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Facebook Removes Page of Ecuador’s Former President on Same Day as Assange’s Arrest

By Elias Marat | The Mind Unleashed | April 11, 2019

Facebook has unpublished the page of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, the social media giant confirmed on Thursday, claiming that the popular leftist leader violated the company’s security policies.

In a statement republished by Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio, a company spokesperson said:

“Protecting the privacy and security of people is central to Facebook [and] we have clear policies that do not allow the disclosure of personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, bank account data, cards, or any record or data that could compromise the integrity physical or financial of the people in our community.”

The move comes on the same day that Ecuador’s government allowed British security personnel to enter their embassy in London to arrest journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been sought by U.S. officials for years due to his role in releasing scandalous information implicating Washington in a range of crimes, including war crimes.

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

Goodbye to the Internet: Interference by Governments Is Already Here

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.03.2019

There is a saying attributed to the French banker Nathan Rothschild that “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” Conservative opinion in the United States has long suspected that Rothschild was right and there have been frequent calls to audit the Federal Reserve Bank based on the presumption that it has not always acted in support of the actual interests of the American people. That such an assessment is almost certainly correct might be presumed based on the 2008 economic crash in which the government bailed out the banks, which had through their malfeasance caused the disaster, and left individual Americans who had lost everything to face the consequences.

Be that as it may, if there were a modern version of the Rothschild comment it might go something like this: “Give me control of the internet and no one will ever more know what is true.” The internet, which was originally conceived of as a platform for the free interchange of information and opinions, is instead inexorably becoming a managed medium that is increasingly controlled by corporate and government interests. Those interests are in no way answerable to the vast majority of the consumers who actually use the sites in a reasonable and non-threatening fashion to communicate and share different points of view.

The United States Congress started the regulation ball rolling when it summoned the chief executives of the leading social media sites in the wake of the 2016 election. It sought explanations regarding why and how the Russians had allegedly been able to interfere in the election through the use of fraudulent accounts to spread information that might have influenced some voters. In spite of the sound and fury, however, all Congress succeeded in doing was demonstrating that the case against Moscow was flimsy at best while at the same time creating a rationale for an increased role in censoring the internet backed by the threat of government regulation.

Given that background, the recent shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and at mosques in Christchurch New Zealand have inevitably produced strident demands that something must be done about the internet, with the presumption that the media both encouraged and enabled the attacks by the gunmen, demented individuals who were immediately labeled as “white supremacists.” One critic puts it this way, “Let’s be clear, social media is the lifeblood of the far-right. The fact that a terror attack was livestreamed should tell us that this is a unique form for violence made for the digital era. The infrastructure of social media giants is not merely ancillary to the operations of terrorists — it is central to it [and] social media giants assume a huge responsibility to prevent and stop hate speech proliferating on the internet. It’s clear the internet giants cannot manage this alone; we urgently need a renewed conversation on internet regulation… It is time for counter-terrorism specialists to move into the offices of social media giants.”

It’s the wrong thing to do, in part because intelligence and police services already spend a great deal of time monitoring chat on the internet. And the premise that most terrorists who use the social media can be characterized as the enemy du jour “white supremacists” is also patently untrue. Using the national security argument to place knuckle dragging “counter-terrorism specialists” in private sector offices would be the last thing that anyone would reasonably want to do. If one were to turn the internet into a government regulated service it would mean that what comes out at the other end would be something like propaganda intended to make the public think in ways that do not challenge the authority of the bureaucrats and politicians. In the US, it might amount to nothing less than exposure to commentary approved by Mike Pompeo and John Bolton if one wished to learn what is going on in the world.

Currently I and many other internet users appreciate and rely on the alternative media to provide viewpoints that are either suppressed by government or corporate interests or even contrary to prevailing fraudulent news accounts. And the fact is that the internet is already subject to heavy handed censorship by the service providers, which one friend has described as “Soviet era” in its intensity, who are themselves implementing their increasingly disruptive actions to find false personas and to ban as “hate speech” anything that is objected to by influential constituencies.

Blocking information is also already implemented by various countries through a cooperative arrangement whereby governments can ask search engines to remove material. Google actually documents the practice in an annual Transparency Report which reveals that government requests to remove information have increased from less than 1,000 per year in 2010 to nearly 30,000 per year currently. Not surprisingly, Israel and the United States lead the pack when it comes to requests for deletions. Since 2009 the US has asked for 7,964 deletions totaling 109,936 items while Israel has sought 1,436 deletions totally 10,648 items. Roughly two thirds of Israeli and US requests were granted.

And there is more happening behind the scenes. Since 2016, Facebook representatives have also been regularly meeting with the Israeli government to delete Facebook accounts of Palestinians that the Israelis claim constitute “incitement.” Israel had threatened Facebook that non-compliance with Israeli deletion orders would “result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.” Facebook chose compliance and, since that time, Israeli officials have been “publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders.” It should be noted that Facebook postings calling for the murder of Palestinians have not been censored.

And censorship also operates as well at other levels unseen, to include deletion of millions of old postings and videos to change the historical record and rewrite the past. To alter the current narrative, Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook all have been pressured to cooperate with pro-Israel private groups in the United States, to include the powerful Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is working with social media “to engineer new solutions to stop cyberhate” by blocking “hate language,” which includes any criticism of Israel that might be construed as anti-Semitism by the new expanded definition that is being widely promoted by the US Congress and the Trump Administration.

Censorship of information also increasingly operates in the publishing world. With the demise of actual bookstores, most readers buy their books from media online giant Amazon, which had a policy of offering every book in print. On February 19, 2019, it was revealed that Amazon would no longer sell books that it considered too controversial.

Government regulation combined with corporate social media self-censorship means that the user of the service will not know what he or she is missing because it will not be there. And once the freedom to share information without restraint is gone it will never return. On balance, free speech is intrinsically far more important than any satisfaction that might come from government intrusion to make the internet less an enabler of violence. If history teaches us anything, it is that the diminishment of one basic right will rapidly lead to the loss of others and there is no freedom more fundamental than the ability to say or write whatever one chooses, wherever and whenever one seeks to do so.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook Bans Zero Hedge

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 03/11/2019

Over the weekend, we were surprised to learn that some readers were prevented by Facebook when attempting to share Zero Hedge articles. Subsequently it emerged that virtually every attempt to share or merely mention an article, including in private messages, would be actively blocked by the world’s largest social network, with the explanation that “the link you tried to visit goes against our community standards.”

We were especially surprised by this action as neither prior to this seemingly arbitrary act of censorship, nor since, were we contacted by Facebook with an explanation of what “community standard” had been violated or what particular filter or article had triggered the blanket rejection of all Zero Hedge content.

To be sure, as a for-profit enterprise with its own unique set of corporate “ethics”, Facebook has every right to impose whatever filters it desires on the media shared on its platform. It is entirely possible that one or more posts was flagged by Facebook’s “triggered” readers who merely alerted a censorship algo which blocked all content.

Alternatively, it is just as possible that Facebook simply decided to no longer allow its users to share our content in retaliation for our extensive coverage of what some have dubbed the platform’s “many problems”, including chronic privacy violations, mass abandonment by younger users, its gross and ongoing misrepresentation of fake users, ironically – in retrospect – its systematic censorship  and back door government cooperation (those are just links from the past few weeks).

Unfortunately, as noted above, we still don’t know what event precipitated this censorship, and any attempts to get feedback from the company with the $500 billion market cap, have so far remained unanswered.

We would welcome this opportunity to engage Facebook in a constructive dialog over the company’s decision to impose a blanket ban on Zero Hedge content. Alternatively, we will probably not lose much sleep if that fails to occur: unlike other websites, we are lucky in that only a tiny fraction of our inbound traffic originates at Facebook, with most of our readers arriving here directly without the aid of search engines (Google banned us from its News platform, for reasons still unknown, shortly after the Trump victory) or referrals.

That said, with Facebook increasingly under political, regulatory and market scrutiny for its arbitrary internal decisions on what content to promote and what to snuff, its ever declining user engagement, and its soaring content surveillance costs, such censorship is hardly evidence of the platform’s “openness” to discourse, its advocacy of free speech, or its willingness to listen to and encourage non-mainstream opinions, even if such “discourse” takes place in some fake user “click farm” somewhere in Calcutta.

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 2 Comments

Government to Facebook Pipeline Reveals a Corrupt Mix of Social Media and the State

By Matt AGORIST | The Free Thought Project | February 2, 2019

As the Free Thought Project has previously reported, the phrase “Facebook is a private company” is not accurate as they have formed a partnership with an insidious neoconservative “think tank” known as the Atlantic Council which is directly funded and made up of groups tied to the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and even government itself. The Atlantic Council dictates to Facebook who is allowed on the platform and who is purged.

Because the Atlantic Council is funded in part by the United States government—and they are making decisions for Facebook—this negates the claim that the company is private.

Since our six million followers and years of hard work were wiped off the platform during the October purge, TFTP has consistently reported on the Atlantic Council and their ties to the social media giant. This week, however, we’ve discovered something just as ominous—the government to Facebook pipeline and revolving door.

It is a telltale sign of a corrupt industry or company when they create a revolving door between themselves and the state. Just like Monsanto has former employees on the Supreme Court and Pharmaceutical industry insiders move back and fourth from the FDA to their companies, we found that Facebook is doing the same thing.

Below are just a few of corrupt connections we’ve discovered while digging through the list of current and former employees within Facebook.

Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy—aka, the man who doles out the ban hammer to anyone he wishes—is Nathaniel Gleicher. Before Gleicher was censoring people at Facebook, he prosecuted cybercrime at the U.S. Department of Justice, and served as Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the National Security Council (NSC) in the Obama White House.

While Facebook may have an interest in seeking out Gleicher’s expertise, this man is an outspoken advocate of tyranny.

After deleting the pages of hundreds of antiwar and pro-peace media and activist outlets in October, last month, Facebook made another giant move to silence. This time, they had no problem noting that they went after pages whose specific missions were “anti-corruption” or “protest” movements. And it was all headed up by Gleicher.

“Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption,” Gleicher wrote in a blog post. “We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.”

Seems totally legit, right?

The list goes on.

In 2017, as the Russian/Trump propaganda ramped up, Facebook hired Joel Benenson, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant.

While filling team Zuck with Obama and Clinton advisers, Facebook hired Aneesh Raman, a former Obama speechwriter who now heads up Facebook’s “economic impact programming.”

Highlighting the revolving door aspect of Facebook and the US government is Sarah Feinberg who left the Obama train in 2011 to join Facebook as the director of corporate and strategic communications. She then moved on after and went back to Obama in 2015 to act as the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

David Recordon also highlights the revolving door between Facebook and the government. Recordon was the former Director of IT for Obama’s White House. He was also Engineering Director at Facebook prior to his role at the White House, and returned to the position after the 2016 election. He is currently Engineering Director for the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative.

Starting to see a pattern of political influence here? You should. But just in case you don’t, the list goes on.

Meredith Carden—who, you guessed, came from the Obama administration — joined the Facebook clan last year to be a part of Facebook’s “News Integrity Team.” Now, she’s battling fake news on the platform and as we’ve shown, there is a ridiculous amount of selective enforcement of these so-called “standards.”

In fact, there are dozens of former Obama staffers, advisers, and campaign associates who quite literally fill Facebook’s ranks. It is no wonder the platform has taken such a political shift over the past few years. David Ploufe, Josh W. Higgins, Lauryn Ogbechie, Danielle Cwirko-GodyckiSarah Pollack, Ben Forer, Bonnie Calvin, and Juliane Sun, are just some of the many Facebook execs hailing out of the Obama era White House.

But fret not right wingers, Facebook likes their neocons too.

Jamie Fly, who was a top adviser to neocon Florida Senator Marco Rubio and who started his career in US political circles as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration, actually took credit for the massive purge of peaceful antiwar pages that took place last October.

“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,” Fly said in December.

Fly backs up his words with the fact that he works with Facebook’s arm of the Atlantic Council to ensure those dangerous antiwar folks don’t keep pushing their propaganda of peace and community.

And yes, this list goes on.

Joel David Kaplan is Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. Prior to his major role within Facebook, Kaplan took the place of neocon extraordinaire Karl Rove as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for George W. Bush. Before that, from 2001 to 2003 he was Special Assistant to the President for Policy within the White House Chief of Staff’s office. Then he served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management And Budget (OMB).

Myriah Jordan was a special policy assistant in the Bush White House, who was hired on as a policy manager for Facebook’s congressional relations team—aka, a lobbyist. Jordan has moved back and forth between the private sector and the US government multiple times over his career as he’s made millions greasing the skids of the state for his corrupt employers.

So there you have it. Facebook, who claims to be a private entity, is quite literally made up of and advised by dozens of members of government. We’re ready for a change, are you?

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

As voice after voice gets purged from social media, still think there’s no censorship?

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | February 28, 2019

For a civilization that considers freedom of speech one of its fundamental principles and universal human rights, the West sure does a lot of censorship – and no, farming it out to ‘private companies’ does not change what it is.

It happened again on Tuesday: British activist Tommy Robinson was erased from Facebook and Instagram. The social media behemoth said it has to act “when ideas and opinions cross the line and amount to hate speech that may create an environment of intimidation and exclusion for certain groups in society.”

As online polemicists are fond of saying, “citation needed!” Yet Facebook offers none: no evidence of specific violations, not even a definition of “hate speech,” just an arbitrary standard – and a threat of further bans for people who “support… hate figures.” Whatever that means.

How did journalists – those paladins of free speech, the fabled Fourth Estate, the valiant protectors of values that would die in darkness without their intrepid efforts – greet this news? Did they object to a British citizen being muzzled and wax about the dangers to digital democracy? Oh no, they rejoiced: Finally, what took so long?!

The same process repeated itself later in the day, when Twitter banned Jacob Wohl. The self-described supporter of US President Donald Trump had reportedly boasted about setting up fake accounts to influence the 2020 election. That is regarded as the sin-above-all-sins by social media executives, terrified of Congress blaming them for Hillary Clinton losing the White House to Trump in 2016, even though 99 percent of US media considered it rightfully hers.

Here’s the thing, though: Twitter still hasn’t banned Jonathon Morgan, CEO of New Knowledge, a company that was proven to have set up thousands of fake accounts to swing the Senate race in Alabama to the Democrats, and later paid by the Senate to blame Russia for its tactics.

Let’s also remember the suspension of several Facebook pages belonging to Maffick Media, an outfit that partners with Ruptly, a RT subsidiary. After the “Twitter police” at the German Marshall Fund and CNN raised a fuss about these pages having “Kremlin ties,” Facebook blocked them until they agreed to put up a notice about being “funded by Russia.”So they did, even though there is no such rule that would be universally applied.

Surely it is entirely a coincidence that a CNN reporter went around actively badgering social media outlets to ban Alex Jones, way back in August 2018, and would not stop until they all did?

But wait, there is more! It was confirmed on Tuesday that retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley, known as a crusader against “stolen valor,” got his YouTube channel deleted earlier this month. There were no details as to why, but this was right after Shipley had exposed Nathan Phillips – the Native American activist who claimed he was victimized by Kentucky high school students, in what turned out to be fake news – as falsely claiming he served in Vietnam.

Columbia University researcher Richard Hanania offered an interesting analysis a couple of weeks ago, showing that of the 22 prominent figures suspended by Twitter in recent years, 21 were supporters of President Donald Trump, and only one – Rose McGowan – was a Democrat. McGowan had clearly violated the platform’s rule against doxxing, and was reinstated after she deleted the post. Many of those 21 Trump supporters were not so lucky, getting permanent bans from the platform. So he asked:

Are we to believe that while prominent figures on the left encourage uncivil and even violent tactics… their online behaviour is, with the solitary exception of Rose McGowan, universally exemplary?

What are the odds? Astronomical, actually – Hanania showed that conservatives would have to be four times as likely to violate Twitter rules for even a 5 percent chance of producing the 21-1 ratio. Yet those who routinely cite statistical “disparate impact” to cry racism are perfectly fine claiming there is no bias here? Really?

But [insert social media giant here] is a private company! They can do what they want! So cry the sudden champions of capitalism and deregulation, who in their previous breath claimed Trump abolishing Net Neutrality rules would break the internet. Make up your mind, folks!

In the McCarthyite atmosphere whipped up after the 2016 US presidential election, the social media that once promised unprecedented freedom of expression have turned into the tools of censorship – and not on behalf of a governing party, either, but the bipartisan political establishment united in opposition to an outsider president and anyone who dares support him, or criticize their conduct.

By the way, the “terrible dictator” Trump hasn’t lifted a finger to stop this persecution, let alone sic the IRS or the FBI on his critics.

The idea behind free speech is not that all opinions are valid, but that they ought to be debated rather than imposed by force. Another fundamental principle of western civilization is that the law ought to apply equally to everyone.

One does not have to agree with Robinson, Wohl, Shipley, Maffick, Jones – or Trump, for that matter – to realize that a world in which there is one set of rules for “us” and another for “them,” in which it doesn’t matter what is done but Who is doing it to Whom, is not a land of liberty but something quite different.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook’s Purge Of Maffick Media’s Pages Is A Message To Everyone

By Andrew KORYBKO – Oriental Review – 26/02/2019

Facebook imposed double standards to censor popular Russia-connected pages.

The US-based social media platform removed several pages managed by Maffick Media, a company partly owned by RT-subsidiary Ruptly, on the alleged basis that they were misleading their audience about their connections to Russia. The company’s CEO Anissa Naouai suggested that CNN was tipped off about this beforehand by a US government-funded think tank that helped coordinate this infowar operation, decrying what she described as a loophole that allows for state censorship. Facebook, for its part, claims that it’s trying to improve so-called “transparency” on its site by rolling out new standards behind the scenes that have yet to go live or be implemented in full.

In principle and provided that Facebook is telling the truth, the idea is sound enough, though only if it’s universally applied and done so without discriminating against anyone in particular like Maffick Media, which regrettably wasn’t the case in this instance. The US government seems to have been working indirectly through one of its many partially funded think tanks in order to coordinate this infowar operation while retaining so-called “plausible deniability” in the face of Anissa’s censorship claims. The selective enforcement of transparency standards speaks to the fact that the US wants to send an intimidating message to all Alternative Media outlets that they could be next.

That in and of itself is a dystopian thought to countenance, but the larger issue at play is the topic of “cyber sovereignty” and whether non-US-based users – including companies – have any universal rights on American platforms, which they seemingly do not. As disturbing as it may be, there’s practically nothing that anyone can do to ensure the fair and equal application of Facebook’s ever-changing rules (including secret ones that have yet to be publicly announced like the excuse that was used to censor Maffick’s pages), nor any recourse to rely upon whenever this doesn’t happen. Simply put, victims of injustice are literally out of luck.

Thankfully, however, Maffick isn’t just any random company but has created content that generated over 2,5 billion views and had tens of millions of subscribers. Furthermore, Anissa was able to utilize her professional contacts with RT to draw global attention to what happened, thereby putting pressure on Facebook to address the situation unlike how they might have otherwise ignored it had she not been able to successfully do this. No matter what ultimately happens and whether or not Facebook ever impartially imposes new so-called “transparency” standards all across the board including with regards to US government-linked entities, it nevertheless established a dark precedent by censoring Maffick Media.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Feb 22, 2019.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Facebook unblocks RT-linked pages but makes them comply with rules ‘no one else’ has to follow

RT | February 25, 2019

Social media giant Facebook has restored several RT-linked pages more than a week after it blocked them without prior notice. The pages were only freed-up after their administrators posted data about their management and funding.

The Facebook pages of InTheNow, Soapbox, Back Then and Waste-Ed – all operated by the Germany-based company Maffick Media, which is 51 percent owned by RT’s video agency Ruptly – were made accessible again as of Monday evening.

All the accounts were previously suspended by Facebook, which issued no warning before taking action against the pages, even though their administration had not violated any of the social media giant’s existing regulations.

The social network then said in a statement that it wants the pages’ administrators to reveal their “ties to Russia” to their audience in the name of greater transparency while still refraining from contacting the accounts’ managers directly. FB’s measure was taken following a CNN report, which accused the pages of concealing their ties to “the Kremlin,” even though their administrators had never actually made a secret of their relations to Ruptly and RT.

Maffick CEO Anissa Naouai said what Facebook had done was “blatant censorship.” She also said she believes that the move was prompted by the pages’ popularity and by their critical stance on several US policies, and the US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela in particular.

Facebook only contacted her on February 20, after staying silent for about five days, Naouai said. The blocking was apparently explained away by reference to a “new policy.”

Later, she also revealed that the social media giant agreed to unblock the pages, but only after their administration updated “our ‘About’ section, in a manner NO other page has been required to do.” The accounts now indeed feature information related to their funding and management, visible under the pages’ logos.

“I guess you could say we are making Facebook history or are the victims of blatant double standards.”

No other pages besides the four RT-linked ones have been forced to comply with the “new policy” so far, Naouai says.

The blocking of the accounts had been slammed by journalists and popular social media commentators. The head of the world’s largest media union, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), denounced it as an “act of censorship opposed by the IFJ.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, also criticized Facebook’s actions as “highly disturbing.” Popular social and political commenter and stand-up comedian Jimmy Dore told RT that the “ultimate goal” of such actions is to “expand the security state’s control over social media.”

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Does Facebook Advocate a System of Global Digital Apartheid?

Strategic Culture Foundation | February 22, 2019

Are we witnessing a move towards global censorship of the internet? In particular, are we seeing the gradual attempt to shut off Russia and its news media from a normal free-flow of international communications?

A kind of global apartheid system whereby nations are excommunicated from internet contact with the rest of the world?

The concept may seem an outrageous, impossible idea. Imagine, say, the analogy of the international aviation system being policed by certain nations to the exclusion of others being able to fly civilian airliners to any destination.

Imagine, say, old-fashioned telephone global networks being blacked out for certain countries.

The whole notion of large areas of the world being made off-limits to transport and communications for certain nations seems on the face of it to be unimaginable in terms of violation against internationalism.

Yet, are we not already seeing this nefarious development underway? The US-dominated global system of financial banking transactions is already being suborned to the political determination of Washington.

Russia, Iran, Venezuela and other nations are steadily being excluded by American political decisions to conduct what one would define as normal conduct of financial business under the rubric of “economic sanctions”.

It is therefore only a step-change for the same process of blackballing by Washington in the realm of global communications, specifically the internet.

This week saw another notch towards this reprehensible situation. The US-owned internet company Facebook made a determination to ban a media company affiliated with the Russian-based RT news network.

The decision came on the back of US news media claims that the Russian-affiliated news service was “Kremlin-linked”. Consequently, hundreds of internet pages and millions of citizens who subscribe to the service have had their means of communication terminated. All on the politically based claim that said services were somehow acting to extend “Russian influence”, which by prejudice is deemed to be “bad”.

When the worldwide web, or internet, was conceived decades ago by a British scientist it was intended to be a global forum for all ideas, discussion and exchange. It so happens that much of the internet has come to be based in and controlled by Western states, primarily the US. Analogous to the international financial system.

Facebook, the social media platform, claims to conduct communications for two billion users – or nearly a quarter of the world’s population. For a US-based company to take the decision to shut off its network to parts of a Russian news network is a hugely political act. All the more so because the decision was based on the claims of a US-based news company that made dubious pejorative allegations against the Russian news network.

What is at issue here is freedom of information. That is supposed to be a bedrock principle of democracy and human rights. By what right has a US-based internet company to determine that large swathes of the global communication system is to be made off-limits, or in a word “censored”?

There is a reasonable suspicion that the real problem is simply that the American political system and the US media companies have a political problem dealing with news and information that happens to contest their view of the world, and the view that they would prefer global citizens to adhere to. The RT-affiliated news network banned this week by Facebook claims that the ban was motivated because of its recent critical views on US attempts to destabilize Venezuela for regime change.

Criticism, freedom of speech and alternative viewpoints are supposed to be a pillar of any democracy. Yet here seems to be a case of a media service performing its democratic function, and then being blackballed for doing so.

“Information warfare” is a term most often cited by American and Western allies to describe Russian news media. The reality is it is the US and its allies who have for decades gotten away with information warfare directed at their own citizens to keep them in a state of fear and paranoia against designated external enemies, such as the Soviet Union. That was the Cold War. Nothing, it seems, has changed.

In an open world of communications, news and information, all citizens regardless of nationality should be free to decide for themselves what is accurate and reliable in terms of describing the world around them and major developments. It betrays the Orwellian, insecure nature of so-called democratic Western countries when their self-appointed authorities decide that their citizens are prone to “Russian influence”. It so happens that Russian news media organizations like RT are well respected by international audiences, including Western populations, for providing critical and accurate reportage and analysis.

To shut off Russian news media services on the tendentious claim that they are “Kremlin propaganda” is a sign of deep distrust among Western authorities of their own people and their own political rationales.

The upshot? Closing down the internet and imposing bans on Russian-based news networks operating in Western states. It is as reprehensible as closing down aviation to Russian airlines or those of any other nation deemed to be “pariah”. It is as reprehensible as closing down international financial systems to same countries. Oh wait, that’s already happening.

Russian President Vladimir Putin averred this week that the political agenda of American and allied anti-Russian ideologues is to eventually cut Russia off from the internet. We may consider that such a move – an affront to international communications and free speech – is well underway.

But such an abuse of power can only be temporary. Humanity will always find a way to overcome political-technological fetters. And when it does, the would-be tyrants will be left powerless and viewed with contempt. Human freedom is something American and Western institutions proclaim to eulogize. They are finding out the hard way because of their suppression of the very thing they supposedly uphold.

Global communications, like “democracy”, is a rhetorical chimera that Western ruling classes have no notion of respecting in practice. All their efforts at control are self-indicting of their own fraudulent pretenses. The world is awakening with collective consciousness, and there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle. Let present Western authorities try to censor all they like, for their self-defeating contradictions just come back to bite.

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Why UK report on ‘digital gangster’ Facebook is a thinly veiled call for censorship

RT | February 18, 2019

A new UK 108-page report on “disinformation and fake news” online strongly reprimands Facebook for its ongoing misuse of personal data — but also casually promotes unprecedented levels of political censorship on social media.

The report, which is the culmination of an 18-month investigation by a UK parliamentary committee, lambastes Facebook over its failure to protect its users’ data and accuses it of deliberate breaches of privacy and anti-competition laws. It offers numerous examples of Facebook sins, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the shady firm mine the personal data of 50 million users without permission.

The report also accuses CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing “contempt” towards the UK parliament for refusing three requests to appear before the committee and admonishes Facebook for behaving like a “digital gangster.”

Grand intentions?

Despite its wide-ranging criticisms, however, it is immediately evident that the overarching goal of the report appears to be to force Facebook to engage in censorship to the benefit of Western governments. It focuses heavily on “malign forces” posting content which is intended to cause “disruption and confusion” online. Lest there be any confusion about the identity of those malign forces, the word “Russian” is used 51 times in the report.

While the authors claim to be interested in ensuring a “plurality of voices” online, they are extremely quick to resort to forms of censorship as a solution to the existence of content that does not adhere to certain approved narratives.

Censorship solution

There have been multiple examples in recent months of Facebook willingly and enthusiastically working in conjunction with US government-funded think tanks to target content critical of the US government, including its temporary removal of the English-language page belonging to Telesur, a Venezuela-based outlet which questions US policy in Latin America.

Facebook’s removal of that page happened weeks after it partnered with the US government-funded Atlantic Council to combat “inauthentic” content online.

The report admits that while it’s impossible to completely rid the internet of this politically inconvenient content, governments must focus on “the enforcement of greater transparency in the digital sphere” so that citizens “know the source” of information.

Facebook’s recent suspension of pages partly owned by RT video agency Ruptly (purportedly due to their failure to prominently disclose its funding) would surely please the UK committee. The problem is, these new transparency rules are being arbitrarily applied to pages publishing content critical of Western governments, while content funded by those governments so far is subject to no such oversight.

Further proving that the (thinly veiled) intent of the report is censorship of foreign (i.e., Russian) media, the report praises a French law which allows the French national broadcasting agency “to suspend television channels controlled by or under the influence of a foreign state” if they disseminate “false” information.

Discredited sources

The British report has some glaring flaws and inconsistencies, including its use of the New Knowledge cybersecurity firm as a credible source of information on Russian influence online, despite the fact that it was recently exposed by the New York Times for faking a Russian disinformation campaign in order to influence a local US election. Nonetheless, the report describes New Knowledge as an “information integrity company.”

It also praises NewsGuard, an app with deep ties to the US government, which applies trust ratings to news websites. As RT has documented before, however, NewsGuard applies its criteria selectively and exhibits clear bias against content critical of US policies. It is also lobbying to have its ratings installed by default on computers in schools and universities around the US — and even to have them installed by default on smartphones.

Ironically, the report criticizes people for giving credence to information which “reinforces their views” while dismissing content which they do not agree with as “fake news.”

Russian influence, or online democracy?

The report also takes a look at the “influence” Russian media may have had on the 2016 Brexit referendum, specifically outlets like RT and Sputnik. In an admission which is unintentionally quite funny, the report states that articles which had the “heaviest anti-EU bias” are the ones that went “most viral” online during the campaign.

Of course, by highlighting the fact that so many people were enthusiastically sharing content critical of the EU, the report inadvertently concedes that anti-EU sentiment was widespread, rather than some kind of evil plot by Russia to “sow discord” in the West.

The report also notes, however, that Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright MP admitted that he has seen no convincing evidence that Russian interference has had any “material impact” on how people choose to vote. Similarly, in the US, little evidence has been presented to suggest that so-called Russian online influence had any impact whatsoever on the outcome of the 2016 election.

Nonetheless, the report suggests that the UK government should launch new investigations into past elections, including the Brexit referendum and the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to dig for elusive evidence of Russian interference.

Say goodbye to ‘harmful’ content

To ensure that social media companies comply with all its various demands, the report recommends that “a new category of tech company is formulated” which tightens their liabilities and would see those companies assume legal liability for content identified as “harmful.” It also advocates the establishment of a “compulsory Code of Ethics” setting out exactly what constitutes harmful content.

The British government should also “explore the feasibility” of adopting a UK version of the US Foreign Agents and Registration Act (FARA), it says. FARA requires persons acting “as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity” to disclose this information publicly. Ironically, a similar ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia was heavily criticized by Western media and politicians for targeting dissenting voices.

US government-funded outlets like Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) both wrote reports critical of the law, with VOA even suggesting it had “echoes of Stalin-era denunciations” of dissidents. No such outrage emerged from those outlets when RT was forced to register as a “foreign agent” in the US last year.

Finally, the report suggests that companies like Facebook should also be required to finance digital literacy learning as “the fourth pillar of education” alongside reading, writing and math.

If this report is anything to go by, there is no doubt that learning to identify (and ignore) content critical of Western governments would be a major element of such “digital literacy” courses.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Blocked RT-Linked Facebook Accounts Sign of Geopolitical Confrontation

Sputnik – 18.02.2019

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik and RT, said that Facebook’s suspension of accounts operated by Maffick Media over ties to RT was a sign of “open geopolitical confrontation,” where media platforms are being used as “tools.”

“Obviously, things will be getting only worse. Nobody even tries to believe in any freedom or talk about any freedom. This has already become an open geopolitical confrontation, where media platforms… serve as tools,” Simonyan said.

The editor-in-chief of RT pointed out that Facebook had no complaints about the videos on the suspended pages or their content in general.

“However, since CNN contacted [Facebook] and asked ‘how could you allow these Russians to communicate with our population,’ Facebook removed this account,” Simonyan said.

According to the RT editor-in-chief, CNN acted as “the right hand… of the State Department, NATO and everything linked to that.”

CNN admitted it had been tipped off about Maffick Media’s funding by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an advocacy group that is part of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) policy research centre. The fund considered an “undesirable organization” under the Russian law, receives some of its funding from the US and German governments, NATO and other organizations. According to CNN, the ASD does not receive financing from the GMF and is supported through private funds and grants, rather than by governments.

Facebook said it would ask the three suspended accounts — Soapbox, Back Then and Waste-Ed — to submit information on their affiliations.

“People connecting with Pages shouldn’t be misled about who’s behind them. Just as we’ve stepped up our enforcement of coordinated inauthentic behaviour and financially motivated spam over the past year, we’ll continue improving so people can get more information about the Pages they follow,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, as quoted by RT.

Moscow considers the blocking of Facebook pages related to RT unacceptable, adding that these authoritarian actions violate the principles of freedom of expression. Moreover, Russia is waiting for a response from “OSCE structures” to these actions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

However, the social network has not, until now, required accounts to disclose information about their parent companies. Maffick remarked in its statement that plenty of media outlets supported in part by governments do not post information about their funding on their Facebook pages.

Last week Facebook suspended pages of projects run by Maffick Media, an independent journalistic group that is partly owned by the Ruptly video agency, which is a subsidiary of RT. Facebook did not give Maffick Media any prior warning. According to Maffick’s statement, the social network was “pressured” into doing this by CNN, which ran a story on Maffick Media and its perceived ties to the Kremlin.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Shuts Down Private Page of Head of Sputnik Latvia

Sputnik – 14.02.2019

RIGA – Facebook has deleted a private account of Sputnik Latvia editor-in-chief Valentins Rozencovs after it broadcast a pro-Riga mayor rally.

“Facebook has recently opened a 150-member Riga office and is still hiring. It monitors what people in the Baltics post on the social network website. A staffer or someone who aspires to be one must have informed them about the broadcast from my account, causing it to be shut”, he said.

The airing of last Saturday’s massive rally in support of embattled Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs was watched and reposted by thousands of people. The leader of the popular leftist Harmony party survived a no-confidence vote this Monday, called by right-wing opposition over graft claims.

Rozencovs’ account on Facebook was first purged in January when the California-based social networking giant removed over 500 pages and accounts linked to Russia, citing perceived attempts to manipulate people in the Baltics and elsewhere.

Sputnik global editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the fact that Rozencovs’ private page was targeted again after broadcasting a rally in support of Usakovs was no coincidence. The mayor of the Latvian capital is routinely described in Western media as being pro-Kremlin.

Last July, Valentins Rozencovs said that he had been detained in Riga by the security police upon his arrival from Moscow and released almost 12 hours later. He noted that security services questioned him about his work as Sputnik Latvia’s senior editor and the outlet’s work in the country.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment