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‘They made a mess & are fighting fires’: UK academic says Integrity Initiative fatally hurt by leaks

RT | January 8, 2019

Despite being ignored by Western media, leaks from Integrity Initiative have paralyzed the operations of this UK-funded covert influence network, and could lead to its dismantling, says a leading British academic.

“This has made a mess of [Integrity Initiative’s] operations, they are spending most of their time now trying to fire-fight on the coverage this is getting. And they are not doing essentially what they are being paid to do, which is to counter the Russians,” David Miller, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol School for Policy Studies, told RT.

“The British government is getting bad value for money, if it was ever getting better value.”

As part of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, which studies Western attempts to control media coverage of key international events, Miller has played a crucial role in studying the four tranches of data anonymously uploaded and sourced from the previously little-known group, which has been backed by the UK Foreign Office, NATO and Facebook, to the tune of over £1 million per year.

The documents, whose authenticity has not been denied, contain details of psyops operations against public figures, of the manipulation of media coverage in leading Western outlets, and have also revealed worldwide networks of prominent journalists and academics, secretly engaged to discredit, at every turn, pro-Moscow points of view and political developments.

Despite the refusal by all of those named to either admit their connection or to say that there was nothing untoward in their activities, Miller believes that getting rumbled has made it more difficult for them to push and publish anti-Russian content.

“Most of the people named are trying to pretend that this is not all of great significance, but the revelation of the involvement of the government in manipulating other countries, and the political process in the UK, is extremely damaging for them,” he said, via video link.

For Miller, the “cardinal sin” from a UK perspective was smearing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as a potential Kremlin ally in Whitehall, which would mean that a state-paid intelligence operation was meddling in domestic politics.

Miller bemoans the absence of coverage of what he calls a “real, genuine scandal” in top English-language news sources, which, he says, are themselves implicated in the fallout. But regardless, such is the scope of Integrity Initiative’s ambition – from indoctrinating schoolchildren to infiltrating Hollywood – that it should lead to a national dialogue about the role intelligence agencies should play in public life.

“Integrity Initiative are beyond the realms of sense. The activities they are engaged in are morally and ethically dubious, and will certainly – as we can see already – backfire on them,” he said.

“This will result hopefully in the ending of this operation, and if we are lucky, a sensible discussion in parliament about controlling the future British covert operations.”

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Kafka: How Youtube & Facebook Keep Purging Alternative Media

Hassan Nasrallah is persona non grata on Social Networks, where Anti-Zionism is the ultimate thoughtcrime 

By Sayed Hasan | Resistance news, unfiltered. | January 8, 2019

The guillotine’s blade fell again, one year later. On December 2017 already, my 5-years-old Youtube channel Sayed Hasan, mainly translating speeches from Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, was completely removed by Youtube, along with its 10 000 subscribers, +6 millions views and +400 subtitled videos of anti-Zionist & anti-Imperialist content. I then denunced this censorship in detail in my article Kafka 2.0: How Youtube’s Political Censorship is Exercised. And just around New Year’s Eve 2019, the +6000 Subscribed Facebook Page Resistance News Unfiltered, along with all its similar content, got deleted without explanation. The only thing left online is a cache view of the page dating back from this summer, in French.


I had created this Page at the beginning of 2018, since no other place can compete with Youtube and its near-monopoly on video content, in order to reach a broader audience. But it was deleted without explanation by Facebook short of its first anniversary. I can’t even know the precise date of termination. Youtube did at least bother to send emails notifying of the removal of a video or of a whole channel, but Facebook has only internal notifications for posts removals. Here is how it happened. 

I got two warnings from Facebook, dated December 24th and December 25th, 2018:

When I logged in on December 28th and saw these messages, I immediately appealed the decisions through the automated procedure, as shown above, though the specific posts alledgedly violating the Communnity Standards weren’t even accessible, since they had been removed. It means that I didn’t –and still don’t– even know which posts got me these “strikes”. At least, Youtube was specific about the videos alledgedly violating their rules –three speeches of Hassan Nasrallah–, though they didn’t say more than that. I don’t know if the whole Page was finally removed because of a third “strike” –Facebook does not even state how much “strikes” you can get before termination– or because of something else, like constant flagging and reports by cyber-IDF soldiers and Hasbara trolls. But I am positive it has to do with my anti-Zionist content. It is a blatant attempt to take down important speech and silence already marginalized voices, as stated by Vera Eidelman from the ACLU

Of course, one should always protest and complain using the due procedures. After all, Facebook has been known to restore such Pages after the public outcry following their removal without proper reason (TeleSur, VenezuelAnalysis, etc.). I did protest, and I am still expecting an answer from them, without much hope, since earlier appeals as old as September 17th are still awaiting a response almost 4 months later, as shown below (screenshot dated January 4th, 2019).

Appeals are not suspensive. Anyway, without any mention of a motive, corpus delicti and mere notification of removal of my page, not even in Facebook’s internal notifications on my personnal account, we are clearly beyond kafkaesque.

This witch-hunt against the voice of the Resistance Axis online, especially Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (I am the main translator of his speeches in English and French, voluntary and non-affiliated), is not new. Over and over again most often after Israeli-backed indictment campaigns, in 2012, 2014, 2016 and June 2018, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter closed down all accounts affiliated to the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance, including Al-Manar TV Channel, banned for good. In 2014 and 2016, Facebook was hunting down Nasrallah’s very picture and temporarily blocking the accounts that featured it, even though they were individuals having no link whatsoever with the organization: not only Hezbollah’s missiles and fighters, but the very voice and picture of its Secretary General are considered as an existential threat for Israel, whose paid trolls keep reporting his videos as terrorist hate-speech to ban mercilessly. The right to information, neutrality or equity is a chimera in the Internet Giants’ turf, where only alternative views, especially videos hostile to Zionism, are subject to censorship and banishment.

On January 8, 2019, Norman Finkelstein commented on the issue:

It is a scandal that the speeches of Hassan Nasrallah are banned on Youtube. Whatever one thinks of his politics, it cannot be doubted that Nasrallah is among the shrewdest and most serious political observers in the world today. Israeli leaders carefully scrutinize Nasrallah’s every word. Why are the rest of us denied this right? One cannot help but wonder whether Nasrallah’s speeches are censored because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the degenerate, ignorant, blowhard Arab leader. It appears that Western social media aren’t yet ready for an Arab leader of dignified mind and person.

Thankfully, my first article got the attention of Ron Unz, who offered to safeguard my videos in his own website, and I published them back gradually in a new Dailymotion Channel from where they are automatically saved in The Unz Review’s internal storage system. Thus, even if they end up deleted by Dailymotion, they’ll still be accessible in one and same place without need to re-upload them again. I will keep posting my videos on Dailymotion –though it has its own, more subtle way of censorship: age-restricting videos, burying them in the search results… –, and I call on everyone to subscribe to my channel on the Unz Review (RSS feed) and on all those who can to donate to support this work. Whatever happens, the Electronic Intifada to which Hassan Nasrallah called will carry on.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The EU and the warning signs of Fascism

Image source – here
By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | December 10, 2018

Things are spiralling out of control in Europe, faster than many predicted. Outside of Brexit, there is strong anti-EU feeling in Hungary, Spain, Italy, Greece and France. The EU is in danger of crumbling, and people afraid of losing power are prone to extreme acts of dictatorial control.

How long before the EU truly becomes the authoritarian force that people from both ends of the political spectrum have always feared?

The EU Defence Force

Earlier this year, the EU voted to “punish” one of its own members, Hungary, for the internal policies of its elected government. To be clear about this – whatever you think of Viktor Orban, he was elected by the people of Hungary. He is their legally recognised democratic leader. Hungary voted for him – in contrast, Hungary did NOT vote for any of the 448 MEPs who supported the motion, posed by Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini, that:

The Hungarian people deserve better… They deserve freedom of speech, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice and equality, all of which are enshrined in the European treaties.”

Note that “democracy” is not included on that list. “Tolerance”, “justice” and “equality”, but not democracy. A Freudian slip, perhaps.

The European Parliament vote was, itself, a corrupt nonsense – one in which abstentions were disregarded so the 2/3rds majority could be reached. Forcing through a bill that, essentially, calls for a change of regime in Hungary via:

“appropriate measures to restore inclusive democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights in Hungary”

One suggested punishment – “The Nuclear Option” – is a loss of voting rights. Hungary would still be a member of the EU, would still have to pay into the EU, would still have to obey all EU laws and regulations, but would no longer have a say in what those laws were.

This would, notionally, be in defence of “inclusive democracy”.

How long before disapproval and punishment of certain leaders turns into outright removal? Can we really say that would never happen?

This month, Paris (and other French cities) have seen the massive Gilets Jaunes protests against the fuel tax, austerity and income inequality. The violent repression of these protests has received no criticism from either individual member states of the EU, or the EU itself. However, an armored vehicle painted with the EU’s insignia was seen on the streets of Paris.

Both Macron and Merkel have talked, recently, of the need for an EU Army – will these protests in France be used as an excuse to implement those plans?

Let’s assume the EU Army is brought about – let us supply the European Union with its coveted “defence force”. 250,000 hypothetical men, drawn from all the member states. What is their purpose? What is their function?

For example, would they have been deployed to Catalonia last year to “keep the peace”? Would an EU army have moved against a peaceful vote to “defend” the integrity of the Union?

Would a possible step in dealing with Viktor Orban’s government be to deploy the EU Defence Force to Budapest and remove the man who is a threat to “equality”? Would that count as “appropriate measures to restore inclusive democracy”?

If Brexit is ruled a “threat to human rights” (or some other collection of buzzwords), would the EU army be rolling armoured vehicles along the streets of London to protect us from ourselves?

There have been, and could be, many situations in the EU’s recent past where military intervention was only avoided because it literally wasn’t an option. An EU Army would make it an option, do we trust Brussels not to avail themselves of it?

Some argue that an EU Army would be a good thing because it would decrease Europe’s reliance on NATO, and remove US influence. I don’t believe that to be the case, and as evidence, I supply the fact that the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a well-known US-backed NGO, is very much in favour of the plan.

The EU’s Ministry of Truth

Of course, the increasing possibility of an EU consensus imposed by force is only one part of the threat.

Outside of physical repression – both by the EU (of national sovereignty), and by the state (of the individual right to protest) – there are warning signs of intellectual repression. A coming crackdown on freedom of expression and opinion.

There is a scary article on The Guardian today: Russia ‘paved way for Ukraine ship seizures with fake news drive’ . It’s not scary because of the headline – it’s scary because of the motivations behind it, and the implications for the future of Europe.

The meat of the article is an unsourced, unlinked, evidence-free claim of Russian malfeasance, and as such, Hitchens’ Razor applies.

The first half of the article is riddled with lies, omissions and mistakes. It’s the Guardian, you expect that. Disregard the babble about cholera and nuclear bombs. Disregard the factual errors – many though they are. In this instance, none of it matters.

All that matters is the second half – the proposed “solution” to the “problem” to which this article is a “reaction”. Namely, online disinformation. Specifically, “Russian” online disinformation.

Julian King, former UK ambassador to France and now EU security commissioner, wants tech companies to take steps to prevent the spread of “fake news”. It’s a war against dissent, with three fronts.

One – establish the “truth”:

Last week the European Commission announced it would set up a rapid alert system to help EU member states recognise disinformation campaigns

Essentially, there will be an EU mandated list of acceptable “news”, and anything which deviates from that in the slightest way will be branded “disinformation”. This will allow people to dismiss, rather than engage with, views that differ from their own.

Two – eliminate dissent:

King said social media platforms needed to identify and close down fake accounts that were spreading disinformation.

By “fake accounts”, they mean accounts which spread “disinformation”. Being a “bot” is not about whether or not you are a real person, it’s about whether or not you have the right opinions. As has been demonstrated, they either do not know or do not care who is real and who is not. Perfectly real people have been labelled Russian bots in the media, when they are proven to be neither Russian nor bots. Whether this is incompetence or corruption does not matter, the point is governments have shown they cannot be trusted on this issue.

Three – control the narrative:

We need to see greater clarity around algorithms, information on how they prioritise what content to display, for example. If you search for anything EU-related on Google, content from Russian propaganda outlets like RT or Sputnik is invariably in the first few results…. All of this should be subject to independent oversight and audit.

The Google algorithm is allowing news that either disagrees with the EU, or is directly critical of it, to be shown in their results. This is unacceptable. What the EU security commissioner wants is for Google to “fix” their system, to make sure news that deviates from the EU’s agenda does not show up in their results.

Now, if you think that sounds like censorship, don’t worry because [our emphasis]:

What we are not trying to do is to censor the internet. There is no suggestion that we – or anyone else – should become the arbiter of what content users should or shouldn’t be consuming online. This is about transparency, not censorship.

The EU wants Google to remove certain websites from their algorithm, but it’s about transparency, not censorship. So that’s OK.

Conclusion

To sum up:

  • The European Union’s two major figureheads are both in favour of an EU army.
  • The European Union’s flag is painted on armoured vehicles repressing anti-government protests in France.
  • The European Union is putting aside £4.6 millio (5 million Euros) to “help people recognise disinformation”.
  • The European Union wants to pressure social media companies into “shutting down” accounts that spread “fake news”.
  • The European Union wants Google to alter their algorithm, to promote news that praises the EU and demote sites critical of it.
  • The European Union wants us to understand that this is about “transparency” and is definitely NOT censorship.

Does this sound like an organization of which we want to be a part? Are we supposed to like the proposed multi-national EU “defense force” putting down anti-EU marches on the streets of Barcelona or Rome? To cheer on the idea that the EU Army could be sent into non-cooperative member-states to remove “dangerous” elected leaders because they are a threat to “equality”?

We won’t even be able to get to the truth of those matters, because the EU will be supplying lists of “fake news” social media accounts to Twitter and Facebook, who will dutifully shut them down. While Google alters and re-alters their algorithm to make sure any news covering EU repression of democracy is pushed so far down the results pages it may as well not exist.

The British press, pundits and talking heads are constantly referring to the “Brexit crisis”, but that’s just hysteria and fear mongering. Re-negotiating your position in a trade bloc is NOT a crisis. A crisis is what happens when an unelected, bureaucratic power structure suddenly senses its grip on power is slipping, and acts accordingly.

And a crisis could well be on the horizon. The signs are there, if you want to see them.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli NGO Threatens to Sue Facebook for Hamas TV Station Account

Sputnik – 16.11.2018

Shurat Hadin, an Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO) modeled off the US Southern Poverty Law Center, has threatened Facebook with a lawsuit if the social media giant continues to permit Hamas to run the Al-Aqsa TV page.

The group sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the head of its Israeli branch, Adi Soffer-Teeri, in which it claimed that, because Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza is run by Hamas, the governing party of the territory, and the US government considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization, the social media site is violating US law by continuing to allow the station’s Facebook account to function, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

Like many news pages on social media, Al-Aqsa TV’s Facebook page carries video clips previously broadcast and links to news articles.

“This conduct is particularly egregious in light of the barrages of deadly missile and mortar attacks the Hamas has launched against Israeli civilians and residential centres in the last 24 hours,” writes Shurat Hadin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

“Please be advised that, in the event Facebook continues to provide accounts or services to Al-Aqsa TV, we intend to notify the appropriate governmental authorities of Facebook’s willful violation of US and Israeli law,” Darshan-Leitner wrote. “In addition, we reserve the right to pursue all legal avenues, including civil litigation, against Facebook on behalf of the victims of Hamas’ terrorist attacks.”

The NGO claims that by allowing the account to operate, Facebook is violating the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992, which prohibits American businesses from providing any material support, including services, to designated terrorist groups and their leaders.

Hamas started the TV station, which is named after the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, in 2006 after it won elections in the territory of Gaza, which it has governed ever since.

Shurat Hadin was founded in 2003 and modeled after the Southern Poverty Law Center, a US NGO that brings financially crippling litigation against ‘racist’ groups, politicians and public figures. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair took over as social media coordinator for the NGO earlier this year, the Jerusalem Post noted.

The group has gone after Facebook before for allowing Hamas to post on its social media site. In July 2016, Shurat Hadin sued Facebook for $1 billion on behalf of several families of victims of Hamas attacks. All the victims were either US nationals or US-Israelis with dual citizenship who died in Israel between 2014 and 2016. The suit alleged that Palestinian social media posts had fanned the flames of an explosion of violence since October 2015.

Filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, a judge threw out the case in 2017, but not before Shurat Hadin tried to raise $30,000 to place billboards near Zuckerberg’s house in support of the suit.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Francis Fukuyama and the End of Social Media Freedoms

By Robert BRIDGE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.11.2018

The American political scientist known for promoting the “end of history” fish tale following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the spread of Liberal-capitalist values around the world now appears to be angling for ways – wittingly or unwittingly – to curtail the freedom of speech.

Writing in The American Interest as the virtual crackdown on Alex Jones was underway, Fukuyama argued that the usual suspects of the social media universe – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, and all of their vast subterranean holdings – need to come clean by entering a two-step rehabilitation program where they must: (1.) “accept the fact that they are media companies with an obligation to curate information on their platforms,” and (2.) “accept the fact that they need to get smaller.”

I think we can safely skip the “need to get smaller” suggestion with a hearty chuckle and focus our attention instead on the question of social media being held to the same rules as those that regulate America’s squeaky clean media divas, like The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC.

The social media monsters argue that since they do not create original content, but rather mindlessly provide the clean slate, as it were, for third-party developers to post their own thoughts, opinions, news and of course wild-eyed ‘conspiracy theories,’ they cannot be bound by the same rules and regulations as the mainstream media, which must bear ultimate responsibility for its increasingly damaged goods.

“We’re not a media company,” the late Steve Jobs of Apple fame told Esquire in a rough and tumble interview. “We don’t own media. We don’t own music. We don’t own films or television. We’re not a media company. We’re just Apple.” On that note, Jobs reached over and switched off the interviewer’s tape recorder, bringing an abrupt end to the strained conversation.

Thanks to the provisions laid out in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the social media platforms are granted immunity from liability for users of an “interactive computer service” who publish information provided by third-party users.

The act was overwhelmingly supported by Congress following the verdict in the 1995 court case, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., which suggested that internet service providers that assumed an editorial role with regards to client content thus became publishers and legally vulnerable for any wrongdoing (libel and slander, for example) committed by their customers. At the time, when alternative voices on the social media frontier had not turned into actual competition for the legacy media, legislators deemed it more important to protect service providers from criminal proceedings than to nip freedom of speech in the bud. Honorable? Yes. But I wonder if they’d have made the same decision knowing the powerful forces they had unleashed.

At this point, Fukuyama summarizes the plight regarding the social media platforms with relation to their independent creators, who wish to express their freedom of speech.

“Section 230 was put in place both to protect freedom of speech and to promote growth and innovation in the tech sector. Both users and general publics were happy with this outcome for the next couple of decades, as social media appeared and masses of people gravitated to platforms like Facebook and Twitter for information and communication. But these views began to change dramatically following the 2016 elections in the United States and Britain, and subsequent revelations both of Russian meddling in the United States and other countries, and of the weaponization of social media by far-Right actors like Alex Jones.”

Despite being a learned and intelligent man, Fukuyama jumps headfirst into the shallow end of a pool known as ‘Blame Russia’, while, at the same time, blames the far-Right for the “weaponization” of social media, as though the Left isn’t equally up to the challenge of waging dirty tricks, in a crucial election year, no less.

Next, he genuflects before the Almighty Algorythm, the godhead of Silicon Valley’s Valhalla, which, as the argument goes, was responsible for attracting huge audiences to particular channels and their messages, instead of the other way around.

“Their business model was built on clicks and virality, which led them to tune their algorithms in ways that actively encouraged conspiracy theories, personal abuse, and other content that was most likely to generate user interaction,” Fukuyama surmises. “This was the opposite of the public broadcasting ideal, which (as defined, for example, by the Council of Europe) privileged material deemed in the broad public interest.”

In other words, had Mark Zuckerberg and friends not toggled their algorithmic settings to ‘conspiracy theories,’ then the easily manipulated masses would never have given a second thought to well-known catastrophes based on pure and unadulterated evil, like the Invasion of Iraq in 2003, which, as the tin-foil-hat crowd constantly crows, was made possible by the fake news of weapons of mass destruction.

Here, Fukuyama lays on thick his extra-nutty academic drivel: “This is the most important sense in which the big internet platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become media companies: They craft algorithms that determine what their users’ limited attention will focus on, driven (at least up to now) not by any broad vision of public responsibility but rather by profit maximization, which leads them to privilege virality.”

In other words, internet users are not inquisitive creatures by nature with fully functioning frontal lobe regions like the honorable Francis Fukuyama. They do not actively search out subjects of interest with critical reasoning skills and ponder cause and effect. And let’s not even mention the mainstream media’s disastrous coverage of current events, which led to the alienation of mainstream audiences in the first place. In Fukuyama’s matrix, otherwise normal people subscribe to ‘alternative facts’ or conspiracy theories because those damn algorithms kept popping up!

This ‘more righteous than thou’ attitude on the part of left-leaning Silicon Valley prompted hundreds of independent channels – the overwhelming majority from the right – to be swept away by a force known as ‘private ownership’ where brutal censorship has become the latest fad. Fukuyama, serving as the mouthpiece for both corporate and political interests, shrugs off this noxious phenomenon by arguing: “Private actors can and do censor material all the time, and the platforms in question are not acting on behalf of the U.S. government.”

Let’s give Fukuyama the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there really is no cooperation between the most powerful and influential industries for manipulating public opinion and the U.S. government. Yet we would do well to keep in mind some key facts that strongly suggest otherwise. During the two-term presidency of Barack Obama (2009-2016), Google executives met on average once a week in the White House with government officials. According to the Campaign for Accountability, 169 Google employees met with 182 government officials at least 427 times, a Beltway record for such chumminess. What is so potentially disastrous about such meetings is that Google, the chokepoint on news and information, which has the power to actually rewrite history, is fiercely Liberal in its political outlook as per some whistleblowers who escaped the well-manicured campus known for employee neck massages and free lunches. What was discussed in the White House? Nobody really knows. However, there is already a treasure trove of publicly available information detailing the intimate relationship between US intelligence and Google (as well as the other usual suspects).

Fukuyama tries to conclude with an upbeat, happy message by saying “private sector actors… have a responsibility to help maintain the health of [America’s democratic] political system.” However, judging by everything in the article that preceded that remark, I would have to guess Francis Fukuyama would fully support yet more intolerance in the world of social media as a means of preserving America’s freedom-squashing status quo.

November 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

gab.com & the Great Purge on the Horizon

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 30, 2018

gab.com is an alternative social network, set up and launched in 2016. It’s founder, Andrew Torba, stated he wanted to create a home for free speech, and counter what he perceived as “liberal bias” on other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Two days ago, their website was taken down. This was in response to being blocked by PayPal, and then having their server space taken away by their hosting service. gab’s founder posted this statement on their stripped-down website.

Why did this happen?

Because Robert Bowers, the alleged gunman at the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, had a gab account and posted some things about “the jews” on it.

Is it right, or sensible to punish a platform for the (alleged) actions of ONE user out of 100,000s? And is that really what’s going on?

Robert Bowers also had a Twitter account. And a Facebook page. Neither of these platforms has faced punishment, or censure, from any quarter.

Cesar Sayoc – the alleged MAGABomber – also had a twitter account and allegedly sent threatening messages to some public figures on it. Again, Twitter has not been blocked by PayPal.

In fact, Twitter and Facebook – though occasionally criticised for “not doing enough to combat hate”, have never been blocked, or threatened in any way. Even though Twitter hosted countless pro-ISIS accounts, regularly cited in the media.

So clearly, it can be reasoned, PayPal et al are not only responding to the alleged statements of Robert Bowers. There is a deeper agenda at work.

In fact, this isn’t the first time larger internet companies have tried to stymie gab’s existence. When they were first launched, in 2016, Apple denied them a place in their app store because they allegedly allowed pornography to be posted. When gab installed a filter to block people posting pornography, Apple again denied them access to the app store, this time for breaching their “hate speech” regulations. Google Play did the same in 2017 (reminder – Google allowed ISIS to release their own app on their marketplace).

Early this year a cross-university study conducted on gab (and other “alt-right” sites) found that gab.com used “free speech as shield to protect their “alt-right” views”. (I’m not sure what, if anything, that sentence really means. Surely free speech is a shield protecting all speech? Isn’t that the point?)

In April this year VICE magazine ran an article headlined “Gab Is the Alt-Right Social Network Racists Are Moving to”. It was resoundingly negative about the site, painting it as nothing but a home for racism and “conspiracy theorists”, despite the owner’s protestations that gab is all about free speech, and that anyone is free to join.

Logically, the emergence of networks like gab was inevitable. The internet has always been that way, you shut down one hallway and four more are forced open. Look at Piratebay, notionally banned, yet available through a million different proxies that spring up faster than governments can shut them down.

Social media has undergone unprecedented purges this year. Alex Jones was banned across virtually every mainstream platform. Hundreds of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were shut down on spurious grounds – allegations of being “Kremlin backed” or “Iran bots”fly around, without any supporting evidence ever being released to the public. This summer, Twitter blocked millions of “fake accounts” (we covered that here).

These actions aren’t independent, either. Alex Jones was banned from multiple platforms, all within 24 hours. Just earlier this month, Facebook unpublished over 800 pages, whilst twitter blocked the accounts of the same pages… all on the same day. Clearly, the companies are either coordinating with each other (possibly in breach of anti-trust laws), or are receiving directions from the same source – almost certainly the government.

In that climate, new platforms were always going to emerge. It’s the classic “Well then I’m gonna build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers” situation.

YouTube is increasingly corporate, controlled and fake. Demonetising user videos and adding more and more advertisements… so dtube and bitchute open. Twitter censors your free-speech, so we’ll start up a platform where you can say what you want.

Twitter and Facebook both saw their stock-prices tumble as a result of their respective “purges”. So, is the anti-gab movement simply a case of mega-corporations protecting their monopoly by shutting down a budding rival? Is this all just about control of the market and money?

Unfortunately, it seems not. Like the vast majority of media roll-outs, it seems this is a convergence of interests – financial on the one hand, and political on the other.

The push to ban the “alt-right” – or, the even broader term – “hate speech” has been on-going for several years now. It will inevitably pick up in the wake of the events of this week.

Within hours, predictable voices were discussing the “necessary limitations on free speech”:

Today, CNN ran this piece: “Big Tech made the social media mess. It has to fix it”.

Paul Mason, writing in the New Statesman, argued that YouTube needs to censor all the “alt-right” on their platform.

It’s a two-step process – having first established the need to “limit” hate speech, we can then move on to defining what “hate speech” really means.

They’ve started on that already. Criticising George Soros is “anti-semitic” now. As is the term “neocons”:

What else will be deemed hate speech? What does “hate speech” really mean? The simple answer to that is: Whatever they want it to mean.

It seems like there’s a purge coming, you can feel it in the wind. A purge motivated by the greed of multinational companies wielding power that rivals nations, and fuelled by the fascistic need of the “powers-that-shouldn’t-be” to limit and control our existence…just because they can.

It is both authoritarian power grab, and a manifestation of corporate greed. It’s amazing how often those two things come together.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Shadow Banning Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: We’re All Digital Ghosts Now

By Charles Hugh Smith | Of Two Minds | October 27, 2018

Just about the only bulwark against being silenced by the modern-day tech-corporate-NKVD-Stasi is Patreon.

If you do a search of shadow banning, you’ll find sites that claim to help you identify whether Twitter or Instagram has shadow banned your account. The basic idea of shadow banning is to spoof the shadow-banned user into believing their public posts are visible to all while in reality the posts are visible only to the user or in some cases to the users’ followers.

Wikipedia’s definition of shadow banning is:

“Shadow banning (also called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting) is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.”

Here is whatis.com’s description: “Shadow banning is controversial because it allows an administrator or moderator to effectively become a censor and prevent specific users from interacting with other members of an online community on an equal basis.”

Shadow banning and outright banning are only the tip of the iceberg: everyone who posts content on the web or social media is subject to much more subtle and completely opaque controls on how much of your digital presence has been ghosted–not just in social media communities but in searches and how links to your site/content and re-posts of your content are handled by the tech cartel that controls what’s visible and “found” on the web and social media.

This cartel is dominated by Google and Facebook. Google controls over 90% of all search: what search results are displayed, the weight given to links (the page-rank assigned to websites) and a variety of other factors that can be depreciated, removed, omitted or blocked by algorithms and/or human censors (a.k.a. administrators) without recourse and without the site or user being informed.

While this chart displays the dominance of Facebook and Google in digital ad revenues, it is a rough proxy for their dominance in mindshare, user data collected and control over what is displayed and not displayed in search results and social media.

We are all digital ghosts now, and how much of your digital shadow is visible to the world is secret / opaque. If you violate company policies or applicable censorship laws (as interpreted by the company attorneys), the corporation will notify you that your account has been frozen or banned.

In these instances, users and content creators are informed of their purported violation.

But this visible part of web / social media censorship is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the censorship is invisible and undetectable. Here’s an example of how this might work.

Facebook has reportedly based one of its censorship programs on the demonstrably bogus (and anonymously produced) PropOrNot list that was hyped by the Washington Post in 2016. The list of sites accused of being Russian propaganda outlets was a grab-bag of left, right and center websites whose only “crime” was publishing some bit of skepticism about the coronation of Hillary Clinton.

So a bogus anonymous list becomes the foundation of Facebook’s censorship efforts. This is precisely how the former Soviet Union’s secret police operated: a falsely reported association became the foundation of surveillance and the setting of various traps and snares to catch anti-social elements in the act of undermining the regime.

That the association was false no longer matters. What matters is your name is on the list. It turns out oftwominds.com made it on the modern-day NKVD-Stasi list of PropOrNot, which despite being debunked has taken on a life of its own in the New Police State of Facebook, Google, et al.

You might have heard about a targeted website’s traffic suddenly plummeting 30% or 40% literally overnight. Well, it’s true. Many sites left and right report their traffic mysteriously and suddenly plummets without any explanation by the organs of censorship (Facebook, Google, et al.)

It happened to oftwominds.com this month. I have traffic data going back to 2005, and my traffic (visits and page views) has been remarkably steady for years. The number of my posts per week remains the same, my engagement on social media remains the same (as far as I can tell, heh) and my page rank remains the same (5) (again, as far as I can tell).

So when my traffic drops like a light switch was flipped, I notice.

I hope you’ll enjoy the irony that many if not most of the charts published on my site are from the Federal Reserve Economic Data site (FRED). But this is akin to the innocent citizen snagged by the NKVD or Stasi for unspecified crimes against the people protesting his innocence and good citizenship: none of that matters. What matters is your name is on the list, and our administrators are obligated to track your digital presence and digitally ghost you by adjusting search results to depreciate your presence, underweight links from other sites, jam attempts to re-post your content and so on.

None of this is visible or reported. It all happens behind the closed doors of Facebook, Google et al. Just as loyal employees of the NKVD and the Stasi were constantly told they were the bulwark of the people against enemies of the state, employees of Facebook, Google et al. are told they’re weeding out “fake news” and “propaganda” (like those charts from the Federal Reserve Economic Database) that is disruptive and divisive.

In other words, they’re good Germans doing their masters’ bidding, for very handsome salaries, bonuses and stock options.

Meanwhile, the incomes of those secretly ghosted without trial or recourse plummets along with their traffic. The net result of the perverse magic of tech cartel censorship is only the wealthy few can afford to keep posting original content after they’ve been ghosted.

Should Facebook, Google et al. reassure us we haven’t been ghosted, why should we believe them? Since the entire apparatus of censorship is operated by private, for-profit corporations in complete secrecy, on what basis would their assurances be credible or verifiable?

Just about the only bulwark against being silenced by the modern-day tech-corporate-NKVD-Stasi is Patreon–individuals who provide financial support of independent voices and analysis because they value those independent analysts and content creators.

It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself left, right or center. If you want to resist secret censorship of both the left and the right, then please consider supporting the independent commentators and analysts who have enhanced your life with value, insight or entertainment. Thank you, patrons and financial supporters of oftwominds.com and other independent content creators. Thanks to you, the tech cartel can ghost us and our content but they can’t erase it entirely.

At least not yet.

If you’re not sure where to start, search Patreon.com for the names of those independent content creators you value.

[Aletho News notes that WordPress analytics recently zeroed out the tally of clicks to Al-Manar News from Aletho News in the middle of a reporting period, erasing prior clicks. Unless an administrator happened to be closely tracking traffic, one would presume that there was very little reader interest in certain content. Also, Gilad Atzmon’s site has had its RSS feed down for days now, a new record]

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook bans 80+ ‘Iranian-linked’ accounts it says masqueraded as US citizens

RT | October 27, 2018

Facebook deleted 82 accounts, pages and groups, which it claims operated from Iran to wage an online propaganda campaign while posing as US citizens and posting memes on “politically charged topics.”

The suspended accounts engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Facebook and Instagram, posting about things like “race relations, opposition to the president, and immigration,” Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher wrote on company’s website on Friday. At least one of the removed pages had about 1.02 million followers.

Facebook admitted that it failed to find any ties between the deleted accounts and the Iranian government, though. “We can’t say for sure who is responsible,” Gleicher stated.

The social network revealed samples of content, created by the accounts it flagged as Iranian bots. They appear to be propagating strong pro-liberal and left-wing views, and are directed against President Donald Trump. One of them calls Trump “the worst, most hated president in American history.” Another displays a message in support of Trump critic, NFL athlete Colin Kaepernick, known for his controversial anti-police-brutality protests.

According to the tech giant, the accounts masqueraded as US citizens, and in some cases as UK citizens. Some of their efforts appear to be rather small-scale, as less than $100 was reportedly spent on running two ads on Facebook – one before the 2016 presidential election, and another one last January. The now-banned accounts also hosted a total of seven events between 2016 and 2018. Facebook can’t confirm if any of them “actually occurred,” and says that some of the events “appear to have been planned to occur only online.” One of them said events garnered the attention of 110 people, and two events received no interest at all.

Facebook and other big tech companies, like Twitter and Google, have been pressured by the government to step up their efforts to combat the ‘propaganda campaigns’ and ‘election meddling’ allegedly unleashed by Iran and Russia. In August, Facebook banned 652 “inauthentic” accounts and groups it linked to Tehran and Moscow. Twitter did the same by banning 284 accounts allegedly “originated” from Iran.

Both Iran and Russia have repeatedly denied the allegations of any attempts to interfere in US domestic affairs. Last week, Iran dismissed the accusation of trying to influence voters ahead of the US midterm election as “false” and caused by an “unknown illusion.”

Furthermore, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that Twitter had targeted legitimate Iranian accounts in the course of its anti-bot campaign. “Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, [including] TV presenters and students, for supposedly being part of an ‘influence op,’” he wrote last month.

Facebook also received criticism earlier this month when it wiped out more than 800 political and alt-media accounts with millions of followers in the course of a purge. The company said that all the affected accounts were linked with “unauthentic” activities. However, their authors insist that Facebook is simply using the ‘unauthentic behavior’ excuse for censorship.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

Facebook Shuts Down Dozens of Alleged Pro-Bolsonaro Accounts in Brazil

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

Facebook has shut down 68 pages and 43 accounts linked to the Brazilian marketing group Raposo Fernandes Associados (RFA); the social media site claims that the firm violated its spam policies.

“The people behind RFA created pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names, which violates our Community Standards. They then used those pages to post massive amounts of clickbait,” the statement reads.

A local newspaper, O Estado de S. Paulo, called the blocked accounts the largest network supporting Brazil’s right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who will face off against his leftist rival Fernando Haddad in the Sunday runoff election.

The US social media giant argued that its decision to remove these pages was based on their behavior, rather than their content.

The newspaper said it exposed the pro-Bolsonaro network in a joint investigation with Avaaz, a US-based activist website, which claimed that the blocked pages had generated 12.5 million interactions in the past month.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Purge of alt-media by FB is ‘us pushing back, just a beginning’ – censorship insider

RT | October 23, 2018

An employee of a leading Washington DC think tank has reportedly taken credit for the resent purge of alternative media by Facebook and Twitter, claiming it to be necessary to fight against ‘fake news’ from Russia and China.

In the latest act of apparent censorship of political speech online, US-based tech giants this month shut down hundreds of user accounts. Some belonged to well-established alternative media outlets with hundreds of thousands of followers, like The Free Thought Project or The Anti Media. A senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a leading think tank advocating US global supremacy, seems to have at least partially taken credit for this.

“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” Jamie Fly said.

“They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”

The remarks were cited by Jeb Sprague, a visiting faculty member in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, in a story he co-authored for The Gray Zone Project, an outlet known for criticism of online censorship.

Sprague said Fly made the comments to him during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany.

According to the account, Fly complained that any person with an email can set up an account on social media and potentially reach a wide audience. He predicted a long, global struggle to fix the situation.

Fly started his career in US political circles as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration. He was also a foreign policy and national security consultant for Senator Marco Rubio, when he was trying to secure the 2016 presidential nomination from the Republican Party. For four years he headed the Foreign Policy Initiative, a pro-Israeli think tank founded by neoconservative figures Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, and Robert Kagan.

In the last few years, Fly showed up as an expert on social media and ‘Russian disinformation’ on various outlets to speak about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the US. Among other things he teamed up with Laura Rosenberger, the head of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the organization behind the Hamilton 68 dashboard, a tool that purports to show Russian online interference on Twitter, based on monitoring a number of undisclosed accounts and applying a secret methodology to analyze the data.

According to Sprague, Fly also stated that he was working with the Atlantic Council in the campaign to purge alternative media from social media platforms like Facebook. The social media network has partnered with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to root out ‘fake news’ on its platform. The think tank is not unlike the German Marshall Fund in terms of the policies it furthers, with some commenters simply calling it ‘NATO’s PR branch’.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Danish Journalist Slams Bill Effectively ‘Criminalizing Attitudes Critical of NATO’

Sputnik – October 21, 2018

An influential Danish politician has proposed a bill which would allow the government to prosecute Facebook users for posting opinions suspected of being ‘hostile to NATO’ or too similar to those of Russia. Speaking to Sputnik, Lars Jorgensen, a veteran Danish sociologist, journalist and long-time NATO researcher, outlined the proposal’s perils.

Last week, Soren Pind, a Danish Left-Liberal Party politician and former minister of education and justice, pitched a bill threatening up to 12 years of prison time for Danes accused of collaborating with Russian intelligence services or making statements which conflict with the official position of authorities during election campaigns.

Silencing Critics

Speaking to Sputnik Germany about Mr. Pind’s proposal, which is now up for debate among lawmakers, Danish journalist and Homo Sociologicus contributor Lars Jorgensen said that unfortunately, the parliament probably won’t be an obstacle.

“The Danish government has the support of Western countries for [the bill’s] implementation,” Jorgensen explained. “The bill effectively allows for the criminalization of attitudes which are critical of NATO. Another important point is the one allowing the government to say that you are cooperating with foreign intelligence services. As a Danish citizen, as a critical sociologist, I must now fear being accused of collaborating with foreign intelligence services, even if this is something I do not do,” he stressed.

Jorgensen’s fears are not unsubstantiated, given the number of articles critical of the Western alliance which are available on his website and Facebook pages, which have already faced censorship. “My Facebook account was blocked for months,” the journalist complained. “Later it was deactivated. I had about 4,000 friends there, including academics from all over the world.” Facebook, Jorgensen said, never adequately responded to his concerns.”I am a researcher with a critical view of NATO,” Jorgensen said. “At present, we don’t have many critical voices regarding NATO [in Denmark]. I studied the history of the alliance in detail, and communicate with a large circle of experts and specialists.”

This research has provided him with insights “destroying” NATO’s positive image, Jorgensen said. “It shows that what we are being told about the war in Yugoslavia is an absolute lie. The same goes for Libya, and Syria. For NATO and the political and corporate forces standing behind them, it’s very important to silence critical voices like myself,” the independent journalist noted.

Unfortunately, Jorgensen complained, Pind’s controversial bill has seen little attention from the Danish press, and even less criticism. The mainstream Danish media’s attitudes are fully in line with those of NATO, the journalist said.

“All of Denmark’s newspapers are controlled by large media groups. They would never allow me to speak to them, like I am speaking to you for this interview,” Jorgenson noted. Denmark, he lamented, has a deficit of alternative media. “If you were to look at materials about Syria in the Danish mainstream media, you would find that they are even wilder and more embellished than in the US. They are complete fiction. On the other hand, if you look at the authentic reports from Syria, as I have done, and listen to ordinary people, they all ask the same question: why is the British government supporting terrorists in Syria?”

Another part of the problem lies in the weak state of left and anti-war politics in Denmark, Jorgenson said, pointing out that a tiny communist newspaper was the first to even report on Pind’s bill or the dangers it poses to free speech.

Defense Against ‘Russian Influence’?

In the bill’s official wording, it is stated that the proposal is about the criminalization of collaboration with foreign intelligence services, or providing foreign agents with an opportunity to influence public opinion. Citing Norwegian intelligence, the bill speaks of a growing likelihood of “Russian campaigns to exert influence posing a growing threat to Denmark,” with Copenhagen said to be “very likely” to become a “target of such campaigns by Russia.”

Last week, Berlingske newspaper columnist Flemming Rose attacked the bill, which targets television, radio, newspapers, and other media, as well as internet and social media-based publications, pointing to a lack of a minimum threshold on what can be legally sanctioned. Criticizing the bill’s absurdity, Rose argued that it could be stretched to the point where Danish journalists are targeted for ‘changing a burnt-out lightbulb’ if it is demonstrated that they did so following the advice of foreign intelligence.

Earlier this month, the US, the Netherlands, the UK and several other Western powers accused Russian intelligence services of carrying out cyberattacks against a host of governments and international organizations. Moscow dismissed the claims as paranoid “spy mania.” Denmark’s parliamentary committee for defense head Nasser Khader suggested that Denmark should attack organizations suspected of being affiliated to the Russian government in cyberspace.

See also:

Danish Bill Proposes 12 Years in Prison for ‘Pro-Russia’ Opinion

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 2 Comments

Leaked Google Secret Memo Admits Abandonment of Free Speech for ‘Safety And Civility’

Russia Insider | October 18, 2018

Despite leaked video footage showing top executives declaring their intention to ensure that the rise of Trump and the populist movement is just a “blip” in history, Google has repeatedly denied that the political bias of its employees filter into its products.

But the 85-page briefing, titled “The Good Censor,” admits that Google and other tech platforms now “control the majority of online conversations” and have undertaken a “shift towards censorship” in response to unwelcome political events around the world.

<figcaption>Talk about Russian, er, Jewish, meddling in our 'democracy' ... Sergey Brin, Billionaire founder of Google</figcaption>

Talk about Russian, er, Jewish, meddling in our ‘democracy’ … Sergey Brin, Billionaire founder of Google

Examples cited in the document include the 2016 election and the rise of Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) in Germany.

Responding to the leak, an official Google source said the document should be considered internal research, and not an official company position.

The briefing labels the ideal of unfettered free speech on the internet a “utopian narrative” that has been “undermined” by recent global events as well as “bad behavior” on the part of users. It can be read in full below.

It acknowledges that major tech platforms, including Google, Facebook and Twitter initially promised free speech to consumers. “This free speech ideal was instilled in the DNA of the Silicon Valley startups that now control the majority of our online conversations,” says the document.

The briefing argues that Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are caught between two incompatible positions, the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.”

The first approach is described as a product of the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility.” The second is described as a product of the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.

The briefing associates Google’s new role as the guarantor of “civility” with the categories of “editor” and “publisher.” This is significant, given that Google, YouTube, and other tech giants publicly claim they are not publishers but rather neutral platforms — a categorization that grants them special legal immunities under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Elsewhere in the document, Google admits that Section 230 was designed to ensure they can remain neutral platforms for free expression.

Trump, Conspiracy Theorist

One of the reasons Google identifies for allegedly widespread public disillusionment with internet free speech is that it “breeds conspiracy theories.” The example Google uses? A 2016 tweet from then-candidate Donald Trump, alleging that Google search suppressed negative results about Hillary Clinton.

At the time, Google said that it suppressed negative autocomplete suggestions about everybody, not just Clinton. But it was comparatively easy to find such autocomplete results when searching for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Independent research from psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein also shows that Google search results (if not autocomplete results) did indeed favor Clinton in 2016.

Twice in the document, Google juxtaposes a factoid about “Russian interference” in American elections with pictures of Donald Trump. At one point, the document admits that tech platforms are changing their policies to pre-empt congressional action on foreign interference.

The document did not address the fact that, according to leading psychologists, the impact of foreign “bots” and propaganda on social media has a negligible impact on voters.

From Suggestions to Company Policy

It is unclear for whom the “Good Censor” was intended. What is clear, however, is that Google spent (or paid someone to spend) significant time and effort to produce it.

According to the briefing itself, it was the product of an extensive process involving “several layers of research,” including expert interviews with MIT Tech Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin, Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer, and academic Kalev Leetaru. 35 cultural observers and 7 cultural leaders from seven countries on five continents were also consulted to produce it.

What is also clear is that many of the briefing’s recommendations are now reflected in the policy of Google and its sibling companies.

For example, the briefing argues that tech companies will have to censor their platforms if they want to “expand globally.” Google is now constructing a censored search engine to gain access to the Chinese market.

The document also bemoans that the internet allows “have a go commenters” (in other words, ordinary people) to compete on a level playing field with “authoritative sources” like the New York Times. Google-owned YouTube now promotes so-called “authoritative sources” in its algorithm. The company did not specifically name which sources it would promote.

Key points in the briefing can be found at the following page numbers:

  • P2 – The briefing states that “users are asking if the openness of the internet should be celebrated after all” and that “free speech has become a social, economic, and political weapon.”
  • P11 – The briefing identifies Breitbart News as the media publication most interested in the topic of free speech.
  • P12 – The briefing says the early free-speech ideals of the internet were “utopian.”
  • P14 – The briefing admits that Google, along with Twitter and Facebook, now “control the majority of online conversations.”
  • P15 – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is linked to Google’s position as a platform for free expression. Elsewhere in the document (p68), Google and other platforms’ move towards moderation and censorship is associated with the role of “publisher” – which would not be subject to Section 230’s legal protections.
  • PP19-21 – The briefing identifies several factors that allegedly eroded faith in free speech. The election of Donald Trump and alleged Russian involvement is identified as one such factor. The rise of the populist Alternative fur Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party in Germany – which the briefing falsely smears as “alt-right” – is another.
  • PP26-34 – The briefing explains how “users behaving badly” undermines free speech on the internet and allows “crummy politicians to expand their influence.” The briefing bemoans that “racists, misogynists, and oppressors” are allowed a voice alongside “revolutionaries, whistleblowers, and campaigners.” It warns that users are “keener to transgress moral norms” behind the protection of anonymity.
  • P37 – The briefing acknowledges that China – for which Google has developed a censored search engine – has the worst track record on internet freedom.
  • P45 – After warning about the rise of online hate speech, the briefing approvingly cites Sarah Jeong, infamous for her hate speech against white males (Google is currently facing a lawsuit alleging it discriminates against white males, among other categories).
  • P45 – The briefing bemoans the fact that the internet has until recently been a level playing field, warning that “rational debate is damaged when authoritative voices and ‘have a go’ commentators receive equal weighting.”
  • P49 – The document accuses President Trump of spreading the “conspiracy theory” that Google autocomplete suggestions unfairly favored Hillary Clinton in 2016. (Trump’s suspicions were actually correct – independent research has shown that Google did favor Clinton in 2016).
  • P53 – Free speech platform Gab is identified as a major destination for users who are dissatisfied with censorship on other platforms.
  • P54 – After warning about “harassment” earlier in the document, the briefing approvingly describes a 27,000-strong left-wing social media campaign as a “digital flash mob” engaged in “friendly counter-commenting.”
  • P57 – The document juxtaposes a factoid about Russian election interference with a picture of Donald Trump.
  • P63 – The briefing admits that when Google, GoDaddy and CloudFlare simultaneously withdrew service from website The Daily Stormer, they were “effectively booting it off the internet,” a point also made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the FCC in their subsequent warnings about online censorship.
  • P66-68 – The briefing argues that Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are caught between two incompatible positions, the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.” The first is described as a product of the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility.” The second is described as a product of the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.
  • P70 – The briefing sums up the reasons for big tech’s “shift towards censorship,” including the need to respond to regulatory demands and “expand globally,” to “monetize content through its organization,” and to “protect advertisers from controversial content, [and] increase revenues.”
  • P74-76 – The briefing warns that concerns about censorship from major tech platforms have spread beyond the right-wing media into the mainstream.

Read The Good Censor in full below. Alternative download option available here.

The Good Censor – GOOGLE LEAK by on Scribd.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment