Original article (in Croatian) was published on 15/02/2023
Although he has viral posts on social networks and uses his status as a member of the European Parliament to express his views, Kolakusic claims that he is censored.
Using a conspiracy theory about governing the world from one center, the Croatian member of the European Parliament Mislav Kolakusic, in a big interview published two weeks ago on his YouTube profile, tries to unfoundedly accuse the media and social networks of carrying out censorship on him since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“To be able to understand how the whole world works and how censorship and the media work, we need to know who owns the media, who owns the pharmaceutical companies, who owns the military industry. When the pandemic started, you weren’t allowed to say anything. You weren’t even allowed to present information from medical encyclopedias about the coronavirus, what the temperature in the human body is for, you weren’t allowed to talk about anything. It was immediately deleted if you didn’t say those few sentences that had to be said in all the media”, said Kolakusic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Kolakusic has been freely spreading disinformation
In the interview, Kolakusic incorrectly says that when the pandemic started, it was not allowed to say “nothing” or “to present information from medical encyclopedias” because “deletion immediately followed”. It is not true that Kolakusic could not say anything during the pandemic and this is proven by Faktograf’s texts, in which the accuracy of what Kolakusic said then was evaluated. And he mostly spread disinformation about the pandemic, the coronavirus and vaccines.
In June 2021, Faktograf wrote about the scientifically unfounded allegations of Kolakusic, who claimed that “the entire pandemic story is based on lies, untruths and misconceptions in absolutely all mainstream media” and based on that, again baselessly, concluded that the Covid-19 pandemic was not a real public health threat, but the product of a large global conspiracy of the pharmaceutical industry and influential politicians.
Also, in September 2021, Faktograf dealt with another Kolakusic’s video that spread on social networks, in which he shared disinformation about the side effects of the vaccine against Covid-19 and the number of deaths during the pandemic. Moreover, on the official profile of Mislav Kolakusic on YouTube, you can find videos from 2020, when the pandemic began, in which he expresses his views on the subject.
Faktograf also examined the accuracy of the statements made by Kolakusic in the N1 television program in January 2022. Although the interview was shared on social networks under the slogan that Kolakusic “taught the journalist a lesson”, it is true that he spread scientifically unfounded claims as well, and the N1 journalist clearly emphasized, in the live program, that the N1 television distanced itself from his allegations.
All these facts refute his nonsensical thesis that at the beginning of the pandemic “nothing could have been said”. This is especially a nonsensical thesis when it comes from a member of the European Parliament who could use the rostrum of the European Parliament as well as all the other resources that this status gives him to present his, mostly scientifically unfounded, claims.
One of these platforms is his official website as a European representative, as well as a television studio in the European Parliament where he records “interviews” with pre-prepared questions that are not done by professional journalists but are published only on Kolakusic’s channels on the Internet, and then they are shared, mostly, by fringe media.
Facebook does not censor Kolakusic
“Censorship on Facebook started first. They completely blocked my reach and everything. Since in Croatia and many other countries there is a Penal Code that punishes censorship with a prison sentence, we immediately sent a message to the headquarters in Dublin and Facebook… We said that the next day we would file criminal charges, this and that article for which this and that punishment is prescribed, i.e. preventing freedom of speech, it is an aggravated form of a criminal offence. So, Facebook reacted promptly and within a few hours, I no longer had any problems with censorship on Facebook. On my page, when my speeches were broadcast in groups with several tens of thousands of members, censorship arose and those who had the reach of individual posts in tens of thousands of citizens are now a few hundred…” Kolakusic said in an interview.
However, the fact is that no one censors a member of the European Parliament, not even the largest social network, Facebook. At one time, in October 2021, Kolakusic also announced he will file a criminal complaint against Faktograf for censorship, and then we explained why we couldn’t commit that criminal act, that is, to take away the freedom of speech or expression from a member of the European Parliament.
Let’s recall what Article 127 of the Criminal Code says about the violation of freedom of thought and expression, which Kolakusic often claims is being violated:
(1) Whoever denies or limits the freedom of speech or public performance, the freedom of the press or other means of communication, or the free establishment of public communication institutions shall be punished by imprisonment for up to one year.
(2) Whoever orders or implements censorship, or unlawfully denies or limits the freedom of reporting to a journalist, shall be punished with the penalty referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.
(3) Whoever unlawfully prevents the printing, sale or distribution of books, magazines, newspapers or other printed matter, or the production and broadcasting of radio and television programs, programs of news agencies, or the publication of other media content, shall be punished with the penalty referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.
It is clear from the qualifications of the Criminal Code that no censorship is being carried out against Mislav Kolakusic. That it is not carried out on Facebook is proven by the fact that the Facebook page “Gradjani za Mislava Kolakusica”, where almost all of his public appearances are shared, has more than 192 thousand followers, and the link from it leads directly to the official website of the member of the European Parliament, while posts on that page reach several thousand people. The publication of the interview itself, in which Kolakusic baselessly talks about conspiracy theories and media censorship, has more than 290 shares, 120 comments and 1,9 thousand other reactions, and the text claims that the interview itself on YouTube had more than 100 thousand views in one day.
It is also known that in the Facebook program aimed at suppressing disinformation on this social network “Third Party Fact-Checking”, in which Faktograf also participates, the statements of politicians are exempted. Facebook, therefore, does not limit the reach of posts by politicians, including Kolakusic, unless they are extremely dangerous calls to violence in the real world.
Why was YouTube removing videos during the pandemic?
Regardless of these facts, which confirm the great reach of his posts, in the same interview, Kolakusic also shares the claim that he was censored on YouTube as well.
“However, the same censorship happened a little later on YouTube, where they deleted a dozen of my videos with several million views. And, we wrote to YouTube, and YouTube did not respond. And now, let’s see who owns YouTube. The owner of YouTube, the company Alphabet, is registered in the largest tax haven on the globe, where all the largest companies in the world are also registered in the American state of Delaware, where you can earn several thousand billion dollars, but you will only pay $300 in taxes”, says Kolakusic.
“What have we determined who owns Alphabet and YouTube? The companies Black Rock and Vangauard…. So, we started looking into who owns Pfizer, BioTech and all… Black Rock and Vanguard. So, we started researching who owns all the biggest companies in the world. Black Rock and Vanguard”, states Kolakusic further, developing his thesis that he is being censored because, as he further claims “Black Rock and Vanguard are the owners of all the media in the world”.
It is true, and YouTube announced it in August 2021, that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020, they have removed more than a million videos from their platform. They said the videos were removed because they contained “dangerous information about the coronavirus, such as fake drugs or claims of fraud”, and added that their policy was that “during a global pandemic, everyone must receive the best information available to ensure the safety of their family and themselves”.
They explained that when removing footage during the outbreak, they relied on “the consensus of experts from health organizations such as the US CDC or the World Health Organization” to follow scientifically established facts. “At the heart of our policy to remove any video was that it could directly lead to real-world harm”, YouTube wrote in August 2021. It can be concluded from this that YouTube – if Kolakusic’s allegation is correct this time – removed his videos based on the rules of its social network established during the pandemic, but also earlier when the posts related to information were dangerous to the health of users.
In a YouTube video, he complains about YouTube’s censorship
However, it is also clear that YouTube does not systematically censor Kolakusic because he still frequently publishes viral videos on his official profile, which has more than 34 thousand subscribers. His thesis about censorship is refuted by the fact that the interview in which, paradoxically, he complains about the violation of freedom of thought and expression due to the ownership of media and social networks from a world centre, was watched by more than 310 thousand people on the same YouTube in two weeks.
We have already mentioned that on the Facebook profile “Gradjani za Mislava Kolakusica” it was announced that more than 100,000 people viewed that interview in just 24 hours, which refutes the thesis that the reach of Kolakusic’s posts has been reduced.
Kolakusic did not deny false information about vaccines and deaths
“After an increasing number of people, because we managed to break through that censorship and deny that false information about vaccines, deaths… And a large number of people realized that 99 percent of the information presented in the mainstream media is completely false”, he said in an interview.
We have previously cited cases in which Faktograf established the factual inaccuracy of the allegations that Kolakusic spread during the pandemic, while the allegation that 99 percent of the information presented about the pandemic in the mainstream media is false only deepens Kolakusic’s conspiracy theory that public health institutions around the world during the pandemic participated in misinforming the population because most of the mainstream media relied on their information and statements. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, in which more than 6 million people have died, public health institutions have been warning about the dangers of the disease and proposing scientifically established measures to combat the virus, while Kolakusic has mostly baselessly contested these scientific facts.
Black Rock and Vanguard do not own all of the world’s media
Faktograf previously dealt with Kolakusic’s thesis that the American companies Black Rock and Vanguard own “the entire world economy”, which in this case was narrowed down to “all the world’s media” for the purpose of “confirming” the theory of censorship. Then, we explained that BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, which Kolakusic also mentioned earlier, are American investment fund management companies and that they have a significant share in the world’s leading companies, but that it is not true that they “own the entire world economy”.
Investors massively started investing their money through these companies mainly because of lower costs and greater security of the investment. An index fund invests in a portfolio of shares or bonds that are constituent elements of a stock market index, so the risk is “spread” over several securities, and thus they are safer for investors. Considering that these funds attracted a large number of investors and significant funds, and they invested them in the largest companies listed on the stock exchange, their shares in these companies also reached significant levels, but they do not have a majority share in them.
Also, it is important to note that these companies do not have majority owners, but ownership in them is dispersed among a large number of investors whose money these funds then invest in the largest companies listed on the stock exchange. Among these largest companies are also some media companies.
The owners of Black Rock and Vanguard do not censor Kolakusic
However, due to the structure of ownership in these funds, Kolakusic’s thesis that a small number of people from Black Rock or Vanguard manage “all the world’s media” which results in censorship does not make sense. This is just one branch of the widespread conspiracy theory about a secret world government and a world governed by a small number of people, and in Kolakusic’s case they are placed in American investment funds and through them, they carry out censorship in “all the world’s media”, including on his Facebook profiles and YouTube, thus preventing him from spreading his scientifically and factually unfounded theses.
However, from the rostrum of the European Parliament, by the will of the voters in Croatia, Kolakusic can continue to spread his views. He is not censored on social media either, as evidenced by his viral posts on Facebook and YouTube. Because of all this, his threat to the media and reference to the provisions of the criminal law on censorship are unfounded, considering that in his case there is no censorship, but rather a free editorial decision to (not) share his, mostly, scientifically unconfirmed theses.