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Researcher Takes on Google’s Subversive Electioneering

Large Google Manipulation: How the search engine brings Clinton millions of votes

Sputnik – September 21, 2018

Big tech companies like Google have the power to “shift upwards of 12 million votes with no one knowing they’re doing so,” a research psychologist told Radio Sputnik Thursday, underscoring the influence profit-making firms can have on public elections.

That, he said, is too much power for “just a couple of executives” and is why tech giant monopolies need to be thought of as public utilities and not private entities.

“Research I have been directing in recent years suggests that Google, Inc., has amassed far more power to control elections — indeed, to control a wide variety of opinions and beliefs — than any company in history has ever had,” research psychologist Robert Epstein says.

In 2015, Dr. Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, wrote a groundbreaking paper about the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME), published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Google’s search algorithm can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more — up to 80 percent in some demographic groups — with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated,” Epstein wrote in Politico at the time.

That kind of a margin could tilt an election, he noted. Indeed, Epstein’s research shows that Google manipulated search results to display pro-Hillary Clinton results higher on the page than others.

With Google reaching a billion users last year, according to The Verge, and the company collecting over $100 billion a year in revenue, the tech giant has acquired an unheard-of power over how we think and how we access information.

Epstein spoke with Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Thursday about the next phase of his studies: an “electronic cat and mouse game,” a system for collecting, monitoring and analyzing data that can identify and quantify “every single manipulation, every single kind of bias there is,” to hold tech giants accountable.

​”I’ve calculated that the big tech companies can shift upwards of 12 million votes with no one knowing they’re doing so without and leaving a paper trail for the authorities to track,” Epstein told Sputnik.

Google claims user activity causes the manipulation, but Epstein said his research found that it affected both red and blue states and that the first 10 results in searches were consistently biased towards Hillary Clinton.

“All reasonable people… will agree that no private company should have the power to decide what content billions of people around the world will see or will not see. Just think about that issue. Whoever that power should be given to, it’s certainly not to a private company in Mountain View, California; it’s just not. We might need entities that are spin offs from the United Nations, we might need nonprofits, nonpartisan groups… we can all agree it can’t be in the hands of a private company. That’s absurd.”

“The search engine itself is an index to what’s on the internet; it’s an index, basically, to all knowledge. Well, the internet doesn’t belong to Google. The internet belongs to the world, and the index to the internet must be public. And by public I don’t just mean public like, USA; it has to be controlled internationally. There has to be transparency; a lot of cooperation is going to be necessary. And I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but the fact is, that index has to be public — period.”

“In terms of laws or regulations or antitrust actions, there’s some things in motion. There’s lots going on in the EU in that regard; people are gearing up in Washington, DC. Right now there are hearings, there’s talk about antitrust actions — I think some things will happen. I don’t think law or regulation is going to help us very much, because law and regulation moves very slowly. Painfully slowly — sometimes, in fact, it gets stalled, completely stalled. Whereas tech, though, tech moves lightning fast,” Epstein said.

“There is a solution here — in some ways it’s a lighter touch because it doesn’t involve changes in laws and regulations — and that is monitoring. I successfully developed and implemented, deployed a monitoring system in 2016 that was written up in the Washington Post… I’m working now with business partners and with academics on three continents to scale up and broaden what we did in 2016. You have to envision here, probably within the next year, the beginnings of what I call a ‘worldwide ecology of passive monitoring systems.’ That is: systems that can’t be detected, that will show us 24/7 what these big tech companies are showing people or what they’re telling people through these new audio devices.”

“By collecting that data, by monitoring it, by analyzing it rapidly, we will be able to detect, very precisely, when Mark Zuckerberg sends out a targeted ‘go out and vote’ message, for example, that could easily flip an election. We’ll see whether there is bias in search results or search suggestions. We will actually be able to quantify shadowbanning, very precisely, on Twitter and elsewhere. So every single manipulation, every single kind of bias there is, we’ll be able to capture it at the moment. You see, it’s all ephemeral content; it’s transitory. It comes, it goes, it’s gone, it’s not stored anywhere, and then we speculate about what’s going on,” he said.

“Well, with monitoring systems in place, we won’t have to speculate. I believe that these systems will make the big tech companies accountable to the public for the first time. And there’s another advantage here: whereas law and regulation is always behind whatever’s going on, monitoring systems basically are their new technologies. We’re fighting tech with tech, and monitoring systems can keep up with whatever is happening in technology. As technology changes, matures, whatever, the monitoring systems change and mature; they adapt. A cat and mouse game, an electronic cat and mouse game that never stops, maybe goes on for decades.”

Noting how the first companies that provided services such as electrical power, fire departments and roads were initially private but are today thought of as ubiquitous public utilities, Epstein told hosts Walter Smolarek and John Kiriakou that “that’s what happening now with these big tech companies, particularly the search engines, but I would argue we could even put Facebook into that category as well. Once a market is dominated by a monopoly, once the barriers to entry are so large that really no one can get in, and that’s where we are now, and once we become dependent on these services, once they become essential services, which certainly Google’s search engine is, once that happens we have to look at it through a different lens. And that’s happened over and over again in recent history, and I think that’s where we are right now.”

“There is a big difference though,” between older monopolies like Standard Oil and AT&T and internet companies like Google and Facebook, he said. “Those companies were doing things that, for the most part, we could see and we could understand. Whereas what Google and Facebook and Twitter are doing — a lot of what they’re doing we can’t see, we can’t understand. That’s what my discoveries have been about for more than five years. We’re talking about extremely powerful tools for altering people’s thinking.”

“Let’s think about Google for what it really is: a surveillance machine,” he said.

“Let’s think about its real effect, which is the control of thinking and behavior and opinion. Basically it’s the most powerful mind control machine that has ever — ever — been invented in human history.”

“That brings me to the key question: what if the mind control machine doesn’t want you thinking bad things about the mind control machine?”

“This is not AT&T,” he said. “It’s a different beast entirely — and it’s a scary beast.”

Epstein said there wasn’t much recourse in the field of the law. He noted that Google gets sued — a lot — and you can view the catalog of cases brought against the tech giant at Google Crimes, but “when these cases go to court, 99 times out of 100 Google wins, hands down. Because we don’t have laws and regulations that protect us from these companies, and over and over again, the courts rule that these companies are protected, either by [Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996] or by the First Amendment right to free speech.”

Epstein noted that court rulings repeatedly recognized Google’s right to free speech as a private company. He further pointed out that Google, with “one of the highest profit margins of any country in history,” can simply shrug off any fines leveled against it for its conduct — such as the European Union did earlier this year, when it fined Google $5.1 billion, or last year when it leveled a $2.7 billion fine against it for having biased search results.

Epstein told Radio Sputnik about what he called “a landmark article” by him that will be published in the periodical Fast Company in the next few days, which is presently titled, “How Big Tech Could Quietly Hijack Democracy: A Researcher Describes 10 Ways that the Big Tech Companies Can Shift Millions of Votes in the Midterm Elections Without Anyone Knowing.”

“These are not old-fashioned techniques,” he said, like mudslinging ads or untrue billboards and TV ads. “This is all clandestine, this is all invisible to users and all involves ephemeral content, which means it doesn’t leave a paper trail. And it’s all in the hands of just a couple of executives in the northwest corner of the United States. And it’s affecting not just people here, it’s affecting billions of people around the world… Something is wrong with this system.”

See also:

Google Seeks to Dictate Truth Using Dubious New Technology

Google’s Pro-Clinton Search Bias Reflects US Tech Firms’ Ties to ‘Deep State’

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Turns Into Manipulative Tool of US Intelligence – Moscow

Sputnik – 20.09.2018

ST PETERSBURG – Facebook is transforming into a manipulative tool of the US intelligence services and a lever to influence the domestic policy of other states, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

“Facebook continues to follow the path of stricter censorship… [Facebook], which was presented and has established itself as a means of free communication and exchange of various kinds of content, is now being transformed into an instrument of US intelligence agencies to cleanse the information space of materials that are unwanted by Washington,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

As an example, she named the agreement between Facebook and the Atlantic Council stated to be aimed to help monitor attempts to spread “disinformation” in elections around the world.

She further called the process “a manipulation and a deception” stressing that “the fighters for free democratic elections and the purity of the information space themselves are engaged in interference in affairs of other states and in the dissemination of false information.”

In addition, she said that under the pretext of fighting fake news, Facebook planned to check the personal data of users, as well as audio and video materials.

After the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook said it would take a number of steps to improve transparency, including stricter rules for ad placement, fact-checking photos, videos and links, as well as adding technology to get rid of fake accounts and improve security.

The United States has accused Moscow of meddling in its 2016 presidential election, with Russian authorities denying the accusations as groundless.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook’s Atlantic Council censors are more interested in tanks than thinking

RT | September 13, 2018

Like all foreign policy and military think tanks, the Atlantic Council exists to manufacture consent for the goals of its paymasters. It hit the jackpot when the world’s largest social media network put it in charge of censorship.

While the ubiquitous presence of Atlantic Council lobbyists across the information space already imperilled fair discourse, Facebook’s May move empowered it to endanger freedom of expression. And founder Mark Zuckerberg’s reference to an information  “arms race” in a Washington Post op-ed last weekend exposes the grim reality behind the move.

That said, the spin has been impressive. Headlines such as “US think tank’s tiny lab helps Facebook battle fake social media (Reuters )” and “Facebook partners with Atlantic Council to improve election security (The Hill )”.

But the truth is very different. The Atlantic Council is effectively NATO’s propaganda wing. And it’s funded by arms manufacturers, various branches of the US military, and Middle Eastern autocratic regimes, among others, as it promotes the alliance’s agenda – which was best described by its first secretary-general, Hastings Ismay, as  “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

Let’s be clear. If people don’t believe in the “Russian threat,” NATO is essentially rendered useless. Promoting tensions with Europe’s largest country is an existential matter for The Atlantic Council. And now Facebook has effectively placed the lobby group in charge of political censorship on its platform. This presents chilling dangers to free speech and should worry anybody who believes in fairness and balance in the media. Especially after Zuckerberg admitted in the Washington Post piece how his company is being used by US authorities to control information and combat “foreign actors.” The tech boss also boasted that “we’ve worked with law enforcement to take down accounts in Russia.”

Roll of horror

Founded in 1961, with the mission of “encouraging the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began after the Second World War,” the Atlantic Council slowly evolved from being a sort of forum for socialising to a pseudo-academic lobby group. While it professes to be a “think tank,” its lack of genuine debate and tolerance for dissent means in practice this description isn’t accurate in the classical sense of the term, as the Atlantic Council is clearly more interested in creating a market for tanks than thinking.

Funding comes from dozens of foreign governments and also individual vested interests. They include arms makers Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing, plus wealthy private backers such as Ukraine’s Viktor Pinchuk and Saudi billionaire Bahaa Hariri. State institutions who plough in funds vary from the National Endowment for Democracy to the British Foreign Office and the US Army itself.

The money is mainly used to hire lobbyists, who are known as “fellows.” And some of them are occasionally outsourced to cutouts like the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) – the department which works with Facebook.

Some of the Atlantic Council’s hires have significant media profiles. For instance, Dmitri  Alperovitch (of DNC hack fame), Anders Aslund (a radical economist who has predicted Russia’s collapse twice, and been wrong both times), Michael Carpenter (Joe Biden’s, usually misinformed, Russia-baiting sidekick), Borzou Daragahi (Middle East correspondent of Buzzfeed ), Maxim Eristavi (a pro-American Ukrainian activist), Evelyn Farkas (a rabidly anti-Russian Obama adviser), and Michael Weiss (a CNN ‘Russia analyst’ who has never been to Russia and can’t speak Russian). The DFR Lab is comprised of 11, almost uniformly young, tech enthusiasts from the US and Eastern Europe and previously worked to support NATO narratives in Ukraine and Syria.

Some are long-time Atlantic Council bodies, and others are some fresh recruits. The main men are Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, which specialises in media-friendly investigations of wars from the perspective which suits British and American interests, Aric Toler (a former private intelligence specialist who spent time in Russia on State Department-funded study programmes) and Ben Nimmo, a one-time NATO press officer.

Other censors include ex-Obama administration and NATO staff, with the managing editor, Graham Brookie, having previously worked at the US National Security Council. There is nobody listed as an employee who could be considered, in any way, neutral on Russia. This betrays the unit’s confidence in how the mainstream media won’t scrutinise them, as normally you’d expect at least one token dissenter.

Different times

In normal circumstances, Facebook’s engagement of the Atlantic Council to decide standards of permissible information would seem bizarre. But, in the current US climate, Zuckerberg’s motivations are quite obvious. Betrayed by the speed with which he engaged the pressure group shortly after his testimony to Congress on “election meddling” was widely derided by the establishment last Spring. And how better to avoid a repeat, and turn down the heat, than to engage the ultimate DC insider institution?

After all, an organisation that has helped to rehabilitate George W. Bush can probably rescue any reputation in the American capital.

Some of the stuff the Atlantic Council itself gets away with serves to show its power over the mainstream media. For instance, when Nimmo himself earlier this year ludicrously insisted grammar mistakes were “proof” that social media users critical of NATO were paid Kremlin trolls, and later when he smeared a British man by labelling him a Russian bot, the popular press didn’t bother to question whether he was a fit and proper person for Facebook to engage as a censor. Even after the victim appeared on Sky News to prove he was a real person. Thus, what should have been a warning of the dangers of DFR Lab was essentially ignored.

At the time, after Nimmo, instead of apologising, wrote “interesting to see the real face of Ian56789, rather than the David Gandy one, at last (referring to his Twitter avatar). Not a troll factory account. Rather, a pro-Kremlin troll(definition based on [sic] use of someone else’s picture, systematic use of Kremlin narratives, and repetitive abusive behaviour),”

WikiLeaks challenged the lobbyist. “You literally produced, with money from weapons companies and dictatorships, a fake news story that spread all over the world, defaming a very British retiree, who wants to reduce arms company profits, as a Kremlin bot,” its editors wrote. “So who’s the paid troll?”

Again, despite WikiLeaks’ prominence, no mainstream outlets connected the dots.

Higgins and Nimmo also focused on attempting to discredit the Twitter user ‘Partisan Girl’ (real name Maram Susli). Susli herself insisted an associate of Higgins had even written to her university accusing of her of plotting to make Sarin gas, and she provided evidence to back up her claims.

Susli was also insulted by Atlantic Council “fellow” Michael Weiss. After a group of pro-Syrian jihadist agitators accused her of having had cosmetic surgery, she responded with a photo of herself as a child to prove them wrong. Weiss interjected by asserting how the young Maram looked like a prostitute, writing “so, your parents raised you as a streetwalker? Honey, no wonder you are pro-Assad.”

The CNN contributor seems to have a habit of commenting on women’s physical attributes. A few months earlier, well-known Lebanese American journalist Rania Khalek accused Weiss of promoting a smear about her appearance on Twitter, falsely claiming she used funds donated to her journalistic work to get a nose job. The fact he has received no blowback, in this ‘MeToo’ era, again speaks volumes.

Deflecting dunces

Meanwhile, Higgins himself has been shy about taking on real experts. In Spring, he refused to debate Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at MIT, instead labelling him “an idiot.” Which led to a strange situation where a man with no training in science, whose background is in finance and administration, was smearing a skilled specialist from one of the world’s best universities. Perhaps this is the confidence a man gains by working for NATO’s propaganda adjunct.

His colleague, Weiss, also has a habit of insulting academics with genuine bona fides, running a long campaign of character assassination against Stephen Cohen. Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University.

Of course, to advance the goals of its paymasters,  the Atlantic Council also needs to shape the media narrative, and influence journalists, which is presumably why it has engaged the likes of CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto and Buzzfeed Foreign Editor Miriam Elder to moderate panels, in what amount to very profound conflicts of interests.

Nevertheless, while plenty of its press outreach is smooth, sometimes it can appear clumsy and amateurish. Take this tweet from lobbyist Agnia Grigas, for instance. Firstly, she misrepresents Vladimir Putin’s stated goal of making Russia a top five economy by using raw GDP, where the country currently scores badly due to weak exchange rates. In reality, economic experts regard purchasing power parity as a fairer snapshot of fiscal heft and by this measure, Russia was only $163 billion behind fifth-place Germany last year ($4,007.831 billion v $4,170.790 billion, IMF)so it doesn’t have much catching up to do. What Grigas does next with her disinformation is instructive. Because  she tags the Financial Times’ news editor, Peter Spiegel, on the tweet alongside other Atlantic Council lobbyists . Which blurs the lines between supposedly independent media and propaganda, dressed up as scholarship.

Tail wags dog

Anyway, now that you’ve seen the nature of these lobbyists, let’s circle back to the DFR Lab/Facebook link up, and the extraordinary power the social media giant has handed to this gang. Only last month, the same Reuters report quoted at the outset dropped this nugget.

“Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.”

Read the last line again. “Facebook said it did not know for sure.” But the accounts were removed anyway. Presumably, at the Atlantic Council’s behest.

Here we see the fallout of Mark Zuckerberg’s knee-jerk reaction to pressure from congressional leaders and prominent media talking heads. Instead of asserting his independence, the Facebook founder buckled. And the stakes are impossibly high. Put plainly, this amounts to a merger of the US national security state and Silicon Valley. With implications far beyond American shores.

Read more:

Facebook building a physical ‘war room’ for US midterm elections ‘arms race’

Zuckerberg admits social media is a weapon, says Facebook in ‘arms race’ against ‘bad actors’

September 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Iranian Bots and the Facebook Stasi: Manufacturing Consent for the Endless War

By Helen Buyniski | Helen of desTroy | September 3, 2018

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The American Empire doesn’t handle failure well, and their repeated failures to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have driven them into a frenzy where good judgment and logic are a thing of the past. Russian military intelligence predicts a false-flag chemical attack in Idlib which will be pinned on the Assad regime and used to justify “retaliation” orders of magnitude greater than April’s Tomahawk tantrum. This time, if the words of the Wicked Witch of the UN are any indication, Iran and Russia will also be blamed. While the US has mostly abandoned hope for regime change in Syria, it will not look a gift horse in the mouth, and is gathering aircraft carriers and bombers to the region while pumping out tear-jerking propaganda about Idlib residents fearing for their lives. If the false flag fails, they can always send those bombers to Iran…

Such an attack is very much on the table, with the groundwork being laid in the pro-war press. John Bolton promised the MEK, a “corrupt, criminal cult” of Iranian exiles which bribed its way off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations in 2012, regime change by 2019, and the clock is ticking. Attempts to foment a color revolution have failed repeatedly, because Iranians aren’t stupid and remember what happened the last time the US overthrew their government. But Benjamin Netanyahu has been baying for Iranian blood for almost three decades, and Bolton cares little for more clear-headed military personnel’s warnings that invading Iran would be a costly, unwinnable nightmare – Real Men Go To Tehran, as they used to say in the halcyon days of the Axis of Evil.

Prelude to War: Iranian Bots

The ruling class understands Americans are wary of another Middle Eastern war and must be convinced they’re under attack. Hence the new bogeyman, just in time for Election 2018: Iranian Meddling. Twitter, Facebook, and Google took time out from deplatforming anti-establishment commentators to delete over a thousand accounts between them after cyber-security firm FireEye released a report detailing a far-reaching “Suspected Iranian Influence Operation.” With only “moderate confidence,” FireEye pointed to “coordinated inauthentic behavior” geared toward “shaping a message favorable to Iran’s national interests” as the smoking gun. Washed-up former intelligence operatives Ron Hosko and Larry Pfeiffer (ex-FBI and ex-CIA, respectively) smugly added that if we hadn’t let Russia get away with their (still unproven) interference in the 2016 election, Iran would never have been so emboldened as to pour $12,000 of cold, hard cash into this social media offensive in order to portray itself favorably to western audiences. 

Facebook, eager to behave, took down 652 offending accounts before the government could even react to the news. FireEye’s report points accusingly to the accounts’ promotion of “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific US policies favorable to Iran,” implying Facebook users should be suspicious of anyone else espousing these views (and warning Iranian and Palestinian sympathizers and other pro-peace activists to shut up, or they’re next). An important step in laying the groundwork for an unpopular war is to “other” and ultimately demonize the enemy, and FireEye’s suggestion that those with pro-Iranian views aren’t even real humans is classic wartime propaganda for the digital age. In addition to three groups of Iranian accounts, FireEye claims it caught some Russians “attempt[ing] to influence politics in Syria and the Ukraine.” This group “was linked to sources that Facebook said the US had linked to Russian military intelligence.” How many hops of truth distortion are too many for even the terminally credulous establishment media?

Perhaps anticipating users’ bewilderment – the offending accounts had broken no laws, were promoting no political candidates, and in many cases had not even bought ads – Zuckerberg explained around a mouth full of jackboot that “These were accounts that were misleading people about who they were and what they were doing. We ban this kind of behavior because authenticity matters. People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook.” Lest users make the mistake of trusting Facebook, however, he added that the company would be “working more closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies,” turning over more user data than ever in its quest to make privacy obsolete. When law enforcement calls on Facebook to create a backdoor in its Messenger program – thus defeating the purpose of “encrypted chat” – does anyone really expect Zuckerberg to stand fast for privacy rights? 

Not to be outdone, Twitter deleted 770 accounts based on the FireEye report, noting that only 100 of these ostensibly Iranian accounts had misrepresented their location and not even all of these had shared “divisive social commentary,” while a single account had purchased $30 in ads. This means over 600 Twitter accounts were deleted for the crime of geography alone (collateral damage?). But Twitter has always gone above and beyond the call of duty, announcing in May that to promote “healthy” conversations it would begin de-ranking users for engaging in “suspicious behavior.” Users who tweeted at many accounts, had multiple complaints against them, or retweeted material tweeted by banned accounts were shadowbanned indefinitely as persona non grata. Since November, Twitter and Facebook have both been turning over information on users who post “divisive” content of the sort promoted by “Russia-linked accounts” to congressional investigators even though a creator of “Russian bot tracker” Hamilton68 admits the accounts his tool tracks are not necessarily bots, or even Russian – “some are legitimately passionate people,” as if passion is an un-American trait. 

Last year, the FBI launched a Foreign Intelligence Task Force to work with US tech firms to combat “foreign influence actors.” With bots and their ilk operating all over the world, the decision to single out Russia and Iran has obvious foreign policy motivation (Bolton also claims that China and North Korea are up to no good on social media). All of this avoids naming the elephant in the room. Even though Israel meddles loudly and proudly in US elections, Facebook openly collaborates with Netanyahu’s government. Beyond removing posts and banning accounts, Facebook even turns over user information to Israeli authorities to facilitate prosecution of Palestinian activists for “incitement,” sometimes over nothing more than a “like” or a “share.” Adding insult to injury, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs has weaponized the diaspora’s ennui – often caused in no small part by young Jews’ discomfort with the crimes their government commits in their name – with the social media equivalent of a Predator drone. Act.IL is an app that allows the user to participate in the “brigading” (mass-reporting for spurious violations) of hapless strangers for “incitement” – supporting the BDS movement, say, or implying that Palestinians are human rather than a “lawn” to be “mowed.” In a rare case of instant karma, the app was found to be leaking users’ email addresses. A nation where the government and citizen “enforcers” are working together to silence dissent sounds like an authoritarian nightmare, but this is our “democratic” Middle Eastern ally.

Origins of Totalitarianism

Israel is the missing link that explains how “sowing discord” – an offense few Americans had ever heard of until 2016 – entered our national vocabulary. The modern “fake news” panic has its roots in the totalitarian tradition. Words like “inciting,” “fomenting,” and “sowing” “discord” and “subversion” are very versatile weapons in the hands of authoritarian regimes. This language was previously uncommon in the US, but its emergence became inevitable when the “new Pearl Harbor” of 9/11 opened the door to the creation of the modern American police state. Social media are now just extra bars on the cage – the tools we once believed could liberate us, during the promising early months of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, are now used to silence us. The US, following a blueprint for legal censorship set by post-WW2 Europe, is taking on the totalitarian trappings of China, of Burma, of the central Asian “stans” and of Saudi Arabia. Kazakhstan calls it “inciting national discord,” with the variations “ethnic discord” and “religious discord” applicable as needed to whatever activist, journalist, or trade unionist the regime needs to put on ice for a few years. It’s called “inciting religious hatred” or “ethnic hatred” in Azerbaijan, which also permanently bans 5 major media outlets for reasons of “national security.” Uzbekistan arrests journalists for “extremism.” China targets activists of all stripes for “inciting subversion.” Burma, which is cracking down hard on the press as it seeks to keep its Rohingya ethnic cleansing quiet, criminalizes “speech that is likely to cause fear or harm and incites classes or groups to commit offenses against each other.” Egypt detains lawyers, journalists and activists under charges of “propagating false news.” Saudi Arabia recently put a Shi’a religious leader to death for “sowing discord” and “undermining national unity.” American dissenters, this is your future.

I have already explained how the Great Deplatforming represents the triumph of the repressive concept of Hate Speech over Free Speech, and how this – not Trump blustering about that wall he’ll get around to building someday – is what fascism looks like. The US government uses friendly corporations as workarounds for the constitutional limits on its power. This technique was deployed against the Second Amendment in Citibank and Bank of America’s post-Parkland refusal to process financial transactions from firearm manufacturers, and is being deployed against the First Amendment here. Such corporate-state fascism is very effective, and the ruling class has seen fit to share it with the other “Five Eyes” intelligence partners, all of whom share information gathered by their Panopticon surveillance agencies. This week, ministers from the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand met in Australia to condemn hostile nations who “sow discord, manipulate public discourse, bias the development of policy, or disrupt markets” through their manipulation of social media platforms; they also implored Big Tech to allow law enforcement “targeted” access to users’ encrypted data. Flexing the thuggish muscles of the world’s greatest carceral state, the group acknowledged “individual rights must be protected” (and presumably snickered before adding) “privacy is not absolute” and warning that encryption was being exploited by criminals. 

The Iranian Meddling affair is a perfect distraction from the real malfeasance at Facebook, where Zuckerberg is bringing back Stasi-style crowdsourced secret policing. The company is assigning “trust ratings” to users based in part on their willingness to report their friends for posting “fake news,” fostering a climate of distrust and fear meant to instill reflexive self-censorship. As in East Germany, the central authorities can’t possibly police everyone all of the time, and it is much more advantageous for them to outsource surveillance to the people, since one who cannot trust his neighbor will not unite with him to overthrow the state. Accordingly, Facebook admits that “some users” abuse Facebook’s reporting system, dubbing stories or users they don’t like “fake news” – but don’t worry about those miscreants, because Facebook compensates for their actions with thousands (!) of other measures that go into calculating the trust rating. No user can see his or her own report – that would be telling – so we’re encouraged to tread carefully to avoid running afoul of the ever-shifting Rules. Jordan Peterson, conservatism’s favorite intellectual, delivers his marching orders in a video he posted last week – “nothing is ever simple,” he pleads as he tells his fans that he’s reached an understanding with Zuckerberg, a “very straightforward person” who really just wants to keep his users safe from bad guys like ISIS recruiters. And Iran. Because they’re terrorists, you know?

The police state is no longer necessary when you have internalized the police. “Media censorship is a shift in the flow of information, while self-censorship is a shift in consciousness.” When the government has convinced citizens to do its job – reporting friends and neighbors for “hate speech,” “sowing discord,” and “incitement” on social media, for example – a free society is impossible. 

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Zuckerberg admits social media is a weapon, says Facebook in ‘arms race’ against ‘bad actors’

By Danielle Ryan | RT | September 5, 2018

If you had any lingering doubt that Facebook has become little more than a vehicle for US government censorship and Western propaganda, a recent Washington Post op-ed by Mark Zuckerberg should remove any ambiguity.

In his short and snappy op-ed, Mark Zuckerberg admits that “protecting democracy” is an “arms race” and reaffirms Facebook’s commitment to winning. Put another way, Zuckerberg is telling us that social media is a weapon —  and that he has picked a side.

Because, let’s not labor under the false illusion that Facebook cares about democracy everywhere. In Zuckerberg’s world, there are bad guys and good guys — and he’s relying on the good guys to tell him what’s what.

The problem is that, coincidentally, the good guys always seem to be tied to Western or Western-aligned governments — and the bad guys always just happen to be the ones those governments don’t seem to like very much. A conundrum which I’m sure was totally unintentional and which Facebook is no doubt working very hard on figuring out. As he says in the Post, Facebook is working very hard to “improve its defenses” against any kind of unfair or nefarious influence and it has been doing its very best to remove “fake accounts and bad content” in recent months.

The military comparisons (“arms race” and “improving our defenses”) are perhaps more apt than Zuckerberg even intended, given that for some of this work, he has chosen to partner up with the Atlantic Council, which operates essentially as a soft-power lobbying wing for NATO, campaigning vociferously on behalf of the US-led military organization and championing its wars and “interventions” across the world.

In a roundabout sort of way, Zuckerberg’s op-ed is unintentionally honest, because a huge amount more can be inferred from what he doesn’t say than what he does say.

Funnily enough, despite offering a list of actions Facebook has taken against what Zuckerberg calls “bad actors” online, the psyops and social media manipulation orchestrated by Western governments — chiefly, the US, UK and Israeli governments — don’t get so much as a passing mention in his op-ed. This is odd, given his sincere and deep commitment to combating fake news and misinformation. Clearly, the little democracy fairies that whisper orders in his ear every day must have forgotten to mention them. I mean, let’s give the guy a break. It’s a big responsibility to have the fate of democracy resting on your shoulders.

But let’s say someone did slip a note onto Zuckerberg’s desk about some really nefarious stuff that’s been going on under his nose for years. What might it say?

Well, it might mention a 2011 report in the Guardian newspaper which exposed that the US government was at that time developing a ‘sock puppet’ software program, designed by the US military, to “fake online identities” for the purpose of influencing online conversations and spreading pro-American propaganda. What’s worse, this wasn’t even really a secret.

To build its influence campaign, United States Central Command (Centcom) awarded a contract to a California-based company to develop an “online persona management service” allowing one serviceperson to control up to ten different fake identities, which the contract stated must have convincing and believable background stories. But don’t worry, CENTCOM said it was all about combating terrorism, that they were not targeting Facebook or Twitter and they were only trying to fool foreigners who speak languages like “Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto” — so, no problem then. I mean, if they say it, it must be true.

The note to Zuckerberg might also mention that in 2015, the British Army proudly announced it was developing a new brigade to specialize in psychological warfare on social media. The ‘77th Brigade’ employs social media “warriors” (the Russians have “trolls” and “bots” — but the UK has “warriors”)  who use “non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours” online — a fairly long-winded way to say: “We do propaganda.”

It is also known that the British GCHQ and the NSA in the US operate entire programs dedicated to discrediting adversaries online through sophisticated disinformation campaigns involving fake emails and blog posts.

At the beginning of this year, the Israeli Army set up its “Center for Consciousness Operations” which was described by Haaretz as “a new ‘soft power’ psychological warfare unit”. Of course, this was not Israel’s first attempt at manipulating opinion online. The Israeli Army has previously invested in similar programs, with the government announcing in 2013 that it was willing to pay Israeli students to circulate pro-Israeli information online. The IDF is known to be active on 30 platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and operating in six languages. But the centre of “consciousness operations” was part of a new push to “influence the enemy and Western opinion over Israel’s military moves” through social media and other online platforms.

Zuckerberg’s mind will be blown when he hears about all this. No doubt he would march straight back to Capitol Hill and demand an immediate explanation.

Facebook has steadfastly ignored any evidence that these governments are engaged in massive online influence campaigns because they’re the ‘good’ guys so what they do online doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s worse than that. Facebook not only does not care what these governments do, it actively helps them do it.

One recent example was the temporary removal of the Telesur English page on Facebook without explanation. It just so happens that Telesur is one of the only English-language sources of news on Venezuela that offers a perspective which differs from Washington’s view. A coincidence, surely.

Then there’s the fact that Facebook has been deleting the accounts of Palestinian activists at the behest of the Israeli government, as the Intercept reported last year. Over one four-month period, Facebook removed 95 percent of the accounts that Tel Aviv demanded to be taken down. It’s important to note that “demanded” is the correct word here, given that Israel threatened Facebook with new laws which would have forced them to comply with deletion orders if they did not do so voluntarily.

In his op-ed, Zuckerberg claims (correctly) that social media platforms like Facebook are targeted by “sophisticated, well-funded adversaries” who are getting smarter about covering their tracks. But he simply can’t be taken seriously while ignoring the clear evidence that the very governments and ‘fact checkers’ he is so keen to work with to ‘combat’ disinformation are knee-deep in this exact activity.

In reality, we can’t expect Zuckerberg to start caring about any of this. During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg all but confirmed that Facebook willingly acts on behalf of the US government when she assured senators that the platform would never take action to favor a “hostile foreign power” over the US or its military.

But Facebook executives are one thing and the media is another. While Western journalists have sought to wrangle as many headlines as possible out of stories about “Russian meddling” online, they have shown curiously little interest in online propaganda campaigns run by their own governments.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

Read more:

Facebook’s anonymous censors take down Latin America’s Telesur, and nothing can stop them

September 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google’s Mass Surveillance Power Threatens Democracy

Sputnik – 29.08.2018

On Monday, US President Donald Trump criticized tech giant Google for allegedly spreading misinformation about him and accused the company of hiding stories with positive content about his presidency.

“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD… 96% of results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!” Trump said Tuesday on Twitter.

​Dr. Robert Epstein, the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear that while Trump’s outrage was directed at Google’s reported suppression of right-wing outlets, beneath the surface are huge implications about Google’s power and ability to surveil virtually every part of people’s lives.

“The censorship phenomenon, I’ve been writing about that for quite awhile,” Epstein told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.

“I did an investigative piece for US News and World Report called ‘The News Censorship,’ and because of Trump’s tweets on the issue, I would urge people to take a look at that article again. There are legitimate issues here, whether Trump is right or wrong, and whether conservative stories are being suppressed.”

“That, in my opinion, is irrelevant to the larger issues here, which is that Google has the power, so does Facebook and Twitter, to suppress all kinds of material. It acknowledges suppressing all kinds of material, and who on Earth gave it that kind of power to determine what 2.5 billion people around the world see or don’t see? That’s the big issue here,” Epstein added.

On Tuesday, Google said that its search results didn’t favor a particular political ideology.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda, and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,” a Google spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow told reporters that the US administration is considering the possibility of tightening regulations on Google.

When asked whether the Trump administration was looking into possible regulation for Google, Kudlow said, “We’ll let you know. We’re taking a look at it,” Sputnik reported Tuesday.

“The Trump administration might be going ahead, somewhat aggressively, looking into the regulation of Google,” Epstein told Radio Sputnik.

“Google and Facebook have nothing to sell except us. So, it’s a completely different business model [than Microsoft]. Microsoft sells a few things, but mainly they sell software. Google sells us,” Epstein continued.

“It’s a business model, the surveillance business model, which I believe should be illegal, in part because it is inherently deceptive, but also because it’s a tremendously dangerous because of the information they are collecting about us and the ways they are discovering to use that information, not just to determine what we buy and who we vote for, but ultimately to build models of us that allow companies to predict our behavior and ultimately to exercise more and more control over our thinking and behavior. It’s a dangerous and deceptive business model which should be illegal. Period,” Epstein argued.

“The fact is that major news organizations and major universities very mindlessly and naively share all of their emails, outgoing and ingoing, and very important documents with Google, naively thinking that Google doesn’t share, store or analyze such information. The fact is, we are talking about organizations like the New York Times, The Guardian, the Financial Times. We are talking about the Daily Caller, The Hill. All of these organizations and many more and major universities share all of their email with Google. It’s absolutely absurd,” Epstein added.

“Google is the biggest data miner in the history of humankind. Google in fact collects the data and stores this sensitive data. This gives Google the ability to monitor ongoing investigations. This gives Google the ability to assess companies that they might want to buy, to make interesting stock decisions. This gives Google access to a world of information that they should have no access to whatsoever,” Epstein continued.

On Tuesday, The US president also told reporters at the White House that Google is taking advantage of a lot of people and characterized the charge against the tech giants as very serious. Trump said “thousands and thousands of complaints” were coming in about the tech companies.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Giants Enter NATO Service

By Rick Rozoff | Ron Paul Institute | August 28, 2018

On August 22 Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they had arbitrarily removed 652 accounts, groups and pages allegedly linked to Russia and Iran for “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” by which we’re safe in assuming is meant political information inconvenient for the US power structure and its “Euro-Atlantic” elite allies in Europe and elsewhere.

The purpose pursued and the criteria employed are both explicitly political, focusing especially on federal elections. Facebook boasted of recent successes in this regard in France and Mexico.

There are historically-decisive Senate and Congressional elections this November 6th in the US.

At the beginning of this month several major conservative and libertarian Facebook, YouTube and other social media accounts were closed by the above and other parties in a heavy-handed, coordinated manner. The sites and individuals banned are ones that have urged cooperation between the US and Russia and warned against worsening political and potential military conflict between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

What connects the two unprecedented social media purges is an agreement reached in May of this year between Facebook and the Atlantic Council.

The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 by former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter to bolster support for NATO. Atlantic Councils were set up in other member states for the same purpose, and at the present time they now number more than 40 in NATO and Partnership for Peace countries. The name is derivative of North Atlantic Council, the highest governing body of NATO.

Due to its efforts, NATO has grown from 16 to 29 members since the end of the Cold War and in addition has recruited at least forty military partners throughout the world. With Colombia joining its Partners Across the Globe program earlier this year, NATO now has members and partners on all inhabited continents.

The partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council was described by the Atlantic Council’s president and CEO Fred Kempe as follows:

This partnership will help our security, policy and product teams get real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. It will also 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 collaboration, like NATO and Facebook themselves, are not only avowedly political but unabashedly global in scale.

In the interim Facebook has announced it’s hired “additional third-party reviewers” for the purpose advancing the aforesaid political censorship and furtherance of NATO’s international agenda.

Failing such methods, there are also those proposed by then-president presumptive Hillary Clinton two years ago: “As president, I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses.”

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

CIA-Backed Firm Tipped Off Facebook to ‘Inauthentic’ Accounts

Sputnik – August 22, 2018

Facebook removed 652 pages, groups and accounts on Tuesday for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” after it was tipped off to the accounts by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The company has attributed the operators of the newly removed accounts to the usual scapegoats: Russia and Iran.

“These were distinct campaigns, and we have not identified any links or coordination between them,” the company said.

​Twitter quickly followed suit. “Working with our industry peers today, we have suspended 284 accounts from Twitter for engaging in coordinated manipulation,” Twitter said in a Tuesday statement. “Based on our existing analysis, it appears many of these accounts originated from Iran.”

“The thing that strikes me the most is that it’s so convenient, that all of these pages that Facebook has been taking down and that Twitter has been limiting, are all somehow related — or they say they’re related — to governments or movements or news sources that aren’t very friendly to the United States or that the United States government wants to overthrow,” web developer and technologist Chris Garaffa told Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary.

Russia. Iran. TeleSur. Venezuela Analysis. There was a Haitian liberation page that was taken down last week on Facebook as well.”

“You don’t see any German pages, you don’t see any British pages coming down, even if they are doing some sort of sketchy activity,” Garaffa added.

According to Facebook’s head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, the social media giant got a tip from FireEye, a cybersecurity firm that has received venture capital funding by the CIA since 2009. In a statement, the CIA’s investment arm said it will maintain a “strategic partnership” with FireEye, calling it a “critical addition to our strategic investment portfolio for security technologies.”

The CIA’s venture capital arm is known as In-Q-Tel, which describes itself as a “not-for-profit strategic investor” on its website.

The company was one of the few cyber firms to forensically analyze the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee. A spokesman for the firm told Defense One that the hackers “wanted experts and policymakers to know that Russia is behind it.”

In March 2017, FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia, a former Air Force cyber crimes investigator, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the company was able to attribute the blame to Russia based off of “deduction” and “process of elimination.”

One part of the network FireEye identified to Facebook was a page called Quest 4 Truth. According to Gleicher, it “claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media.”

Facebook removed the page of TeleSur English, an English language media outlet primarily funded by Venezuela, August 13, the second time this year it has done so.

“We’re still investigating, and we have shared what we know with the US and UK governments,” Gleicher wrote. “Since there are US sanctions involving Iran, we’ve also briefed the US Treasury and State Departments.”

“The social media companies are by and large American companies, and they want to be in favor with the US government,” Garaffa told By Any Means Necessary hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon. “They will do the bidding of the US government when it comes to data collection [and] when it comes to taking down pages that are not acceptable.”

“It’s a huge PR weapon that the American government has that almost no one else does,” he added.

The investigation came in three parts, according to Facebook. The first netted 74 Facebook pages, 70 accounts, three groups and 76 accounts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Some $6,000 was spent on ads on the platforms, and three events were created.

The second stage included 12 Facebook pages, 66 Facebook accounts and nine Instagram accounts. No money was spent on advertising, and none of the pages had associated events.

The third part of the investigation found 168 Facebook pages, 140 Facebook accounts and 31 Instagram accounts; 25 events were created, and more than $6,000 was spent on ads.

According to Facebook, many of the pages masqueraded as news organizations. Some real news organizations have reported that the accounts were seeking to influence the US midterm elections, but in reality, Facebook just said one of the account groups was discovered as the company stepped up investigation efforts ahead of the midterms.

“Finally, we’ve removed pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the US government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services,” the company said. “This more recent activity focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine. For example, they are associated with Inside Syria Media Center, which the Atlantic Council and other organizations have identified for covertly spreading pro-Russian and pro-Assad content.”

Facebook has partnered with the Digital Forensics Research Lab to combat so-called fake news. It’s worth noting DFL is an arm of the neoconservative Atlantic Council think tank, which is primarily funded by NATO, Gulf monarchies and the US defense industry.

“The shuttering of progressive media amidst the ‘fake news’ and Russiagate hysteria is what activists been warning all along — tech companies, working in concert with think tanks stacked with CIA officials and defense contractors, shouldn’t have the power to curate our reality to make those already rendered invisible even more obsolete,” Abby Martin, host of “The Empire Files” on TeleSur English, told Sputnik News after Facebook temporarily unpublished the TeleSur English page. “The Empire Files” announced on Wednesday that they were forced to shut down because of US sanctions.

“The Atlantic Council is like a who’s who of the extremely wealthy and NATO countries and allies,” Garaffa said. Since the “content moderation” partnership, there’s been a “massive uptick in removing of any content that goes against the mass media, US propaganda line.”

“So they have this unprecedented control over the narrative and the information that we can see, and these are private companies, but ultimately because of their relationship with the state, they are serving the interests of the state, and the state is actually serving to protect these companies’ interests as well.”

Facebook’s last round of bans came on July 31. That time, the company made no attempt to publicly identify who was behind the “bad actors” on their platform, but said that activity displayed by them was consistent with previously identified activity from the allegedly Kremlin-run troll farm the Internet Research Agency.

That ban included 32 pages and accounts and the main counter-protest to the Unite the Right 2.0 rally held in Washington, DC on August 12 — the one-year anniversary to the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, protest. One of the six administrators on the account supposedly displayed inauthentic activity. The other five were totally legitimate, the company admitted.

The bans on Tuesday follow a long line of similar ones issued by the company since the 2016 election. The company banned 470 supposedly fake Russian accounts in September 2017; then, on April 3, Facebook banned 70 Facebook accounts, 65 Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook pages allegedly controlled by the Internet Research Agency.

Garaffa underscored the power social media giants wield, as they’re relied on “much more now than most people did on television or newspaper news, because the stream is always on. You’re not picking up the morning edition of the paper, you’re looking at what happened in the last five minutes.”

August 22, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Russia rejects Facebook’s allegations of disinformation campaign

RT | August 22, 2018

Russia on Wednesday rejected allegations from Facebook that the country’s GRU military intelligence service had been using the social media site to run disinformation campaigns.

Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet Inc collectively removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation on Tuesday, while Facebook took down a second campaign it said was linked to Russia, Reuters reports.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Facebook’s Russia-related allegations made no sense to Moscow and said they looked similar to previous groundless allegations from other sources like Microsoft.

“They are all trying to outdo one another with their statements which all look like carbon copies of one another,” the spokesman said. “We do not understand on what they are based,” he said, adding that the allegations lack “supporting explanation.”

August 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

A Four Person NATO-Funded Team Advises Facebook On Flagging “Propaganda”

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | August 7, 2018

This is not at all comforting: during a week that’s witnessed Alex Jones’ social media accounts taken down by Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google, and what appears to be a growing crackdown against alternative media figures including several prominent Libertarians, notably the Ron Paul Institute director, and the Scott Horton Show, who found their Twitter accounts suspended — we learn that the Atlantic Council is directly advising Facebook on identifying and removing “foreign interference” on the popular platform. 

While the initiative was initially revealed last May through an official Facebook media release, more details of the controversial think tank’s role have been revealed.

Supposedly the whole partnership is aimed at bringing more objectivity and neutrality to the process of rooting out fake accounts that pose the threat of being operated by nefarious foreign states.

And yet as a new Reuters report confirmsFacebook is now itself a top donor to the Atlantic Council, alongside Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations. 

What’s more is that the team of four total individuals running the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) is headed by a former National Security Council advisor for the last four years of the Obama administration, Graham Brookie, who is also its founder.

Apparently the group’s work has already been instrumental in Facebook taking action against over two dozen “suspicious pages” flagged potential foreign actors such as Russia. According to Reuters:

Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.

This is indeed the shocking key phrase included in the report:Facebook said it did not know for sure.” And yet the accounts were removed anyway.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council alliance reportedly springs from the social media giant’s finding itself desperate for outside “neutral” help after a swell of public criticism, mostly issuing from congressional leaders and prominent media pundits, for supposedly allowing Russian propaganda accounts to operate ahead of the 2016 elections.

And in perhaps the most chilling line of the entire report, Reuters says, “But the lab and Atlantic Council bring geopolitical expertise and allow Facebook to distance itself from sensitive pronouncements.” This is ostensibly to defuse any potential conflict of interest arising as Facebook seems a bigger presence in emerging foreign markets.

Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos recently told reporters, “Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation-state.” He explained further that Facebook would collect suspicious digital evidence and submit it to “researchers and authorities”.

Since at least May when the relationship was first announced, the DFR Lab has been key to this process of verifying what constitutes foreign interference or nefarious state propaganda.

But here’s the kicker. Reuters writes of the DFR Lab’s funding in the following:

Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.

Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks.

Facebook has defended the process as part of ensuring that it remains politically neutral, yet clearly the Atlantic Council itself is hardly neutral, as a quick perusal of its top donors indicates.

Among the DFR Labs partners include UK-based Bellingcat, which has in the past claimed “proof” that Assad gassed civilians based on analyzing YouTube videos and Google Earth. And top donors include various branches of the US military, Gulf sates like the UAE, and notably, NATO.

The Atlantic Council has frequently called for things like increased military engagement in Syria, militarily confronting the “Russian threat” in Eastern Europe, and now is advocating for Ukraine and Georgia to be allowed entry into NATO while calling for general territorial expansion of the Western military alliance.

Further it has advocated on behalf of one of its previous funders, Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gave a “Distinguished International Leadership” award to George W. Bush, to name but a few actions of the think tank that has been given authorization to flag citizens’ Facebook pages for possible foreign influence and propaganda.

Quite disturbingly, this is Mark Zuckerberg’s outside “geopolitical expertise” he’s been seeking.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Didn’t Join Facebook to “Feel Safe”

By Thomas L. Knapp | William Lloyd Garrison Center | August 7, 2018

In early August, Facebook and other social media services banned content from radio/Internet shock jock Alex Jones. Surprising? No.  Jones’s  number was due to come up. The big players in Internet media have spent the last few years  attempting to appease the perpetually outraged (and therefore unappeasable) by banning and blocking a continuous parade of Most Despised Persons of the Week.

Wikipedia describes Jones’s “INFOWARS” (yes, in all-caps) site as “a far right American conspiracy theorist and fake news website and media platform.” He’s continuously embroiled in litigation with plaintiffs ranging from the makers of Chobani yogurt to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.  Definitely despised. So now it’s his turn.

The apparent end game: Turning the Internet into the same bland, homogeneous goop we got from network TV circa the 1950s — content without any rough edges that might spook advertisers. And they’re using pretty much the same justifications as movie and TV studios did with that era’s McCarthyist “blacklists.” To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can have any color Internet you want, so long as it’s beige.

Facebook’s statement on Jones: “We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe.”

Really?

Why on Earth would Facebook’s users require protection from Alex Jones? He’s loud and red-faced and nuts, but it’s not like he can pop out of the screen and grab us. We don’t have to watch him. We don’t have to press the play button, we don’t have to turn the volume up from mute, and we can even block other users who try to push him at us.

Business note to Facebook: These “I don’t feel safe” people will never “feel safe” enough to stop demanding that you reduce the content options other Facebook users enjoy. It’s not about their actual safety. It’s about their compulsion to run everyone else’s lives.

Presumably there are more people in the “other Facebook users” category than in the “make anything that might conceivably cause me mental discomfort go away” category. For now, anyway. Keep this kind of thing up and sooner or later people who want more out of social media than finger-painting and group rounds of “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” will leave Facebook and go looking for that mythical Wild West Internet the “Poor Me! What About My Feelz?” crowd is always whining about.

Facebook is  plenty big enough for “live and let live” to work just fine. We choose our Facebook friends. We control what we share with them and we don’t have to look at what they share with us unless we want to.

Please, stop letting those who WON’T live and let live control your content policies.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

The Real “Fake News” From Government Media

By Scott Lazarowitz | ActivistPost | July 31, 2018

Facebook has announced its campaign against “fake news.” But, according to some workers’ own admission, conservatives are being censored.

And Google also wants to censor “fake news.” But Google also was shown to treat conservative websites, but not liberal ones, as “fake news.”

The same thing seems to be going on with Twitter. And again, conservatives are complaining.

But who is to decide what is “fake news”? Who will be Facebook and Google’s sources for real news?

In 2013 the U.S. Senate considered a new a shield law to protect journalists. In the lawmakers’ attempts to narrow the definition of a journalist, some Senators including Sen. Dianne Feinstein only wanted to include reporters with “professional qualifications.”

“Professional” publications such as the New York Times, the “Paper of Record,” would apparently be protected.

So one can conclude that the New York Times can be a source of “real” news for Facebook or Google, despite all the Times‘ errorsscrew-ups, and corrections, right?

According to one NYT former reporter, the Times has been a “propaganda megaphone” for war. Also a partner with the CIA to promote Obama’s reelection bid.

Or CNN, “The Most Trusted Name in News” which wins its own “fake news” awards with its errorsscrew-ups and corrections.

During the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, there were collusions between then-CNN contributor and DNC operative Donna Brazile, who was outed by WikiLeaks in her giving candidate Hillary Clinton questions in advance for a CNN Town Hall.

Other emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks informed us that reporters obediently followed instructions from the Hillary Clinton campaign on how to cover the campaign. These include reporters from the New York Times such as Maggie Haberman who said the campaign would “tee up stories for us,” and Mark Leibovich, who would email Clinton flunky Jennifer Palmieri for editing recommendations.

And Politico reporter Glenn Thrush asked Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for approval of stories on Clinton. Thrush was then hired by the New York Times. After Thrush was then suspended from NYT over allegations of sexual misconduct, the Times ended the suspension, stating that while Thrush had “acted offensively,” he would be trained to behave himself. Hmm.

But all this from the 2016 campaign reminded me of the “JournoLists,” the group of news journalists who participated in a private forum online from 2007-2010. The forum was to enable news reporters to discuss news reporting and political issues in private and with candor, but also, it was revealed, to discuss ways to suppress negative news on then-2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama.

For instance, according to the Daily Caller, some members of the group discussed their criticism of a 2008 debate in which Obama was questioned on his association with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Nation‘s Richard Kim wrote that George Stephanopoulos was “being a disgusting little rat snake.” The Guardian‘s Michael Tomasky wrote that “we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy.”

Spencer Ackerman, then with the Washington Independent and now of the Daily Beastwrote, “If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

The Nation‘s Chris Hayes wrote, “Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor.”

(But has Hayes criticized Obama’s assassination program, or Obama’s bombings or the blood on Obama’s hands? Just askin’)

In an open letter, according to the Daily Caller, several of the JournoList members called the ABC debate a “revolting descent into tabloid journalism,” because of the moderators’ legitimate questions on Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

So, in today’s Bizarro World, objectively questioning a candidate on a controversial issue is now “tabloid journalism,” but making things up like “Trump-Russia collusions” and repeating the propaganda over and over – that’s not “tabloid journalism.”

The JournoLists also included reporters from Time, the Baltimore Sun, the New Republic, Politico, and Huffington Post.

Now, are those the sources of “real news” that Facebook, Google and Twitter want to rely upon to combat “fake news”?

And who exactly were the “JournoLists” promoting? Obama?

Regarding Obama’s own crackdown on actual journalism, Fox News reporter James Rosen was accused by the feds of being a “co-conspirator” with State Department leaker Stephen Jin-Woo Kim in violating the Espionage Act. Rosen’s correspondences with Kim were seized by Obama’s FBI, along with Rosen’s personal email and phone records. The FBI also used records to track Rosen’s visits to the State Department.

Apparently, then-attorney general Eric Holder went “judge-shopping” to find a judge who would approve subpoenaing Rosen’s private records, after two judges rejected the request.

Commenting on James Rosen and the FBI’s abuse of powers, Judge Andrew Napolitano observed that “this is the first time that the federal government has moved to this level of taking ordinary, reasonable, traditional, lawful reporter skills and claiming they constitute criminal behavior.”

And there was the Obama administration’s going after then-CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, possibly for her reporting on Benghazi and Fast and Furious. Attkisson finally resigned from CBS news out of frustration with the company’s alleged pro-Obama bias and with CBS’s apparently not airing her subsequent reports.

In 2013 CBS News confirmed that Attkisson’s computers had been “accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions.” In 2015 Attkisson sued the Obama administration, claiming to have evidence which proves the computer intrusions were connected to the Obama DOJ.

In Attkisson’s latest lawsuit update, after her computer was returned to her following the DOJ Inspector General’s investigation, her forensics team now believes her computer’s hard drive was replaced by a different one.

Now back to “fake news.”

After Donald Trump locked up the Republican Presidential nomination in May, 2016, there were significant events in the next two months. Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele colluded to get opposition research on behalf of Hillary Clinton, the FBI applied for a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associates, and Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner had a possibly set-up meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

Also within that same period, the DNC claimed that its computers were hacked but the DNC wouldn’t let FBI investigate. The Washington Post published an article claiming, with no evidence presented, that “Russian government hackers” took DNC opposition research on Trump.

It was very shortly after the November, 2016 Presidential election that the Washington Post published an article on a “Russian propaganda effort to spread ‘fake news’ during the election.” To escalate the media’s censorship campaign perhaps?

The campaign against “fake news” coincided with Obama minions at FBI, DOJ and CIA apparently panicking over a possible Trump presidency and their allegedly abusing their powers to attempt to take down Trump.

So the news media seem to be on a crusade to fabricate “Trump-Russia collusions” and repeat it over and over, and to vilify, ignore and squash actual investigative research and reporting on what exactly the FBI and DOJ bureaucrats have been doing. Call such real investigative reporting “fake news,” “conspiracy theory,” and so forth.

In the end, Facebook, Twitter and Google might want to reconsider relying on the mainstream news media led by the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, and instead include citizen journalists and non-government-sycophant media to provide news and information.

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has noted that the Founders generally viewed the freedom of the Press to apply to every citizen to print, publish or express accounts of events. We really need to highlight that kind of old-fashioned, honest journalism.

August 3, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment