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Two can play Section 230 game: Trump’s EO uses key statute against social media censorship

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 28, 2020

Social media giants have long hid behind a law shielding them from litigation to censor content they did not like. President Donald Trump’s executive order just reminded them that laws can also be used as a sword.

Though the First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the government from restricting freedom of speech, social media platforms have long argued this does not apply to them as private companies. The executive order signed by Trump on Thursday points out that their status as platforms, and immunity from endless civil lawsuits, depends on their removal of controversial content being done “in good faith.”

The order instructs federal agencies to focus on that qualifier when considering Section 230 (C) of 47 US Code to social media companies, noting that this clearly does not apply when their practices are “deceptive” or “pretextual,” inconsistent with their own terms of service, and used to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.

Until now, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others could have it both ways, insisting they were “platforms” and therefore not liable for user-generated content, while acting as “publishers” and actively deciding which content they would allow, using entirely arbitrary and ever-changing rules.

The issue became political after 2016, when Trump used social platforms to bypass the establishment media that overwhelmingly favored – and endorsed – his opponent. The ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory wasn’t just used in an attempt to get Trump out of office, but also to pressure social media giants to censor viewpoints the establishment did not like – overwhelmingly targeting Trump supporters, but also purging dissident voices on the left.

It made little difference whether the companies did so internally, or by outsourcing it to third parties – such as Facebook did recently – the people making these decisions invariably turned out to be passionately partisan.

The fact that Trump specifically called out Twitter’s “head of integrity” and referenced the presence of a Democrat impeachment witness on Facebook’s Oversight Board indicates that Thursday’s order did not come out of the blue. The advanced copy leaked to friendly journalists earlier in the day likewise suggested that the White House has been laying the groundwork for such a measure for years, just waiting for the right moment.

Remember when a federal judge ruled that Trump is not allowed to block trolls on his personal account, because Twitter was a “designated public forum” and he is an elected official? Trump does, and he’s using the same logic to put the responsibility on social media to act as such.

Critics, of course, claimed that Trump was only acting now – after years of doing nothing and “monitoring the situation” – because Twitter dared “fact check” his opinions on mail-in ballots this week.

Attempting to shield his employees from Trump’s ire, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey argued that the president’s tweets “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot.”

Trump called this “ridiculous” and “stupid.” Think of him what you want, but in this instance he’s correct – Dorsey is really reaching here, and insulting the intelligence of millions of Americans in the process.

Perhaps one of the most absurd features of the Trump era is the extent to which his critics have openly sacrificed their own publicly professed principles in order to oppose him. Thus the self-styled civil libertarians on the left suddenly decided they actually love private corporations and hate government regulations, coming out in support of purging “hate speech” (a nonexistent category in US law).

All of a sudden, the First Amendment applied only to the government – but not to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Nor did they bother protesting when those companies applied German, Pakistani or Chinese laws to silence Americans. But now the American Civil Liberties Union is reacting to Trump’s order by shrieking “He can’t do that!”

Except that yes, he can. Ensuring US laws are faithfully executed is literally his mandate (Article II, Section 3). Trump is not revoking Section 230 – only Congress can do that – but he is clearly issuing new guidance as to how it is to be enforced. The federal government may not even need to do much – Trump seems to be well aware of Saul Alinsky’s Rule 9:“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

The mere prospect of being stripped of Section 230 protections and facing costly litigation as a result may prompt these companies to rethink their behavior. Or they could decide their commitment to the ideology of “social justice” and connections to one party in the US political system trump business concerns, so to speak. We’ll see what happens.

The trouble with the latter approach is that Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee facing off against Trump in November, has just recently called for abolishing Section 230 altogether – making Trump’s position the more moderate and reasonable one by comparison, from their standpoint.

As I’ve argued before, the battle has never been over a particular tweet or two, but over who gets to be the arbiter of truth – the American people, or the establishment and its allies in legacy and social media.

At the end of the day, that’s what this executive order is all about.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Muzzling Freedom of Expression’: Facebook Slammed for Appointing Israeli Censor to Oversight Board

Sputnik – May 28, 2020

On 6 May Facebook revealed the first 20 members of its Oversight Board, an independent body entrusted with the final say over certain content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform, the creation of which was announced in November 2018, to avoid accusations of bias over removing content deemed problematic

Facebook has been taking flack for hiring the former director-general of Israel’s justice ministry as a member of its new Oversight Board, which will be able to overturn the company’s own content moderation decisions.

Under Emi Palmor, who headed the justice ministry from 2014 until she was dismissed from her post last year, the Israeli ministry “petitioned Facebook to censor legitimate speech of human rights defenders and journalists because it was deemed politically undesirable,” insisted Palestinian civil society groups in May, writes The Electronic Intifada, an online Chicago-based publication covering the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

The groups slammed Facebook’s choice of Palmor to the international panel that will take content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform.

Palmor, they warn, could potentially “muzzle freedom of expression” on the platform, censoring human rights defenders, particularly Palestinian, Arab and Muslim.

The Palestine Digital Rights Coalition, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network have been quoted as urging Facebook to “consider the grave consequences that electing Emi Palmor may have particularly on Palestinian human rights defenders and on freedom of expression online in defense of Palestinian rights.”

Palmor was employed as a top civil servant during the term in office of Ayelet Shaked as Minister of Justice.

Under Palmor’s oversight, say the groups, the ministry established a cyber unit whose efforts resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of Palestinian posts from social media platforms, with Adalah, a group advocating for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, calling into question the legality of the unit’s practices.

According to Adalah, with “no transparency or legal procedure whatsoever”, the unit directs requests to the Israeli state attorney, demanding that “Facebook and Google remove, restrict or suspend access to certain content, pages or users.”

Adalah claims the procedure leaves users no possibility to defend themselves against allegations that their posts were “illegal or warranted removal.”

The Oversight Board

On 6 May Facebook revealed the names of the first 20 members of its international Oversight Board, an independent body that will be tasked with specific content moderation decisions.

The board will govern appeals regarding content takedowns from Facebook and Instagram users, receiving cases through a content management system linked to Facebook’s own platforms.

The members – a diverse group containing lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates and other academics with expertise in digital rights, religious freedom, content moderation, internet censorship and civil rights – will discuss the case as a group before issuing a final say regarding whether the content should be allowed to stay up or not.

“We are all committed to freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights,” the four co-chairs of the board – Catalina Botero-Marino, Jamal Greene, Michael W McConnell and Helle Thorning-Schmidt – wrote in a New York Times op-ed introducing themselves to the public on 6 May. “We will make decisions based on those principles and on the effects on Facebook users and society, without regard to the economic, political or reputational interests of the company.”

In November 2018, in the wake of a New York Times report that slammed Facebook for social media misuses, the company announced the establishment of an independent panel.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark and one of the board’s four co-chairs, was quoted by CNBC as saying:

“Up until now some of the most difficult decisions about content have been made by Facebook and you could say Mark Zuckerberg… Facebook has decided to change that.”

Set to eventually comprise around 40 members, the board will begin hearing cases in the coming months.

Amid a slew of charges of bias and politically censoring content, the move is seen by many as potentially able to help Facebook avoid the accusations which it emphatically rejects.

Last December, Facebook pledged the board $130 million in funding, with the money set to cover operational costs for at least six years.

In January, however, Facebook outlined the extent to which it remained in control, in a 46-page document.

Facebook outlined the powers and limitations of the board, stating that the board’s decisions do not necessarily set precedents that the company would be called upon to adhere to in the future, and the board is limited when it comes to content it can address.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 2 Comments

What Google and Facebook Are Hiding

The American Deep State Strikes Back

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • May 24, 2020

After several months of record-breaking traffic our alternative media webzine suffered a sharp blow when it was suddenly purged by Facebook at the end of April. Not only was our rudimentary Facebook page eliminated, but all subsequent attempts by readers to post our articles to the world’s largest social network produced an error message describing the content as “abusive.” Our entire website had been banned.

Facebook publishes a monthly report cataloging its actions to eliminate “improper content,” and although our publication was probably one of the largest and most popular ever so proscribed, the explanation provided was remarkably cursory, with our name mentioned in only two scattered sentences across the 47 page document.

Our investigation linked this network to VDARE, a website known for posting anti-immigration content, and individuals associated with a similar website The Unz Review.

Although the people behind this operation attempted to conceal their coordination, our investigation linked this network to VDARE, a website known for posting anti-immigration content, and to individuals associated with a similar website The Unz Review.

As I’ve previously discussed, characterizing our alternative media publication as an “anti-immigration” website “similar” to VDare seemed utterly bizarre considering that only about 0.2% of our 2020 content was republished from that source and many months had elapsed since we had last featured a piece on immigration. So I strongly suspected that the claim merely served as an excuse.

I don’t use Facebook or other social networks myself, and noticed little reduction in our daily traffic following that purge, seeming to demonstrate our lack of reliance upon social media. But a week later, this abruptly changed, and our regular daily readership dropped by a significant 15-20%, hardly a crippling blow but quite distressing, setting us back many months of previous growth.

This puzzled me. Why would the Facebook ban have had such limited initial impact but then suddenly become so much more serious? Eventually I discovered that a second, even more powerful Internet giant had also banned us, which explained the sharp drop. Our entire website and all its many millions of pages of serious content had been silently deranked by Google, thus eliminating nearly all our incoming traffic from search results. A few quick checks confirmed this unfortunate situation, best illustrated by a particularly striking example.

Just over a decade ago, I had published an important article entitled The Myth of Hispanic Crime, and for ten years it had always placed extremely high in Google searches, generally being ranked #2 across the 52,000,000 results for “Hispanic crime” and also #2 among the 139,000,000 results for “Latino crime.” The impact of my analysis on the heated public debate had also been quite considerable, and a few years ago a leading academic specialist even asked me to blurb his book on that subject. But my article had now vanished from all such Google searches.

Although Google holds an overwhelming monopoly for web searches across the Western world, comparable products such as Bing and DuckDuckGo using similar technology do exist, and these still list my article among their results, with Bing ranking it at #2 for “Hispanic crime” and “Latino crime,” while DuckDuckGo places it #4 in each. But no one would ever find it using Google.

All the other pages of our website have been similarly blacklisted, effectively eliminated from all web searches courtesy of Google’s information monopoly. This even included the periodical content library that I had built during the 2000s, containing the near-complete archives of hundreds of America’s most influential publications of the last 150 years. Millions of these important articles were available no where else, and their disappearance representing a tremendous loss to academic scholarship.

Google still does contains all these pages, and if the additional specifier “unz” is added to the search, the results do come up, but for anyone not knowing where to look, our entire website and all its content has completely disappeared. This explained our sudden 15-20% reduction in regular traffic.

Internet law is obviously quite murky, but it seems a great shame if Google has decided to use its software monopoly to severely manipulate search results and deliberately hide important information. The notion of Google “disappearing” an entire website and all its material is surely fraught with peril. Should Google’s executives be allowed to “disappear” whichever politicians or candidates they dislike? Should wealthy individuals or powerful groups be able to pay or lobby Google to have their critics removed from all search results?

During 2018 Google employees themselves took a very strong public stance on exactly this issue, protesting their own company’s willingness to produce a “censored” version of their search engine for use in China, a controversy that reached the national headlines, and soon forced executives to abandon the project. But although Google censorship of content within China still remains an inflammatory topic, Google censorship of American content is now apparently so routine and acceptable that it took me more than a week to discover that our entire website had been thrown down the Orwellian “memory hole.”

I’d always taken considerable pride that my Hispanic Crime article had spent a decade ranked #2 among nearly 200,000,000 Google results for that important topic, and was dismayed that Google “disappeared” it. But in fairness, I’d have to admit that those individuals whose views make themselves disagreeable to ruling political elites have sometimes suffered far worse retaliation. For example, my Saturday morning newspapers carried the latest episode in the unfortunate story of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissenting Saudi journalist whose critical writings in the Washington Post so irritated his government that they had him killed and his body dismembered with a bone-saw. Much as I liked my article, having it deranked by Google hardly seems a comparable fate.

For years our website has published a great deal of extremely controversial material, and many readers are probably much more surprised that Google and Facebook took so long to purge us rather than they finally did so.

Consider, for example, my own American Pravda series, which together with related articles runs 280,000 words and has drawn about 3 million pageviews, while attracting over 25,000 comments totaling another 3.5 million words. Many of these articles candidly address some of the most controversial aspects of the JFK Assassination, the 9/11 Attacks, and the history of World War II, topics so touchy that a couple of years ago the redoubtable Israel Shamir described me as the “Kamikazi from California,” and suggested along with numerous other observers that our website might soon be annihilated as a consequence. But aside from a rather lackluster rebuke from the usually ferocious ADL, absolutely nothing untoward happened.

Yet now we have been almost simultaneously banned by both Google and Facebook, America’s leading gatekeepers to the Internet, concerted action that hardly seems likely to have been coincidental, especially coming after years of apparent equanimity. So what had prompted this sudden purge?

I think the obvious answer was my most recent American Pravda installment, which attracted more early readership and social media interest than anything I had previously written, and which appeared just eight days before Facebook’s ban.

My article noted some important facts that are less widely known that they should be, and are quite embarrassing both to our own government and its overly subservient mainstream journalists.

For decades, the American media had regularly denounced the Chinese government for its notorious 1989 slaughter of the student protesters at Tiananmen and shamed its leadership for continuing to flatly deny that historical reality, with China’s demands for censorship of the massacre being a leading source of conflict with Google. However, I pointed out that more than twenty years ago the former Beijing bureau chief of the Washington Post, who had personally covered the events, published a long article in our most prestigious journalism review admitting that the infamous “Tiananmen Square Massacre” had never actually happened, and was just a concoction of incompetent journalists and dishonest propagandists. Yet for decades the promotion of that debunked hoax by our elite media has continued unabated.

As another example, I noted that back in 1999 our warplanes had bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing or wounding dozens of Chinese diplomats. At the time, our media uniformly reported the attack as a tragic accident, while ridiculing China’s government for alleging otherwise. However, just a few months later, many of the leading newspapers in Britain and the rest of the world revealed that the bombing had indeed been deliberate, quoting numerous NATO intelligence sources to that effect. But since the American media completely boycotted this major international story, very few Americans ever discovered that the Chinese had been telling the truth all along and our own government lying.

Although these historical items were important, they merely set the stage for a far more explosive analysis. The bulk of my 7,400 word article presented the very considerable circumstantial evidence that our current Coronavirus national disaster was entirely self-inflicted, being the unintended blowback from an extremely reckless American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran), presumably organized by the Deep State Neocons or other rogue elements in our national security establishment.

This ongoing disease epidemic has already killed 100,000 Americans and wrecked our economy, so we can easily understand why the guilty parties would do all they could to prevent some of the critical information from getting into general circulation, pressuring Google and Facebook to suppress the crucial evidence. A few excerpts from my long analysis, now banned by America’s Internet giants, are worth once again repeating:

As the coronavirus gradually began to spread beyond China’s own borders, another development occurred that greatly multiplied my suspicions. Most of these early cases had occurred exactly where one might expect, among the East Asian countries bordering China. But by late February Iran had become the second epicenter of the global outbreak. Even more surprisingly, its political elites had been especially hard-hit, with a full 10% of the entire Iranian parliament soon infected and at least a dozen of its officials and politicians dying of the disease, including some who were quite senior. Indeed, Neocon activists on Twitter began gleefully noting that their hatred Iranian enemies were now dropping like flies.

Let us consider the implications of these facts. Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?

* * *

For obvious reasons, the Trump Administration has become very eager to emphasize the early missteps and delays in the Chinese reaction to the viral outbreak in Wuhan, and has presumably encouraged our media outlets to direct their focus in that direction.

As an example of this, the Associated Press Investigative Unit recently published a rather detailed analysis of those early events purportedly based upon confidential Chinese documents. Provocatively entitled “China Didn’t Warn Public of Likely Pandemic for 6 Key Days”, the piece was widely distributed, running in abridged form in the NYT and elsewhere. According to this reconstruction, the Chinese government first became aware of the seriousness of this public health crisis on Jan. 14th, but delayed taking any major action until Jan. 20th, a period of time during which the number of infections greatly multiplied.

Last month, a team of five WSJ reporters produced a very detailed and thorough 4,400 word analysis of the same period, and the NYT has published a helpful timeline of those early events as well. Although there may be some differences of emphasis or minor disagreements, all these American media sources agree that Chinese officials first became aware of the serious viral outbreak in Wuhan in early to mid-January, with the first known death occurring on Jan. 11th, and finally implemented major new public health measures later that same month. No one has apparently disputed these basic facts.

But with the horrific consequences of our own later governmental inaction being obvious, elements within our intelligence agencies have sought to demonstrate that they were not the ones asleep at the switch. Earlier this month, an ABC News story cited four separate government sources to reveal that as far back as late November, a special medical intelligence unit within our Defense Intelligence Agency had produced a report warning that an out-of-control disease epidemic was occurring in the Wuhan area of China, and widely distributed that document throughout the top ranks of our government, warning that steps should be taken to protect US forces based in Asia. After the story aired, a Pentagon spokesman officially denied the existence of that November report, while various other top level government and intelligence officials refused to comment. But a few days later, Israeli television mentioned that in November American intelligence had indeed shared such a report on the Wuhan disease outbreak with its NATO and Israeli allies, thus seeming to independently confirm the complete accuracy of the original ABC News story and its several government sources.

It therefore appears that elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency were aware of the deadly viral outbreak in Wuhan more than a month before any officials in the Chinese government itself. Unless our intelligence agencies have pioneered the technology of precognition, I think this may have happened for the same reason that arsonists have the earliest knowledge of future fires.

Although criticism of the mainstream media has been the central theme of my American Pravda series, I always spend at least a couple of hours every morning carefully reading our leading newspapers, which I regard as unmatched sources of important information so long as their articles are treated with proper caution and rigor. As an example, I would note that most of the crucial evidence suggesting an American biowarfare attack was hidden in plain sight in such eminently respectable news sources as the NYT, the WSJ, and ABC News.

As our global confrontation with China has grown hotter, my morning New York Times has continued to provide invaluable information for anyone who is willing to read it carefully.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo probably ranks as the most prominent Deep State Neocon in the Trump Administration, and is a leading architect of our confrontation with China. Last week he broke quarantine to take a trip to Israel and hold important talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as reported in a 1,600 word NYT article. Although the majority of their discussion concerned American support for the proposed annexation of the Palestinian West Bank, a serious disagreement came with regard to Israel’s growing economic ties with China, with the piece noting that the Jewish State had “antagonized” Washington by allowing Chinese companies to make major infrastructure investments, some of them in sensitive locations. According to the three Times journalists, Netanyahu firmly stood his ground, determined to “push back” against Pompeo’s repeated warnings and refused to reconsider his government’s China policy.

But just a couple of days later, the Times then reported that Du Wei, the Chinese ambassador to Israel, age 57, had been found dead at his home, having suddenly fallen victim to “unspecified health problems.” The piece emphasized that he had become a leading public critic of America’s current policies toward China, and the juxtaposition of these two consecutive NYT articles raised all sorts of obvious questions in my mind.

According to standard mortality tables, an American male age 57 has less than a 1% chance of dying in a particular year, and given the similarity in overall life expectancy, the same must surely be true of Chinese males. Recently appointed Chinese ambassadors are likely to be in reasonably good health rather than suffering the last stages of terminal cancer, and such causes together with obvious, visible injuries account for more than half of all fatalities at around that age. Thus, the likelihood that the 57-year-old Chinese diplomat died naturally within that two day window was probably far less than 1 in 50,000. Lightning does sometimes strike under the most unlikely of circumstances, but not very often; and I think that the unexplained deaths of ambassadors during international confrontations probably fall into the same category.

It therefore seems exceptionally unlikely that the sudden demise of Ambassador Du was not somehow directly connected with the heated dispute between Pompeo and Netanyahu over Israel’s China ties that had occurred two days earlier. The exact details and circumstances are entirely obscure, and we can merely speculate. But since speculation has not yet been outlawed by government edict, an interesting possibility comes to mind.

In sharp constrast to the elected leaders of America’s vassal-states throughout Europe and Asia, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hardly regards himself as beholden to the American government. He is a powerful, arrogant individual who remembers the endless standing ovations that he enjoyed when he addressed our own House and Senate, receiving the sort of bipartisan public adulation that would be unimaginable for a Donald Trump, who remains deeply unpopular with half our Congress. So faced with demands by a Trump envoy that he sacrifice his own nation’s interests by cancelling important Chinese economic projects, he apparently disregarded Pompeo’s warnings and told him to get lost.

The classic 1972 film The Godfather ranks #2 in the IMDb Movie Database, and one of its most famous scenes concerns a conflict between a powerful and arrogant Hollywood film mogul and a visiting representative of the Corleone family. When the polite requests of the latter are casually disregarded, the movie tycoon awakens to discover the bloody head of his prized race-horse in his own bed, thereby demonstrating the serious nature of the warning he had received and indicating that it should not be disregarded. Pompeo had recently served as CIA Director, and I suspect he called in a few favors with elements of the Israeli Mossad and had them take lethal steps to convince Netanyahu that our demands that he reassess his ties with China were of a serious nature, not to be treated lightly. I strongly suspect that the controversial Chinese-Israeli economic ventures will soon be abandoned.

I had never heard of the unfortunate Chinese ambassador prior to his sudden demise, and under normal circumstances any such notions of American foul play might be dismissed as absurd. But consider that just a few months earlier, we had publicly assassinated a top Iranian leader after he was lured to Baghdad for peace negotiations, an act vastly more weighty than the plausible deniability of of a middle-aged diplomat being found dead in his own home of unknown causes.

A few days later, my Wall Street Journal carried an article entitled China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomats Are to Fight, beginning on the front page and running 2,200 words, by far the longest piece appearing in that day’s edition. Yet although the late Ambassador Du had been in the forefront of this ongoing Chinese campaign to challenge American influence, both in Israel and during his previous posting to Ukraine, and the sudden demise of this particular “wolf warrior” was surely known to the journalists, his name appeared nowhere in the text, leading me to wonder whether it had been deliberately excised to avoid raising obvious suspicions in the WSJ readership.

For hundreds of years since the Treaty of Westphalia, the lives of diplomats have been almost always treated as sacrosanct, and a typical response to breaking such international conventions might be tit-for-tat retaliation. China’s leadership tends to be remarkably pragmatic, and recognizes that its national strength is rapidly growing even as our own society decays and declines, so perhaps they will forego any such reaction, at least for the time being. But if any American diplomats or other ranking officials begin to suffer strange fatalities, the explanation may be less than mysterious, though Google and Facebook will certainly do their best to keep it so.

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook consigns PragerU to ‘reduced visibility’ purgatory after challenge to polar bear myth

Currently the video looks like this. © Facebook
RT | May 20, 2020

Conservative channel PragerU has been sidelined on Facebook after a clip challenging climate change dogma ran afoul of fact-checkers. Accused of repeatedly sharing “false news,” they’ve demanded Facebook stop censoring the Right.

PragerU was sentenced to the shadow realm of “reduced distribution” after posting a video to its Facebook page debunking the oft-deployed environmentalist trope that polar bear populations are on the brink of extinction because of the melting ice caps. Informed that third-party fact-checker Climate Feedback had taken issue with the clip, the conservative video-maker was told that if it wanted to return its page to good standing, it would have to appeal to the fact-checker directly.

Insisting that all the facts in the video had been reliably sourced, PragerU pushed back, slamming Facebook for “hiding behind fact-checkers target[ing] ideas they disagree with” and pretending to be “the arbiter of truth.”

“If you truly value freedom of expression, as you often claim, you wouldn’t hide behind fact-checkers targeting ideas they disagree with,” the nonprofit tweeted, demanding Facebook reverse its censorship – or at least own up to it.

The offending video, now hidden under a grayed-out warning screen warning “false information – checked by independent fact-checkers,” uses an iconic photo of a starving polar bear that became a rallying cry for environmental activists in 2017 as a lead-in to debunk the myth of the polar bear as climate victim. Starting with a quote from National Geographic admitting the image was used deceptively – neither the photographer nor the outlet knew why the animal was so skinny – the clip provides statistics from Canadian polar bear expert Susan Crockford, a thorn in the side of climate change activists for her scholarship that has shown bear populations largely remaining stable – with a few even growing – in spite of warming oceans.

Facebook itself passed the buck when asked by both Breitbart and PragerU about the decision to limit the page’s reach, declaring its third-party fact-checkers were “certified through the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.”

However, the IFCN, run by the journalism nonprofit the Poynter Institute, is not exactly nonpartisan. The supposedly apolitical organization is heavily funded by liberal bogeymen including George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, and Bill Gates. Poynter has lamented in the past that just half of Americans believe fact-checkers are unbiased.

Earlier this month, Facebook also announced the names of the Oversight Board that would be put in charge of its content policing, raising eyebrows with the inclusion of outspoken partisan activists.

Just days later, its moderators “mistakenly” censored the iconic image of the Red Army soldiers raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag on Victory Day as violating “community standards on dangerous individuals and organizations.”It wasn’t exactly an isolated incident – the platform removed a post containing text from the Declaration of Independence in 2018 for “go[ing] against our standards on hate speech.”

The increased censorship of content shared on Facebook has been a direct result of political pressure brought to bear on the Menlo Park behemoth since the 2016 presidential election, in which now-President Donald Trump used social media to bypass mainstream outlets that overwhelmingly supported his opponent. While complaints about censorship on the platform emanate most often from the Right, anti-establishment voices on the Left have also found themselves deplatformed and shadowbanned as well.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 2 Comments

This Is Why You Can’t Trust The Fact Checkers

By Derrick Broze | The Last American Vagabond | May 11, 2020

For the last eight years I have worked as a writer, researcher, and investigative reporter for many well-known American independent media outlets. I have spent my time investigating digital surveillance technology, attacks on indigenous communities, and the overall growth of the government and corporate power. As someone working in this field, writing about topics which are often seen as controversial or “outside the mainstream” – censorship and personal attacks are part of the job description.

However, the attacks on independent media have rapidly increased in the last four years, with many formerly active journalistic outlets ceasing to exist due to lack of traffic and thus, lack of funds. We have seen outlets outright branded “fake news” or accused of collusion with the Russian government. Some channels and websites have been unable to apply for advertising or use certain digital products based on these labels. Some channels and reporters have been deleted off social media and other digital platforms altogether. And, if the social media managers don’t delete you, they might just use the algorithm to hide your posts, limiting your ability to interact with the public.

Attack of the “Fact” Checkers

Perhaps the most insidious method is the recent use of “fact checkers” to limit the reach of an outlet, or simply brand them with the fake news scarlet letter to discourage readers from engaging. This has been increasing in the last 2 years and I personally know of several remaining indy media outlets who have had to decide whether or not to run certain articles or video reports out of fear they might be censored or banned. Of course, with the algorithmic games being played by social media platforms, most outlets are reaching a tiny fraction of what they once were.

Case in point, The Mind Unleashed. I have been part of the TMU team on and off for the last year or so. In that time we have been struggling to reach a small fraction of our 9 million Facebook followers. Part of the reason we are struggling to reach people is because we have the dubious recognition of being labeled fake news by Facebook and affiliated fact checkers.

In a recent article published in Newsweek Espanol, in partnership with Newsguard, The Mind Unleashed is described as a “site that promises to ‘promote and inspire unconventional thinking,’ but is actually dedicated to publishing falsehoods.” The quote was in reference to a story TMU had written about the origins of COVID-19 and the potential for the virus to have been created as a bio weapon.

Newsguard is one of a number of “fact checker” services which has proliferated since the election of Donald Trump to U.S. President. Newsguard is a browser plug-in for Chrome and Microsoft Edge that gives trustworthiness ratings to most of the internet’s top-trafficked sites. It uses a color coded system to warn readers of an article or website’s trustworthiness. In a previous investigation, TLAV writer Whitney Webb exposed the neoconservative roots of the Newsguard team. Webb wrote:

“Newsguard’s advisory board makes it clear that Newsguard was created to serve the interests of American oligarchy. Chief among Newsguard’s advisors are Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and Ret. General Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, a former NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy seeking to “advise corporate clients and governments, including foreign governments” on security matters that was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who also currently serves as the board chairman of major weapons manufacturer BAE systems.”

Newsguard started as a partnership between Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, with Crovitz appearing to be the connection to the world of finance, media, and geopolitics. Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at the Wall Street Journal, is a board member of Business Insider, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and claims to have been an “editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” As Webb noted, “the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the most influential neoconservative think tanks in the country and its ‘scholars,’ directors and fellows have included neoconservative figures like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton and Frederick Kagan.”

Most recently, Newsguard has created a list of “Websites Publishing False Coronavirus Information” and a list “Super Spreaders” of false information. These lists include many well-known and credible independent media outlets. This is not to say that every website listed is credible and should be supported. The point is that these types of lists only serve to “blackball” certain outlets and schools of thoughts which counter the mainstream version of events.

Newsguard is not the only fact checker service operating in the current “post-truth era”. Social media companies like Facebook have partnered with several organizations with the stated aim of fact checking and debunking disinformation. Of course, these organizations tend to reinforce the narratives being woven by the mouthpieces in the corporate media and the puppet masters working the politicians.  For a moment Facebook partnered with reviled “fact checker” Snopes, but, after Snopes was discredited, Facebook has now partnered with companies like Lead Stories.

Lead Stories also “fact checked” The Mind Unleashed a couple times, always using arbitrary standards and semantics to make a story appear to be false or misleading. In one story, Lead Stories relies on data from the aforementioned Newsguard. So who is Lead Stories? The About page states that since January 2019 they have been a part of Facebook fact checker program. They describe the partnership as follows:

“Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook’s systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.”

Lead Stories is run by Perry Sanders Jr., an attorney known for representing the family of rapper Notorious B.I.G. after his murder, and Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke, who helped create Lead Stories after 26 years with CNN. Despite Duke’s bio stating that he “did ground-breaking investigative reporting on the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal“, CNN is most known as a “super spreader” of propaganda and fake news. It is CNN, ABC, CBS, the Washington Post and others who actually helped cover up Epstein’s crimes. The entire Lead Stories team is filled with former and current CNN employees, as well as other MSM outlets.

Two other organizations that have partnered with Facebook and fact checked TMU are Science Feedback and Africa Check, both which claim to identify and expose the spread of disinformation. Science Feedback describes itself as “a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in science based media coverage. Our goal is to help readers know which news to trust”. Africa Check says they are a non-profit attempting to “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”

As with Lead Stories and Newsguard, Africa Check uses semantics to label a story false or misleading. Science Feedback uses a similar strategy, casting The Mind Unleashed (and other alternative media sites) in a web of “disinformation” related to a report about the potential for a “mini ice age”.

Interestingly, Africa Check’s list of partners includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet another example of how the Gates’ spread their influence and agenda around the world – this time as part of an effort to control the dialogue around hot topics. Gates also funded the Event 201 pandemic simulation exercise which discussed the potential for censoring the internet or even arresting individuals who spread information that has been deemed false. Africa Check is also partnered with the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

How to Limit Discussion and Control the Narrative

The strategy for the social media companies and fact checkers is simple: label someone fake news, lower their reach with algorithmic manipulation, force them to comply to arbitrary commands if they want the fake news label removed, control the narrative and shape the conversation.

Over the last two years I have seen good, hard working reporters and members of the independent/alternative media struggle to maintain integrity and report truthfully about controversial topics while also walking on egg shells in an attempt not to upset the fact checkers. For example, in late February, one writer had an article fact checked for discussing the various reports about COVID-19 being engineered in a lab. The Facebook fact checker stated:

“As explained in our fact-check, the claim that was reported in your article, namely that the coronavirus was created in a lab, is unsupported by evidence and is in fact contradicted by multiple scientific studies indicating that the virus originated naturally in wildlife.”

The writer of this particular order actually went to great lengths to make it clear that some sources disagreed with the claim, but according to Facebook’s fact checker, “it does not acknowledge that the claim is false to begin with, giving readers the misleading impression that there is legitimate scientific doubt over the issue when this is not the case.”

In other words, there is no reason to tell the public that some professionals and researchers have a different theory about the origins of the virus. No matter what was offered to the fact checker there was no compromise. Not only did they want the title to be changed and for an editor’s note to be attached acknowledging the apparently “false” claim, but they said they would not remove the fake news label if we took the article down. The options were essentially to keep the article up and comply, or keep it up, change nothing, and be labeled fake news.

In emails from Newsguard, TMU was admonished for “its history of promoting conspiracy theories related to the Sept. 11 attacks and the Douma, Syria chemical weapons attacks, as well as its promotion of marijuana as a cancer cure in stories”. It’s clear to see that anyone who does not buy the official narratives about the major geopolitical events of our day, or support the Big Pharma kool-aid – will be punished.

Unfortunately, the censors are winning because many in the alternative media are choosing to self-censor in the hopes that things will get better in the long run or that doing so will allow them to stay on the platform longer, and continue to reach more people. As we are now seeing, this is a losing strategy.

Two Years After the FB-Atlantic Council Partnership & the Independent Media Purge

What we are witnessing today, in May 2020, is the continuation of the fight against “fake news” which began immediately following the election of Donald Trump. In November 2016, Merrimack College associate professor Melissa Zimdars posted a public Google document titled, “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources” which went viral after being reported on by most corporate mainstream outlets.

Within a matter of weeks, a new list appeared online from an organization calling itself PropOrNot, an allegedly independent group of researchers trying to find the truth about the dissemination of Russian propaganda and fake news. This list also contained names of prominent independent media outlets like Anti Media, The Corbett Report, Mint Press News, and many others.

It was this combination of the Zimdars list and the PropOrNot list which had the immediate effect of placing a target on the vast majority of independent journalists and outlets who have also been accused of directly or indirectly conspiring with the Russians. Websites and social media pages for these outlets began to suffer a drastic reduction in reach and interaction with their audiences. Many websites have lost access to Google advertising money due to these false associations. The problem is that the majority of the mainstream media unquestionably reported on and repeated the claims made by these two lists without any attempt at investigative work.

In January 2018, PropOrNot would be exposed for their connections to The Atlantic Council, a think tank with connections to the western Military-Industrial Complex. Coincidentally, in May 2018, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council, which officially claims to provide a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. The social media giant said the partnership was aimed at preventing Facebook from “being abused during elections.”

The press release promoted Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news by using artificial intelligence, as well as working with outside experts and governments.

“Today, we’re excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems. Experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. This will help increase the number of “eyes and ears” we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.”

The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 to bolster support for international relations. Although not officially connected to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Atlantic Council has spent decades promoting causes and issues which are beneficial to NATO member states. In addition, The Atlantic Council is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Organization, an umbrella organization which “acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond.” The ATO works similarly to the Atlantic Council, bringing together political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats to promote values that are favorable to the NATO member states.

Officially, ATO is independent of NATO, but the line between the two is razor thin.

Essentially, the Atlantic Council is a think tank which can offer companies or nation states access to military officials, politicians, journalists, diplomats, etc., to help them develop a plan to implement their strategy or vision. These strategies often involve getting NATO governments or industry insiders to make decisions they might not have made without a visit from the Atlantic Council team. This allows individuals or nations to push forth their ideas under the cover of hiring what appears to be a public relations agency but is actually selling access to high-profile individuals with power to affect public policy. Indeed, everyone from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to the family of international agent of disorder Zbigniew Brzezinski have spoken at or attended council events.

In 2016, The New York Times wrote “The Atlantic Council, which has seen its annual revenue grow to $21 million from $2 million in the last decade, offers access to United States and foreign government officials in exchange for contributions. Individual donors, like FedEx, have also helped fund specific reports that align with their agendas.” The Times wrote that giving financial support is rewarded with “an ‘unprecedented level of information and access,’ including the chance to have a corporate executive, if the company donates at least $50,000 a year, speak at an Atlantic Council event ‘with top U.S. and foreign leaders’ present.”

According to their website, “The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.” The DFRLab tracks global disinfo campaigns, fake news stories, and “subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space.”

The Atlantic Council’s list of financial supporters reads like a who’s-who of think tanks and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Atlantic Council receives funding from the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment, Cato Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rand Corporation, to name a few. In addition, various members of the Military-Industrial Complex are benefactors of the Atlantic Council, including Huntington Ingalls, the United States’ sole maker of aircraft carriers; Airbus, the plane manufacturer; Lockheed Martin, the shipbuilder and aviation company; and Raytheon, which makes missile systems. All of the companies have contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and offer financial support to the Atlantic Council. The Council also receives support from Chevron and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Finally, the Atlantic Council receives direct financial support from the U.S. Departments of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Energy and from the U.S. Mission to NATO.

By October 2018 – only five months after the Atlantic Council partnership with Facebook – the social media giant announced they were unpublishing, or purging, over 500 pages and 200 accounts who are accused of spreading political spam. Several of these pages and writers were also removed from Twitter on the same day.

“Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook stated in a blog post. Facebook states that the people behind this alleged spam “create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names” and “post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups”.

Nearly 3 years later, we are still seeing the repercussions of the purge of independent media voices. In the wake of COVID-19 and calls for stemming the flow of “misinformation”, we will likely see more censorship and digital purging. Those who are attempting to stay informed and aware need to recognize that getting your news from Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc., will keep you trapped in a bubble of sanitized, state-approved information.

Step Outside the Matrix and Question Everything.

Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unz Review’s Facebook Ban: the Fatal 0.2%

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • May 11, 2020

Just over a month ago I was riding high and celebrating the steady upward progress of our alternative media webzine. I proudly noted that our traffic had now far surpassed that of the venerable New Republic, a century old publication that had spent decades as America’s most influential opinion magazine.

But pride goeth before the fall. At the end of April we were suddenly purged and banned by Facebook, the world’s leading social network. Not only was our rudimentary Facebook page removed, but every last item of our website content was declared illegal, with all past and future links eliminated. Any attempt to post our material on Facebook now produces an error message reporting that the content is “abusive” and a violation of “community standards.”

Although I personally don’t use Facebook or other social networks, billions of people do, and totally excluding all of our content from that important distribution channel eventually produced a 20% drop in our regular daily traffic, a serious blow that set us back many months.

At first I was rather surprised by this unexpected development. After all, we had already spent years publishing articles and posts of an extremely controversial nature, notably including my own American Pravda series. As far back as 2018, my writings had been attacked by the ADL, though that notoriously ferocious organization seemed rather perfunctory and milquetoast in its denunciation. During all this time, we had not incurred any Facebook penalties, but now we had suddenly been totally banned.

An obvious explanation was the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. Over 80,000 Americans have died while unemployment has already reached Great Depression levels. During such a tremendous national crisis, strong steps are often taken to maintain social control, and Facebook had come under great pressure to block the distribution of dangerous misinformation on its network, which the company’s top leadership soon promised to do.

Now “misinformation” is a somewhat vague term, and our very extensive Coronavirus coverage had hardly included suggestions that Americans drink bleach or inject themselves with Lysol. But critics have often linked such health care falsehoods with what they considered “conspiracy theories” about Covid-19 and its origins. A new organization had recently taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times that denounced these latter notions in very strong terms, claiming that such ideas were almost as dangerous as the virus itself and spread as rapidly, therefore demanding that they be banned by the leading social networks.

Although the term “conspiracy theory” generally carries a pejorative meaning, if taken as a simple description, I would certainly agree that our website had trafficked in some articles along those lines.

Indeed, just before the Facebook ban I had published a 7,400 word article presenting the considerable circumstantial evidence that our national disaster may have been the unintended blowback from an extremely reckless American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran), presumably organized by the Deep State Neocons or other rogue elements within our national security establishment. The piece generated enormous early traffic, more than any of my previous articles, and perhaps twice as many Facebook Likes. The following extracts provide a taste of the material I presented:

As the coronavirus gradually began to spread beyond China’s own borders, another development occurred that greatly multiplied my suspicions. Most of these early cases had occurred exactly where one might expect, among the East Asian countries bordering China. But by late February Iran had become the second epicenter of the global outbreak. Even more surprisingly, its political elites had been especially hard-hit, with a full 10% of the entire Iranian parliament soon infected and at least a dozen of its officials and politicians dying of the disease, including some who were quite senior. Indeed, Neocon activists on Twitter began gleefully noting that their hatred Iranian enemies were now dropping like flies.

Let us consider the implications of these facts. Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?

* * *

For obvious reasons, the Trump Administration has become very eager to emphasize the early missteps and delays in the Chinese reaction to the viral outbreak in Wuhan, and has presumably encouraged our media outlets to direct their focus in that direction.

As an example of this, the Associated Press Investigative Unit recently published a rather detailed analysis of those early events purportedly based upon confidential Chinese documents. Provocatively entitled China Didn’t Warn Public of Likely Pandemic for 6 Key Days, the piece was widely distributed, running in abridged form in the NYT and elsewhere. According to this reconstruction, the Chinese government first became aware of the seriousness of this public health crisis on Jan. 14th, but delayed taking any major action until Jan. 20th, a period of time during which the number of infections greatly multiplied.

Last month, a team of five WSJ reporters produced a very detailed and thorough 4,400 word analysis of the same period, and the NYT has published a helpful timeline of those early events as well. Although there may be some differences of emphasis or minor disagreements, all these American media sources agree that Chinese officials first became aware of the serious viral outbreak in Wuhan in early to mid-January, with the first known death occurring on Jan. 11th, and finally implemented major new public health measures later that same month. No one has apparently disputed these basic facts.

But with the horrific consequences of our own later governmental inaction being obvious, elements within our intelligence agencies have sought to demonstrate that they were not the ones asleep at the switch. Earlier this month, an ABC News story cited four separate government sources to reveal that as far back as late November, a special medical intelligence unit within our Defense Intelligence Agency had produced a report warning that an out-of-control disease epidemic was occurring in the Wuhan area of China, and widely distributed that document throughout the top ranks of our government, warning that steps should be taken to protect US forces based in Asia. After the story aired, a Pentagon spokesman officially denied the existence of that November report, while various other top level government and intelligence officials refused to comment. But a few days later, Israeli television mentioned that in November American intelligence had indeed shared such a report on the Wuhan disease outbreak with its NATO and Israeli allies, thus seeming to independently confirm the complete accuracy of the original ABC News story and its several government sources.

It therefore appears that elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency were aware of the deadly viral outbreak in Wuhan more than a month before any officials in the Chinese government itself. Unless our intelligence agencies have pioneered the technology of precognition, I think this may have happened for the same reason that arsonists have the earliest knowledge of future fires.

A leaked CDC report recently estimated that American deaths may rise to 3,000/day by the end of this month, and if so, we will probably have suffered a couple of hundred thousand fatalities by the end of summer along with a wrecked economy. If Americans began to suspect that this unimaginable national disaster may have been entirely self-inflicted, the consequences could be explosive. I can easily understand why any such guilty parties along with their close political allies would take all possible steps to prevent such ideas from gaining traction, including blocking their circulation on Facebook.

So after considering these factors, I was disappointed in Facebook but not entirely surprised. After all, in many other parts of the world or historical eras, a midnight raid by the secret police and a one-way ticket to the Gulag would have been the likely response to my provocative writings. Compared to such retaliation, merely having our website blacklisted by a very popular social network amounted to pretty weak tea.

However, a few days ago someone brought to my attention a Facebook report documenting their steps to eliminate “inauthentic content” during the month of April. Although it included mention of our own case, I was very surprised at the nature of the discussion.

Apparently, the vast majority of the organizations sanctioned were foreign ones, either from countries like Iran and Russia, or those involved in violent internal conflicts like Georgia, Mauritania, or Myanmar. Almost none of their websites were even mentioned, presumably because they tended to be so small and obscure. I skimmed over a couple of Facebook’s previous reports, which seemed fairly similar.

I’m hardly an expert on Facebook, but it wouldn’t surprise me if our publication is by far the largest and most popular ever to have had its entire content banned. Yet across the 29 pages of the very detailed document, our case was only discussed in the briefest of casual asides.

For example, four full pages including numerous screenshots were presented to justify the banning of SouthFront, a website allegedly based in Crimea that provides a pro-Russian perspective on the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts. But although our own traffic is several times greater, the explanation for prohibiting all our content was provided in just two scattered sentences:

Our investigation linked this network to VDARE, a website known for posting anti-immigration content, and individuals associated with a similar website The Unz Review.

Although the people behind this operation attempted to conceal their coordination, our investigation linked this network to VDARE, a website known for posting anti-immigration content, and to individuals associated with a similar website The Unz Review.

So the absolute prohibition of any links to our several million pages of unique content, including the near-complete archives of hundreds of America’s leading opinion magazines of the last 150 years, was allegedly justified by our being “similar” to VDare, “a website known for posting anti-immigration content.”

I find this explanation utterly bizarre. We do have republication agreements with a couple of dozen alternative media websites of the Left and Right, including VDare. But since the beginning of the year, our focus overwhelmingly has been on foreign policy issues and the Coronavirus epidemic, so we have only run just 41 VDare pieces. Few of these had anything to do with immigration, and they represented only about 0.2% of our 1,751 articles and posts during this period. Is VDare so enormously powerful a brand that by providing us 0.2% of our recent content, we have necessarily become “similar”?

Moreover, as the Facebook document correctly emphasizes, VDare is an anti-immigration webzine, while I cannot even remember the last time that we featured an article having that theme. And although our own traffic is a dozen times larger, VDare appears to have been the primary target of the prohibition, with our own website merely swept along in the undertow.

Facebook surely invests substantial resources in policing its content, which their report claims is performed by a team of more than 200 professionals. So I find it rather difficult to believe that the decision to ban our entire website, perhaps the largest ever subjected to such a penalty, was taken in such a lackadaisical manner and for such ridiculous reasons.

It seems far more likely that the explanation provided was merely an excuse to avoid explaining the true reason. If the largest website ever banned from Facebook had suffered that penalty for promoting “Covid-19 conspiracy theories” such an announcement might draw unwelcome attention to the facts being presented, perhaps with serious consequences. After all, Facebook employees and executives have themselves suffered as much as everyone else in America from our current disaster, and some of the points we made might even have become the subject of lively internal discussions. So presumably it was much safer to declare that our website had been banned for republishing VDare’s anti-immigration content, even if that only amounted to 0.2% of our total.

Still, careless mistakes are sometimes made. A couple of days ago Facebook announced its new “oversight board” to adjudicate these sorts of matters, so I suppose I will try to get in touch with them to clarify this issue.

May 11, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 3 Comments

Facebook’s International Free Speech Oversight Board Is a Neo-Liberal Echo Chamber

By Eric Striker – National Justice – May 6, 2020

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has recently established a content moderation oversight board featuring academics from all around the world. Its goal is to respond to growing criticism of Facebook’s attacks on free expression and political dissent by allowing an appeals process these experts will weigh in on.

On paper, the board claims to be a free speech check against draconian “community standards.” In practice, it is another neo-liberal amen corner that will try to grant legitimacy to social media censorship and demand it go further.

The board includes scholars and NGO workers from every continent. Nations as diverse as Brazil, Senegal, Yemen, and Israel are represented, yet notably, there isn’t a single Russian, Chinese, Venezuelan or Iranian voice on the panel.

Wisegrad group nations, where Facebook also plays a controversial role, have no representation with the exception of George Soros funded anti-Orban activist András Sajó. While Sajó is listed as a Hungarian representative, he is an agent of Wall Street and Brussels interests in Eastern Europe, including as a founder of Central European University, a product of the Open Society Foundation otherwise known as “Soros U.”

The lack of representation for countries that have billions of people disproportionately subjected to Facebook’s censorship makes the whole project an illegitimate fraud. During last year’s Hong Kong protests, Facebook embarked on a massive purge of Chinese journalists who contradicted the Pentagon’s official narrative.

Venezuelan news network Telesur was banned in 2018 as the CIA began preparations to overthrow Nicolas Maduro and put Juan Guiado in power.

Facebook subsidiary Instagram deleted posts and banned accounts belonging to Iranians mourning the death of national hero Qassem Soleimani after he was assassinated by the US government.

Russians who are critical of the Ukrainian government or express support for Russian efforts in Syria are arbitrarily declared state-sponsored “misinformation” by Facebook and shut down on sight.

As for the United States, domestic critics of the American system — ranging from conservatives, to anti-war leftists, to ethno-nationalists — are also completely excluded from Facebook’s new “free speech” watchdog. Individuals and entire nations who are targeted by Zuckerberg for their political beliefs or questioning the positions of American oligarchy aren’t given even one advocate on the superficially diverse, ideologically unified oversight board’s panel.

Facebook may not be bound by any laws to respect the free flow of ideas, but they do not have the right to falsely brand themselves as a platform that encourages and respects this concept.

Their newly minted “oversight board” is a futile attempt to change the American public and much of the world’s accurate perception: Facebook is a bloated, over-the-hill monopoly that serves as a propaganda tool of international Jewry and the US government.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

Why I No Longer Read Facebook

By Eve Mykytyn | May 2, 2020

In an effort to stem the torrent of ‘false’ cures and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, Facebook announced it would begin informing users globally who have liked, commented on, or shared “harmful” misinformation about the coronavirus, that the content they reacted to was incorrect and  pointing them in the direction of what Facebook considers to be a ‘reliable’ source. The reliable source? The World Health Organization. Here’s the distinctly noninformative WHO Covid 19 website .

I don’t know what caused Covid 19 to become our disease du jour. Was it a bat? A natural or laboratory mutation? Not only do I not know, but I don’t believe that Facebook, or the WHO know either. Why not let theories abound? Perhaps free speech means that we trust the people to evaluate the source and sort out the facts for themselves.

The general rule in the US is that no publisher has an obligation to print any particular view: that rule dates from when ‘publisher’ meant print and print was inexpensive. The founders intentionally strove to open a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ a ‘public square’ with pamphleteers and speeches. Published content was restricted only by the threat of litigation over libel or defamation which requires publishing material known (or should have known) to be false.

Exceptions to the general rule came about when publishing was through a limited medium regulated by the government. When television stations were a limited resource obtained through government licensing of the  few channels, the government imposed free speech requirements including an equal time rule, requiring television stations to present both sides of an issue. The rule was dropped, considered unnecessary only when television began to offer a plethora of stations.

So now we get to Facebook ( youtube, twitter, etc.). Which is it most like, television or freely available printing?

For many years, including the time that these major platforms became monopolies, the internet depended on cable service which due to the physical nature of cable was a limited resource for which the government issued licenses to certain cable companies. In 1965, the FCC established rules for cable systems and the Supreme Court affirmed the FCC’s jurisdiction over cable. I believe that Facebook is also subject to regulation as a monopoly as the government has authority to interfere with monopolies, particularly when they are successful (which is, admittedly another issue) ask AT&T.

But Facebook wants it both ways. They don’t admit liability for defamatory statements published on their site. They argue that they behave simply as a platform, a means of transmission. But they also reserve the right to censor content by restricting or deleting material they deem incorrect. So which is it? If they have the power to censor what we see why shouldn’t they be liable for the content?

This censoring of free speech applies broadly. Google favors some content over others in its search engine, Youtube has been on a tear not only deleting videos but replacing videos with others that express an alternative view. See where they plan to ban holocaust ‘denial’ (revisionist in any way) videos and offer wikipedia instead. Further they intend to offer the banned videos to researchers and NGOs “looking to understand hate in order to combat it,” thereby providing content only to a restricted class of their own choosing. Twitter inserts a page when a ‘controversial’ link is clicked warning the user that the link has been identified as  malware although Twitter admits that malware warnings are posted based on content.

What is it that compels these platforms to come down on both sides of the free speech issue? After all, by editing content Facebook becomes more like a  publisher and less like a mere platform. Facebook does so because it regularly gets brought before Congress to explain free speech congress doesn’t like. Facebook also defers to European countries that regulate speech.

Facebook argues that internet companies aren’t governments and they can restrict what they like. That’s why they don’t follow the First Amendment and instead enforce more restrictive rules in response to criticism of their content. See, for ex., the New Yorker on the ‘free speech excuse.’

I believe that major platforms have become the public square. Yet we allow Facebook to restrict our speech and they do so effectively. As owners of the public square they are uniquely positioned to and do silence  dissenters. Platforms take down posts that don’t fit their ‘standards, and they do so swiftly. Perhaps before we allow Facebook to be the arbitrator of free speech, we should rethink the present day meaning of a marketplace of ideas.

May 2, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Censorship Continues. Facebook Permanently Deleted SouthFront’s Page

SouthFront | April 30, 2020

SouthFront once again has become a target of corporate censorship. On April 30, Facebook permanently deleted our page (LINK) with about 100,000 followers.

This is not the first time that SouthFront has become a target of a technical and propaganda pressure campaign. On April 9, Facebook placed limits on SouthFront’s page claiming that its activities “don’t comply with Facebook’s policies.” (LINK)

On July 21, 2015, Facebook deleted our previous page used to inform people about the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Syria and other key developments around the world. (LINK)

The motivation in 2015 of US intelligence, and Facebook as a tool of US special services, when the situation in eastern Ukraine was especially tense, is clear. However, the current move raises many more questions.

It is likely Facebook was triggered by SouthFront’s video released on April 29. Entitled “SpaceX: Camel’s Nose under the Tent of Space Militarization”, it covers key aspects of the international situation and the US security strategy. With facts and examples, the video highlights the point of view that supposedly “private” global corporations based in the US are first of all the tools of, likely, the ‘neo-liberal’ part of the US establishment.

Another article that may have scared Facebook censors is “Leaked Video Reveals Pentagon Briefing On Development Of Vaccine To Modify Human Behavior”. This article was released on April 28 and objectively covered the background of the circulating video and questions the authenticity of claims that it shows Bill Gates. If this post became the reason of SouthFront’s ban on Facebook, this will mean that the leaked video poses an exceptional threat to a part of the US establishment.

In the meantime, SouthFront is facing an increasing media pressure. Recently, Deutsche Welle and several other mainstream media outlets released articles alleging that SouthFront is spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak. An interesting fact is that Deutsche Welle appeared to be unable to answer to SouthFront’s official email regarding its accusations against our organization. (LINK)

May 1, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

The Unz Review Suddenly Banned by Facebook!

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • May 1, 2020

My morning newspapers had recently mentioned Facebook’s plans to crack down on misinformation related to our ongoing Covid-19 epidemic, and probably like most other readers I just nodded my head. After all, many Americans might die if cranks or pranksters began promoting highly dubious cures to the deadly disease, perhaps even suggesting that people should inject themselves with Lysol to ward off an infection.

However, those bland public statements took on an entirely different meaning yesterday afternoon when I discovered that all material from The Unz Review had suddenly been banned for alleged violations of “community standards” and our own Facebook page eliminated.

I don’t use Social Media much myself, but others obviously do, and blocking all our website content from access to the 1.7 billion Facebook users seems a pretty drastic step. So it’s quite reasonable to wonder why, and especially why now?

From the very first, the motto of our publication has been A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media, and I think we have fulfilled that pledge, publishing many thousands of articles and posts on an enormous range of extraordinarily controversial and even forbidden topics, notably including my own American Pravda series.

Under such circumstances, being banned by Facebook might hardly seem surprising. However, many of our most extremely controversial pieces were published years ago, drawing angry denunciations from various quarters, but received with apparent equanimity from the Lords of the Social Network. Nearly all of the “touchy” pieces we published in the last couple of weeks seem no more “touchy” than the ones from a year or two years or even three years ago. So what suddenly sparked this unprecedented action?

Although I can’t be sure, I strongly suspect that the triggering event was my own most recent American Pravda article, dealing as it did with the Coronavirus epidemic, the supposed focus of Facebook’s current crackdown. And this piece not only accumulated more early readership than any of my previous articles here, but also two or three times as many Facebook Likes, which might have raised serious concerns in certain quarters.

My previous American Pravda articles have hardly been bland, but disputing the established narrative of the JFK Assassination or World War II might be regarded as mere intellectual exercises, having little practical impact. By contrast, tens of thousands of Americans have already died from the Coronavirus outbreak while our economy has been wrecked. So raising troubling questions about the origins of this gigantic national disaster might be regarded as just too problematical to be allowed distribution on Facebook.

American Pravda: Our Coronavirus Catastrophe as Biowarfare Blowback? was the title of my 7,400 word essay, and I answered that explosive query in the closing section:

Last month, a team of five WSJ reporters produced a very detailed and thorough 4,400 word analysis of the same period, and the NYT has published a helpful timeline of those early events as well. Although there may be some differences of emphasis or minor disagreements, all these American media sources agree that Chinese officials first became aware of the serious viral outbreak in Wuhan in early to mid-January, with the first known death occurring on Jan. 11th, and finally implemented major new public health measures later that same month. No one has apparently disputed these basic facts.

But with the horrific consequences of our own later governmental inaction being obvious, elements within our intelligence agencies have sought to demonstrate that they were not the ones asleep at the switch. Earlier this month, an ABC News story cited four separate government sources to reveal that as far back as late November, a special medical intelligence unit within our Defense Intelligence Agency had produced a report warning that an out-of-control disease epidemic was occurring in the Wuhan area of China, and widely distributed that document throughout the top ranks of our government, warning that steps should be taken to protect US forces based in Asia. After the story aired, a Pentagon spokesman officially denied the existence of that November report, while various other top level government and intelligence officials refused to comment. But a few days later, Israeli television mentioned that in November American intelligence had indeed shared such a report on the Wuhan disease outbreak with its NATO and Israeli allies, thus seeming to independently confirm the complete accuracy of the original ABC News story and its several government sources.

It therefore appears that elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency were aware of the deadly viral outbreak in Wuhan more than a month before any officials in the Chinese government itself. Unless our intelligence agencies have pioneered the technology of precognition, I think this may have happened for the same reason that arsonists have the earliest knowledge of future fires.

Back in February, before a single American had died from the disease, I wrote my own overview of the possible course of events, and I would still stand by it today:

Consider a particularly ironic outcome of this situation, not particularly likely but certainly possible…

Everyone knows that America’s ruling elites are criminal, crazy, and also extremely incompetent.

So perhaps the coronavirus outbreak was indeed a deliberate biowarfare attack against China, hitting that nation just before Lunar New Year, the worst possible time to produce a permanent nationwide pandemic. However, the PRC responded with remarkable speed and efficiency, implementing by far the largest quarantine in human history, and the deadly disease now seems to be in decline there.

Meanwhile, the disease naturally leaks back into the US, and despite all the advance warning, our totally incompetent government mismanages the situation, producing a huge national health disaster, and the collapse of our economy and decrepit political system.

As I said, not particularly likely, but certainly a very fitting end to the American Empire…

The spread of these simple ideas on Social Media might have dramatic political consequences, so I can easily understand why certain elements would take strong steps to prevent this.

May 1, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 9 Comments

Israeli court orders Facebook to unblock account of NSO Group employee

MEMO | February 18, 2020

A Tel Aviv court ordered Facebook Inc to unblock the private account of a worker at Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, and similar rulings are expected for other employees in the coming days, an NSO spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

A group of NSO employees filed suit against Facebook in November, saying the social media giant had unfairly blocked their private accounts when it sued NSO in October.

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp accused the Israeli firm of helping government spies break into the phones of about 1,400 users in a hacking spree targeting diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials across the globe.

The NSO employees said their Facebook and Instagram accounts, and also those of former workers and family members, had been blocked.

Ruling on their complaint, Tel Aviv District Court ordered the account of one employee to be restored by Wednesday afternoon.

“We are certain that following the court’s unequivocal statements, Facebook will reverse the action it took against other employees,” the NSO spokeswoman said.

Facebook officials could not immediately comment.

The company said in November it had disabled “relevant accounts” after attributing a “sophisticated cyber attack” to the NSO Group and its employees, saying the measure was necessary for security reasons.

Read also:

UK to help controversial Israel spyware firm to sell product  

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

The Death Of Free Speech: Zuckerberg Asks Governments For Instructions On “What Discourse Should Be Allowed”

By Jonathon Turley | February 17, 2020

I have written for years on the effort of European countries to expand their crackdown on free speech globally through restrictions on social media and Internet speech. It appears that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has relented in what may prove the death knell for free speech in the West. Zuckerberg seems to relent in asking governments for regulations stipulating what speech will be permitted on Facebook and other platforms. It is the ultimate victory of France, Germany, and England in their continuing attack on free expression though hate speech laws and speech regulation.

Zuckerberg told an assembly of Western leaders Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that “There should be more guidance and regulation from the states on basically — take political advertising as an example — what discourse should be allowed?” He did add: “Or, on the balance of free expression and some things that people call harmful expression, where do you draw the line?” The problem is that his comments were received as accepting that government will now dictate the range of free speech. What is missing is the bright line rule long maintained by the free speech community.

As tragically demonstrated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, speech regulations inevitably expand with time. The desire to silence one’s critics becomes insatiable for both governments and individuals.

Zuckerberg is facing great pressure, including from Democratic leaders in the United States, to regulate political speech and he seems to be moving away from the bright-line position against such regulation as a principle. Instead, he is accepting the fluid concept of “balanced” regulations that has always preceded expanding speech codes and criminalization:

“There are a lot of decisions in these areas that are really just balances between different social values. It’s about coming up with an answer that society feels is legitimate and that they can get behind and understand that you drew the line here on the balance of free expression and safety. It’s not just that there’s one right answer. People need to feel like, ‘OK, enough people weighed in, and that’s why the answer should be this, and we can get behind that.’”

 

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 2 Comments