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Facebook & Atlantic Council unite: Now social media giant serves NATO’s agenda

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | May 19, 2018

Facebook has engaged a think tank funded by weapons manufacturers, branches of the US military and Middle-Eastern monarchies to safeguard the democratic process. It’s akin to hiring arsonists to run the fire brigade.

If Facebook truly wanted to “protect democracy and elections worldwide,” it would build a broad coalition of experts and activists from a wide and disparate range of the countries it serves. Instead, the American social media giant has outsourced the task to NATO’s propaganda wing.

For the uninitiated, the Atlantic Council serves as the American-led alliance’s chief advocacy group. And its methods are rather simple: it grants stipends and faux academic titles to various activists that align with NATO’s agenda. Thus, lobbyists become “fellows” and “experts,” while the enterprise constructs a neutral sheen, which is rarely (if ever) challenged by Western media outlets – often reliant on its employees for easy comment and free op-eds.

While that has always been ethically questionable, Facebook’s latest move, given its effective monopoly position, is far more sinister. Because it is now tied to a “think tank” which has proposed terrorist attacks in Russia and has demanded Russian-funded news outlets be forced to register as “foreign agents” in the United States.

Make no mistake: this is a dream scenario for NATO and those who depend on it for their livelihoods and status. Because the Atlantic Council is now perfectly positioned to be the tail wagging the Facebook dog in the information space.

On Thursday, the social network announced how it was “excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems.” It then added that “experts” from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRL) will liaise closely with Facebook’s “security, policy and product teams” to offer “real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world.”

Now, this sort of talk would be fine if Facebook had assembled a diverse group, comprised of stakeholders from a wide range of democracies. But, by selecting a clearly biased actor to police “misinformation and foreign interference” during “elections and other highly sensitive moments” and also work to “help educate citizens as well as civil society,” Mark Zuckerberg’s team has essentially made their company a tool of the US military agenda.

Just look at who funds the Atlantic Council: donors include military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, all of whom directly profit from tensions with powers like Russia and China. Meanwhile, in addition to NATO itself, there are also payments made by the US State Department, along with bungs from the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.

Other major paymasters include the government of the United Arab Emirates, which is, of course, an absolute monarchy. And more UAE cash comes via the Abu Dhabi state oil company and Crescent Petroleum. Not to be outdone, Morocco, again not noted for its freedoms, also throws significant coin into the bucket.

Clear bias

And here’s the absurdity inherent in Facebook’s approach. It has essentially handed over control to activists who are funded by enemies of democracy and entities which benefit from stirring up hysteria about malevolent external influence in Western elections. Not forgetting, naturally, how the US itself has been, by some distance, the biggest election meddler around.

What’s more, the paucity of Western media coverage of Thursday’s announcement is alarming, because big-hitters like CNN, the Washington Post, BBC and the New York Times (who all frequently use Atlantic Council lobbyists as guests, “experts” or analysts) more-or-less ignored the story. And the outlets who have covered it, such as CNET and The Hill, failed to reference the think tank’s agenda. Notably, influential media journal Adweek even began its report with a description of the lobby group as “non-partisan.”

Now, if you are sitting in Washington, non-partisan may mean supporting neither the Democratic or Republican parties, but in the rest of the world, the Atlantic Council is clearly factional. Because it exists to promote, via NATO, US foreign policy objectives, particularly in Europe.

And, let’s be clear, without Moscow as an enemy, NATO ceases to exist. Which means smearing Russia is an existential matter for the Atlantic Council.

As a result, Facebook’s new partners bear a vested interest in creating the impression that Moscow is interfering in Western elections. Indeed, given the platform’s penetration rates in the country itself, they now also have the power to potentially meddle in Russia’s own polls. This hasn’t been lost on officials in Moscow who appeared alarmed at the development on Friday.

As for why the Atlantic Council was chosen? Well, only last month Mark Zuckerberg was the subject of an intense grilling at the US House of Representatives. And what better way to assuage the Washington establishment’s fears than to employ workers from NATO’s own propaganda adjunct as fact-checkers?

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist based in Russia.

Read more:

To ‘protect democracy,’ scandal-fearing Facebook teams up with ‘unbiased’ Atlantic Council

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

To ‘protect democracy,’ scandal-fearing Facebook teams up with ‘unbiased’ Atlantic Council

RT | May 17, 2018

Would you like a think tank advocating acts of terrorism, war and suppression of the media working with Facebook to protect democracy and elections worldwide? If so, great news!

Facebook is “excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director for global politics and government outreach, announced on Thursday.

“Experts” from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRL) will work closely with Facebook’s “security, policy and product teams” to offer “real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world,” Harbath added.

But wait, there’s more! The Atlantic Council’s Digital Research Unit Monitoring Missions will help Facebook watch out for “misinformation and foreign interference” during “elections and other highly sensitive moments” and also work to “help educate citizens as well as civil society.”

While this will likely be cheered by those who still believe that Russian agents acting on personal orders of President Vladimir Putin’s pet bear used Facebook to hack American democracy, everyone else just got a whole list of reasons to be worried about Mark Zuckerberg’s ability to suppress what he believes to be Wrongthink.

The Atlantic Council is basically the academic arm of NATO, an aggressive military alliance that equates freedom and democracy with depleted uranium and regime change in places like Yugoslavia and Libya. The think tank itself hosts lively debates between people who hate Russia and people who really hate Russia. Such is its commitment to Western liberal values, the think tank actually advocated terrorist attacks in Russia and demanded that Russian news outlets be forced to register as foreign agents – a demand that was actually put into effect shortly thereafter.

As for the haughtily named Digital Forensic Research Lab, it employs such luminaries as “couch analyst” Eliot Higgins, aka Bellingcat, and is led by Ben “grammar errors make you a Russian bot” Nimmo.

A recent “expert analysis” by DFRL commissioned by the British government resulted in accusations that real, live people are “Russian bots” only because they dared express opinions differing from those officially sanctioned by the mainstream media. Yet the top two examples used in the report, Ian56 and Partisangirl, both turned out to be real human beings – one a British man and the other a Syrian living in Australia.

Nimmo then tried to wiggle out of the hole he dug for himself by calling the two “trolls” rather than bots, but nonetheless guilty of pushing “Russian” narratives.

This, then, is the outfit Facebook has chosen to team up with “to protect free and fair elections across the world.”

Another reason for teaming up with the Atlantic Council is buried towards the end of Harbath’s blog post, where she says that preventing electoral abuse “requires the right policies and regulatory structures,” and the think tank’s “network of leaders is uniquely situated to help all of us think through the challenges we will face.”

Having connections and access to power and influence certainly doesn’t hurt, especially when Facebook is being raked over hot coals by politicians eager to blame Zuckerberg’s multibillion-dollar enterprise for failing to win elections they believed they were entitled to.

Last month, Facebook also announced it would rank news sites based on “trust.” No details were given as to how that scheme might work, but Facebook has already partnered up with several mainstream media outlets to “fact-check” news.

You know, the same mainstream media who on Wednesday breathlessly reported the fake news that President Donald Trump had called illegal immigrants “animals.” Even a cursory viewing of the event, live-streamed on YouTube, could reveal he was talking about the notorious gang MS-13, but very few outlets bothered to check.

So far, only the Associated Press has retracted the report, acknowledging that it was erroneous. That leaves the question of who will fact-check the fact-checkers. Facebook seems to believe the Atlantic Council will.

Read more:

Your guide to top anti-Russia think tanks in US & who funds them

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Israeli Government Role in Promoting Islamophobia Internationally

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | May 9, 2018

Much of the study of Islamophobia is directed at the social and political causes and manifestations, including religious and political dimensions and racist characteristics. However, Islamophobia is also used as a strategic tool or weapon; i.e., in pursuit of national agenda.

Many of us are familiar with Islamophobic movements within the Buddhist majority in Myanmar (against the Rohingya minority), and within Hindu nationalist parties in India. It is important to note, however, that it is characteristic of these movements that they direct their Islamophobia against particular groups of Muslims within their own societies, and are less concerned with creating an international movement against Islam.

This is what makes the case of Israel unique. Although Israel, like Myanmar and India, seeks to marginalize and ultimately eliminate a specific population of Muslims – in this case the mostly Muslim Palestinians – part of its strategy for doing so includes encouraging and fostering Islamophobia internationally. Thus, for example, Israel has successfully pursued strong military and diplomatic ties with the governments of Myanmar and India, and especially the Islamophobic movements within those countries.

It is clear, therefore, that Islamophobia within Israel is not only a matter of organized bigotry and social hatred, which one finds in other societies, but also of instrumentalizing or weaponizing Islamophobia as a strategic tool to legitimize and justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the territories under Israel’s control, as well as to support Israeli aggression towards other mostly Muslim countries in the region. Promoting and fostering Islamophobia internationally helps to increase and solidify international support for the Zionist genocidal project. It is therefore treated as an important tool of Israeli and Zionist international influence.

My attention was first brought to this fact in casual but unusual circumstances. In early 1993 my family and I were on vacation at a Club Med in France where there were also Israeli intelligence officers and their families. I got into a discussion with one in particular, who said that with the fall of the Soviet Union, Islam would replace communism as the new enemy. It sounded a bit far-fetched, but in retrospect he knew what he was talking about, and more important, he was in a position to help make it happen, which of course it did.

The groundwork was laid much earlier. As Deepa Kumar at Rutgers University reports, the effort to tie Islam to terrorism started at a Zionist funded neoconservative conference on international terrorism in 1979. Then, after a second such conference in 1984, “both US neocons and Zionists worked together to convince Western policy makers that ‘Islamic terrorism’ would replace communism as the West’s next great threat. By tying Islam to terrorism, neocons would gain political cover for their imperialistic ambitions in the Middle East, and Zionists would benefit from garnering Western sympathies for their struggle against Palestinian ‘terrorism.’”

Since then, researchers like Sarah Marusek, David Miller and others have cataloged international Zionist networks that sponsor Islamophobic propaganda and policies. The work of Pamela Geller and the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative is one of the well-known examples. Geller’s anti-Islam billboards and bus advertisements are familiar to many, as well her so-called “Muhammed Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas in 2015, resulting in the police killing of two armed men.

Geller is hardly alone, however. According to the Center for American Progress, the US has six major organizations that manipulate Islamophobia in order to further US support for Israel. These are the Center for Security Policy, the Society of Americans for National Existence, the Middle East Forum, Jihad Watch, Stop Islamization of America, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Sarah Marusek includes even more groups in her paper entitled “The Transatlantic Network: Funding Islamophobia and Israeli Settlements”, published in the anthology, What is Islamophobia?

These organizations constitute a network, as Marusek says, but the complete network is much wider and more diverse than the assets concerned with promoting Islamophobia. They are known as the sayanim, the Hebrew word for helpers or assistants, and are composed of Zionists who have achieved important and useful positions in societies from which they can exercise powerful initiatives, especially when they operate in concert. Thus, for example, friendly journalists can work with lobbyists and others to quickly and massively spread influence, information, analysis and disinformation that are useful to Israel.

Such initiatives require coordination, intelligence, strategic planning, covert action, technical assistance, and other expertise. For many years, the sayanim were coordinated by the Mossad. However, following a 2010 report from the influential Reut Institute (a prestigious strategic think tank in Israel), organizational changes were made that moved such responsibility to the Ministry of International Relations, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs – better known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The report also notes that there are as many as 4,000 sayanim in each of the major centers of power and influence, such as London and New York. A concentration of sayanim in important sectors of society that inform the public, such as film, entertainment, journalism, education and social media permits them to help shape public opinion.

In line with Reut Institute recommendations, the Strategic Affairs Ministry has grown in size and secrecy over the last decade. Reut projected that Israel’s main strategic threat would no longer be to its military security but rather to its image and influence in other countries, especially the US and Europe. According to this view, BDS was to be regarded as a serious threat, as well as the human rights NGOs, Palestine solidarity groups and the critical alternative press. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs was therefore selected to coordinate a major new effort to combat this perceived threat.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry has informally been called the Hasbara Ministry, using the Hebrew word for explanation or propaganda. It certainly is that, but also much more. The reorganization of the Strategic Affairs Ministry can be compared in scope to that of the Homeland Security Department. A lot of security and intelligence functions were transferred from or shared with Mossad. The Ministry became responsible for propaganda, influence and manipulation in other countries. Coordination of the sayanim became part of its purview, as did thousands of students who were paid or received scholarships in return for haunting social media and the comments sections of websites. The purpose was to dominate the media, insofar as possible, in countries vital to Israel’s plans and intentions, and to sway public opinion toward outcomes determined by Israel’s strategic goals.

Many readers are familiar with the “Brand Israel” campaign. Its function, suggested by the Reut Institute, is to mold Israel’s image in the media of the US and other countries. Its tactics are PR on steroids, such as, for example, slipping subliminal questions into the Jeopardy quiz program and idyllic holy land vacations into Wheel of Fortune, but permeating nearly everything we see, hear and read in film, entertainment, journalism, education and social media for the purpose of molding public opinion. With enough effort of this kind, we will presumably think of Israel as Disneyland.

Another example is Facebook and the personal collaboration between Mark Zuckerberg and Benjamin Netanyahu. After a meeting with Netanyahu, Zuckerberg hired a former employee at the Israeli embassy in Washington to be in charge of censoring so-called “fake news” on Facebook. Only Facebook has the actual figures of who gets censored, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that a lot more anti-Zionists than Zionists are affected. Similarly, Islamophobic postings and Tweets seem to be at least somewhat resistant to censorship compared to ones that are labeled anti-Semitic (which are often merely critical of Israel).

But it’s not just about making Israel look like the good guys. Demonizing and dehumanizing Muslims also helps to justify Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians, as well as its belligerent policies toward its mainly Muslim neighboring countries. A successful program of Islamophobia helps to support Israel’s pogroms of Palestinians in Gaza, its settlements in and economic strangulation of the West Bank, its invasions of Lebanon, its attacks against Syria, and its promotion of US wars against Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Making the US military a proxy for Israel greatly multiplies Israel’s capability, which is why Israel and its US lobby are working hard to create a new international war against Iran.

In order to provide the Strategic Affairs Ministry with all possible means of making such operations possible and successful, it has been assigned some important intelligence functions, including black ops and psy-ops capabilities, which used to be the exclusive purview of the Mossad.  This gives the ministry greater capability to engage in digging up or inventing dirt about people it wants to harm or discredit, especially in the BDS movement and other pro-Palestinian groups.

The hand of the Strategic Affairs Ministry is not always obvious, and it takes care to shun the light. But occasionally its actions become known, as with the Aljazeera exposé of Israeli operative Shai Masot, working from the Israeli embassy in London and coordinating the actions of British citizens working with Israel. He coached them on how to demonize and “take down” members of parliament, including the Foreign Office Minister, Alan Duncan, who was considered insufficiently supportive of the effort to suppress BDS.

Al Jazeera has produced a similar exposé on the workings of Israel and its US lobby, but the release has been indefinitely delayed, which may be an indication of Israel’s power and influence and the effectiveness of the operations coordinated by the Strategic Affairs Ministry. Nevertheless, a glimpse of such operations can be seen in the 2004 espionage indictments against AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman.  The indictments were ultimately dropped, partly because sensitive information would have to be revealed in order to successfully prosecute the cases (or perhaps that was just the excuse used to cover the fact that Tel Aviv gets to decide who gets prosecuted, not Washington).

France can be considered an extreme case. People have been arrested there for wearing a Free Palestine T-shirt. PayPal and several large banks in France recently closed the accounts of all organizations that support BDS, which has been ruled anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is broadly defined, as you can see, and it is illegal in France. You can be fined or jailed for practicing it.

But not for Islamophobia. Islamophobia is free speech but anti-Semitism is racism. In fact, the French equivalent of AIPAC, known as CRIF, has publically declared that “Islamophobia is not a form of racism. We have long drawn attention to the danger of conflating Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. To do so would impede all criticism of Islam, such that the fundamental rights of [other] religions could not be respected. The CRIF will therefore block all resolutions against Islamophobia”.

The writings of Jacob Cohen are instructive in this regard. He has published a remarkable and very comprehensive exposé on the promotion of Islamophobia in France, including the actions of Israeli operatives and French Zionist organizations. But there’s a catch. In order to publish it in France without being arrested or sued, he has to disguise it as very thinly veiled fiction, in this case O.P.A. Kabbalistique sur les Nouveaux Indigènes. It is available only in French, but even in that language you have to know the persons and groups to which he refers with pseudonyms, and few outsiders know the French scene well enough to recognize more than a handful of them.

So what can we conclude from all this information about the involvement of Israel and the Zionist movement in sponsoring Islamophobia?  The point is that some sources of Islamophobia are not attitudes or social structures. We have to face the fact that there is a very potent, resourceful, well organized and well funded international movement that sees Islamophobia as a strategic tool in pursuit of its national interest. For this reason, it is largely impervious to education or negotiation or legal considerations.

In fact, Israel is also pursuing an apparently contradictory effort to encourage interfaith cooperation between Jews, Muslims and Christians, but with the same goal in mind. That goal is to blunt criticism of Israel, whether by getting people to hate Muslims and thereby endorse Israel’s belligerence and ethnic cleansing, or by pressuring Muslims not to criticize Israel out of concern for potentially offending their Jewish brothers and sisters. Since the two strategies are aimed at different populations, I suppose that they might be able to work simultaneously. This is often how PR campaigns work.

The point is that in all the efforts at fostering tolerance and understanding we are faced with an adversary that is working quite diligently in the opposite direction for reasons that have nothing to do with how they view Islam as a religion or Muslims. This is therefore a different type of challenge in trying to overcome Islamophobia.

• This article is a revised version of a paper read at the 9th Annual Islamophobia Conference in Berkeley, California, April 29, 2018.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

May 10, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

While Facebook gets all the hate, Verizon continues to show it’s no better, and potentially much worse for privacy

By Karl Bode | TechDirt | May 2, 2018

Facebook certainly deserves ample criticism for its lax privacy standards and its decision to threaten news outlets that exposed them. That said, we’ve noted a few times now that the uneven press fixation on Facebook obscures the fact that numerous industries routinely engage in much worse behavior. That’s particularly true of broadband providers (and especially wireless carriers), who routinely treat consumer privacy as a distant afterthought, with only a fraction of the total volume of media hyperventilation we saw during the Facebook kerfuffle.

Facebook’s casual treatment of your data isn’t some errant tech industry exception, it’s the norm, making #quitFacebook an arguably pointless gesture if you still own a stock mobile phone. In the telecom industry, a disdain for consumer privacy is a cornerstone of their entire business model(s). Companies like AT&T and Verizon aren’t just bone grafted to our government’s domestic surveillance apparatus, they collect and sell everything from browsing to location data to absolutely anyone and everyone–with little to no real oversight, and opt out tools that may or may not actually work.

Verizon has been particularly busy on the anti-privacy front. You’ll recall that the company was fined by the FCC for modifying wireless user data packets to track users around the internet without telling them. The company was engaging in this behavior for two years before security researchers even discovered it, and it took another six months of media criticism for Verizon to offer a simple opt out. Despite the wrist slap, a more powerful variant of this technology is still very much in play at Oath (AOL & Yahoo), Verizon’s effort to compete with Google and Facebook in the media advertising wars.

Not long after that, Verizon played a starring role in gutting modest FCC privacy rules protecting consumers (spurred in part by Verizon’s tracking tech). Those rules, which Verizon lobbyists dismantled last year, simply required that ISPs be transparent with what data they’re collecting and who they’re selling it to. When California tried to mirror the FCC’s discarded privacy policies, Verizon, Facebook and Comcast lied to lawmakers, falsely claiming that modest privacy protections would harm children, increase internet popups, and embolden extremism. None of it was true.

More recently, Verizon has been facing numerous lawsuits over Yahoo hacks that exposed the data of roughly three billion consumers. And while this was before Verizon’s ownership (Verizon wasn’t informed of the hacks during negotiations, netting it a $350 billion discount), the company has since been actively trying to prevent customers from suing Oath (Yahoo) or Verizon over future breaches by using fine print to mandate binding arbitration:

“The new Oath terms of service “contain a binding arbitration agreement and class action and jury trial waiver clauses…, which are applicable to all US users,” the terms say.

Congress has considered legislation to ban many mandatory arbitration clauses, but it hasn’t followed through yet and the practice remains legal.

The AOL terms already contained a binding arbitration clause and class-action waiver before Verizon bought that company. But the Yahoo terms didn’t previously contain such clauses.”

Thanks to AT&T’s Supreme Court victory in 2011 using contract fine print to erode consumer legal rights is now something we view as the norm. And while everybody can agree that the class action system has numerous problems, the system of binding arbitration is a terrible solution. Under binding arbitration, the arbiter rules for the company they work for the vast majority of the time, leaving consumers shit out of luck. While class actions often only net lawyers a nice new boat, they at least occasionally result in substantive change. Arbitration, in turn, is often more like consumer theater than justice.

The reality is that informed and empowered consumers are more likely to opt out of efforts to monetize their online behavior. And however breathlessly companies like Verizon and Facebook pretend to be dedicated to consumer privacy or policy solutions, they’re going to fight tooth and nail against any policies — even reasonable ones — that could potentially hamstring that revenue. But however bad Facebook is and has been on privacy, Verizon routinely offers a master class when it comes to undermining efforts at anything even vaguely resembling a solution.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Blocked By Facebook and the Vulnerability of New Media

By Craig Murray | April 26, 2018

This site’s visitor numbers are currently around one third normal levels, stuck at around 20,000 unique visitors per day. The cause is not hard to find. Normally over half of our visitors arrive via Facebook. These last few days, virtually nothing has come from Facebook:

What is especially pernicious is that Facebook deliberately imposes this censorship in a secretive way. The primary mechanism when a block is imposed by Facebook is that my posts to Facebook are simply not sent into the timelines of the large majority of people who are friends or who follow. I am left to believe the post has been shared with them, but in fact it has only been shown to a tiny number. Then, if you are one of the few recipients and do see the post and share it, it will show to you on your timeline as shared, but in fact the vast majority of your own friends will also not receive it. Facebook is not doing what it is telling you it is doing – it shows you it is shared – and Facebook is deliberately concealing that fact from you.

Twitter have a similar system known as “shadow banning”. Again it is secretive and the victim is not informed. I do not appear to be shadow banned at the moment, but there has been an extremely sharp drop – by a factor of ten – in the impressions my tweets are generating.

I am among those who argue that the strength of the state and corporate media is being increasingly and happily undermined by our ability to communicate via social media. But social media has developed in such a way that the channels of communication are dominated by corporations – Facebook, Twitter and Google – which can in effect turn off the traffic to a citizen journalism site in a second. The site is not taken down, and the determined person can still navigate directly to it, but the vast bulk of the traffic is cut off. What is more this is done secretly, without your being informed, and in a manner deliberately hard to detect. The ability to simply block the avenues by which people get to see dissenting opinions, is terrifying.

Furthermore neither Facebook nor Twitter contact you when they block traffic to your site to tell you this is happening, let alone tell you why, and let alone give you a chance to counter whatever argument they make. I do not know if I am blocked by Facebook as an alleged Russian bot, or for any other reason. I do know that it appears to have happened shortly after I published the transcript of the Israeli general discussing the procedures for shooting children.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 5 Comments

West Uses Skripal Row to Boot Russia From Syrian Chemical Weapons Issue – Moscow

Sputnik – 04.04.2018

Blaming Skripal’s poisoning on Moscow, Western states are trying to push Russia aside from discussion of cases of chemical weapons usage in Syria, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman.

On Issue of Chemical Weapons

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that chemical weapons remain a key issue in the decision-making process for all countries, as the legitimacy of Bashar Assad’s power in Syria is always being linked to it by Western countries and the US-led coalition.

“Before, we were told that Assad just had to leave, because he was bad but then this concept was abandoned. Now they say that he is bad and must leave because he violates international law using chemical weapons in Syria,” she said.

The representative went on saying that the West is trying to play the same card in the current row over Skripal’s poisoning.

“Thus, inventing the story about the alleged use of chemical weapons by Russia on British soil, Western countries are trying to push Russia aside from the legal field of discussion of issues pertaining to the chemical weapons in Syria. Under the pretext that there is nothing to talk about with Russia, as they claim Russia has used chemical weapons in Europe,” Zakharova added.

Earlier in the day, the British side presented its own version of why Russia proposed to convene an extraordinary session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Council. According to the UK permament representative to the OPCW John Foggo, Russia wants to use the organization’s meeting scheduled for April 4, the date on which a year ago a chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun took place, in order to make a political statement.

“For all of us gathered here, it is very sad to admit that chemical weapons attacks continue not only in Syria. Today marks exactly one month since the usage of the nerve agent here in Europe,” he said.

After the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta in January, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Damascus of using chemical weapons and also claimed that Russia was responsible for the victims because of its engagement in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry back then said that Washington was spreading propaganda against Moscow in an attempt to demonize the Syrian government and subsequently topple it, underscoring that the information on the chemical attacks used by the United States was uncorroborated.

In October 2017, the OPCW report alleged that the Syrian government was responsible for the April 4 sarin attack on the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun, claiming that the nerve gas used during the attack had been taken from stockpiles belonging to the Syrian government. However, the latter was destroyed as part of a 2013 deal with the US and Russia — a process the OPCW itself signed off on as having been completed that November.

Damascus has constantly denied being in possession of chemical weapons, the destruction of which had been confirmed by the OPCW.

On Russian Media

Russia would like to receive clarifications from the US State Department after accounts of Russian media outlets were blocked on Facebook, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

“We expect an official reaction to this situation from US authorities … we would very much like to hear official comments from the US State Department,” she told a briefing.

She called on Facebook to specify its issues with Russian media accounts and explain reasons behind its decision to block them.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Federal News Agency (FAN) said that Facebook had blocked its official page without any warning. Also on Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company blocked more than 270 accounts and pages run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

On Russian Vessel Detained in Ukraine

Moscow summoned the Ukrainian temporary charge d’affaires in Russia on Wednesday to protest the detention of a Russian ship and to demand the release of its crew as well as the return of the vessel, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“On April 3, the charge d’affaires ad interim of Ukraine in the Russian Federation was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was handed a protest note in connection with the illegal detention of Russian fishing vessel Nord by the Ukrainian Border Guard Service on March 25 in the Sea of Azov, the transfer of the vessel to the port of Berdyansk and illegal custody of its 10 Russian crew members,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted.

According to Zakharova, Moscow demanded the immediate release of the illegally detained crew and the return of the vessel to its legitimate owner.

On March 26, Ukrainian border guards detained the Russian ship Nord, claiming that its crew had violated the sea border. The Russian Foreign Ministry demands the Ukrainian side to return the captured ship, which is in the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, and to release the crew.

READ MORE:

Russia’s Offer for Joint Probe Into Skripal Case ‘Perverse’ – UK OPCW Delegation

Russia Concerned, Outraged Over US Claims on Attacking Syria — Moscow

Facebook, Instagram Delete Dozens of Russia-Linked Accounts

Russian Navy Disproves Dangerous Manoeuveres between Russian and UK Vessels

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Facebook Blocks Hezbollah’s Electoral page for Second Time

Al-Manar | March 29, 2018

Facebook on Wednesday blocked Hezbollah’s electoral page for the second time within 24 hours.

“Facebook administration has blocked our page for the second time within 24 hours,” ‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’ (We Defend, Establish), the official name of Hezbollah’s campaign on social media said in a statement.

‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’ is tasked with displaying some of Hezbollah’s achievements ahead of the parliamentary elections on May 6, 2018.

Earlier on Tuesday, Facebook blocked the first page established by ‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’. The newly-created page was rapidly re-followed by resistance supporters. But it seems that the high following records of a pro-resistance page did not please the Facebook administration.

In its Wednesday statement, ‘Nahmi Wa Nabni’ vowed to go ahead with its electoral campaign on social media, especially on Facebook platform.

March 29, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

Facebook fails to remove Corbyn death threat as it ‘doesn’t go against standards’

RT | March 29, 2018

Facebook has refused to take down a post calling for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to be assassinated. The threat was posted on a Tory-supporting Facebook page, Evolve Politics reports.

The post from the page ‘Conservative memes for Tory Teens’ reads: “I think we should order hits on Russia’s spies,” before going on to say “let’s start with Jeremy Corbyn.”

Evolve Politics signaled the post to Facebook, which got back to them with a generic message saying the post does not contravene its ‘Community Standards.’

The post had already been reported to the police and the social media giant, but was not removed. When one user commented that the post had been reported to authorities, one administrator dismissively said: “It was just a joke, chill.”

He then added: “Why do you hate freedom of speech?” – to which the original commentator said: “Free speech is great as long as it is not advocating violence. When it does advocate violence it breaks the law. Anyway must be nearly your bedtime. Nite nite.”

One of the administrators then told the news outlet that he had mental health issues, and that the page had helped him through. He added he would be taking the page down due to “threats” directed at him, his family and fellow Tories.

“Hay yeah I would like to say that this fb page as it lasted really helped with my depression, I have been struggling with it for a while and this page really helped me, I was a big fan of politics and enjoyed taking part, unfortunately due to threats to myself, my family and Torys [sic] in general I am taking down my meme page, idk what I’ll do now, maybe I’ll find happiness maybe I won’t and do something stupid, but that doesn’t matter does it? As long as you got a kick out of it that all that matters, especially from a page run by 1 person posting crappy memes with no where near 1000 followers but I’m glad u think it’s a big deal.“

Facebook is still to reply to Evolve Politics request for comment over whether it is an accepted policy to keep posts which carry a menace to politicians.

READ MORE:

Top barrister claims to have ‘unambiguous’ confirmation that BBC codes negative Corbyn messages

March 29, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

Facebook Scandal Blows Away ‘Russiagate’

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Startegic Culture Foundation | 23.03.2018

Now, at last, a real “election influence” scandal – and, laughably, it’s got nothing to do with Russia. The protagonists are none other than the “all-American” US social media giant Facebook and a British data consultancy firm with the academic-sounding name Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is being called upon by British and European parliamentarians to explain his company’s role in a data-mining scandal in which up to 50 million users of the social media platform appear to have had their private information exploited for electioneering purposes.

Exploited, that is, without their consent or knowledge. Facebook is being investigated by US federal authorities for alleged breach of privacy and, possibly, electoral laws. Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica looks less an academic outfit and more like a cheap marketing scam.

Zuckerberg has professed “shock” that his company may have unwittingly been involved in betraying the privacy of its users. Some two billion people worldwide are estimated to use the social media networking site to share personal data, photos, family news and so on, with “friends”.

Now it transpires that at least one firm, London-based Cambridge Analytica, ran a profitable business by harvesting the publicly available data on Facebook for electioneering purposes for which it was contracted to do. The harvested information was then used to help target election campaigning.

Cambridge Analytica was reportedly contracted by the Trump campaign for the 2016 presidential election. It was also used during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 when Britons voted to leave the European Union.

This week the British news outlet Channel 4 broadcast a stunning investigation in which chief executives at Cambridge Analytica were filmed secretly boasting about how their firm helped win the US presidential election for Donald Trump.

More criminally, the data company boss, Alexander Nix, also revealed that they were prepared to gather information which could be used for blackmailing and bribing politicians, including with the use of online sex traps.

The repercussions from the scandal have been torrid. Following the Channel 4 broadcast, Cambridge Analytica has suspended its chief executive pending further investigation. British authorities have sought a warrant to search the company’s computer servers.

Moreover, Zuckerberg’s Facebook has seen $50 billion wiped of its stock value in a matter of days. What is at issue is the loss of confidence among its ordinary citizen-users about how their personal data is vulnerable to third party exploitation without their consent.

Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of an iceberg. The issue has raised concerns that other third parties, including criminal identity-theft gangs, are also mining Facebook as a mammoth marketing resource. A resource that is free to exploit because of the way that ordinary users willingly publish their personal profiles.

The open, seemingly innocent nature of Facebook connecting millions of people – a “place where friends meet” as its advertising jingle goes – could turn out to be an ethical nightmare over privacy abuse.

Other social media companies like Amazon, Google, WhatsApp and Twitter are reportedly apprehensive about the consequences of widespread loss of confidence among consumers in privacy security. One of the biggest economic growth areas over the past decade – social media – could turn out to be another digital bubble that bursts spectacularly due to the latest Facebook scandal.

But one other, perhaps more, significant fallout from the scandal is the realistic perspective it provides on the so-called “Russiagate” debacle.

For well over a year now, the US and European corporate news media have been peddling claims about how Russian state agents allegedly “interfered” in several national elections.

The Russian authorities have consistently rejected the alleged “influence campaigns” as nothing but a fabrication to slander Russia. Moscow has repeatedly asked for evidence to verify the relentless claims – and none has been presented.

The US congress has carried out two probes into “Russiagate” without much to show for their laborious endeavors. A special counsel headed up by former FBI chief Robert Mueller has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to produce a flimsy indictment list of 19 Russian individuals who are said to have run influence campaigns out of a nondescript “troll farm” in St Petersburg.

It still remains unclear and unconvincing how, or if, the supposed Russian hackers were linked to the Russian state, and how they had any impact on the voting intentions of millions of Americans.

Alternatively, there is plausible reason to believe that the so-called Russian troll farm in St Petersburg, the Internet Research Agency, may have been nothing other than a dingy marketing vehicle, trying to use the internet like thousands of other firms around the world hustling for advertising business. Firms like Cambridge Analytica.

The whole Russiagate affair has been a storm in a teacup, and Mueller seems to be desperate to produce some, indeed any, result for his inquisitorial extravaganza.

The amazing thing to behold is how the alleged Russian “influence campaign” narrative has become an accepted truth, propagated and repeated by Western governments and media without question.

Pentagon defense strategy papers, European Union policy documents, NATO military planning, among others, have all cited alleged “Russian interference” in American and European elections as “evidence” of Moscow’s “malign” geopolitical agenda.

The purported Russiagate allegations have led to a grave deepening of Cold War tensions between Western states and Russia to the point where an all-out war is at risk of breaking out.

Last week, the Trump administration slapped more sanctions on Russian individuals and state security services for “election meddling”.

No proof or plausible explanation has ever been provided to substantiate the allegations of a Russian state “influence campaign’. The concept largely revolves around innuendo and a deplorable prejudice against Russia based on irrational Cold War-style Russophobia.

However, one possible beneficial outcome from the latest revelations of an actual worldwide Facebook election-influence campaign, driven by an ever-so British data consultancy, is that the scandal puts the claims against Russia into stark, corrective perspective.

A perspective which shows that the heap of official Western claims against Russia of “influencing elections” is in actual fact negligible if not wholly ridiculous.

It’s a mountain versus a hill of beans. A tornado versus a storm in a teacup. Time to get real on how Western citizens are being really manipulated by their own consumer-capitalist cultures.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Face it: Cambridge Analytica story proves Facebook doesn’t give a toss about privacy or democracy

By Danielle Ryan | RT | March 20, 2018

Mainstream media have obsessed over Russia’s alleged use of Facebook to swing the 2016 US election. In reality, it was actually a shady British data-mining firm that was running pro-Trump Facebook propaganda campaigns

Irony doesn’t feel like strong enough a word.

Which is worse: Russia allegedly buying a few hundred Facebook ads, with the goal of ‘sowing unrest’ in the United States, by exploiting already emotional and divisive issues like gun control and race relations, or Facebook allowing a dodgy British company to mine the data of millions of its users, without the users’ explicit knowledge or consent, and then using that data for political purposes?

If you need a recap: British firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), working with the Trump campaign, harvested private information from 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge — and then used that information in an attempt to influence the election in Trump’s favor. CA was reportedly paid $5 million by the Trump campaign for their efforts. Oh, and former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon used to head the company.

So now we find out, after all the hand-wringing about how Russia elected Trump through its evil social media manipulations, that there were, in fact, other, perhaps for more influential, forces at play.

“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on,” said CA whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

There are so many levels of irony to this story, it’s hard to know where to begin.

But let’s start with this: At the same time that Cambridge Analytica was mining Facebook data to help Trump, top executives at Facebook were actively working to help Trump opponent Hillary Clinton. Leaked emails between Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta revealed that Facebook provided research to Clinton in 2015. According to the emails, Sandberg “badly” wanted Clinton to win and she met privately with the candidate on multiple occasions.

Here’s where it gets really interesting, though. Cambridge Analytica doesn’t discriminate. After Trump’s election, the data firm’s parent company SCL Group won a contract from the US State Department to — wait for it — help combat propaganda on Facebook.

You know, it’s almost like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook each are companies primarily interested in money and which act with no moral qualms whatsoever. One can even imagine, if they try hard enough, that while Facebook executives personally seem to prefer Democrats, the company would help anyone, so long as a big fat check was involved.

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, thanks to Wylie, Facebook has tried to play the victim — and quite successfully, too, given that most of the focus has been on CA and its dirty tricks and not the fact that it is a giant data company like Facebook that allows it to happen in the first place.

Facebook claims that it was misled by CA and acted to suspend the firm from its platform. But Facebook is no victim. The social media giant still insists CA’s use of the data from 50 million of its users’ accounts was not a data breach because, somewhere within the tangle of Facebook’s intentionally complicated privacy settings, users had technically consented to having their data mined.

Don’t let Facebook’s faux outrage at CA’s behavior fool you. In the midst of all this drama, a former high-level staffer on Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign has come out and admitted that Facebook allowed the Obama campaign to do much the same thing to help him, that Cambridge Analytica did to help Trump four years later.

Carol Davidsen wrote on Twitter that Facebook staff were very open and candid with the Obama campaign, writing that “they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side”.

Those activities included “suck[ing] out the entire social graph” — in other words an individual user’s entire network of Facebook friends — in an effort to target more potential voters through friends lists.

“The privacy policies at that time on Facebook were – if they opted in, they could tell us who all their friends were. So, they told us who all their friends were. We were actually able to ingest the entire social network of the US that’s on Facebook, which is most people,” Davidsen wrote.

So who is really more to blame here? A company like Cambridge Analytica, that uses political bribes and honey traps to discredit people — or a social media giant that sells the personal data of its users to the highest bidder? Or… Russia?

I’m inclined to agree with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who wrote on Twitter: “Facebook makes their money by exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post. They are not victims. They are accomplices.”

Speaking of whistleblowers, it’s been interesting to see how the media has treated the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower vs. how they treat whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning — and Snowden himself. When the whistleblower reveals information that suits the prevailing narrative, they are lauded as brave heroes and truth seekers. When they reveal something that doesn’t quite fit the story they are promoting, whistleblowers suddenly become abominable traitors deserving of no mercy.

Now comes the question of what should be done about all this sneaky business on Facebook. Luckily, I have a couple of suggestions.

First and foremost, Washington should immediately sanction the UK over the now-blatant attempts of a British company to meddle in and influence the American presidential election. I mean, it only seems fair. All sorts of accusations should be immediately levelled at the British government. Most importantly, absolutely no effort should be made to separate Cambridge Analytica from either Downing Street or the British public in general.

Second, the media should spend weeks, if not months, analyzing the motives of dodgy British political operatives and their efforts to secure a Trump victory. Journalists should get to work whipping up massive anti-British fervor and use any opportunity they can to get “the British” into their headlines about evil online influence campaigns.

In all honesty, there really is not much difference between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. They both use our data for political and financial purposes — Facebook just seems to do it all on a far wider and more consistent basis.

It was only in January that Facebook admitted in a series of official blog posts, that it had a “moral duty” to understand how its technology was being used and to figure out “what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.” In response to allegations of Russian meddling and ‘fake news’ on the platform, Facebook said it was taking “steps in partnership with third-party fact checkers to rank these stories lower”.

That’s right: Employing unidentified “fact checkers” was supposed to help solve the fake news problem, while companies like Cambridge Analytica were out there hoovering up data from millions of users without their knowledge and using it for political propaganda purposes. But Facebook, we’re supposed to believe, knew nothing about that.

Facebook doesn’t really care a toss about your privacy or your democracy — and if this Cambridge Analytica scandal doesn’t make that clear, nothing will.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist. Having lived and worked in the US, Germany and Russia, she is currently based in Budapest, Hungary. Her work has been featured by Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, Russia Direct, teleSUR, The BRICS Post and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ, check out her Facebook page, or visit her website: danielle-ryan.com

Read more:

Tories held talks with Cambridge Analytica in 2016 – report

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Social media bow to pressure and censor dissident voices

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | February 27, 2018

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, accused of enabling US President Donald Trump’s rise to power through “Russian meddling,” are facing pressure to de-platform heretics. This has raised fears for the safety of free speech in the US.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past weekend, media crusader James O’Keefe headlined an hour-long panel on social media censorship, arguing that it targeted mostly conservatives.

“They really make sure you don’t see any differing views,” O’Keefe said at the panel.

Last week, the blogging platform Medium deleted a number of accounts, including those of Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer, described by The Hill as “prominent far-right figures.” The purge took place after Medium replaced a commitment to free speech in its terms of service in favor of fighting “online hate, abuse, harassment, and disinformation.”

Though Medium would not comment on individual account bans, it is notable that Cernovich’s account was deleted after he was named in a Newsweek article that blamed the “alt-right,” overseas social media bots and “Russians” for the ouster of Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) over sexual misconduct. Newsweek retracted the story after criticism that it could not be substantiated.

A number of YouTube creators have complained that the video platform has demonetized basically anything that isn’t deemed “family friendly,” including political dissent. Another crackdown followed the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, after the top-ranking video on the site featured accusations that some of the students were “crisis actors.”

Yet if YouTube simply censored any videos even referring to conspiracy theories, that would surely present a new problem.  After all, wouldn’t it also undermine efforts to debunk them?

Conservative critics accuse the social media giants of being run by Democrats. There is certainly evidence pointing in that direction, from the involvement of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) CEO Eric Schmidt with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Obama presidency, to Twitter’s admission it censored the hashtags about WikiLeaks’ publication of revealing emails from Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta in the run-up to the November 2016 vote. Those emails also revealed the commitment of several Facebook executives to get Clinton elected.

After Clinton lost to Trump, however, the three social media giants found themselves in the crosshairs of Congress. Many Republicans joined the chorus of Democrats accusing the social networks of enabling alleged “Russian” activity.

“You created these platforms… and now they’re being misused,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) told the executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter during a hearing in October 2017. “And you have to be the ones who do something about it — or we will.”

So far, “doing something” seems to consist mostly of purging “Russian bots,” as identified by the either the social media companies themselves or an alliance of Democrats and neo-conservatives ousted from power by Trump, and now seeing Russians behind every hashtag.

Censorious actions also include what activists call “de-platforming” of people singled out for unacceptable or offensive opinions by the ad-hoc online mobs. For example, after the Florida school shooting angry Twitterati have successfully badgered a number of businesses into canceling discounts they previously offered to members of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Amazon also found itself under pressure to drop the “NRA TV” channel from its platform.

In a recent interview, former Google engineer James Damore speculated that the climate at social media companies have an atmosphere which resembles college campuses. Such locations which have also seen crackdowns on freedom of expression in recent times.

“It was very much like a college campus,” Damore told the Washington Examiner. “And they tried to make it like a college campus where you would live at Google essentially, where they have all your food and all the amenities, and once you start living there you aren’t able to disconnect, and so you feel like my words were a threat against your family. That was part of the fervor, I think.”

Damore was purged from Mountain View over a memo in which he questioned the company’s  practices when it came to diversity.

While the social media companies may hope the lawmakers would be appeased by an occasional purge of unpopular voices, another danger is headed their way: the legacy media, is aiming to recapture its hold on audiences.

On Monday, CNN president Jeff Zucker addressed the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. His thrust was that government should look into Google and Facebook “monopolies” if journalism is to survive.

“In a Google and Facebook world, monetization of digital and mobile continues to be more difficult than we would have expected or liked,” Zucker said, according to Variety. “I think we need help from the advertising world and from the technology world to find new ways to monetize digital content, otherwise good journalism will go away.”

Tempting as it would be to quip about CNN’s tenuous relationship with “good journalism.” At this time, doing so would be self-defeating as the chances are it would get one quicklybe a short-cut to getting purged from Google, Twitter or Facebook.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 4 Comments

Social media giants crack down on RT under Senate pressure

RT | January 26, 2018

Facebook, Google and Twitter are taking action against RT in response to pressure from the Senate Intelligence Committee, but have found very little to indicate ‘Russian meddling’ in the 2016 elections, new documents show.

Google Search, for example, has labels “describing RT’s relationship with the Russian Government” and the company is “working on disclosures to provide similar transparency on YouTube,” according to a letter sent to the committee by Google’s VP and general counsel Kent Walker.

Twitter has “off-boarded” RT and Sputnik “and will no longer allow those companies to purchase ad campaigns and promote Tweets on our platform,”said the letter from the company’s acting general counsel Sean Edgett.

The letters were provided following the October 31, 2017 hearing at which the senators grilled social media executives on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election via their products and services.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was interested to know whether any of the companies accepted advertising from RT or Sputnik. Unlike Twitter, Facebook and Google continue to carry ads from both outlets. Google’s Walker wrote that such ads remain subject to “strict ads policies and community guidelines,” and that “to date, we’ve seen no evidence that they are violating these policies.”

Walker added that Google took RT out of its Preferred Lineup on YouTube. In November, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, told an international forum that he planned to “de-rank” RT and Sputnik in displayed search results.

Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch wrote that RT and Sputnik can “use our advertising tools as long as they comply with Facebook’s policies, including complying with applicable law.”

Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) asked whether any of the companies provide any data to the Russian government. Twitter said it had received requests for data, but did not comply with any of them. Facebook said it had received 28 requests for data between  2013 and 2017, but that it “did not provide any data in response.”

Google said it had “not complied with every request” but declined to provide any specifics, referring the senators to its Transparency Report. RT’s analysis of that data shows that Google received 237 requests in the first half of 2016 and provided responses in 7 percent of cases. Another 234 requests came in the second half of the year, with a 15 percent response rate. There were 318 requests in 2017 with a 10 percent response rate.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) was very interested to hear what the social media companies are doing with the revenue supposedly earned from “Russian” advertising. Edgett’s letter confirmed Twitter’s commitment to donate the $1.9 million that RT had spent globally on ads to “academic research into elections and civic engagement.” He did not specify the organizations that would benefit from this funding.

Although Stretch said that revenue from ads running on pages managed by the Internet Research Agency (IRA, usually described in the Western press as the “St. Petersburg troll farm”) was “immaterial,” he revealed that Facebook has contributed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to the Defending Digital Democracy Project, an outfit based at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government “that works to secure democracies around the world from external influence.”

Furthermore, the investments Facebook has made to “address election integrity and other security issues” have been so significant that “we have informed investors that we expect that the amount that we will spend will impact our profitability,” Stretch added.

Google said the total amount of revenue from “Russian” ads amounted to $4,700, while the company has contributed $750,000 to the the Defending Digital Democracy Project.

The outfit is run by Eric Rosenbach, former assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration. According to the Belfer Center at Harvard University, Rosenbach recruited Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager Robby Mook and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager Matt Rhoades to co-chair the project.

Among the project’s advisers is Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, the law firm that has represented Clinton and the DNC, and was revealed to have paid for the notorious “Steele Dossier.” Another member of the project’s senior advisory group is Dmitri Alperovitch, CEO of Crowdstrike, the private company hired by the DNC which originated the accusation that Russia hacked into the party’s emails. Alperovitch is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with anti-Russian reports and partially funded by the US military, NATO, and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Read more:

Twitter, Google & Facebook grilled by Senate, try hard to find ‘Russian influence’

Censoring #PodestaEmails, defining Russians, DNC advisers: Twitter & Google’s 2016 election tricks

January 27, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment