I received a 24-hour suspension from FB for calling Americans, bloody idiots! Firstly, it’s accurate, and secondly, I should have the right to bloody think what I want.
Social media is awash with people angry that their posts have been removed for no legitimate reason. MintPress was no exception, with a story about Cuba’s response to the coronavirus flagged and blocked.
Here is an example of political censorship from Facebook (for those of you who don’t use Facebook)
Facebook banned me for 24 hours for saying this. Stupid Americans cannot be told dissident opinions, as their puny brainwashed brains cannot handle it.
“This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure.” — Abby Martin
“Maybe in the 1980s, when I did ‘Platoon’, ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ and ‘Heaven & Earth’, I could do that, because it was a slightly more relaxed system,” said the award-winning filmmaker, mentioning his famed movies while making his case during former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s show on RT Spanish.
When the Iron Curtain fell and the Cold War ended, things didn’t change for the better, Stone believes. “My film career has suffered, because sometimes I’ve said things that American producers hate to hear,” he revealed, adding that those sponsoring film productions sometimes resort to “economic censorship.”
Hollywood has changed since 2001. It has become more censored. The military, the CIA, the depictions of these organizations has been very favorable.
“You can take the budgets down… let’s say you want to make a film criticizing the American military, taking an Iraq war story or a horror story that recently happened in Iraq… You do those kinds of stories, it’s not going to happen,” he explained.
Stone, who scored a number of Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards, has been widely criticized for his anti-war dramas and, most recently, for a series of films questioning the widespread Western narrative on the Ukrainian turmoil, as well as exclusive interviews with Vladimir Putin.
“Now, censorship isn’t something that exclusively affects the American film industry,” Stone lamented, “I can read the American media but they all say the same things … And you don’t hear from Iran and China, you don’t hear from [North] Korea, you don’t hear from Venezuela, you don’t get their point of view.”
The CIA realized – after World War II, basically – they [went into] the business, the news business, they put their people, their agents at newspapers, at magazines and television.
The famed film director sounded pessimistic when asked if there is hope for change – or, at least, if the system allows for that change. He said that both parties – be it Democrats or Republicans – act by the same playbook when dealing with issues of war and peace.
“There is no party in the United States, no democratic voice except third parties that are small, that would say ‘Why are we fighting wars?’” Stone exclaimed, adding, “it’s all right-wings fighting with right-wings.” Democrats are no better than Republicans, he says: “Hillary Clinton and her group, and Joe Biden, are just as pro-war as any Republican Dick Cheney.”
Stone thinks Donald Trump who has done “horrible things” by pulling out of the Paris climate accords and the hard-earned 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But, argued Stone, at least Trump was asking why the US needs to fight the Russians, which alarmed the mainstream so much that the media was attacking him from day one.
Stone lamented that politics is transiting from the art of the possible to the art of raising money.
“So much money is spent in politics, it’s impossible for my vote to make any difference… Candidates in America now have to raise billions of dollars to be considered serious,” Stone said.
Empires fall. Let’s pray that this empire, these evil things… because we are the evil empire. What Reagan said about Russia is true about us.
World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has released an ambitious plan for online governance designed to counteract the growing prevalence of misinformation, data surveillance and censorship.
The Contract for the Web, created by Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation, seeks commitments from governments and the industry to make and keep knowledge freely available.
“If we don’t act now – and act together – to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering” its potential for good, Berners-Lee said in a statement from his foundation on Monday.
The British engineer said the contract, developed in cooperation with dozens of experts and members of the public, is “a roadmap to build a better web”.
“Citizens must hold those in power accountable, demand their digital rights be respected and help foster healthy conversation online,” Berners-Lee added.
The web is one of the most powerful tools we’ve ever had to transform our lives for the better.
But never before has the web’s power for good been more under threat.
Contract for the Web
Be part of the Contract for the Web and join the fight for the web we want.
More than 150 organisations including Microsoft and Reddit and interest groups like Reporters Without Borders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have backed the plan.
“I will stand up for the preservation of the free internet that we have grown to know and love in recent decades,” German economy minister Peter Altmaier said in a statement ahead of the UN gathering.
Among the concerns that prompted the creation of the contract, Berners-Lee mentioned cyberbullying, uneven access to the internet worldwide and increased governmental control of domestic networks in countries including China, Iran and Russia.
“The trend for Balkanisation is really worrying and it’s extreme at the moment in Iran,” said Berners-Lee. “A strong government exhibits tolerance, the computer scientist added, for other voices, opposition voices, foreign voices to be heard by its citizens.”
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES
An investigation by the Wall Street Journal has confirmed many of the central allegations made by the World Socialist Web Site in 2017 regarding Google’s censorship of the internet.
In an extensive article published Friday, the Journal concludes that, contrary to Google’s repeated assertions, the company maintains blacklists of individual websites and intervenes directly to manipulate individual search results.
On July 27, 2017, the World Socialist Web Site reported that changes to Google’s search algorithm, internally dubbed “Project Owl,” had drastically reduced search traffic to left-wing, antiwar and progressive websites.
The WSWS based its assertions on Google’s public declarations that it was seeking to “surface more authoritative content” and demote “alternative viewpoint[s],” as well as detailed data from the WSWS’s analytics systems and data provided by other websites and publicly available web and search traffic estimators.
Based on these data points, the WSWS concluded that Google was operating a blacklist of opposition news outlets, the primary impact of which was to restrict access to left-wing and antiwar websites.
The WSWS was a central target of this initiative. As we explained: “Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so.”
On August 25, 2017, David North, the chairperson of the WSWS International Editorial Board, published an open letter to Google asserting:
Censorship on this scale is political blacklisting. The obvious intent of Google’s censorship algorithm is to block news that your company does not want reported and to suppress opinions with which you do not agree. Political blacklisting is not a legitimate exercise of whatever may be Google’s prerogatives as a commercial enterprise. It is a gross abuse of monopolistic power. What you are doing is an attack on freedom of speech.
These assertions have been dramatically confirmed by the Wall Street Journal investigation. Its report concludes:
Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results. These moves are separate from those that block sites as required by US or foreign law, such as those featuring child abuse or with copyright infringement, and from changes designed to demote spam sites, which attempt to game the system to appear higher in results.
The report went on to substantiate its claim that the company’s actions were in contradiction to its public statements:
Google has said in congressional testimony it doesn’t use blacklists. Asked in a 2018 hearing whether Google had ever blacklisted a “company, group, individual or outlet … for political reasons,” Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of public policy, responded: “No, ma’am, we don’t use blacklists/whitelists to influence our search results,” according to the transcript.
But the newspaper’s investigation concluded that Google takes “what the company calls ‘manual actions’ against specific websites,” adding, “The company could also blacklist a website, or remove it altogether.”
The Journal report argues that Ben Gomes, “one of Google’s early search executives,” was an early advocate of direct, manual intervention into search terms. It was Gomes who announced what would later be known as “Project Owl” in an April 25, 2017 blog post under the title, “Our latest quality improvements for Search.”
In that blog post, Google claimed that its efforts to promote “authoritative” news sources were an extension of its attempts to combat efforts to “’game’ our systems in order to appear higher in search results.” But the investigation by the Wall Street Journal reveals this to be a total fraud.
“There’s this idea that the search algorithm is all neutral and goes out and combs the web and comes back and shows what it found, and that’s total BS,” the newspaper cites an unnamed former executive as saying. “Google deals with special cases all the time.”
The report documents how the company maintains its blacklists:
Engineers known as “maintainers” are authorized to make and approve changes to blacklists. It takes at least two people to do this; one person makes the change, while a second approves it, according to the person familiar with the matter.
The Journal reviewed a draft policy document from August 2018 that outlines how Google employees should implement an “anti-misinformation” blacklist aimed at blocking certain publishers from appearing in Google News and other search products.
Its report continues:
Google’s culture of publicly resisting demands to change results has diminished, current and former employees said. A few years ago, the company dismantled a global team focused on free-speech issues that, among other things, publicized the company’s legal battles to fight changes to search results, in part because Google had lost several of those battles in court, according to a person familiar with the change… “Free expression was no longer a winner,” the person said.
The investigation by the Wall Street Journal raises serious questions about the coverage of Google’s censorship in the New York Times. After publishing a report on September 27, 2017 on the front page of its business section concerning the WSWS’s open letter opposing Google’s censorship, including an interview with David North, the Times went on to attempt to discredit accusations that Google was carrying out political censorship.
In a follow-up article, Daisuke Wakabayashi, who conducted the interview with North, sought to whitewash Google’s censorship regime, echoing the company’s self-serving denials without any serious examination of the facts. Wakabayashi wrote: “Google said political ideology was not a factor in any aspect of its search results. Google said that whether a user is conservative or liberal is not part of the information collected by the company, and that it didn’t categorize web pages by political leanings.”
This, too, was a fraud. Google’s decision about which sites were “authoritative” was clearly political in nature.
In 2018, Google set up a “news initiative” to “Clean Up False News,” as the New York Times reported. Among its partners are the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, all of which circulated false statements by the Bush administration regarding so-called “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, among countless other lies.
Google’s statements about promoting “authoritative” news outlets is code for promoting news outlets that support US foreign policy and the lies that underpin it, because, as the Journal writes, “search is a zero-sum game: A change that helps lift one result inevitably pushes down another.”
Aside from the initial report in the New York Times and a report by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, the vast majority of corporate news outlets simply ignored the WSWS’s reporting.
But notably, before he was gagged and arrested, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange penned a letter to an online event organized by the WSWS warning about the dangers of internet censorship. It stated:
While the internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control… I commend WSWS for drawing attention to this phenomenon.
In the three years since Google announced its efforts to bury “alternative viewpoint[s],” the censorship drive by major technology corporations has only intensified. In multiple mass deletions, Facebook and Twitter have removed left-wing accounts and pages with millions of followers.
Last month, Twitter announced that it would ban all political advertisements on its platform, while Facebook, despite the declarations by Mark Zuckerberg that it will not carry out political censorship, announced that it would remove any posts that include the name of the alleged CIA “whistleblower” in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
The motivation for the relentless efforts at political censorship promoted by all factions of the political establishment is their fear of the growth of working-class opposition all over the world, which is bound up with the growing audience for socialism.
November 14th, 2019
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is obvious censorship. YouTube is planning to silence those who disagree with the political/ruling class and have taken sides. Speaking truth to power is now borderline criminal. The censorship continues…
This article was originally published by Ethan Huff at Natural News.
Content creators everywhere are starting to panic about an upcoming policy change over at YouTube that threatens to eliminate all accounts and channels on the Google-owned video platform that are deemed to no longer be “commercially viable.”
In the “Account Suspension & Termination” section of YouTube’s “Terminations by YouTube for Service Changes,” guidelines, the company explains that, as of December 10, 2019, “YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service, if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.”
In other words, if you have a YouTube channel that YouTube employees decide isn’t profitable enough for Google, then the company has now granted itself the option to completely shut down your account without warning or consequence.
What this means is that YouTube content creators who’ve built their entire livelihoods around the platform are going to need a backup option in the event that they end up being terminated. One such option is Brighteon.com, which you can sign up for here.
It also means that YouTube has created for itself yet another legal loophole to continue targeting channels that disseminate politically incorrect content, which YouTube has been trying to silence from its platform for at least the past several years.
In essence, YouTube now has a blanket excuse to pull down all channels that it wants to see eliminated by simply claiming that these channels are no longer profitable. And there will likely be no way for targeted YouTube users to prove otherwise.
According to YouTube, these changes merely make the company’s Terms of Service “clearer and easier to understand.” But for most people carefully observing what’s going on, the obvious reality is that YouTube is once again up to no good.
“The terms could be a way for YouTube to remove channels that promote hate speech, conspiracy theories, or harmful messages whose content isn’t extreme enough to warrant an outright ban, as these are unlikely to be commercially viable,” writes Rob Thubron for Techspot, illustrating this point.
“But if this is the case, it needs to be clearly explained,” he adds.
For more related news about Big Tech’s plot to subvert online free speech, be sure to check out Censorship.news.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what YouTube is planning to do once this policy change comes into full effect.
We already know that many conservative-leaning YouTube channels have been demonetized by YouTube with the goal of driving them out of business. However, thanks to workarounds like Patreon, many of these channels are still up and running, despite YouTube’s best efforts to financially destroy them.
Since mere demonetization hasn’t led to the outcome that YouTube hoped for, the Google-owned video platform is now making “commercial viability,” as arbitrarily defined by YouTube, a new requirement to maintain a presence on YouTube.
“First they’ll demonetize you, then they’ll remove you completely because you are no longer ‘commercially viable,’” warns Twitter user “Raging Golden Eagle” about where this all is headed.
If you’re a YouTube creator or know someone who is, let this be the writing on the wall as to what’s coming in less than a month. YouTube wants total control over everything that happens on its platform, just like its parent company Google wants over its search engine platform.
“Just another backdoor attempt at censorship and traffic steering,” wrote one Techspot commenter in response to the news.
“In a few years, YouTube will only allow creators that have a minimum of 100K followers within 90 days of launch and they’ll have to be a member of the local communist party.”
Exercise your free speech, without commercial censorship, at Brighteon.com.
Scroll through NEO’s website and you will realize that we have been honest in reporting the problems the world faces on a daily basis. The articles are straightforward: real issues, real people, and real insight.
While we are steadfast in our reporting, more and more journalists are being subject to the most severe form of censorship, some have taken to – self-censorship in order to avoid the wrath of the powers that be. Such arm twisting by the authorities is nothing but a frontal attack on any semblance of a free media.
It is even worse than that—people, in general, are so skeptical of anything written or reported by the mainstream news nowadays. Things have gotten to the point where they don’t believe anything that the MSM says, however, the unfortunate part is that now the lines between mainstream and independent media has also started blurring, with more and more independent media also falling in step with the official government line.
I have a distant relative who now says that she refuses to watch or read any news from any source since it is all propaganda, and this feeling of discontent is becoming widespread.
Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” But the wise Mark Twain could also not imagine the dystopian world we live in today, where the only alternative is not to read anything and not to trust anything, as much of news has been turned into mindless entertainment.
We know what is happening to Julian Assange, and that is no longer real news, at least for most viewers and the MSM. His ordeal, first at his Embassy holdup after jumping bail, and then being turned over to UK authorities is just the start of another horror story. Given his deteriorating health his stay at the prison is putting his life at risk, and even UN Human Rights experts have warned of his health complications.
All that is happening now was predicated by earlier writers. Hence it is time to revisit a bit of ominous literature, as it is not as if we were not warned about what to look forward to in the future.
“Brave New World” vs. “1984” – which won?
The BBC did an excellent adaptation of “Brave New World” many years ago. I don’t think it survived on tape (it was a few years before the VCRs became ubiquitous). I was able to find one that is close, with Aldous Huxley, an interview with Mike Wallace back in the late ’50s which describes the enemies of freedom in the United States.
My first reaction was that of surprise as all that was described seemed so true even in today’s context. He had been able to accurately describe how various bureaucracies, technology, and propaganda methods work in tandem to create a false narrative and distract the people from more real and pressing issues. From his description it becomes clear that the methods being used today to distract us are the same that Hitler used, only now they have become more effective.
To compare and contrast, George Orwell’s “1984”, and Alex Huxley’s “Brave New World”—they both predicted different visions of a dystopian future. What has emerged now is a combination of the two takes on what the future holds, or at least that is what the situation looks like as of now.
People say we are more Huxley than Orwell, but there are some Orwellian methods too, at least for journalists and whistleblowers. Orwell saw a world where fear was used whereas Huxley perceived a world where we will be manipulated in other ways—more effectively and willingly!
It is so very true that Truth has become Treason with the torture of Julian Assange. The powers to be would like us not to consider him a journalist. Truth has never been well received by governments who want to hide it, at any cost, even at the expense of fundamental principles of the founding fathers. But the situation is getting grim day-by-day now.
So, where does that leave us?
The lesson to others is clear: challenge the global US military empire and you will be destroyed.
Politicians are acting as bullies like George Orwell predicted… perhaps. Huxley’s “Soma” drug is allegorical to how people are drugged by devices and perhaps some actual drugs.
In Enemies of Freedom Huxley is exposing how free choice, the rational side of man are bypassed – and how the democratic process is circumvented and efforts made to eliminate what would be informed and free choice. Huxley dives deep into the forces that are taking away freedom, including electronic devices, overpopulation, and materialism.
However, the greatest threat is over the organization of society and the lack of “thinking beings.” The system, including how education is allocated makes sure that those who question the most are afforded the least conducive environment for learning.
Madness in Method
But there are better ways, for instance, aversion conditioning is how “Brave New World” has prevailed over “1984.” Low levels of education, distractions caused by cellphones and mindless computer games, and various forms of modern-day “Soma” are all tools in the hands of governments to keep the minds of the and people distracted and to keep them calm and mindless. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be only a few left who would want to read one, or at least have the inclination and time.
Younger folk have been manipulated into relinquishing virtually any right or privilege as long as they can still keep their video games and smartphones. “Brave New World” depicts a society that bears more than coincidental resemblance to our society today (watch CNN and Anderson Cooper to get a better idea).
But the “Powers That Be” would also prefer that we live in the “1984” society, and they are trying their best to plunge us into that darkness by attacking journalists who describe inconvenient truths.
Huxley summed it up best:
“By means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms— elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest—will remain. … Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial. …
Meanwhile, the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.”
The comparison is made to radio and television fodder “new devices” and now all that he predicted – subliminal projections contained within films. Once you establish the utility of something that is known to work, you can be certain that the technology of it will steadily improve.
How can we preserve the integrity of humans in an age when we are being persuaded below the level of “choice and reason” – not only in how we think but even in our choices for political office. It is no longer a matter of making an intelligent choice for one’s self interests, but falling prey to the manipulations of [MSM] and the manipulations of consumers by Madison Avenue.
A democracy depends on the individual voter making an intelligent and rational choice for what he regards as his enlightened self-interest in any given circumstance. But attempts are being made to bypass that “rational choice” by appealing to unconscious forces below the surface – below the level of choice and reason.
But that is not happening anytime soon but at least we have a modern version of soma with PR, mind control and a new generation of prescription drugs. Soma can even compete with religion; it takes away bad experiences and makes us all happy and content.
All that was written as fiction is now a reality, even genetically engineered babies and a society driving by never-ending consumption. In the quest for the most modern devices, people have become hooked to a reality that does not exist.
It is this generation of low castes who are proven to be clueless and preoccupied with promiscuity that paints anyone who speaks in disapproval as intolerant. Society has been transformed into “a pre-ordained caste system ranging from a highly intelligent managerial class to a subgroup of dim-witted serfs programmed to love their menial work; and of soma, a drug that confers instant bliss with no side effects.”
That drug comes in many different forms – mostly ignorance and is distributed by the manipulated media and corrupt advertisers.
And let us also not forget why it is no longer even necessary to burn or restrict books. As we learned from the newest release, at the movies, of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 –very few among us are actually interested in reading book or truthful news anymore and fewer, in any case, have the critical thinking abilities to understand their true meaning.
“We are not born equal but must be made equal by the fire!”
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
National and regional mastheads including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review hit newsstands on Monday with most of their front-page stories blacked out to give the impression it had been censored similar to how classified government documents are.
Advertisements have also been rolled out across the country’s television networks, asking viewers: “When the government hides the truth from you, what are they covering up?”
The protest is designed to put public pressure on the government to exempt journalists from laws restricting access to sensitive information, enact a properly functioning freedom of information system, and raise the benchmark for defamation lawsuits.
“It’s about defending the basic right of every Australian to be properly informed about the important decisions the government is making in their name,” Hugh Marks, chief executive of Nine said in a statement.
National newspaper front pages have been printed blanked out in a united protest by the media industry against government secrecy and cover-up. #righttoknow #9Newshttps://www.9news.com.au/national/your-right-to-know-media-industry-calls-for-secrecy-reforms-australia-news/69922c4a-a083-4ad5-b1fd-c5c0190628d9?ocid=Social-9News …
Why secrecy must stop
National newspaper front pages have been printed blanked out in a united protest by the media industry agai…
Australia has no constitutional safeguards for free speech. The government added a provision to protect whistleblowers when it strengthened counter-espionage laws in 2018, although media organisations say press freedoms remain restricted.
Australia’s Communications Minister Paul Fletcher was not immediately available for comment on Monday. The government has previously said press freedom was a “bedrock principle”.
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said people “should always be suspicious of governments that want to restrict their right to know what’s going on”.
Global attention turned to media freedoms in Australia this year when a court order prevented media from reporting that the former Vatican treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, had been found guilty on child sex abuse charges.
Some Australian outlets reported that an unidentified person had been convicted but some foreign media companies identified Pell because they were outside Australia’s jurisdiction.
Prosecutors are now seeking fines and jail sentences for three dozen Australian journalists and publishers for their coverage of the trial. Pell is appealing against his convictions.
The subject came to a boil again in June when police raided the head office of the ABC in Sydney and the home of a News Corp editor on suspicion of receiving national secrets.
The raids, which involved police examination of about 9,000 computer files at the ABC and sifting through the female News Corp editor’s underwear drawer, drew international condemnation.
In the UK, the BBC called the raids “deeply troubling”.
The ABC said at the time that the raid on its office was in relation to 2017 stories about accusations of military misconduct in Afghanistan. News Corp has said the raid on its employee concerned an article about government plans to spy on Australians’ emails, text messages and bank accounts.
Under intense pressure, the government issued a directive to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in September that will require permission from Attorney General Christian Porter to approve any charges against journalists.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES
The FBI has released a 15-page document warning of the dangers of “anti-government, identity-based, and fringe conspiracy theories.” The law enforcement agency says that these are “very likely to motivate some domestic extremists to commit criminal, sometimes violent activity.” The document seems to recommend increased social media and web censorship.
The FBI assesses anti-government, identity-based, and fringe political conspiracy theories very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to commit criminal and sometimes violent activity. The FBI further assesses in some cases these conspiracy theories very likely encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations, thereby increasing the Iikelihood of violence against these targets. These assessments are made with high confidenced, based on information from other law enforcement agencies, open-source information, court documents, human sources with varying degrees of access and corroboration, and FBI investigations.
One key assumption driving these assessments is that certain conspiracy theory narratives tacitly support or legitimize violent action. The FBI also assumes some, but not all individuals or domestic extremists who hold such beliefs will act on them. The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modem information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts. Indicators that may lead to revised judgements or cause a change in the confidence level assoc iated with this assessment include a lack of conspiracy theory-driven criminal or violent activity in the near to long term or significant efforts by major social media companies and websites to remove, regulate, or counter potentially harmful conspiratorial content.
So what do they consider conspiracy theories? A few of the theories and topics mentioned in the document are QAnon, Pizzagate, the New World Order, various child-sex trafficking ring theories, and racial extremists. Interestingly, there is no specific mention in this document of Antifa and their theories, despite the fact that they’re decidedly anti-government and confirmably violent.
The internet brings people together in forums, on social media, in private online chatrooms, and via email. The document released by the FBI seems to consider that this is part of the problem.
Although conspiracy theory-driven crime and violence is not a new phenomenon, today’s information environment has changed the way conspiracy theories develop, spread, and evolve. The advent of the Internet and social media has enabled promoters of conspiracy theories to produce and share greater volumes of material via online platforms that larger audiences of consumers can quickly and easily access.
Based on the increased volume and reach of conspiratorial content due to modern communication methods, it is logical to assume that more extremist-minded individuals will be exposed to potentially harmful conspiracy theories, accept ones that are favorable to their views, and possibly carry out criminal or violent actions as a result. The Internet has also enabled a ‘crowd-sourcing’ effect wherein conspiracy theory followers themselves shape a given theory by presenting information that supplements, expands, or localizes its narrative.
The examples above demonstrate how crowd-sourced conspiracy theories can influence which entities extremists choose to target. These examples also substantiate concerns expressed by some researchers who believe a rise of conspiracism, fostered in part by the Internet, may be accompanied by a search for scapegoats-those believed to be the conspirators’ allies, henchmen, or collaborators.
This is worrisome, as censorship of any alternative view is already at an all-time high, with a coordinated purge of alternative media websites from social media outlets and a major search engine. It seems as though this could potentially lead to even more censorship. Maybe that’s what it’s actually for – to give social media outlets even more justification for cracking down on free yet unpopular speech.
The document notes the FBI’s definition of “conspiracy theories.”
Although many conspiracy theories appear benign or inconsequential, others create serious risks. Throughout history, such conspiracy theories have fueled prejudice, witch-hunts, genocide, and acts of terrorism.’ In the context of domestic terrorism, extremists often view the activities of alleged conspirators as an existential threat that can only be stopped through drastic, or even violent means…
…A conspiracy theory is an attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of othersr. Conspiracy theories typically allege wrongdoing by powerful others (for example, public officials, business executives, scientists) or societally marginalized groups (for example, Muslims, Jews), and are most prevalent among individuals with extreme political viewsg. Some conspiracy theories point to weak circumstantial evidence, but ignore stronger evidence that would refute their claims.
Consequently, they are usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events) While a conspiracy theory refers to an allegation that may or may not be true, a conspiracy is a true causal chain of events. Real conspiracies involving illegal, antidemocratic, or harmful activities by high level government officials and political elites have been exposed in the past and it has been argued that such plots have encouraged conspiracism in society.
Relying on the premises that nothing happens by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected, conspiracy theorists tend to view every bad outcome as the result of an intentional decision by an evil actor, dismiss disconfirming evidence as “fabricated” by the conspirators, and connect a wide range of seemingly unrelated occurences to suggest a larger plot. Despite sharing key characteristics and at times featuring similar themes and intersecting plots, conspiracy theories vary greatly in their scope. Some are narrowly focused on a particular event or set of events whereas others suggest broad, expansive narratives that link multiple conspiracies in complex ways to portray a group of evil actors working to manipulate society on a global scale.
So, does this definition mean that anyone who disagrees with the official story about anything is a dangerous conspiracy theorist?
The FBI document mentions numerous arrests, some of which were not widely publicized. The document also provided a list of conspiracy theories that they find particularly worrisome in Appendix B.
The conspiracy theories referenced in this intelligence bulletin have been categorized as anti government, identity-based, or fringe political because they assert secretive, malevolent acts either by an allegedly hostile and tyrannical federal government, by racial, religious, or social minority groups, or by political opponents.
(U) NWO: A group of international elites controls governments, industry, and media organizations, instigates major wars, carries out secret staged events, and manipulates economies with the goal of establishing global rule.
(U) UN: The UN is being used by an evil global cabal to erode American sovereignty, strip away individual liberties, and bring foreign troops to American soil in order to replace democracy with global tyranny.”
(U) False Flags: The official story surrounding a given terrorist attack or mass shooting is a lie; the event was staged or conducted by the government to justify encroachments on civil liberties.
(U) Zionist Occupied Government: Jewish agents secretly control the governments of Western states and are conspiring to achieve world domination.
(U) Islamberg: The small Muslim community near Hancock, New York known as Islamberg is a terrorist training camp; its residents, who pose as peaceful Muslims, are in fact Islamic radicals operating as a terrorist sleeper cell.
(U) Pizzagate: High ranking democratic officials are or were involved in a child sex trafficking ring centered at the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, DC.’
(U) QAnon: An anonymous government official known as “Q” posts classified information online to reveal a covert effort, led by President Trump, to dismantle a conspiracy involving “deep state” actors and global elites allegedly engaged in an international child sex trafficking ring.’
The thing one might find particularly ironic is that the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein has brought out a massive amount of information about…well…child sex trafficking and global elite pedophiles. (See this article, this article, this one, and this one.)
Beginning on page 2 of the document, the FBI cites numerous cases of violence based on conspiracy theories.
The FBI assesses anti-government, identity-based, and fringe political conspiracy theories very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to engage in criminal or violent activity. This assessment is based on events in which individuals committed crimes, plotted attacks, or successfully carried out deadly violence and who – either before or after their arrests -attributed their actions to their conspiratorial beliefs. These events include instances in which the perpetrators intended to kill groups identified by such theories as hostile and malevolent, or to simply carry out dangerous, unlawful acts in an effort to draw attention to or expose a perceived conspiracy.
Most people who question the status quo would not be surprised if this document is just the beginning of a crackdown on anyone who refuses to accept the mainstream explanations because they might “engage in criminal or violent activity.”
While some of the theories mentioned are pretty far-fetched, the First Amendment protects free speech – and that includes conspiracy theories. Most people who believe that there are pedophiles in our government or who question the official reports of heinous events will never become violent. But now, it appears they may become targets of suspicion based on their thought crimes.
And when this FBI report is combined with the recently introduced Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019, which focuses on developing “a national strategy to prevent targeted violence through behavioral threat assessment and management, and for other purposes,” it certainly could make critical thinkers a little bit nervous.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com.Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Muslim US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution that seeks to protect the right to engage in boycotts against Israel, despite efforts by federal, state and locals officials to pass various anti-boycott measures.
Omar, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, proposed the resolution earlier this week in a bid to push back against US laws banning the Israel boycotts.
The text of the measure affirms the right of Americans to organize boycotts of foreign countries. While the resolution doesn’t explicitly name Israel or the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, she told media outlets that the resolution concerns Israel.
“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor.
Resolution 496 was introduced with two cosponsors, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and John Lewis of Georgia.
Omar’s decision to introduce the measure shows she is not intimidated by President Donald Trump’s recent racist attacks on her and other women of color lawmakers, including his accusations that they are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.
“It affirms the right of all activists and people of conscience to advocate for human rights through boycotts against systems of oppression,” Hind Awwad, spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee said.
The BDS boycott campaign against Israel began in July 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations, which calls for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
Omar’s pro-boycott resolution was introduced at the same time that Congress was advancing a nonbinding bipartisan resolution to condemn BDS.
The move is the latest in a series of measures in US state and federal legislatures to sideline or criminalize the anti-racist BDS campaign.
On Wednesday, during a debate on the bipartisan anti-BDS resolution, Omar challenged the measure, saying lawmakers “cannot condemn nonviolent means,” adding that Israel’s occupation must end.
I may not like right-wingers and think they are a bunch of eejits, but I believe in freedom of speech. Facebook has no right to decide who and who isn’t right on anything. Facebook is a marketing company and they should stick to what it is they are, a chat and communication platform. Period. I don’t want to hear what Zuckerberg, the fake so-called genius who created FB with the help of the CIA and his Illuminati family ties, thinks or believes. Methinks he is merely a hypocritical marketer imbued with the power he does not deserve.
Crowder’s offense involved calling Vox journalist Carlos Maza a “lispy queer” and a “gay Vox sprite,” leading, says Maza, to further harassment. Much press commentary either cheered YouTube’s move or called it belated.
Simultaneously, YouTube announced it would ban whole genres of videos that fell under a hate/conspiracy label. From a Yahoo news summary:
“YouTube announced Wednesday it would ban videos promoting or glorifying racism and discrimination as well as those denying well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.”
“Channels that repeatedly brush up against our hate speech policies will be suspended under our YouTube Partner Program.”
Many greeted these stories with a shrug. If blue-state audiences even know who Steven Crowder is, they think he’s a jerk. And what could be wrong with removing videos “denying well-documented violent events”?
At least two big things, as it turns out:
A site called News2Share, run by journalist Ford Fischer, was removed by YouTube this week under the new plan. Fischer received a notice:
“We found that a significant portion of your channel is not in line with our YouTube Partner Program policies.”
Fischer was one of the first people I spoke with for a Rolling Stone story about Internet censorship published last year. His site acts as a kind of clearing house for political footage of all kinds, including demonstrations, marches, police misconduct and even flash mobs.
News2Share content spans the spectrum: the site currently contains everything from a protest against the “Barr Coverup” of the Mueller report, to pro-Assange protests in Britain, to a square-off between gun militias and Antifa in Ohio.
It’s valuable, original journalism, not aggregated clickbait.
“Almost the entire channel is video shot by me, or someone I hire,” Fischer says.
Two videos apparently determined his fate under the new program. One involved a pro-Israel activist and pro-Palestine activist arguing with a Holocaust denier. The second was video of a speech given by white nationalist Mike “Enoch” Peinovich.
Fischer says that “while unpleasant,” the footage is “essential research for history.” It was even used as part of a PBS documentary called “Charlottesville.” Fischer was listed as an executive producer in the film.
His work regularly appears in documentaries about subcultures of all types, including the Frontline series “Documenting Hate” (you can see him credited just above Getty Images at the end). Fischer’s videos have even appeared in Vox.
Now his work has been removed because the new policy does not distinguish between showing a Holocaust denier or a white supremacist, and being one. Fischer describes the first video that got him in trouble, which showed Antifa protesters arguing with a Holocaust denier: “While it’s true that the Holocaust denier says Holocaust-denier stuff,” he says, “this is raw vid documenting him being shut down.”
Being demonetized on YouTube will deal a blow to Fischer’s business. He says YouTube ad revenue is “about half of my reliable, baseline income,” the rest coming from Patreon.
The Fischer case speaks to the inherent inanity of asking nameless, faceless Silicon Valley overlords to weigh things like journalistic intent. While there’s an argument to be had about clamping down on the purveyors of hate speech, what social or journalistic purpose is served by concealing the existence of such people? And what possible rationale could there be for allowing PBS or a commercial news network to publish such videos, but not smaller shooters like Fischer?
As part of the new program, YouTube also pulled down a video published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In it, journalist Max Blumenthal interviewed Holocaust denier David Irving. Blumenthal quickly said the removal program had “gone beyond its stated aim” to “carpet-bombing style censorship.”
Blumenthal, like many of the people targeted in removal campaigns, is a controversial figure who has been a consistent critic of U.S. policy. He worried that such deletions are “just a test balloon for a much wider campaign to suppress content by dissenting voices.”
The so-called “ Christchurch Call ” summit in Paris on Wednesday, led by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, marked a significant escalation of the drive by governments throughout the world to censor the Internet.
Ardern and her Labour Party-led government, along with the Australian and French governments, are taking a leading role in exploiting the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attacks by Australian fascist Brenton Tarrant to justify sweeping attacks on freedom of expression. Tarrant live-streamed a video of the shootings, which killed 51 people, on Facebook.
The “summit” issued a statement signed by 17 governments, including the UK, France, Australia, India, Indonesia, Canada and Germany, along with Facebook, Twitter, Google and other tech giants. The statement agreed to “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content” on social media platforms and other websites, and to steer people toward officially-sanctioned “positive” alternatives or “counter-narratives.” The US government did not sign, but a White House statement expressed agreement with the statement’s “overarching message.”
No one should be fooled by worthless assurances that these governments and corporate giants will protect “freedom of expression.” What constitutes “terrorist” or “extremist” material will be decided by the state agencies.
For the past two years, corporations such as Google and Facebook have collaborated with the US and other governments to severely restrict access to left-wing, socialist and anti-war websites, particularly to the WSWS. Their algorithms have been modified to reduce traffic to these sources, while promoting supposedly “authoritative” websites, i.e., the corporate media, in search results and news feeds. These measures, justified with lies about combating “fake news” and Russian and Chinese “interference,” are now being escalated under the guise of fighting “extremism.”
The New Zealand prime minister, having been glorified in the media internationally for showing “kindness” and “compassion” following the Christchurch shootings, has become one of the chief propagandists for censorship internationally.
An article by Ardern in the May 11 New York Times, with the misleading headline “How to Stop the Next Christchurch Massacre,” blamed the attack on social media and lax gun controls, while covering up its political roots. She made no mention of the fascist, anti-immigrant and white supremacist ideology that motivated the gunman, apart from a hypocritical sentence about the need to “tackle racism and discrimination.”
Far from opposing racism, Ardern’s Labour Party-led coalition government includes the racist and xenophobic New Zealand First Party, whose leader Winston Peters has made numerous anti-Muslim statements. Labour and Ardern herself have vowed to cut immigration. They have echoed NZ First’s nationalist demagogy and adopted many of its anti-immigrant policies. After the 2017 election, Ardern made Peters foreign minister and deputy prime minister, giving his right-wing nationalist party significant power in the government, despite the fact that it received just over 7 percent of the votes.
Ardern wrote that the Paris agreement “is not about undermining or limiting freedom of speech.” In her “Christchurch Call” speech, she again rejected concerns “that this action plan we are endorsing today is about curbing freedom of expression.”
Such assurances are belied by the actions of the Labour government since the Christchurch attacks. It has worked with the corporate media to suppress public discussion about the causes of the atrocity. Tarrant’s manifesto, which reveals the similarity of his anti-immigrant, nationalist views to those of NZ First, US President Donald Trump and other political parties in Australia and across Europe, has been banned. Anyone caught with the document could face a lengthy prison sentence.
Likewise, media organisations have agreed to self-censor their coverage of Tarrant’s upcoming trial, so as not to report on his fascistic statements, precisely in order to obscure the connection to the foul right-wing politics of all the establishment parties.
This unprecedented censorship is also aimed at preventing discussion about Tarrant’s sympathy for the military and police, and why the intelligence agencies and police failed to prevent the Christchurch attack, despite repeated warnings. A royal commission of inquiry, which began this week ostensibly to look into these questions, is so far being held in secret.
More sweeping and permanent censorship mechanisms are being planned. A foundation established by former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark has recommended a new regulatory body specifically to police social media. It would have the power to take websites like Facebook completely offline, as happened in Sri Lanka following the terrorist attacks in April. The Helen Clark Foundation’s report, “Anti-Social Media: Reducing the spread of harmful content on social networks,” also calls for restrictions on the ability to live-stream videos.
Already, the Australian government has seized on the Christchurch attacks to rush legislation through parliament that will impose severe fines and prison sentences on social media executives who fail to remove material that the government deems “abhorrent” and “violent.” This could include videos, photos and articles that expose police brutality, war crimes and fascistic assaults on immigrants.
Such laws have nothing to do with fighting racism, terrorism or “fake news.” They will be used against the working class and its ability to organise against war and social inequality. It is no accident that the “Christchurch Call” was hosted by Macron. His right-wing government and the French media have slandered the anti-austerity “yellow vest” protests, involving hundreds of thousands of workers, as violent and anti-Semitic, in order to justify brutal police crackdowns and the arrest of protesters.
New Zealand’s ruling class has also been shaken by protests and strikes over the past year, including by teachers and healthcare workers. The corporatist trade union bureaucracy has expressed hostility and nervousness over workers organising independently and sharing information on social media.
The contempt for freedom of speech shared by all the governments that signed the “Christchurch Call” is most starkly revealed in their support for the persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. They face lengthy imprisonment or even the death penalty for exposing US-led war crimes and other government-corporate abuses. The New Zealand parliament last year refused to even discuss a petition presented by Assange’s supporters calling for Ardern to offer him asylum.
As the crisis of capitalism deepens, with escalating social inequality, trade war and US threats of war against Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, China and Russia, the ruling elites are returning to the methods of the 1930s and 1940s. Governments are whipping up racism and xenophobia to divide workers, while desperately seeking to censor information, in order to prevent the emergence of a mass anti-war and anti-capitalist movement.
The author also recommends:
[8 May 2019]
[8 May 2019]
— There’s an awesome social network startup called Minds, but you probably don’t know about it if you get your news from Facebook. That’s because the tech giant is essentially blocking links to Minds.com across the platform.
Minds.com has a very familiar functionality and feel to Facebook, except the philosophy behind the social network startup is in stark contrast to Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for his increasingly authoritarian conglomerate.
While Facebook reads your private messages and sells your conversations to large corporations, Minds encrypts them. While Facebook stifles free expression, Minds embraces it. While Facebook basically “steals” the content you create on the platform and sells ads around your posts, Minds rewards your activity with tokens that can be used to boost your posts so more people see them and will eventually be convertible to real currency. Where Facebook exploits your privacy, Minds protects it. Where Facebook has centralized the flow of information, Minds has deployed blockchain technology to ensure decentralization. Where Facebook has censored, banned, and deleted independent media, Minds is welcoming independent media with open arms.
As you can see, while the basic user experience on both platforms is very similar, the way each company values its users varies greatly. Perhaps this is why Facebook makes it nearly impossible for the news of Minds.com’s platform to be shared. This is what happens when you try to post or share a link to Minds on Facebook:
As many of our readers already know, Anti-Media was deplatformed from Facebook and Twitter back in October of last year. We’re now using Minds.com to share our articles instead, after having tried multiple other alternative platforms. You can join us on Minds by following this link.
Bill Ottman, the founder of Minds, was recently on Joe Rogan’s podcast to talk about his social network and the philosophy behind it, which you can view below:
While Minds isn’t going to look exactly like Facebook in terms of number of users, content, and groups right away, those of us who truly desire to use a social network that supports free speech need to start spending time on one in order for it to be successful. If you’re tired of what Facebook has become, give Minds.com a try and invite your friends — because a successful alternative platform isn’t going to appear out of nowhere, we have to help create and build it.
“Witch hunts, book burnings and the Inquisition are back,” Dotcom tweeted on Thursday, hours after Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British police.
“The persecution and arrest of Julian Assange for publishing the truth returns us to the darkest times in human history,” the internet icon continued. “This attempt to keep us from the truth will turn Julian Assange into a hero for the ages.”
Witch hunts, book burnings and the Inquisition are back.
The persecution and arrest of Julian Assange for publishing the truth returns us to the darkest times in human history.
This attempt to keep us from the truth will turn Julian Assange into a hero for the ages.#FreeJulian
The truth published by WikiLeaks has been particularly embarrassing for Washington. In 2010, the outlet published classified US military footage leaked by Manning, which showed a US Apache gunship mowing down 12 people, including two Reuters staff.
Dotcom’s own activities have brought the weight of the US government down on him before. As founder of the now-defunct file-hosting service Megaupload, the German-born entrepreneur is still locked into an extradition battle with Washington. He is currently in New Zealand, and has claimed that US authorities are pursuing a vendetta against him on behalf of politically-influential Hollywood studios.
Dotcom is a privacy activist and prominent critic of government surveillance. He has accused former President Barack Obama of colluding with US intelligence agencies and tech companies to dramatically expand digital spying.
On October 11, I was one of the hundreds of individuals and pages “unperson-ed” from some of the biggest social media platforms in the world.
Poof. Disappeared. Deleted.
The news organization I work for was “unpublished,” along with its more than two million Facebook followers. Hours later, it was also wiped from Twitter. So was my personal Twitter account, along with the accounts of our Twitter handler and our chief creative executive. The double-pronged purge, which was far more extensive on Facebook, created the appearance of at least some level of coordination between the two sites, neither of which had ever suspended or unpublished us before.
“Specifically for?” you might be wondering. Specifically for: nothing, at least according to Twitter.
More than a month later, Twitter responded to my appeal for my personal account (not my news outlet), vaguely suggesting I had engaged in behavior intended to artificially amply or suppress information or manipulate or disrupt Twitter users’ experiences on the platform. I never did that, and if I did, I was unaware of it and received no warning. However, because Twitter provided no examples of this alleged behavior and advised me not to contact them again, I am indefinitely suspended from the platform without any substantive explanation. So is my company.
I started writing for the Anti-Media in September 2014, after one of their journalists interviewed me about a YouTube video I made where I blow-torched my old Obama shirt after coming to terms with the reality that his “hope and change” rhetoric amounted to nothing more than brilliant political doublespeak for “maintaining the status quo.”
Our two founders, Nick Bernabe and Scott Gibson, were, like me, drawn to activism after discovering the Ron Paul revolution. As members of the millennial generation, which came of age in the post-9/11 era, we felt we had good reason to push back against the ever-encroaching political system that has heavily indebted us and increasingly infringed on our rights while expanding its reach and power.
We have spent the last four-plus years growing Anti-Media and working to awaken people from their passive subservience to big government and corporatism. We have done so by offering information that runs counter to the often pro-government narratives of traditional media outlets. I think it’s safe to say people want that information considering the number of followers we amassed before our removal. At our height in 2016 (before our reach began to rapidly decline amid algorithm changes following the election), we were reaching tens of millions of people per week.
Because we have built a dedication to factual reporting without sensationalism into our founding principles—we believe the confirmable truth is bad enough—I assumed we’d be safe from social media bans even when it became clear in August, when controversial commentator Alex Jones was purged, that crackdowns were likely coming. We don’t promote “hate speech,” nor do we spread disinformation, which is why, on the morning of October 11 when Nick first notified me the page had been unpublished, I assumed it was a glitch. (Facebook tends to have a lot of those.)
I didn’t start to worry until I read a couple of reports from mainstream outlets.
Unsurprisingly, the same media we often critique hardly reported on the purge of more than 800 Facebook accounts. Media that did cover it mostly repeated the official statement from the company’s press release, explaining that Facebook had simply taken action to remove “spam” and “fake accounts” that targeted users with the intent of misleading them with “inauthentic” behavior and driving them to ad farms to profit. But we didn’t do any of that, and many other pages, which are political in nature like ours, are also denying they employed such practices.
Along with Anti-Media, where we have been outspoken critics of President Trump and publish articles focused almost exclusively on government corruption, surveillance, the warfare state, police accountability, the failed war on drugs, and market solutions to government-created problems, dozens of pro-freedom libertarian pages were deleted. Pages like “Police the Police,” “Hemp,” and the popular libertarian news page The Free Thought Project, which boasted more than three million followers, were all taken down without warning. A few hours later, the Anti-Media was removed from Twitter, and so was I. It seemed apparent that the reason for my removal was my association with the Anti-Media.
To be fair, left-wing pages and pro-Trump pages were also removed, at least according to reporting from the likes of the LA Times. But as Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, who investigated the recent developments in the December 2018 issue of the magazine, observed on Twitter, one common thread seemed less about ideology and more about themes:
Of course, Facebook denies removing any accounts over their content, and it’s safe to presume that at least some of the banned accounts were violating their policies. While the Anti-Media maintains we did not violate those standards with “spam” or by tricking users into visiting ad farms, many pages that have employed similar social media strategies to ours—but more or less toe the mainstream line, like the popular left-wing establishment page Occupy Democrats—remain intact.
According to founder Nick Bernabe, the main administrator of our Facebook page:
Groups within Facebook’s realm of acceptable opinion have long used similar “inauthentic” tactics that the Anti-Media used, namely Occupy Democrats and their consortium of partner pages, which all drove traffic to their website, washingtonpress.com, a liberal clickbait site. Since the October 11 purge, it appears they have discontinued these practices, but their Facebook page, which has 7.5 million followers, is still active.
It’s also worth noting that later in October, Facebook removed the libertarian page Liberty Memes, which had more than half a million followers, this time asserting their content violated community standards. They swiftly removed Liberty Memes 2.0, the page administrators’ attempts to relaunch.
If Anti-Media was engaging in activities that violated their policies, no one told us, and you’d think they probably would have, considering that in July, Facebook assigned us a representative as part of their “Publisher Solutions” program. Through that program, they gave us $500 in free ad credit to help us promote our work. It’s hard to imagine they would do that for an organization in violation of their standards.
In another instance of potentially ill-advised business practices, in the same swath of removals Facebook unpublished Right Wing News, whose administrator claims he had invested $300,000 in advertisements on the platform. It’s worth noting that Right Wing News has been accused of circulating fake news. Anti-Media, however, has not been hit with such allegations—aside from a shoddy piece of journalism published by the Washington Post shortly after the 2016 election, which journalists such as Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi and The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald quickly debunked, leading the outlet to issue a clarification.
It has been over four months since Anti-Media was banned, and all we can do is wait for Facebook and Twitter to address our appeals, which we filed the day we were removed. However, my personal Twitter account and Scott’s multiple personal Twitter accounts have been confirmed as indefinitely suspended. The justification? One account, @AntiMediaRadio, was allegedly “violating [Twitter] rules against evading permanent suspension,” but it had been inactive for several years (this account was Anti-Media’s original Twitter, but Gibson changed the handle to represent our radio show and made zero tweets following that switch). The other account, @AntiMediaUK, was permanently removed over claims it violated “Twitter Rules against managing multiple Twitter accounts for abusive purposes.”
Our former Twitter handler, Patti Beers, had her suspended account reinstated the same day the LA Times wrote an article about her experience.
When it comes down it, Facebook and Twitter are private companies, and they have every right to curate their users and content as they see fit. They can also partner with whatever organizations they choose.
For example, in May, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council, a NATO-linked think tank, with the express purpose of combating threats to elections and democracy that have apparently emerged as a result of activity on social media. Some members of the independent news circuit have expressed near-certainty that the new partnership is the reason behind our October bans, but this is impossible to prove. While the optics of a powerful group linked to an international governing body conspiring with massive platforms to censor anti-government content may make for a sensational, attention-grabbing narrative, there is no direct evidence that this is the case. If anything, it appears Facebook has partnered with the Council in an effort to add authoritative legitimacy to its post-2016 election efforts to clean up the platform.
Matt Taibbi noted the “official” influence on social media in his recent piece on the October purge (he interviewed me over the phone while working on this investigation):
Facebook recently began working with a comical cross section of shadowy officialdom: meeting with the Foreign Influence Task Force at the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security; partnering with the Atlantic Council, a NATO-connected organization featuring at least six former CIA heads on its board; and working with a pair of nonprofits associated with the major political parties, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.
Often described by critics as the unofficial lobby group of NATO, the council is a bipartisan rogues’ gallery of senior military leaders, neocons and ex-spies. Former heads of the CIA on its board include Michael Hayden, R. James Woolsey, Leon Panetta and Michael Morell, who was in line to be Hillary Clinton’s CIA chief.
The council is backed financially by weapons-makers like Raytheon, energy titans like Exxon-Mobil and banks like JPMorgan Chase. It also accepts funds from multiple foreign countries, some of them with less-than-sterling reputations for human rights and — notably — press freedoms.
Asked about “the apparent contradiction of advising Facebook on press practices when it is funded by numerous speech-squelching foreign governments,” the council told Rolling Stone that “donors must submit in writing to strict terms.”
Their statement read:
[The] Atlantic Council is accepting the contribution on condition that the Atlantic Council retains intellectual independence and control over any content funded in whole or in part by the contribution.
Taibbi also noted that Facebook recently became one of the Atlantic Council’s biggest donors around the same time it announced their partnership in May. “The social media behemoth could easily have funded its own team of ex-spooks and media experts for the fake-news project,” Taibbi observed.
But Facebook employees have whispered to reporters that the council was brought in so that Facebook could “outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions.” In other words, Facebook wanted someone else to take the political hit for removing pages.
While there is no evidence Facebook is working directly with the board of directors, the company boasted that the Council’s “network of leaders is uniquely situated to help all of us think through the challenges we will face in the near and long-term.” More directly, Facebook is working with the organization’s Digital Forensic Research Lab to “help prevent abuse while also ensuring people have a voice during elections.”
Twitter, too, has partnered with the Digital Forensic Research Lab, as well as the National Democratic Institute, another think tank. This one is chaired by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and funded by the US government and numerous foreign governments.
But connections cannot be conflated with causation, and despite social media companies’ cooperation not only with government-linked organizations but also government agencies themselves, I have no way to prove we were removed for our anti-government views.
Even if we were removed for our views, which is not confirmable, again, Facebook and Twitter are private companies, and private companies didn’t create the problem we’re currently facing. Their behavior is a reflection of a society plagued with an increasingly pervasive mentality of political intolerance, suppression, and authoritarianism.
Facebook and Twitter are unfortunately responding to market demand.
In the wake of the “fake news” and “Russian bot” narratives that emerged after the 2016 election, ‘Democracy is at risk’ emerged as the rallying cry in favor of suppressing and regulating information on these platforms.
Facebook and Twitter have been removing accounts and posts for months, citing political reasons and the need to maintain the integrity of elections. In one example, Facebook removed 32 accounts at the end of July, citing “inauthentic” and “misleading” behavior largely revolving around political discussion. They shared their findings with Congress, the Atlantic Council, and US law enforcement agencies, affirming the growing precedent for government involvement. As Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said:
Today’s disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation… I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress…
In another example of the intersection of social media and government influence, Facebook’s partnership with the Atlantic Council was announced after Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress and took a national flogging for his alleged role in handing the presidency to Trump. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, too, testified before Congress. Considering the relentless media narrative claiming that the Russians, exploiting social media, elected Trump, it’s not a stretch to consider the possibility that their purges have been attempts to avoid extensive government intervention.
This is another example of big government’s influence over these platforms’ recent behavior; because of much of the political establishment’s refusal to accept Donald Trump as president, calls for government intervention have grown louder, and Facebook and Twitter’s shifts toward working with government are quite conceivably attempts to show good will toward those in power.
This threat of government crackdowns is very real. Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island recently tweeted that “Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself,” also claiming “it is long past time for us to take action.” Given this chronic, looming threat, it is unsurprising these social media platforms feel compelled to take preemptive action to avoid more stringent government control in the future.
In another example of the current political paradigm affecting Facebook and Twitter’s evolving policies, it is worth noting the personal political ideologies of those in charge of Facebook and Twitter. Zuckerberg has historically donated campaign funds to Democrats, as has Sheryl Sandberg. Facebook’s COO. Facebook’s head of cybersecurity is none other than Nathaniel Gleichner, former Director for Cybersecurity Policy on the National Security Council in President Obama’s White House. As a company, Twitter harbors left-wing sentiments to the point where, by some accounts, conservative employees feel intimidated, and CEO Jack Dorsey admitted in September that his platform’s algorithm ‘unfairly filtered 600,000 accounts.’
In yet another disturbing move demonstrating the power of the current big government paradigm, Twitter recently decided to ban users who host hacked materials on the platform, and Facebook may follow suit. For an idea of what might constitute “hacked” materials, think of Wikileaks’ releases of emails from Clinton and her campaign staff that flooded the news cycle in 2016. These leaks have been accused of throwing the election to Trump, and Twitter’s decision to ban users hosting such content shows not only a reaction to Clinton’s loss but also submission to the notion that government authority should never be defied—that the people do not have a right to know what their government does behind closed doors.
Though some of the purged pages have been quick to blame their dissenting points of view as cause for their removal, at this point it is impossible to prove. As our production of original articles remains suspended in light of decreased revenue (independent media as a whole has long been heavily dependent on Facebook for traffic), I’m still hoping against hope that we were accidentally caught up in a well-intended operation and will have our page restored.
What is clear either way, however, is that the actions stem from an overarching influence of government and politics in our day-to-day lives, as well as the population’s fading commitment to free expression.
When the loathed Alex Jones was removed from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms in early August, many cheered because of his use of “hate speech,” which companies should obviously be free to remove. But the lack of foresight and the extreme enthusiasm with which proponents of his purge celebrated the bans were disturbing. Unsurprisingly, there was little outrage surrounding the October 11 purge. On the other side, a recent poll showed nearly half of Republicans believe the president should have the right to shut down news organizations for “bad behavior.” This is hardly in the spirit of America’s founding principles.
“To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1799, “for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement.”
Today, on both sides of the political spectrum, many seem more concerned with securing power (for themselves or their favored political faction) than advocating the free flow of information.
At the time of Jones’ removal, I suggested that Americans’ mounting intolerance for differing opinions in their snowballing craving for control of the government would lead to wider purges. I just didn’t think I’d be part of them.
However, considering that suppression of free speech rarely stops with expressions deemed “bad,” the recent imposition of censorship is unsurprising. Though the recent trend of censorship started with Alex Jones, who is undeniably fringe and on many counts detestable, the lack of public resistance indicated there would be tolerance for further bans.
Sure enough, alternative media has become the next target in the expanding wave of silencing speech. Martin Niemöller, a former German soldier who spent seven years in a concentration camp after his support for the Nazi regime turned to opposition, famously recalled his refusal to speak up for victimized groups. “First they came for the socialists—and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist,” he said, going on to reference trade unionists and Jews. “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me,” he concluded. A variation of that sentiment has emerged amid the recent bouts of censorship: “First they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that.”
While these private companies may be working with government-linked organizations in their increasingly systemic removals of political content, the deeper problem is not ‘private companies imposing censorship’ but the far-reaching effects that the public’s adherence to the current political paradigm has on creating demand for such censorship. It’s not just the government and government-linked groups—it’s the people who believe in them.
As platforms like Twitter and Facebook continue to respond to the Russia narrative, which is ultimately a product of intolerance of Trump and the Republicans’ current control over political system (in favor, of course, of the Left’s control of the system), it becomes ever more apparent that they are simply responding to the political climate—not the other way around.
As Bernabe said, “If these actions go unchecked, we’ll be ushering in a new era of privatized censorship by companies fearing political backlash in an effort to protect the state.”
It is evident that the recent behavior of these private companies cannot be separated from our current political climate. Facebook and Twitter may be private companies that can do what they like, but in the free market, consumers are also free to express their preferences, and I’m hoping that some may choose to disapprove of the recent purges.
The EU has destroyed the Internet with Article11 and Article13.
The EU’s new, comprehensive new Copyright Directive passed the European Parliament ensuring the way we use the Internet will change in the future.
And not for the better.
The controversial parts are Articles 11 and 13, the “link tax” and the “upload filter” requirements. For a good run down of how terrible these new rules are look anywhere on the internet but this article at Gizmodo (who I hope doesn’t charge me a link tax for doing so!) will do.
I would also watch this video from Dave Cullen, a resident of Ireland, i.e. the EU, as to what he thinks this means.
Dave makes a number of fantastic points about the ramifications of Articles 11 and 13 which I will not dispute.
The arrogance and pig-headedness of EU MEPs to push this through without even listening to arguments for Amendments speaks volumes as to how much this legislation was bought and paid for.
And you know who was doing the buying. The same folks currently behind destroying Brexit — The Davos Crowd. I don’t want to put too fine a point on this now, since I’ve covered all this recently (here) and in the past (here ).
In short, The Wire is the main conduit through which we communicate with each other. Even money is The Wire. What are prices if not information about what we are willing to part with our money in exchange for?
Without The Wire modern society fails. So, government can’t shut it down but neither can it allow unrestrained access to it.
Electricity, commerce, communications, everything, goes over The Wire.
This isn’t a radical concept but like all important ideas, once it is presented to you you can’t unsee it.
Control of The Wire is the only fight that matters or has ever mattered in society. The Internet is The Wire writ large. Therefore, it only makes sense that control of it is paramount to maintaining any control over society at large.
The corporate oligarchs are in fear for their projects. They want desperately to maintain control. They’ve worked for decades to evolve the nation-state into the new shiny transnational superstate the EU exemplifies.
The new Copyright Directive is designed to erect barriers-to-entry and shut down opposition speech by outsourcing the enforcement to the platforms hosting the material.
And those platforms are only too happy to do this because they get to crowd out any potential competition. So, while their costs increase slightly, they are now immune to the competition which would grind out their margins to zero over time, as any unfettered market would.
Remember, that in all human endeavors profit is an ever-elusive thing. With incentives properly aligned someone is always attracted to the profit someone else is achieving and will figure out a way to build a better mousetrap, as it were, grinding out that profit.
If you can short-circuit this process via control of The Wire then you can guarantee a profit for your past work for far longer than you would otherwise.
This is known as rent.
This is why the music and film industry want their IP protected from ‘fair use’ policies. They see the plummeting margins and want to continue charging on a per use/listen/view basis things they retain the copyright to far beyond the public’s willingness to pay them.
It’s too expensive for these companies to go after us individually. That doesn’t work except in very limited ways. Yes, they can de-platform Alex Jones or Sargon of Akkad ad hoc but with predictable backlash against it.
Enshrining it in law takes this, however, to another level. And it is a yet another Hobson’s Choice put before people to either accept regulation of these companies as public utilities — ensuring their monopoly status — or render the internet unusable.
This Directive is pure protectionism of legacy media producers be it news, music, film, etc. whose business models haven’t just collapsed they’re literally now subsidized by other profitable industries, i.e. the Washington Post is, effectively, an Amazon company.
So, in effect, Article 11 and 13 are just typical corporatist honey pots, at least in theory.
But it is all bad? Is the future to be this and more laws and controls like this?
Let’s look specifically at the link tax. To do this we have to look at a worst-case scenario where the EU disregards all cross-border treaty and tax-enforcement issues and our governments go along with this nonsense.
So, I want to link to an article in Der Speigel to make some point about Angela Merkel.
To do so now, under Article 13, I have to get a license to link from them and pay a fee. Let’s call that fee €100. Instead of paying that fee my natural reaction would be to not link to it and just make reference to it.
I’ll quote it and not put in a link.
If that doesn’t work and WordPress takes my post down, I’ll screencap the relevant section of the article (4chan-style) and then not link to it. This requires a more sophisticated sniffer to figure out what I did.
And in the worst case if they figure that out, I’ll simply not even quote them anymore. And I’ll write the article in such a way that I don’t need to. They don’t get the traffic anymore. They never got the license fee.
The result is they fall in the Google search rankings.
And I get to keep my traffic up and my audience happy.
Who wins here? Me or them?
Especially if I keep my link license fee set for my content at what it’s worth, zero.
To me a link is free advertising. I know that each one is a gift that pays huge dividends. I cherish people who contact me for permission to scrape my work.
The whole point of what I do is to reach as wide an audience as possible. Why would I put up barriers to that?
You have to put this in perspective. Ninety five percent of the news you read is a restatement of a government or corporate press release. If you think someone can’t reprint government or corporate press releases for less than €100 a head you are crazy.
Just like it is in retail sales. Amazon is killing local retailers because easily cross-shopped items are simply more efficiently delivered without a brick and mortar storefront. The costs of maintaining it and people going to the central location is a waste of scarce, precious capital.
It’s an old model without a future.
News organizations that don’t add anything but only disseminate the same stuff but with a slightly different spin on it won’t be able to charge a dime for links. Functionally, for 95% of news, is there any difference between Yahoo!, MSN, CNN or FOX?
If you produce something that is value-added people will figure out a way to justify to themselves paying for it. Advertising covers some of that cost. If they don’t it isn’t lost revenue, it was revenue you never had in the first place at that price.
In the Internet business eyeballs are everything. Losing eyeballs for link taxes is just bad business.
So the EU just gave these sclerotic, dying industries everything they’ve ever wanted. But, in the long run, it will be their undoing as it will incentivize an entire generation of citizen journalists to fill in the niches and do primary research.
Moreover, it will be unenforceable at any practical level, as Dave Cullen points out. The EU will itself cause a cratering of traffic to and from its IP ranges.
As the cost of The Wire drops on a per megabyte basis, think 5G, so too does the cost to resist control of it. Lower bandwidth costs makes possible peer-to-peer networking and decentralized autonomous organizations that even the most hardened crypto-enthusiast haven’t conceived of yet.
And once there are no middle men to go after and turn into the copyright police, we’re back to them going after individuals again. At that point it’s game over.
That’s a long way off at this point and the present will be difficult, at best, to navigate. But we’re not flat-footed here. I do feel for guys like Dave Cullen who build great content and now are looking at real constraints.
I don’t envy them in the slightest.
But to me this feels like just another desperation move by old men fighting the last war to hold onto The Wire that’s slipping out of their fingers, writing laws out of date before they are even implemented.