I don’t understand why people glorify the psychopaths who run most Big Pharma companies. Look at what they do when they think no one is watching. Now watch these failures of humanity get community service for their ill gotten filthy lucre.
Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense.
‘We have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,’ says Connecticut attorney general
“Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason,” the federal lawsuit alleges. (Photo: Jamie/flickr/cc)
Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense.
The federal lawsuit (pdf) names generic drug-makers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and concerns two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic used to treat a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication.
It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and labels Heritage as the “principal architect and ringleader” that helped organize a “wide-ranging series of conspiracies” to fix prices.
“The misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their subordinate marketing and sales executives.” George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General
“My office has dedicated significant resources to this investigation for more than two years and has developed compelling evidence of collusion and anticompetitive conduct across many companies that manufacture and market generic drugs in the United States,” said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, who is leading the coalition.
The other plaintiff states are Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
“While the principal architect of the conspiracies addressed in this lawsuit was Heritage Pharmaceuticals, we have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,” Jepsen said. “Ultimately, it was consumers—and, indeed, our healthcare system as a whole—who paid for these actions through artificially high prices for generic drugs.”
A release from Jepsen’s office says “the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their subordinate marketing and sales executives,” who “coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences, and other events, as well as through direct email, phone, and text message communications.”
“While generic competition is supposed to bring prices down, these companies secretly agreed to rig the system to drive prices up at the expense of patients,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a statement.
She said a salesperson for Heritage in Minnesota played a key role in the scheme by organizing dinners among employees of competing drug companies when they visited the state.
“The dinners and meetings led to the exchange of information about the competitors’ business plans and ultimately led to agreements on setting prices and/or allocating the market so as to avoid competing on price,” a statement from Swanson’s office said.
The news comes just one day after it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice has charged two former Heritage executives with conspiring to fix generic prices—”the first fruits of an ongoing and sweeping investigation into generic drug price-fixing by the Department,” according toArs Technica.
As Bloombergreported, guilty pleas and cooperation from the two executives “could lead to charges against executives at other drugmakers.”
Forbespredicts “[t]he antitrust lawsuit and federal investigation will likely bring further political heat to the generic drug sector.”
Indeed, the lawsuit charges: “Over the last several years, however, [the] price dynamic has changed for a large number of generic drugs. Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason, sparking outrage from public officials, payers, and consumers across the country whose costs have doubled, tripled, or in some cases increased up to 1,000 percent or more.”
Thanks to modern medicine, there is now proof that keeping these emotions inside you can have negative effects on your overall health. That’s why we would like to discuss forgiveness.
When it comes to clinical view, forgiveness is a process where a person gives up from the feeling of bitterness and thoughts associated with retribution.
In addition, forgiveness is closely related to the process of developing and nurturing feelings of generosity, empathy and at some point – love to the people who made you suffer.
Truth be told, this process is not simple or easy. Most clinicians agree that in case a patient has deep emotional wounds and traumas, the process of healing will be long. However, it is possible to forgive and overcome these feelings and it is definitely worth it.
About two decades ago, medical science had minimal research reports and studies about the effects of forgiveness on mental and physical health. However, this situation has changed, and there are dozens of studies and scientific papers today.
Forgiveness Enhances The Quality of Your Life
We should begin by saying that the effects of remaining angry, feeling frustrated or being negative all the time about some event from the past is toxic. According to many experts, keeping these negative feelings and emotions leads to chronic anxiety.
As a result of that, the body produces more cortisol and adrenaline which leads to cell damage making you more prone to cancer. So, if you don’t want to forgive, you will feel sick and you will eventually become sick.
While we are talking about cancer, a recent clinical trial which included more than 80 patients dealing with cancer has focused on the feelings of self-acceptance, pessimism and forgiveness after patients took classes in self-forgiveness.
During these classes, they have learned things like expressive writing, reflection techniques etc.
Once the classes were finished, the patients who took them had better results when it comes to acceptance, self-forgiving, pessimism and self-improvement.
Forgiveness is Here to Boost Your Confidence
In case you start thinking about an old event where you felt hurt, mistreated, humiliated or offended you will start feeling unwell right away. Truth is that there are instant physiological and emotional responses in our body that are triggered when we think about these memories.
Some of the most common responses are:
Increased blood pressure
As you can see, these are the common symptoms of anxiety and stress too. A few scientific studies have confirmed that people who often practice forgiveness and compassion to people who have hurt them have reduced stress response.
Another survey has shown that 1.500 adult Americans who forgave others said that they are more satisfied with their lives and feel less stresses and nervous.
It was proven that forgiveness is great for those who have experienced intense emotional abuse too. A group of women were separated into two groups.
The first group was focused on forgiveness while the second group practiced methods like assertiveness, anger validation and building interpersonal skills.
It turned out that the women that were focused on forgiveness have witnessed great improvement in terms of depression, self-esteem, symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, anxiety and quality of life.
On top of that, the effects of forgiveness were present months after the test was finished.
Forgiveness is Good for The Immune System
A scientific study conducted not while ago which included nearly 80 patients suffering from HIV was focused on their thoughts, feelings and behaviors of forgiveness.
Patients who were able to forgive had better amount of immune cancer-eliminating cells.
We should not forget that forgiveness stabilizes blood pressure as well as cardiovagal tone. Scientists have proven that forgiveness has excellent protective effects on the cardiovascular system.
At the same time, anger is bad for the cardiovascular health and causes damage to the heart muscle.
Forgiveness Helps You Sleep Better
Another scientific study has shown that forgiveness of offensive interpersonal conducts is associated with better sleep. On the other hand, if you keep being angry, resentful and bitter, you can expect lower quality of sleep.
This is just a short list of all the health benefits of forgiveness. So, now that you know how useful forgiveness is, it is the right time to make a good plan and truly forgive the person who hurt you.
The process begins with self-forgiveness and continues with others. In case you are not sure how you should forgive, consult an experienced spiritual psychotherapist.
Forget about the past and the unpleasant events that happened back then and move your life forward!
After seeing many of their loved ones kidnapped by a ruthless drug cartel, the people of Totolapan, a small town in Mexico’s Guerrero state decided it was time to fight fire with fire, so they kidnapped the drug boss’ mother.
For years, Totolapan has been under the control of a gang known as “Los Tequillero”, led by Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, better known as “El Tequillero”. Things had gotten considerably worse for the locals in recent months, as the Tequilleros had become involved in a turf war with other gangs, and started abducting people whom they suspected were supporting their rivals. Sick of living under the constant terror of having their loved ones taken from them, the townsfolk decided to fight back.
On Monday, a few dozen masked men appeared in the streets of Totolapan waving rifles and shotguns, and calling for action against El Tequillero. They identified themselves as a “self-defense” force, as Mexican vigilantes usually call themselves, and demanded the release of kidnapping victims taken by the gang.
“We urgently demand the release of the kidnap victims,” one of the masked men said during a recorded statement. “We are a legitimate self-defense force of the people.” And to make sure that their demands are taken seriously by the Tequilleros, they let them know that they have a valuable bargaining chip.
“We have your mother here, Mr. Tequilero. I propose an exchange: I’ll give you your mother if you give me my husband, but I want him safe and sound,” said the wife of Isauro de la Paz Duque, a local construction engineer that was kidnapped by the gang last week, after they had threatened to kill him.
El Tequillero’s mother, who is shown sitting on the floor of an empty room with just a ventilation fan beside her, is just one of two dozen people kidnapped by the vigilantes as suspected members of the drug gang.
The Guerrero state Government recently sent 220 soldiers and policemen to Totolapan to diffuse the situation, as well as a negotiation team. Reports state that several hostages have been released by the self-defense force, but El Tequillero’s mother remains in their custody. Authorities said that they understand the locals’ frustration, but they are going about the situation the wrong way.
“The truth is, they are not really community forces, nor are they police,” Governor Hector Astudillo has said. “They are armed groups that unfortunately carry out acts … that generate more violence and confrontation, rather than help.”
However, the kidnapping of El Tequillero’s mother seems to have had the desired effect, as Mexican news website Debate yesterday reported that the boss agreed to release engineer Isauro de la Paz Duque in exchange for his mother. The swap was overseen by the state Government negotiations team. For the time being, the military and police forces will remain in Totolapan to prevent any retaliations by the Tequilleros.
Located at the foot of the mountains that produce much of Mexico’s opium poppy crops, the are around Totolapan is notorious for drug trafficking, killings and extortion. The town itself is reportedly so dangerous that many of its outlying hamlets have been abandoned by their frightened residents.
Western media and propaganda have supported the incarceration, torture, abuse and horror that these civilians had had to go through says journalist Vanessa Beeley. Columnist Brent Budowsky and Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute join the debate.After liberating eastern Aleppo, government troops are making advances against terrorists that still control several districts of the Syrian city.
In response, the militants have again been targeting civilian areas of western Aleppo. Meanwhile, the mainstream media continue to blame President Assad and Russia for the civilian suffering.
The grim picture of Aleppo’s liberation painted in the mainstream media has prompted crowds to protesters on the streets of European cities. People gathered in the German city of Hamburg as well as Paris calling to stop the slaughter of people in Aleppo.
Also, the lights of the Eiffel Tower have been turned off in solidarity with the civilians of Aleppo.
RT spoke to independent researcher and journalist Vanessa Beeley, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute Daniel McAdams and columnist for ‘The Hill’ Brent Budowsky and heard some very different opinions on the Syrian conflict.
RT: Why so much hysteria in the media? Why is no one talking about defeating terrorists – who are Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria?
Brent Budowsky, columnist for the Hill: Nobody wants to kill and defeat the terrorists more than I do and more than the US, but what is happening in Aleppo is a moral crime against humanity. I agree with what Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Russian government should do everything to stop it, to end it, to support a ceasefire, to end the carnage, the killing and the bombing of innocent civilians. The UN is concerned about it. And I agree with their investigation into possible war crimes. I agree with what the pictures tell us. The bombing of civilians and the massacre of the innocents must stop. My strong advice to President Putin would be to follow John Kerry’s advice and end that carnage and killing right now. So should Assad, so should the Syrian army. It is a joke to treat them as liberators; they are mass-murdering civilians…
RT: Vanessa, what is your reaction to this political view of the events? As a journalist, how do you feel about that?
Vanessa Beeley, journalist: I’ve just returned from three days in East Aleppo, and I would like to 100 percent correct the lies that are being disseminated by the media, think tanks, governments across the West. Particularly your guest who has just uttered complete lies. I’ve spent basically three days in all the various liberated areas of East Aleppo… Many of the testimonies that we received from the civilians that this gentleman has just accused Russia and Syria of bombing, actually told us that they had been incarcerated for the last four years by the various US-backed terrorist militant groups such as Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki whom we know beheaded the 12-year old Palestinian child. We were told stories about civilians who were trying to leave this imprisonment when the Russian and Syrian governments opened the humanitarian corridors. I interviewed one lady, I have her on film, where she tells me that one woman, who had been kept in a condition of starvation and malnutrition by these militant factions – who were stockpiling any humanitarian aid that came in and either selling it at extortionate prices. When this lady went on her knees to beg for food, she was shot in the mouth by the militant factions that have been imprisoning these civilians for the last four and a half years. Your [American] media and propaganda have supported that incarceration, torture, abuse and absolute horror that these civilians had had to go through.
RT: The spokesperson of the US State Department said he hasn’t seen the videos of people celebrating on Aleppo’s streets. He’s in a senior position; he must know what he’s talking about, doesn’t he?
Brent Budowsky: We can witness day by day dead babies by dead babies. You can watch the CNN, the BBC, any other television station. The point is – the killing, the bombings of civilians must stop. The dead children and babies is a moral outrage against humanity.
Vanessa Beeley: Can I ask one question? Where are these sources being able to transmit this information from? Because in East Aleppo there is no 3G, there is no wi-fi, there is no electricity. So I’d like to know how these sources are able to get this information via Skype connection to organizations – I’ll use that term loosely – like CNN, BBC, Channel 4. I would very much like to know how they achieve it and how there’re able to do that in East Aleppo. Unlike the corporate mainstream media, I have been in East Aleppo for the last three days, therefore, I’m giving you eyewitness testimony unlike your mainstream media that has not been there and relies upon spurious activists – like the White Helmets, who are funded by every single nation that has a vested and declared interest in regime change in Syria. That is your reliable source. Or perhaps the ‘Aleppo Media Center’ – French Foreign Office funded…
Daniel McAdams, executive director at Ron Paul Institute: This is a good example of what is wrong with the mainstream media. You have a mainstream media source like this Brent Budowsky who goes on television telling us: “You’ve got to believe the US government.” This is the same media that lie through its teeth about Iraq; that lied through its teeth about Benghazi, about the slaughters that were not happening there. There are no foreign media sources in East Aleppo right now. They are not on the ground. They are all using information that they are getting through rebel sources. That is the truth. So, Budowsky, what you are doing right now is you are putting out fake news. And you know it because there are no sources on the ground. You’re saying, ‘Just believe the US government.’ You’re supposed to be in the media! You’re supposed to be doing independent work…
Go back to 2005 in a document from the US Embassy in Damascus was sent back to Washington outlining exactly how to destabilize and overthrow the Syria government, which is exactly the roadmap they took. Who was really responsible for the carnage in Syria? It is the interventionists in the West and their enablers in the mainstream media that push a regime change policy that destroys countries like Iraq, like Syria, like Libya, like Afghanistan, and so on. They are the real perpetrators of this crime.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Western war architects have learned their lessons in places like Vietnam and the Middle East. Henceforth, they must find an alternative to the costly use of well-trained foot soldiers in favor of jobless brawns and ex-convicts to do the job of changing regimes for them.
The strategy was flawless until they got too greedy and started poking on Russia via Ukraine. Now, they have to deal with Russia that is already at the point of no return as far as the Khazarian bullies are concerned.
Aleppo Freed, Biggest US Defeat Since Vietnam
Aleppo has been liberated after almost four years of a barbarous and cruel occupation by the so-called Syrian opposition. The people of Aleppo are celebrating the fact, no longer will they be subjected to the most brutal, murderous regime imaginable.
What really made Aleppo such a hellhole was not the privations of being a city under siege, nor was it the cruelty and barbarism of the occupying forces – it was the fact that no-one outside Syria was lifting a single finger to help them, they received no aid, no foreign volunteers came to provide medical help, no foreign government did a single thing to alleviate their suffering.
However, the MSM told a very different tale, night after night, the TV news was full of tales of brave aid workers, courageous doctors and all manner of volunteers who were trying to save the people of Aleppo.
They kept telling us that aid convoys were flowing into the city to keep the people from starvation and that ambulances were ferrying the wounded to hospitals in Turkey. All of it was lies, an inversion of reality; the aid convoys were, in reality, supplying the occupying forces with arms and munitions as well as food and other essentials.
The ambulances were also bringing in arms and supplies, the wounded they carried out to be treated in Turkish hospitals were not innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, they were ‘rebel’ fighters injured while fighting against the legitimate Syrian armed forces and their allies.
This use of white trucks belonging to NGOs and aid agencies and clearly marked ambulances belonging to groups like the Red Crescent and Medecins San Frontiers was a cynical ploy to keep the occupying forces supplied without the Syrian and Russian air forces bombing the supply vehicles.
Just imagine the outcry in the western media if a Russian airstrike had taken out a supply convoy, they would have shown us countless scenes of burned out trucks and ambulances while decrying the Russian cruelty in preventing the aid from reaching the poor, innocent people of Aleppo.
No mention would have been made of the real reason for the airstrike, not one syllable uttered about the arms and supplies being ferried to the occupying forces in those ‘aid convoys’.
The suffering of the people of Aleppo has been at the hands of their occupiers, despite the strenuous efforts of the Western media to blame the Assad government and their Russian allies. Back in February, when the liberation of Aleppo began, Sputnik reported:
“As always, the media began effusively writing about the crowds of people fleeing from the fighting and the advance of government forces. The only thing missing in the picture being painted were the images of the residents of the city’s Western neighborhoods, who welcomed the government troops as liberators.”
This fraudulent reporting by the Western media had the desired effect in governmental circles, as Sputnik noted:
“Deeply moved” by the pictures appearing in Western media, “US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately demanded that Russia halt the bombing of civilians.”
But “the truth,” Vernochet noted, “is far more prosaic, because if the city of Aleppo is completely surrounded by government forces, the rebel supply corridor with Turkey will be cut. Specifically, [it is about] two roads, between Mayer-Azaz and Andan-Aleppo, through which the Salafist- Wahhabists receive reinforcements, weapons, and ammunition from the Turkish deep state.”
As towns in Aleppo province have been liberated, the people have been describing the horror they have been living while their towns were held by “opposition”. Women were forced to veil themselves or be lashed and publicly humiliated. Children were murdered, accused of being “spies”.
The civilian population were deprived of medical aid, medicine, water and electricity. Many areas of Aleppo were held in captivity by US-backed “opposition” groups and these groups behaved exactly like ISIS in their cruelty and enforcement of Islamic Law.
People were often accused of crimes they did not commit and then punished via Islamic Law and Quranic doctrine; hands were chopped off, people were immersed in boiling oil, others were set on fire, women were stoned to death, the list of mediaeval tortures and horrific public executions is very long and sickening indeed.
Moussa, whose age no one can determine precisely, does not remember life before the war. After his entire family was murdered before his eyes, he walked alone for a day and a half before he was picked up by the Liwa al Quds militia, who then took him to Neirab Camp, a designated safe zone in Aleppo.
“They’re all dead. We were just walking, and the terrorists started to shoot at us,” Moussa said. “We started running until we got to a checkpoint, and they caught us there. They beat my parents and told me to go.”
Moussa said he witnessed his parents being slaughtered before he left, and then had to find his way out of the danger zone with bullets flying around him.
“I was walking in the street, where there were a lot of bodies, and then the snipers started to shoot at me. I ran behind a wall and got to a place where there were no snipers. Then I met a man who took me to Aleppo.”
In stark contrast to this reality, the Western MSM kept feeding us a steady diet of lies about civilians being killed by the ‘Assad regime’ and murderous airstrikes by the Russians that struck civilian targets such as schools and hospitals. In the last few days, this propaganda has stepped up a notch so that now we are being told that the ‘Assad regime’ is committing genocide in Aleppo, rounding up and massacring civilians with utmost cruelty.
They keep citing highly dubious sources for these reports without ever troubling themselves to verify any of them with actual, legitimate journalists and human rights/aid groups on the ground in Aleppo.
The Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets, an internationally renowned team of first responders, said more than 90 bodies of people presumed to be still alive are under debris and that its volunteer staff reported they could hear the voices of children trapped in the rubble of their houses.
A member of the group in Aleppo told al-Arabiya TV on Monday night that men, women, and children were huddling and crying in the streets and at the gates of empty buildings in the few neighborhoods that remained in the hands of the opposition. He described the situation as hopeless, because precision munitions and indiscriminate barrel bombs had destroyed the city’s medical facilities, ambulances, and fuel supply.
Unconfirmed reports, circulated by opposition media, suggest that mass atrocities have already begun, such as the summary executions of 17 in al-Kalaseh neighborhood, 22 in Bostan al-Kasrand, and the immolation of four women and nine children on al-Firdous Street.
While The Daily Beast could not independently confirm these figures, the United Nations Human Rights Office (UNHRO) said that it had reliable evidence that 82 civilians had been shot dead by pro-regime forces — 11 of them women, 13 of them children. UNHRO spokesman Rupert Colville said at a press conference today, “We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner” of East Aleppo.
We are crying crocodile tears for Lena, queen of Syria’s own fake news. This may be her last video. We can only hope. While Lena is hiding in her cellar, the residents of Aleppo are in the streets celebrating their liberation, as reported by Al-Alam:
Aleppo streets have erupted in celebrations with people waving flags and shooting in the air as reports said the Syrian Army has taken control of the last militant-held areas in eastern part of the city, Alalam reporter reports from the ground.
Maybe Lena is right and it may well be time to hunt down the rats starting with those who aided in the hell the people of Aleppo were subjected to.
Syrian White Helmets
My list begins with the MI6/CIA organization known as the White Helmets, more fakes whose organization has overseen slaughter for almost 3 years, delivering ammunition and poison gas while begging for cash and putting out doctored videos and staged photographs. This group and all associated with it need to be declared terrorists and war criminals.
Created out of militants who invaded Aleppo, the Western-funded White Helmets is a terrorist support group fraudulently masquerading as a humanitarian organization to undermine Syrian government, says independent researcher and journalist Vanessa Beeley.
The propaganda from the rebel-held eastern Aleppo is produced by a number of organizations and individuals who are sponsored by the West, with the White Helmets being the largest among them, Beeley told RT. But the White Helmets are not the heroes that the mainstream media is trying to make of them.
“This organization is a fraudulent shadow-state construct created by NATO to simply propagate the propaganda that will demonize Assad’s government and also demonize Russian legal intervention in Syria,” said the journalist, who recently returned from Syria.
“From all the information that we’ve received they are acting as terrorist support group,” she added, “in the sense of bringing equipment, arms, even funding, into Syria.”
Beeley emphasized that the White Helmets were “formed by a British [consultant] James Le Mesurier, in 2013. They are trained by him. He has a background in private security work, including connection back to Blackwater, which is one of the best known private security firms that was used by the CIA… as an outreach assassination organization.”
“They’re not trained in Syria,” she added. “They’re trained in Gaziantep in Turkey; and then they’re implanted into areas like east Aleppo, areas that are under heavy conflict.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Next on our list is Osama Suleiman AKA Abdel Rami Rahman, cheerleader for ISIS and titular head of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Suleiman has not been to Syria for 15 years, instead he has been living a comfortable existence in a suburb of Coventry, a city in the English Midlands.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is quoted as though it were the most authoritative source of information to be found in Syria. Such “luminaries” as the Huffington Post, VICE, Reuters, CNN, Fox and nearly all of the mainstream media have been caught citing this website verbatim, without so much as questioning the reliability of this singular source.
Only RT, being a Russian outlet and thus being the butt of a lot of the site’s accusations, seemed at least concerned enough about the authenticity of this source to conduct an investigation into discovering how this authority on all things Syrian had came to existence, and its process for deriving its very-“authentic” information.
Abdel Rahman is the “director” of the SOHR, though it is quite uncertain if he actually has anyone to “direct” as nobody else is known to work for/with him. He works from his two-bedroom Coventry home in the UK; this is why you keep seeing the Mainstream media call him a “London-based monitoring group“. It’s quite funny, really, calling this one man a “London-based monitoring group” in the same vein as The Red Cross.
We can all help the revolution by avoiding all Khazarian pharmaceutical drugs, defeat any viral attack and scaremongering, like the Zika virus, easily by knowing how to build our own comprehensive antiviral system. Find more about how we can kill three birds with one stone, right here.
One month after Facebook revealed a seven point plan to eradicate “fake news”, Mark Zuckerberg has made good on his promise to strip Facebook of fake news stories, starting with a tool that allows users to flag anything they consider a hoax, as well as features that tweak Facebook’s news algorithm and provide more restrictions on advertising.
Facebook’s 1.8 billion users will now be able to click the upper right-hand corner of the post to flag content as fake news.
The first problem, however, immediately emerges because as NBC notes, “legitimate news outlets won’t be able to be flagged”, which then begs the question who or what is considered “legitimate news outlets”, does it include the likes of NYTs and the WaPos, which during the runup to the election declared on a daily basis, that Trump has no chance of winning, which have since posted defamatory stories about so-called “Russian propaganda news sites”, admitting subsequently that their source data was incorrect, and which many consider to be the source of “fake news”.
Also, just who makes the determination what is considered “legitimate news outlets.”
In any case, flagged stories – which really means any story that a readers disagrees with – will then be reviewed by Facebook researchers and sent on to third-party fact-checking organizations for further verification — or marked as fake.
Here too, one wonders how much good will checking will take place considering that these “researchers” will be bombarded with tens of thousands of flagged articles daily, until it ultimately become a rote move to simply delete anything flagged as false by enough disgruntled readers, before moving on to the next article, while in the process not touching the narrative spun by the liberal “legitimate news outlets”, the ones who would jump at the opportunity to have dinner with Podesta in hopes of becoming Hillary Clinton’s public relations arm.
“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of News Feed, said in a blog post. So, what Facebook will do, is give the voice to all those others who praise any article they agree with, and slam and flag as “fake news” antyhing they disagree with. At least no book burning will be involved.
The Facebook VP promised that “we’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”
Not only that, but Facebook’s algorithm that decides what gets the most prominence in News Feed, will also be tweaked, one would assume to give more prominence to the abovementioned “legitimate news oulets”… such as WaPo and the NYT.
How will the algo determine if a story is potentially fake? If a story is being read but not shared, Mosseri said that may be a sign it’s misleading. Which in turn means that clickbait articles are about to explode at the expense of deep-though, long-read pieces which the current generation of Facebook readers has no time for.
“We’re going to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it,” he said.
It gets better: the next step in Facebook’s plan to rid the site of fake news involves sending flagged stories to third-party fact-checking organizations, which include Snopes, Politifact, and Factcheck.org, which as the recent election showed, are just as biased as the so-called “fake news” sites, however they cover their partiality under the cloak of being objective, which they conflate with being “factual.”
A group of Facebook researchers will initially have the responsibility of sifting through flagged stories and determining which ones to send to the fact-checking organizations. If it’s determined to be fake, the story will be flagged as disputed and include a link explaining why.
Then the punishment: flagged stories can still be shared, but readers will be warned in advance, and they’ll be more likely to appear lower in News Feed. These stories also won’t be able to be promoted or turned into advertisements.
* * *
Facebook’s bottom-line argument for engaging in soft censorship? Money.
While Facebook hopes these tools will be helpful, they’re also aiming to hit purveyors of fake news where it hurts — the pocketbook.
“Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads,” Mosseri said.
“On the buying side we’ve eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications. On the publisher side, we are analyzing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary,” he said.
As a reminder, the Fake News theme reached a boiling point days after the election, when Zuckerberg said it was “pretty crazy” to think fake news could have influenced the election and warned Facebook “must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth.” Less than two weeks later, with the issue still simmering, Zuckerberg shared a more detailed account of projects he said were already underway to thwart the spread of misinformation.
While the narrative has since shifted to fake news following the disastrous WaPo report on “Russian Propaganda” outlets, which ultimately crushed the credibility of its author, and has been replaced with the “Putin hacked the election” narrative, the quiet push to silence non-compliant voices continues.
Amusingly, the team at Facebook has made it clear they don’t want censorship on the site and that these new tools are just part of the evolving process of combating misinformation. And yet, crowdsourced censorship is precisely what Facebook has just unrolled.
Ultimately, what will end up happening is that One half of Facebook users will flag what they read by one half the media as fake, and vice versa, while millions of users will simply leave the now censorship endorsing social network out of disgust.
A few weeks ago we previewed some of the things we’re working on to address the issue of fake news and hoaxes. We’re committed to doing our part and today we’d like to share some updates we’re testing and starting to roll out.
We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully. We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.
The work falls into the following four areas. These are just some of the first steps we’re taking to improve the experience for people on Facebook. We’ll learn from these tests, and iterate and extend them over time.
Easier Reporting We’re testing several ways to make it easier to report a hoax if you see one on Facebook, which you can do by clicking the upper right hand corner of a post. We’ve relied heavily on our community for help on this issue, and this can help us detect more fake news.
Flagging Stories as Disputed We believe providing more context can help people decide for themselves what to trust and what to share. We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations. If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.
It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.
Once a story is flagged, it can’t be made into an ad and promoted, either.
Informed Sharing We’re always looking to improve News Feed by listening to what the community is telling us. We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way. We’re going to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it.
Disrupting Financial Incentives for Spammers We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated. Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads. So we’re doing several things to reduce the financial incentives. On the buying side we’ve eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications. On the publisher side, we are analyzing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary.
It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful. We’re excited about this progress, but we know there’s more to be done. We’re going to keep working on this problem for as long as it takes to get it right.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone