Zeal (sic)

  10. Stefan Molyneux

  11. Brittany Pettibone

  12. Pressure Project (later renamed and supplanted)

  13. Renaissance Radio

  14. This Is Europa

  15. We Europeans

  16. Various Milo Yiannopoulos podcasts

Unlisted and unavailable

Remember, if you can somehow find the RSS feed by yourself, you can still subscribe to these podcasts.

  1. AltRight Radio

  2. Counter-Currents Publishing

  3. CRTV (difficult case: CRTV hides and combines many of its feeds)

  4. Daily Shoah‡

  5. Fash the Nation‡

  6. Radio 3Fourteen†

  7. Reality Calls Show

  8. Red Ice†


Terms of service essentially ban conservative podcasts

Apple’s podcast terms of service state (excerpted; emphasis added):

Podcasts, and content linked from podcasts, cannot contain any of the following:

And here we have the classic slippery-slope formulation of the progressives who run Silicon Valley. Now you see why only conservative podcasts are suppressed.

iTunes looks like it is publishing or hosting podcasts, even if it isn’t

When you buy a song via iTunes, it downloads in iTunes from an Apple server. But when you subscribe to a podcast or “get” an episode via iTunes, you’re actually downloading a remote file not hosted by Apple.

But to the average civilian, there is no discernible difference. You use iTunes as a directory in both cases, and it seems like Apple is delivering both files to you.

I think this would be relevant under U.S. law because Apple might lose a case arguing that its safe-harbour defence was moot by virtue of the appearance of hosting podcasts. The fact that Apple does not even list certain podcasts would suggest it applies differential treatment based on content, which it actually does, and doing so might violate the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.

You can’t be in favour of a fully decentralized podcast ecosystem and in favour of censorship

The good thing about podcasts is they aren’t centralized. If you can find a place to host your audio files and your RSS feed, you have a working podcast.

Centralization of podcasting can take two forms, only one of which (concentration of assets into just a few large conglomerates) gets any attention. A de facto shadowban on podcasts somebody decided they dislike is another form of centralization, especially, as in Overcast’s case, if such shadowbanning is simply outsourced to the conglomerate that already has centralized podcasting, Apple.

If you’re really in favour of censorship, make it literally impossible to subscribe to or download, stream, or otherwise listen to a podcast you find offensive

What we have now is a shadowban on podcasts that progressives find offensive. If those progressives had the courage of their convictions, they would operate a blacklist and explicitly tell users they are barred from sullying their platforms with forbidden “content.”

Podcast players are analogous to Web browsers

A general-purpose Web browser can be used for aims you find offensive. They can be used to break laws. Nobody seriously contends that Web browsers should be banned or hobbled to prevent such infractions. Even Tim Cook admitted that you could “use an iPhone to go to your browser and go to some porno site, if you want to do that.”

Your podcast directory is, fundamentally, a list of online resources akin to a Web page (and uses similar fundamental technologies, like XML). Your podcast player is akin to a browser that makes audio/video files play when a user asks for that to happen.

Your customers are people with legal and other rights. It isn’t your business to infringe those rights.


List everything and censor nothing. Use the existing explicit tag (an iTunes extension that is universally supported) and leave the choice to subscribe or not to consenting adults, even if you personally think those adults are racist, misogynist, homophobic, or hate-thematic. Nobody’s making you listen.

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Posted: 2018.06.27 ¶ Updated: 2018.06.28, 2018.06.29

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