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Meeting minutes suggest Facebook’s Nick Clegg said “fact checkers” are “not necessarily objective”

Behind closed doors

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim the Net | June 13, 2021

A European Commission document from a meeting held in November with Facebook VP Nick Clegg shows that this former high ranking UK politician who found a new career with the social media giant believed that fact-checkers the company hired could be politically biased.

The focus on fact-checking, carried out by third parties, was one of the ways Facebook tried to keep critics off its back in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, when theories about Donald Trump’s victory happening thanks to fake news on the platform started to emerge.

The power of fact-checkers – some 80 organizations from around the world – is to declare that a post contains misinformation, leading to Facebook putting warning labels on it, and more importantly, algorithmically demoting it in a way that makes it effectively invisible to most users.

But when Clegg spoke with European Commission VP Vera Jourova, although the meeting was dedicated to the ways Facebook was fighting what’s deemed to be misinformation, one of his statements regarding the fact-checking scheme now looks to be the most striking. Namely, he stressed that “independent fact-checkers are not necessarily objective because they have their own agenda.”

The quote was found in the minutes from the meeting that the Daily Mail obtained.

Former member of the British government, David Jones, commented by saying that Clegg’s admission “completely destroys the credibility of Facebook’s own procedures.”

He pointed out that this means news media can get censored on Facebook without proper avenue to appeal, even if the decision is made by fact-checkers who are there not to establish the veracity of content but promote their own agenda.

One of the topics heavily “fact-checked” and then censored until just a few weeks ago was that of the origin of coronavirus and other issues around the pandemic, including by silencing scientists and major news organizations like the Wall Street Journal – along with an unknown number of less influential, “ordinary” users.

However, even if Clegg clearly admitted that fact-checkers can be biased, Facebook late on Friday reacted to the emergence of the Brussels document by denying that he actually made such a suggestion. Instead, the company continued to talk up its at this point seriously compromised scheme.

“Nick never suggested there is bias in our fact-checking program. He did describe that one benefit of having a range of independent fact-checking partners is the variety of specialisms in different countries and issue areas that they bring,” said Facebook.

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

Hydroxychloroquine supporters who were censored online feel vindicated by new study

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim the Net | June 11, 2021

It’s no secret that the Covid pandemic was in many instances weaponized to censor former President Donald Trump, by his political opponents and traditional and social media companies.

Trump’s position and policy on a number of issues – from the origin of the virus to the best way to treat the disease – was consistently censored online as misleading and dangerous misinformation, even though the WHO’s main objection to using the drugs Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin was that they are allegedly ineffective rather than harmful.

The censorship of many ideas over the last year and the speed at which social media companies labeled them “conspiracy theories” to get them censored, highlighted how much power these companies have over public discourse and how there’s little accountability when they’re found to be wrong.

While the lab theory of the origin of the coronavirus was originally censored online, and then allowed a year later when more information was released to back up what was last year called a conspiracy theory, it’s not the only topic that suffered the same fate.

One of the topics that became “forbidden” in this context was the use of the Hydroxychloroquine combined with zinc, in treating Covid patients – something that Trump publicly endorsed and even said took himself.

Doctors that promoted this treatment and were even actively prescribing it to their patients were quickly banned from the likes of TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Researchers even had trouble trying to study the effect this combination of drugs has and publish their findings, facing obstacles from scientific journals who were on board with the censorship of the topic. But now one such study has seen the light of day, and seems to be vindicating those who said Hydroxychloroquine is in fact beneficial in coronavirus treatment.

New Jersey’s Saint Barnabas Medical Center published the observational study that included 255 patients in medRxiv, stating that Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, and zinc can increase the survival rate by close to 200 percent. This scenario required higher doses administered to severely ill Covid patients who had to be put on ventilators.

Once again, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is among those opposed to using the combination of drugs, is being called out for what many see as a series of missteps he has made during the pandemic.

“How many people died because Dr. Fauci said trust the science and Hydroxychloroquine isn’t effective?,” Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was blunt on Twitter, at the same time citing the study’s findings, and concluding, “Trump was right.”

But last summer, Twitter appeared to be certain that Trump and others promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine were wrong. In July 2020, the company went as far as to limit Donald Trump Jr’s account features, accusing him of posting false information by tweeting a video claiming the drug was effective in Covid treatment.

June 12, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lawmakers demand answers on Facebook censorship at behest of Biden administration

By Cindy Harper | Reclaim the Net | June 10, 2021

Following the revelation that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in email communication with the country’s top epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, House Republicans sent a letter demanding answers on why the company censored lab leak theories.

According to the Republican legislators, the emails suggest that Fauci advised Facebook to censor the lab leak theories.

Ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee, Jim Jordan and James Comer wrote a letter addressed to Zuckerberg demanding answers on why his company censored content suggesting COVID-19 leaked from a lab.

The letter accuses the government of using a private company to violate free speech. It requested Facebook to provide all documents and communication between its employees and government officials.

“In light of Facebook’s subsequent censorship of certain COVID-19 content – including content about the pandemic’s origin – these communications with Dr Fauci raise the prospect that the federal government induced Facebook to censor certain free speech in violation of the First Amendment,” the letter states.

“Facebook’s censorship decisions did not occur in a vacuum, and there are indications that Facebook may have made content-moderation decisions regarding COVID-19 at the behest of certain government policies and positions,” the legislators added.

Until recently, most scientists dismissed the idea that the virus leaked from a lab in China. However, in recent weeks, evidence supporting the lab leak theory has emerged, forcing Facebook to review its COVID-19 misinformation policies.

In late May, after President Joe Biden announced that the lab leak theory needed more investigation, Facebook announced it would no longer flag content suggesting that COVID 19 was man-made.

The legislators gave Facebook two weeks to respond to the letter.

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 2 Comments

Why I spoke out against lockdowns

Martin Kulldorff on the necessity of challenging the Covid consensus

Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard University.
By Martin Kulldorff | spiked | June 4, 2021

I had no choice but to speak out against lockdowns. As a public-health scientist with decades of experience working on infectious-disease outbreaks, I couldn’t stay silent. Not when basic principles of public health are thrown out of the window. Not when the working class is thrown under the bus. Not when lockdown opponents were thrown to the wolves. There was never a scientific consensus for lockdowns. That balloon had to be popped.

Two key Covid facts were quickly obvious to me. First, with the early outbreaks in Italy and Iran, this was a severe pandemic that would eventually spread to the rest of the world, resulting in many deaths. That made me nervous. Second, based on the data from Wuhan, in China, there was a dramatic difference in mortality by age, with over a thousand-fold difference between the young and the old. That was a huge relief. I am a single father with a teenager and five-year-old twins. Like most parents, I care more about my children than myself. Unlike the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, children had much less to fear from Covid than from annual influenza or traffic accidents. They could get on with life unharmed — or so I thought.

For society at large, the conclusion was obvious. We had to protect older, high-risk people while younger low-risk adults kept society moving.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, schools closed while nursing homes went unprotected. Why? It made no sense. So, I picked up a pen. To my surprise, I could not interest any US media in my thoughts, despite my knowledge and experience with infectious-disease outbreaks. I had more success in my native Sweden, with op-eds in the major daily newspapers, and, eventually, a piece in spiked. Other like-minded scientists faced similar hurdles.

Instead of understanding the pandemic, we were encouraged to fear it. Instead of life, we got lockdowns and death. We got delayed cancer diagnoses, worse cardiovascular-disease outcomes, deteriorating mental health, and a lot more collateral public-health damage from lockdown. Children, the elderly and the working class were the hardest hit by what can only be described as the biggest public-health fiasco in history.

Throughout the 2020 spring wave, Sweden kept daycare and schools open for every one of its 1.8million children aged between one and 15. And it did so without subjecting them to testing, masks, physical barriers or social distancing. This policy led to precisely zero Covid deaths in that age group, while teachers had a Covid risk similar to the average of other professions. The Swedish Public Health Agency reported these facts in mid-June, but in the US lockdown proponents still pushed for school closures.

In July, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article on ‘reopening primary schools during the pandemic’. Shockingly, it did not even mention the evidence from the only major Western country that kept schools open throughout the pandemic. That is like evaluating a new drug while ignoring data from the placebo control group.

With difficulty publishing, I decided to use my mostly dormant Twitter account to get the word out. I searched for tweets about schools and replied with a link to the Swedish study. A few of these replies were retweeted, which gave the Swedish data some attention. It also led to an invitation to write for the Spectator. In August, I finally broke into the US media with a CNN op-ed against school closures. I know Spanish, so I wrote a piece for CNN-Español. CNN-English was not interested.

Something was clearly amiss with the media. Among infectious-disease epidemiology colleagues that I know, most favour focused protection of high-risk groups instead of lockdowns, but the media made it sound like there was a scientific consensus for general lockdowns.

In September, I met Jeffrey Tucker at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), an organisation I had never heard of before the pandemic. To help the media gain a better understanding of the pandemic, we decided to invite journalists to meet with infectious-disease epidemiologists in Great Barrington, New England, to conduct more in-depth interviews. I invited two scientists to join me, Sunetra Gupta from the University of Oxford, one of the world’s pre-eminent infectious-disease epidemiologists, and Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford University, an expert on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations. To the surprise of AIER, the three of us also decided to write a declaration arguing for focused protection instead of lockdowns. We called it the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD).

Opposition to lockdowns had been deemed unscientific. When scientists spoke out against lockdowns, they were ignored, considered a fringe voice, or accused of not having proper credentials. We thought it would be hard to ignore something authored by three senior infectious-disease epidemiologists from what were three respectable universities. We were right. All hell broke loose. That was good.

Some colleagues threw epithets at us like ‘crazy’, ‘exorcist’, ‘mass murderer’ or ‘Trumpian’. Some accused us of taking a stand for money, though nobody paid us a penny. Why such a vicious response? The declaration was in line with the many pandemic preparedness plans produced years earlier, but that was the crux. With no good public-health arguments against focused protection, they had to resort to mischaracterisation and slander, or else admit they had made a terrible, deadly mistake in their support of lockdowns.

Some lockdown proponents accused us of raising a strawman, as lockdowns had worked and were no longer needed. Just a few weeks later, the same critics lauded the reimposition of lockdowns during the very predictable second wave. We were told that we had not specified how to protect the old, even though we had described ideas in detail on our website and in op-eds. We were accused of advocating a ‘let it rip’ strategy, even though focused protection is its very opposite. Ironically, lockdowns are a dragged-out form of a let-it-rip strategy, in which each age group is infected in the same proportion as a let-it-rip strategy.

When writing the declaration, we knew we were exposing ourselves to attacks. That can be scary, but as Rosa Parks said: ‘I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.’ Also, I did not take the journalistic and academic attacks personally, however vile – and most came from people I had never even heard of before. The attacks were not primarily addressed at us anyhow. We had already spoken out and would continue to do so. Their main purpose was to discourage other scientists from speaking out.

In my twenties, I risked my life in Guatemala working for a human-rights organisation called Peace Brigades International. We protected farmers, unionised workers, students, religious organisations, women’s groups and human-rights defenders who were threatened, murdered, and disappeared by military death squads. While the courageous Guatemalans I worked with faced much more danger, the death squads did once throw a hand grenade into our house. If I could do that work then, why should I not now take much smaller risks for people here at home? When I was falsely accused of being a Koch-funded right-winger, I just shrugged – typical behaviour by both establishment servants and armchair revolutionaries.

After the Great Barrington Declaration, there was no longer a lack of media attention on focused protection as an alternative to lockdowns. On the contrary, requests came from across the globe. I noticed an interesting contrast. In the US and UK, media outlets were either friendly with softball questions or hostile with trick questions and ad hominem attacks. Journalists in most other countries asked hard but relevant and fair questions, exploring and critically examining the Great Barrington Declaration. I think that is how journalism should be done.

While most governments continued with their failed lockdown policies, things have moved in the right direction. More and more schools have reopened, and Florida rejected lockdowns in favour of focused protection, partly based on our advice, without the negative consequences that the lockdowners predicted.

With the lockdown failures increasingly clear, attacks and censorship have increased rather than decreased: Google-owned YouTube censored a video from a roundtable with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, where my colleagues and I stated that children do not need to wear masks; Facebook closed the GBD account when we posted a pro-vaccine message arguing that older people should be prioritised for vaccination; Twitter censored a post when I said that children and those already infected do not need to be vaccinated; and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) removed me from a vaccine-safety working group when I argued that the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine should not be withheld from older Americans.

Twitter even locked my account for writing that:

‘Naively fooled to think that masks would protect them, some older high-risk people did not socially distance properly, and some died from Covid because of it. Tragic. Public-health officials/scientists must always be honest with the public.’

This increased pressure may seem counterintuitive, but it is not. Had we been wrong, our scientific colleagues might have taken pity on us and the media would have gone back to ignoring us. Being correct means that we embarrassed some immensely powerful people in politics, journalism, big tech and science. They are never going to forgive us.

That is not what matters, though. The pandemic has been a great tragedy. A 79-year-old friend of mine died from Covid, and a few months later his wife died from cancer that was not detected in time to initiate treatment. While deaths are inevitable during a pandemic, the naive but mistaken belief that lockdowns would protect the old meant that governments did not implement many standard focused-protection measures. The dragged-out pandemic made it harder for older people to protect themselves. With a focused-protection strategy, my friend and his wife might be alive today, together with countless other people around the world.

Ultimately, lockdowns protected young low-risk professionals working from home – journalists, lawyers, scientists, and bankers – on the backs of children, the working class and the poor. In the US, lockdowns are the biggest assault on workers since segregation and the Vietnam War. Except for war, there are few government actions during my life that have imposed more suffering and injustice on such a large scale.

As an infectious-disease epidemiologist, I had no choice. I had to speak up. If not, why be a scientist? Many others who bravely spoke could comfortably have stayed silent. If they had, more schools would still be closed, and the collateral public-health damage would have been greater. I am aware of many fantastic people fighting against these ineffective and damaging lockdowns, writing articles, posting on social media, making videos, talking to friends, speaking up at school board meetings, and protesting in the streets. If you are one of them, it has truly been an honour to work with you on this effort together. I hope that we will one day meet in person and then, let’s dance together. Danser encore!

June 7, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Biden allies prompt Facebook to scrutinize allowing spread of election fraud conversations

By Dan Frieth | Reclaim the Net | June 3, 2021

An advocacy group, closely tied to [proclaimed] President Joe Biden, has called on Facebook to review whether its actions, or lack thereof, led to the spread of election fraud claims, according to a report on POLITICO.

The call follows a similar recommendation by Facebook’s Oversight Board, last month.

On Wednesday, Building Back Together, a non-government coalition formed mostly by Biden allies and his campaign advisers, sent a letter to Facebook, calling on the social media giant to commit to an internal review of its contribution to allowing people to make election fraud claims.

Last month, when the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s decision to suspend Trump (but criticized the indefinite suspension), it made a similar recommendation, calling on the company to conduct “a comprehensive review of Facebook’s potential contribution to the narrative of electoral fraud and the exacerbated tensions that culminated in the violence in the United States on January 6.”

The Board gave Facebook until this Friday to respond to the recommendation.

The Board is a team of 20 individuals with the power to overturn some of Facebook’s content moderation decisions. The ruling on Trump’s suspension is binding; Facebook is supposed to comply. However, the board’s recommendations, such as the one highlighted above, are not binding. That could be part of the reason why Biden allies are pressuring Facebook to take action on the recommendation before the Friday deadline.

Building Back Together senior adviser for voting rights Bob Bauer urged Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to provide “an unequivocal commitment to the complete public review suggested by the Oversight Board.”

According to Bauer, who served in Obama’s White House and was an adviser in the Biden presidential campaign, if Facebook fails to conduct the review, it would be undermining the credibility of the Oversight Board.

“Unless Facebook engages in the transparent evaluation and review that the Oversight Board demands, it will have discredited the board’s very reason for being within 30 days of its only noteworthy action,” Bauer wrote.

Facebook declined to provide a comment on the Building Back Together letter. However, a Facebook spokesperson said the company would include a response to the review in its formal reply to the Board’s recommendations.

The letter is the coalition’s first significant move into the online misinformation and social media accountability debates. Mostly, Building Back Together has focused on boosting Biden’s policies such as the infrastructure proposal and COVID-19 recovery plan.

So far, Biden’s White House has been cautious about commenting on the issues relating to social media platforms, such as online misinformation.

Speaking to POLITICO, Bauer described allowing election fraud claims as “a profound threat to the health of American democracy.” He added that the Jan 6 riots in the US Capitol proved “what can happen when platforms like Facebook fail to protect against the gross abuse of its platform and amplify those who spread lies.”

According to POLITICO, Building Back Together will continue focusing on election misinformation on online platforms, and is keen to see how Facebook responds to the recommendations by the Oversight Board.

June 3, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Australia’s drug regulator considers referring vaccine hesitant Facebook posts to police

The regulator cited potential two-year jail terms in some instances

By Tom Parker | Reclaim the Net | June 1, 2021

Australia’s drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), is considering referring Facebook posts containing claims about COVID vaccine deaths to the police after a post showing Labor backbencher Julian Hill getting his vaccine was met with mass pushback from vaccine skeptics.

The post was ratioed with almost twice the number of comments to engagements – a common sign that a post is unpopular.

Many of the comments noted that the vaccine is “experimental,” described Hill’s post as “propaganda,” and voiced their objections to the vaccine.

But The Guardian Australia focused on alleged posts from some Facebook users that purportedly contained an image that cited the TGA and claimed that COVID-19 vaccines have caused more than 200 deaths.

The figure is a reference to the TGA’s disclosure in its May 27 COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report that it has received “210 reports of deaths following immunisation.” However, the TGA insists that only one of these deaths was caused by the vaccines.

After The Guardian Australia contacted the TGA, it said the alleged posting of claims that the vaccine had caused more than 200 deaths were “particularly concerning” and that it would consider referring these posts to the federal police.

Additionally, the TGA noted that it’s a criminal offense, punishable by two years in prison, to represent oneself as a commonwealth body or claim to act on behalf of one.

The Guardian Australia also contacted Facebook which swiftly removed the posts for violating its far-reaching “COVID-19 misinformation” rules.

Despite the threat of police referrals from the TGA and Facebook removing the posts, Hill demanded that Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt, take further action to “combat vaccine hesitancy, and the bat shit crazy conspiracy theories circulating online.”

He also warned “Australians will continue to be exposed to restrictions and lockdowns… until enough of the population is vaccinated.”

These developments come months after Australian lawmaker Craig Kelly had one of his Facebook posts about masks removed after complaints from the opposition party. Days after this post removal, his account was temporarily suspended and he was then permanently banned a couple of months later.

Facebook also expanded its crackdown on vaccine skeptic content last month by starting to “fact-check” and suppress individual users that repeatedly share misinformation. This followed whistleblowers exposing the tech giant’s secret algorithm that suppresses negative vaccine experiences.

June 1, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Facebook exec Nick Clegg says Facebook should spread “free expression” around the world

By Cindy Harper | Reclaim the Net | May 26, 2021

Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, in a tone-deaf opinion piece, encouraged America to spread not only its technologies but also its values, including “free expression.”

While the remarks are commendable, they are also ironic coming from an executive of a giant social media platform with a very poor record of respecting the freedom of speech.

“The US risks becoming a nation that exports incredible technologies, but fails to export its values,” Clegg wrote in the op-ed published on CNBC.

Clegg also offered a recommendation on how the US can regulate Big Tech platforms and spread American values around the world.

“By focusing on the areas where there is agreement on both sides, Congress can break the deadlock and create the most comprehensive internet legislation in a generation. In doing so, it can help to preserve the American values at the heart of the global internet.”

The Facebook exec rightfully condemned China’s massive internet censorship:

“The Chinese internet model — segregated from the wider internet and subject to extensive surveillance.”

He also noted Turkey, Vietnam and Russia, as countries that “have taken steps in a similar direction.”

Clegg continued to suggest that, “The open, accessible and global internet we use today has been shaped by American companies and American values like free expression, transparency, accountability and the encouragement of innovation and entrepreneurship. But these values can’t be taken for granted.”

Clegg’s piece was objectively commendable from a free speech stand point. However, it is hard to ignore the fact that he did not call out Big Tech platforms for their continued disregard for freedom of speech. The company he works at, for example, repeatedly censored the former president and millions of other American, and has refused to reinstate Trump’s accounts.

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , | 1 Comment

Facebook to fact-check and suppress individual users

By Tom Parker | Reclaim the Net | May 26, 2021

Personal Facebook accounts that are flagged by Facebook’s fact-checkers for repeatedly sharing “misinformation” will now have all their posts suppressed in the news feed as part of the tech giant’s latest crackdown on content that challenges the narratives of its fact-checking partners.

Facebook also announced that it will start dissuading its users from liking pages that are flagged by its fact-checkers via a pop-up that forces users to complete an additional step before they can like the page. When users attempt to like flagged pages, this pop up appears, tells users that the page has “repeatedly shared false information,” and asks them to choose whether to “Go Back” or “Follow Page Anyway.”

Additionally, the tech giant will start presenting users with a redesigned notification when their posts are flagged by fact-checkers. This new notification will encourage users to view the fact-check and delete their post.

The targeting of personal accounts is one of the most far-reaching Facebook censorship measures to date with an enforcement measure that previously only affected pages, groups, and domains, now applying to all of Facebook’s 2.8 billion users.

Facebook’s announcement comes days after one of its third-party fact-checkers, Politifact, quietly walked back its Wuhan lab leak fact-check.

For over a year, countless Facebook users have had their posts censored based on this fact-check which branded the idea that COVID-19 was created in a lab as a “debunked conspiracy theory.” But now that the mainstream media and fact-checkers have finally admitted this may not be a conspiracy, they’re allowed to discuss the Wuhan lab leak as a potential coronavirus cause with impunity.

Those who were censored based on this retracted fact-check would have had the reach of their flagged posts slashed by as much as 95%. And under Facebook’s new rule targeting personal account, entire accounts could now be suppressed based on erroneous fact-checks.

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 2 Comments

Google blocks ads from Italian author who suggested coronavirus could have originated in a lab

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim the Net | May 26, 2021

Facebook, YouTube and other major social media platforms have been enforcing extremely strict rules around what their users can and cannot say about coronavirus and the pandemic for over a year now, to make sure only messages and narratives aligned with state authorities and the WHO made it through.

But at this point, it looks like those rules are even more stringent than what officials are saying, to the point that, if applied consistently, Facebook would have to ban Dr Fauci for not ruling out the possibility that the virus was engineered by humans.

This has so far been considered the type of “misinformation” that is sure to get posts deleted and accounts suspended, as Facebook says it prohibits any discussion around coronavirus possibly being man-made.

Facebook is not alone, since YouTube has a similar censorship policy. Only last week, Google prevented Italian journalist Fabrizio Gatti from advertising his book that explores much the same topic that Fauci did in his recent comments. Google said Gatti – whose book also criticizes China’s role – was guilty of creating content with “speculative intent.”

“Once the infection is overcome with vaccines, as I write in my book, we will have to defend our democracies from totalitarianism and the digital monopoly,” Gatti said, reacting to the blacklisting, and urged Google to reverse the decision.

Other contentious rules enforced by YouTube concern any questioning of the usefulness of masks, regardless of the fact official recommendations and guidelines on this topic have been changing throughout the pandemic.

Along the same line, saying that coronavirus vaccines might cause serious harm to people will get content and/or users banned on Facebook – even if medical authorities in Europe and in other places say that at least two of them – AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – can cause blood clots, though rare.

Even though tech giants behind the largest social media sites defend their policies as a way to prevent misinformation and promote official sources, those who have been on the receiving end – everyday users, medical professionals, journalists – see this as unwarranted censorship that stifles any debate.

And as former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson observed, this vigorous suppression of opposing views around Covid is a cause for concern, but is also emblematic of the general direction we’re headed in.

“This isn’t about Covid, it’s about whether or not as a society we’re going to allow people who have views that are sort of outside what the mainstream media want you to believe, to present those views. It’s becoming harder and harder to have honest conversations,” said Berenson, whose book skeptical of lockdowns and masks Amazon had temporarily banned.

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook is suppressing ‘facts’ that are flagged as promoting ‘vaccine hesitancy’: whistleblowers

RT | May 25, 2021

Facebook is taking aggressive steps to sideline any content, including factual material, critical of Covid-19 vaccines, two insiders have revealed to Project Veritas. The tech giant claims the policy was publicly announced.

The conservative media watchdog organization published a purported internal Facebook memo concerning “Vaccine Hesitancy Comment Demotion.” The policy aims to “drastically reduce user exposure to vaccine hesitancy,” the document states.

Another document leaked to Project Veritas discusses how to flag and categorize “non-violating content” that raises questions about vaccination, “thereby contributing to vaccine hesitancy or refusal.”

Comments can be “demoted” if they are flagged as directly or indirectly discouraging people from getting vaccinated. It doesn’t matter if the content is factually accurate, Project Veritas reported, citing the leaked documents.

According to the reported policy, “shocking stories” about side effects linked to the vaccines can be suppressed, even if they are “potentially or actually true events or facts that raise safety concerns.” The company explains that such content should be discouraged because it could “present a barrier to vaccination in certain contexts.”

Facebook is also said to target comments that claim vaccination is not necessary due to low Covid-19 death rates, or argue for natural herd immunity against the virus, as such views are considered “indirect discouragement” that could hurt immunization efforts.

One of the Facebook whistleblowers who reached out to Project Veritas said that anyone who questions the “narrative” of “get the vaccine, the vaccine is good for you” will be “singled out.”

A second company insider, identified as a data center technician, said that Facebook is working to censor all content that can be deemed critical of vaccines.

“They’re trying to control this content before it even makes it onto your page before you even see it,” the whistleblower told Project Veritas.

In response to the leaked documents, a Facebook spokesperson told the media watchdog that the company “proactively announced this policy on our company blog and also updated our help center with this information.”

In February, the platform said it was expanding its efforts to combat “false claims” about Covid-19 vaccines. Under the initiative, Facebook said it would remove content that claims “vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against” or that argues the jabs are “dangerous.”

The content crackdown comes amid growing concern about side effects that have been linked to the vaccines. Numerous countries temporarily suspended their rollout of the AstraZeneca jab amid reports of blood clotting in people who received it. The pharmaceutical company has insisted the vaccine is safe, a position that has been echoed by the EU’s drug regulator. However, some have argued that there is insufficient data to show that the vaccines represented on the market are safe and effective long-term, as their rollout was fast-tracked amid the pandemic.

May 25, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 3 Comments

Facebook’s fact-checkers accused of censorship over mask-wearing in kids

The Manhattan Institute says their “fact-checking” is actually “fact-blocking”

By Ben Squires | Reclaim the Net | May 21, 2021

Facebook’s fact checkers are “fact-blockers,” according to Manhattan Institute’s John Tierney, whose article on the downsides of mask-wearing in children was flagged. Mask-wearing in children still remains a controversial topic, where there’s no scientific consensus.

In April, Facebook flagged Tierney’s article on the risks of mask-wearing in children, adding a warning label that the information in the article was “mostly false.”

In the article, published by the City Journal, Tierney argues that masks are not only ineffective, but also psychologically harmful for kids, because they harm the development of their linguistic skills, and cause psychological damage, and other effects.

City Journal appealed the ruling, a process that turned out to be both futile and revealing,” Tierney wrote. “Facebook refused to remove the label, which still appears whenever the article is shared, but at least we got an inside look at the tactics that social media companies and progressive groups use to distort science and public policy.”

A major flaw in Facebook’s appeals process is the lack of a neutral arbiter. Instead, the fact-checker, in this case Science Feedback, was allowed to be its own judge and justify why flagging the article was right.

“This exercise obviously wasn’t about accuracy. The fact-checkers were actually fact-blockers,” Tierney wrote.

Part of the reason Science Feedback flagged the article was because it cited a study by German researchers who interviewed parents about the effects of mask wearing in children. The fact-checker deemed the study flawed and self-selective.

“Any study can be faulted for methodological shortcomings, but that doesn’t mean its results should be ignored or suppressed, particularly when the findings are consistent with a large body of evidence from other researchers,” Tierney argued. He referred to another German peer-reviewed study, that concluded there is “statistically significant evidence of what they termed “Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome.’”

Another issue Science Feedback noted in Tierney’s article was the reference of a Swedish study that concluded that there was no significant difference in the spread of the virus in older kids studying online and unmasked kids attending in-person classes.

“This makes it seem as if mask-wearing is implemented primarily to protect kids or parents from dying or getting hospitalized. But in reality it is used to limit the spread of the disease in the population, control the epidemic, and prevent the death of individuals at risk,” Science Feedback said.

“To the extent that I can make any sense of this objection, it seems that the fact-checkers at Science Feedback believe that the unmasked schoolchildren were infecting large numbers of Swedish adults while miraculously leaving their own parents unscathed. And I’m the one guilty of ‘flawed reasoning’?” Tierney wrote.

According to Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur, the censorship of such articles harms the trust the public has in science.
“Science depends on dissent, free speech, open debate. Yet in the name of science, they’re actually censoring those tools of the scientific method itself,” Ramaswamy said, in an appearance on Fox & Friends on Wednesday.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 2 Comments

Facebook hints its “Oversight Board” could expand to other social platforms

Facebook has its sights set on more censorship domination

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim the Net | May 19, 2021

Facebook is seen as trying to promote the self-regulating model known as its Oversight Board as a success story that could become a standard for other similar platforms.

There were indications of an ambition to turn the Oversight Board into a bigger, more widely-encompassing regulatory body in a letter CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned in 2019, announcing the Board and saying that while it would initially deal with a small number of contentious cases, Facebook hoped it would in time expand to include “more companies across the industry as well.”

More recently, discussing Facebook’s decision to ban President Trump, VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg did not disagree with his boss’s initial sentiments around the Oversight Board.

“Who knows, maybe in the future it could either be the germ of an idea that is then taken up in statutory regulation or it could be something that could operate for more companies than just for Facebook,” Clegg said.

One of the members of the board, Rachel Wolbers, said the body hopes to do such good work that “other companies might want our help.”

Officially, the Board has commented to say that while the model of “online governance” they are testing here might prove useful to others, their focus is currently on Facebook and Instagram.

And while the signs are there that Facebook would like to at least set the tone and become a leader in the censorship and moderation “standard” for social media – or just toot its own horn as doing this highly controversial work well – those other companies, its competitors, have so far remained silent, and that includes YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit.

One reason some observers give for this is that they “like their autonomy and have different rules” – but there is also the issue of how such an idea might be brought to life technically, given the different platforms and appeals systems currently in place.

There are examples of entire industries self-regulating to introduce agreed upon rules, like the gaming industry. But those who see the idea of the Oversight Board as a far fetched role model for others say that its own existence is “still controversial.”

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment