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Keeping with its Crackdown on Alternative Voices, Google Deletes Press TV from YouTube

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | January 15, 2020

Without warning, tech giant Google “permanently removed” Iranian government-owned media channel Press TV UK’s YouTube channel Monday night amid increasing American hostility to Iran.

“This attack on the freedom of speech of Press TV’s journalists seems to be part of an anti-Iran purge as the West sets its sights on regime change in Iran,” Press TV said. Its content, in its own words, focuses on “anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and covers aspects of the news which the mainstream corporate media in the United Kingdom have refused to air.”

The London-based outlet had over 28,000 subscribers on its YouTube account at the time of its deletion.

British-Sudanese journalist Ahmed Kaballo accused Google of acting like the “judge jury and executioner” for his employer’s channel, expressing his great disappointment that his journalistic output is now gone and his worry at “what this really represents” for alternative media that “show a different perspective and holds a critical lens” on war and empire.

MintPress News reached out to Kaballo for comment. “The actions of Google in the last 24 hours has made me lose hope in the idea of free press and free speech,” he said. “Journalism is about pushing the boundaries and being fearless in our reporting but in this climate where they can do this to us in this fashion, it’s clear that our perspective. which is overtly anti-imperialist, is, in the eyes of Google, simply not allowed.”

After online pushback, by Wednesday morning UK time, Google had reversed its decision. However, just as Press TV was celebrating its reinstatement, it was again taken off the air. YouTube sent a message to Press TV UK claiming that they had received a complaint about the channel and decided that it violates their terms of service. Kaballo described the political hokey pokey his organization was under as “psychological warfare.”

Press TV says the move is “part of an anti-Iran purge as the West sets its sights on regime change in Iran.” It comes in the context of the Trump administration’s assassination of Lt. General Qassem Soleimani January 3, while he was in Iraq attending peace talks. In response, Iran launched dozens of ballistic missiles at U.S.-occupied military bases in Iraq, although it was careful to warn the U.S. of the attack beforehand. As a result, there were no deaths. The Iraqi parliament also immediately voted to expel all American troops from the country. However, the U.S. refused to leave.

While the threat of a hot war with the Iran appears to have subsided, an intense, online propaganda war rages between the two countries. During his funeral, the hashtag #IraniansDetestSoleimani trended across American Twitter. But analysis showed that it was not Iranians, but organized Trump supporters who were boosting the message, supporting, as 47 percent of Americans did, their president’s decision to kill him.

Last Friday, Facebook announced that it felt compelled to delete all positive posts about the deceased general from its platform and its subsidiary Instagram. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its leadership,” it said, explaining that Trump’s new sanctions made supporting Iran online on any American website essentially illegal. Instagram had already closed Soleimani’s account in April last year, following Trump’s designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group. Just after Facebook’s decision, Twitter suspended Ayatollah Khamenei’s account for “unusual activity.” Instagram is extremely popular in Iran, with around one in three people owning an account, almost as popular as Soleimani, who over 80 percent view positively or very positively. Thus, the U.S. government has, through pressuring monopolistic Silicon Valley giants, effectively banned a majority opinion being shared by Iranians to Iranians, in Iran.

This is not the first occasion that the U.S. government has used the American monopoly over the means of communication online to shut down alternative voices from other countries. Facebook has previously de-platformed Venezuela-based outlets TeleSUR English and Venezuelanalysis, both of which offered differing opinions and analysis of the U.S. government’s actions in Venezuela and Latin America. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has forced RT journalists to register as “foreign agents,” under a rule originally set up to deal with Nazis during World War Two.

Press TV, too, has had a history of poor treatment at the hands of the U.S. state. In January last year, the FBI illegally detained Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi for ten days. She was never charged and was deprived of Halal food and a hijab during her detention. While the network is still reachable directly on its website, the fact that the U.S. government can unilaterally decide what the world sees, hears or reads, zapping British based Iranian networks from universal social media giants the entire world uses raises questions about freedom of information in the digital age.

January 18, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 3 Comments

After US killing of Iran’s Soleimani, narrative control on social media is getting worse

By Eva Bartlett | RT |  January 17, 2020

Twitter has been on a narrative-control rampage, removing or censoring legitimate accounts that are critical of US-led wars, propaganda and lies. Facebook and Instagram have increased their Big Brother policing, too.

Attempts by American-based social media behemoths to silence or censor voices critical of the establishment-approved narrative is nothing new, but this trend seems to have intensified lately.

Just in the past several days, following the criminal US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Instagram and Facebook have been removing posts supportive of Soleimani, even profile photos honouring the general, allegedly to comply with US sanctions, a truly absurd explanation for the narrative control.

On January 7, it was reported that Twitter had suspended numerous Venezuelan accounts, including those of the central bank, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, public media, political leaders, the Finance & Oil ministries.

At the end of last year, Italy’s Rai News conducted an interview with Syrian President Bashar Assad, but then decided not to air it. Days later, as the interview was being aired instead by the Syrian Presidency, its respective Twitter account was inexplicably and suddenly restricted.

It returned to normal some days later but, at the start of January, the account was again no longer available. Admin used a backup account with a dramatically smaller following and, although after about a week—and many Twitter protests later—the account was again restored, it has not since tweeted and thus appears to be restricted.

In mid-2019, the account of the Russian embassy in Syria disappeared not long after tweeting about the White Helmets, terrorists, and war propaganda. This, again, begged the question of what ‘Twitter rules’ had been violated.

These aren’t some isolated incidents, they’re part of a systematic purging by the NATO-aligned social media corporations who bleat about alleged “Russian propaganda” but are themselves the (transparently poor) masters of propaganda.

Many anti-war voices have been scrubbed from Twitter and Facebook, including the prominent anti-war voice of Daniel McAdams – Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity– who was banned from Twitter for using the word “retarded” to describe a Fox News host, something I’m sure many people would think an insufficient and mild description of such corporate media entities…

Accounts Calling For Genocide A-Okay on Twitter

While accounts like McAdams’ are taken down allegedly for reasons of political correctness, other accounts can call for genocide and destruction with no repercussions.

Take the rather no-name lobbyist Jack Burkman, who, after the US assassination of Iran’s beloved General Soleimani, tweeted about the “need to burn every major Iranian city to the ground.” His tweet actually included “Load up the [chemical weapon] napalm.” On several more occasions, Burkman tweeted about destroying Iran, including his tweet on the firebombing of Dresden and his desire to “replicate the campaign against Iran.” Some of those tweets have been removed, but his account remains active, without restrictions, as though he hadn’t violated Twitter rules on multiple occasions.

Then there is the President of the United States, who, after having General Soleimani illegally assassinated, went on to threaten to destroy 52 Iranian cultural sites. That tweet remains up on Twitter, in spite of surely violating rules on threatening violence (and not only against a person but a nation). I mean, most normal people consider threatening to destroy places somewhat violent.

On the other hand, allegations about genocide risk being censored, as happened to Mint Press News’ editor in chief, Mnar Muhawesh, whose video on the US-Saudi led war on Yemen was deemed “child nudity” by Facebook.

Muhawesh protested: “This is false. Images show skeleton, dying children wearing diapers.”

Terrorist Accounts, Exploited Children, And More Twitter Restrictions

Accounts abound on Twitter and Facebook that are openly supportive of suicide bombers, ISIS and al-Qaeda. I’ve found Western corporate journalists citing terrorist-supporting accounts as “media activists” in areas militarily surrounded by the Syrian army, as was the case when eastern Ghouta was being liberated, although the ‘activists’ allegiance to Jaysh al-Islam and al-Qaeda was easily identified.

And there are accounts representing the terrorists themselves, whose graphic content certainly ought to be deemed violations of Twitter’s rules, yet so many of these accounts remain intact.

Twitter serves as a platform for war propaganda, that’s fairly clear. But there’s a point that some people might not know about Twitter and Syria: Twitter doesn’t recognize the Syrian country code, thus you’d need a non-Syrian phone number to open an account.

So how do all these poster children like Bana al-Abed (one of the chief faces of war propaganda in the lead-up to the liberation of Aleppo in late 2016) and those which popped up later in eastern Ghouta and then in Idlib get accounts?

Keep that in mind when the war propaganda again resurges around Idlib and the children holding English posters and hashtagging #SaveIdlib pop into your feed. More exploitation of kids, and Twitter the perfect platform.

In researching for this piece last week, I came across a recent article announcing a new feature Twitter would test, in its valiant efforts to quash trolls: limiting who may reply to tweets before sending a tweet.

This smacks not of cutting out trolls, but of making echo chambers more impenetrable, so war propagandists can back-slap one another without allowing intelligent voices to poke holes in their lies.

But in the end, perhaps even that doesn’t matter, because at any moment your account can be zapped. Nestled in Twitter’s terms of service is this line: “We may suspend or terminate your account…for any or no reason…” This means any protest over suspended accounts is thus a waste of time after all.

This is total narrative control, and it’s only getting worse.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Twitter Shutters Dozens of Venezuelan Government-Linked Accounts

By Morgan Artyukhina | Sputnik | 08.01.2020

Dozens of Twitter accounts for figures and institutions related to the Venezuelan government, including military branches, political leaders and journalists, were suddenly suspended without explanation on Tuesday, a day after Washington condemned the National Assembly for failing to re-elect presidential claimant Juan Guaido.

The social media giant has suspended the accounts of numerous Venezuelan government institutions, including the country’s Army, Navy, National Guard, Air Force, Central Bank, Finance Ministry, Oil Ministry, National Center for Information Technology (CNTI) and National Commission for Information Technology.

The accounts of government figures like Victor Clark, the governor of Venezuela’s Falcon state; former Bolivarian National Army Forces General Commander Jesus Suarez; and Freddy Bernal, the coordinator of the country’s subsidized food distribution program, the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP), were also shut down.

Still other accounts shuttered include Red Radio Venezuela, the presidential press office and the press office for the mayor of Caracas.

According to TeleSur, no explanation has been given for the suspensions, just a notice that the accounts had ostensibly violated Twitter’s terms of use.

While a few of the accounts have since been unlocked, such as Bernal’s and the Finance Ministry’s, most remain locked.

Toeing the State Department Line

TeleSur noted that according to Twitter’s rules, an account can be closed if it’s being used for spam, has been hacked, participates in abusive or bellicose behavior or impersonates another account – but the closed accounts haven’t violated any of these rules.

The crackdown mirrors one by the social media giant in September that targeted numerous Cuban news outlets and journalists. As Sputnik reported, dozens of Cuban accounts were shut down just moments before Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel addressed the nation about a chronic fuel shortage caused by US sanctions and collective methods of coping with the shortages.

Twitter has steadily treaded closer to the US State Department’s line in recent years, adopting the same bellicose stance against accounts associated with governments targeted by Washington, including those of Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China. Under the guise of combating disinformation, Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, have closed down accounts spreading information and news that run counter to the US government’s official line on events such as the Guaido’s declaration of his own interim presidency and the anti-Beijing protests in Hong Kong. However, in the recent crackdowns on Cuban and Venezuelan accounts, Twitter has not even attempted to offer a veil of justification.

Washington Decries Guaido’s Ouster

On Sunday, Guaido failed to secure re-election as the speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly, a post he received in January 2019 amid rotating leadership of the legislature by the country’s opposition parties. Instead, 81 of the 150 lawmakers chose Luis Parra, an independent opposition member representing Yaracuy State.

Parra recently left the centrist opposition party Primero Justicia, the party of Henrique Capriles, who challenged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the 2013 presidential election.

Unsure if he would win re-election, Guaido postured as if he had been barred entry to the legislature, attempting to scale the fences outside on Sunday. However, there’s no evidence Guaido was actually prevented from entering the building in a normal way, especially since Guaido loyalists like William Davila entered without trouble.

Video footage later emerged showing Guaido refusing to enter unless in the company of several lawmakers whose parliamentary immunity has been revoked for alleged criminal offenses, Venezuelanalysis noted.

After opposition members failed to convince Guaido to enter, he and they later met at the headquarters of anti-government newspaper El Nacional, declaring the parliament’s vote void and re-electing Guaido as speaker, with several figures standing in for legislators who had left the country.

Washington quickly denounced the events in the National Assembly, with US Vice President Mike Pence declaring Guaido the country’s “only legitimate president” and US Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams promising new sanctions against Maduro.

Guaido’s claim to be interim president is recognized by roughly 50 countries, mostly European and US-allied nations, while Maduro, who won reelection in 2018, remains recognized as the president of Venezuela by roughly 75% of the world’s nations. Since January 23, 2019, Guaido has launched four attempted coups d’etat, each of which has gained less traction than the last.

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Blocks State-run Radio Pakistan’s Live Streaming for Highlighting Kashmir Issue

Sputnik – December 30, 2019

For four months, the Pakistani government has been accusing Twitter of suspending hundreds of accounts of Pakistanis for raising issue related to Indian-administered part of Kashmir. The communication blockade entered its 148th day in Kashmir since the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by Modi’s government.

Pakistan’s government has criticised the American social media giant Facebook for blocking the live streaming of news bulletins run by state-run Radio Pakistan, terming it a violation of basic human rights.

Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Ministry Firdous Ashiq Awan said that government will “make efforts for the restoration of the live streaming of Radio Pakistan’s news on Facebook”.

The minister said every time the state-run radio service tries to highlight “human rights violations” in Kashmir on social media platforms, “the accounts are suspended”.Earlier in the day, Radio Pakistan said its live streaming service of news bulletins was blocked for highlighting “Indian atrocities in Kashmir”.

The news coverage exposing “continued atrocities, curfew and military lockdown” led to the blockage, the statement read.

Radio Pakistan has also shared a screenshot message reportedly sent by Facebook in which the American firm claimed that “your post goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations”.

A huge number of Pakistani nationals have been venting their ire on social media since the Indian parliament revoked the decades-old temporary special status of Jammu and Kashmir State on 5 August and bifurcated it later into two federally-administered Union Territories.

A number of accounts of Pakistani journalists, activists and even some of government officials were suspended in August, triggering outrage among the people.

The Kashmir region has been a bone of contention for India and Pakistan. Both the nuclear-armed neighbours claim Kashmir in full but rule only part of the region.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter’s ‘ban’ on political ads has a gaping, legacy media-shaped loophole

RT | November 16, 2019

Trying to stay ahead of spurious allegations of enabling ‘Russian meddling’ into US elections, Twitter has outlawed all political advertising – but left an exemption most US legacy media, though partisan, will easily sail through.

“Twitter globally prohibits the promotion of political content. We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought,” the company announced Friday, sharing the details of its ad ban.

Elaborating on the decision in a thread, Twitter’s head of legal, policy and Trust & Safety Vijaya Gadde effectively admitted that the ban was driven by concerns over digital advertising “driving political outcomes” – even though the effects of micro-targeted ads “are not yet fully understood.”

The ban is scheduled to go into effect on November 22. In addition to banning candidates, parties, and affiliated groups like political action committees (PACs) from advertising, Twitter is also ruling out ads that are about influencing votes, parties, ballot initiatives or elections. “Cause-based ads” will be allowed with certain restrictions, but again not when coming from candidates, parties or politicians.

If this sounds convoluted, banning both people and content, that’s because it is. However, the policy has a sizeable exemption for “news publishers” who can run ads referencing “political content and/or prohibited advertisers,” so long as there is no advocacy for or against.

To qualify, a publication’s website must have “a minimum of 200,000 monthly unique visitors in the US,” the ability to contact its editors and reporters online, have a searchable archive, and not be a user-generated platform or aggregator. Nor can the publication be dedicated to advocating on a single issue.

These parameters clearly skew the playing field in favor of US legacy media – despite its open partisanship over the past several years. Not only have the legacy media and Democrats blamed the social media for enabling the election of President Donald Trump, they have also led the charge in pressuring Twitter, Facebook and others to “deplatform” any alternative voices they might find unsavory.

Most recently, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) actually demanded Twitter suspend Trump’s account as part of her pitch for the 2020 presidential nomination – so far, without effect.

In August, Twitter rolled out a ban on ads from “state-controlled news media entities,” using a convoluted definition that also carves out exemptions for well-established legacy outlets in the West.

(Full disclosure: Twitter banned RT ads long before that, without explanation or process, following the initial 2017 congressional hearings into social media platforms, and the revelation that it proposed a multi-million dollar deal to RT during the 2016 election, which was declined.)

The vast majority – about 86 percent – of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising, with data licensing and other sources accounting for the rest. The company turned an annual profit for the first time in 2018, five years after going public.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights as Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Mnar Muhawesh speaks with journalist Daniel McAdams about being permanently banned from Twitter, social media censorship and more.

By Mnar Muhawesh – MintPress News – November 14, 2019

It’s an open secret. The deep state is working hand in hand with Silicon Valley social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google to control the flow of information. That includes suppressing, censoring and sometimes outright purging dissenting voices – all under the guise of fighting fake news and Russian propaganda.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York Times, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following MintPress News extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

Amazon owner, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was paid $600 million by the CIA to develop software and media for the agency, that’s more than twice as much as Bezos bought the Washington Post for, and a move media critics warn spells the end of journalistic independence for the Post.

Meanwhile, Google has a very close relationship with the State Department, its former CEO Eric Schmidt’s book on technological imperialism was heartily endorsed by deep state warmongers like Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair.

In their book titled, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Eric Schmidt and fellow Google executive Jared Cohen wrote:

What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first.

Another social media giant partnering with the military-industrial complex is Facebook. The California-based company announced last year it was working closely with the neoconservative think tank, The Atlantic Council, which is largely funded by Saudi Arabia, Israel and weapons manufacturers to supposedly fight foreign “fake news.”

The Atlantic Council is a NATO offshoot and its board of directors reads like a rogue’s gallery of warmongers, including the notorious Henry Kissinger, Bush-era hawks like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, James Baker, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and author of the PATRIOT Act, Michael Chertoff, a number of former Army Generals including David Petraeus and Wesley Clark and former heads of the CIA Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and Michael Morell.

39 percent of Americans, and similar numbers of people in other countries, get their news from Facebook, so when an organization like the Atlantic Council is controlling what the world sees in their Facebook news feeds, it can only be described as state censorship on a global level.

After working with the council, Facebook immediately began banning and removing accounts linked to media in official enemy states like Iran, Russia and Venezuela, ensuring the world would not be exposed to competing ideas and purging dissident voices under the guise of fighting “fake news” and “Russian bots.”

Meanwhile, the social media platform has been partnering with the US and Israeli governments to silence Palestinian voices that show the reality of life under Israeli apartheid and occupation. The Israeli Justice Minister proudly revealed that Facebook complied with 95 percent of Israeli government requests to delete Palestinian pages. At the same time, Google deleted dozens of YouTube and blog accounts supposedly connected to the government of Iran.

In the last week alone, Twitter has purged several Palestinian news pages, including Quds News Network — without warning or explanation.

Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah wrote,

This alarming act of censorship is another indication of the complicity of major social media firms in Israel’s efforts to suppress news and information about its abuses of Palestinian rights.

Alternative voices not welcome

The vast online purge of alternative voices has also been directed at internal “enemies.”

Publishers like Julian Assange and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning are still being held in solitary confinement in conditions that international bodies and human rights groups call torture, for their crime of revealing the extent of the global surveillance network and the control over the media that Western governments have built.

As attempts to re-tighten the state and corporate grip over our means of communication increases, high-quality alternative media are being hit the hardest, as algorithm changes from the media monoliths have deranked, demoted, deleted and disincentivized outlets that question official narratives, leading to huge falls in traffic and revenue.

The message from social media giants is clear: independent and alternative voices are not welcome.

One causality in this propaganda war is Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, a public advocacy group that argues that a non-interventionist foreign policy is crucial to securing a prosperous society at home. McAdams served as Senator Paul’s foreign affairs advisor between 2001 and 2012. Before that, he was a journalist and editor for the Budapest Sun and a human rights monitor across Eastern Europe.

McAdams, who spent much of his time on Twitter calling out the war machine supported by both parties, was recently permanently banned from the platform for so-called “hateful conduct.” His crime? Challenging Fox News anchor Sean Hannity over his hour-long segment claiming to be against the “deep state,” while simultaneously wearing a CIA lapel pin. In the exchange, McAdams called Hannity “retarded,” claiming he was becoming stupider every time he watched him.

Yes, despite that word and its derivatives having been used on Twitter over ten times in the previous minute, and often much more aggressively than McAdams used it – only McAdams fell victim to Twitter’s ban hammer. Something didn’t make sense about this ban. One only needs to read the replies under any of President Trump’s tweets to see far more hateful speech than what McAdams displayed to suspect foul play.

I spoke with McAdams about the ban and began by asking him if he accepts the premise of the ban, or if he believes something else was afoot.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Only thing clear about the new Transparency Act is that US senators are about to let Google keep manipulating your search results

By Michael Rectenwald | RT | November 10, 2019

In June, whistleblower Zach Vorhies dumped internal Google documents exposing the company’s shady practices and political agenda. Rather than investigate, US lawmakers are offering Big Tech political cover and a legislative decoy.

Internal documents and secret recordings continue to make abundantly clear what many already knew and others strongly suspected about Google and other digital goliaths; that Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and others manipulate their content and their users.

Stepping into the fray, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) has boasted that his new bill – the Filter Bubble Transparency Act – is the silver bullet for bursting user information filter bubbles, the predictable information dead ends that reinforce users’ pre-existing perspectives. He would have us believe that the use of personal user data by search engine algorithms is the real problem with the internet.

But this issue is the least of the problems that users face online. The bill’s co-sponsors hope we’ve forgotten – or never knew – that Google and the rest are not the unbiased, politically neutral information sources or social media platforms that they (so poorly) pretend to be. Far from it.

Google blacklists sources and prevents them from appearing in news results or featured links. Google’s blacklist is a manually curated file including over 500 websites that are excluded from news results.

Google applies fringe ranking to sites, downgrading those sites – but not The New York Times and The Washington Post – that promote “conspiracy theories” and “fake news.” Fringe ranking involves the manual grading of sites, although only those whose conspiracy theories or fake news stories fail to meet Google’s criteria for credible, plausible narratives are downgraded.

Google and YouTube use “hate speech” labeling, downgrading sites and videos they believe contain “hate speech.” YouTube scoring is apparently based solely on whether videos express “supremacism.”

Google and YouTube use “authoritativeness” scoring to rank sites and videos. The authoritativeness score is necessarily based on whether a news site or video conforms to Google or YouTube’s notions of credible and respectable views.

Last is the little-known fact that Google ranks websites against Wikipedia pages, treating Wikipedia as an unbiased and authoritative source. As Zach Vorhies told me in a private chat, “the core issue is that sites are not being ranked according to user data, they are being ranked against Wikipedia.” Websites are downgraded if Wikipedia pages contain negative information about them. Yet, as information age philosopher Jaron Lanier has noted, Wikipedia is notorious for its left-leaning political bias and its overwriting of known facts to suit its agenda. The issue has been addressed on Wikipedia itself.

Together, Google’s site-ranking methods favor liberal and left-leaning sites – but Google goes even further by steering voters toward preferred candidates and, in an insider video, the company made clear that it intends to intervene in the 2020 presidential election.

The Big Tech giants manipulate data and users and under questionable pretences and using highly subjective criteria. And they’ve done most of these things, or so they hoped, without our knowledge or permission.

The proposed legislation doesn’t even mention –let alone address– these practices. Instead, it pretends to talk tough. Google, Facebook, and other major search and social media platforms would be required to give users an option to use “input-transparent algorithms” that don’t incorporate user data in search results. Platform providers would have to disclose when they use “opaque algorithms” that use such user-connected data. Whoopee.

While it may be true that, as Sen. Thune suggests, the new internet bill was written to give users “more control over what they see online,” it leaves that control by and large in the hands of Google and other digital giants. The proposed bill deflects attention from the basis of this control – the manipulation of search results and use of other data-meddling and scoring tactics by big digital players. Whether intentionally or not, the Filter Bubble Transparency Act serves as a diversionary device, allowing Big Tech to hide in plain sight.

Michael Rectenwald is the author of nine books, including the most recent, Google Archipelago.

November 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter Surrenders to US Congress’ anti-Hezbollah Measures, Suspends Al-Manar’s Accounts

Al-Manar | November 2, 2019

Republican and Democrat US Congress members, have asked social media network Twitter to suspend all accounts affiliated with Hezbollah and Hamas, setting November 1rst as a deadline for the action.

The US Congress members rejected distinguishing between military and the political wings of the organizations they classify as terrorist, stressing that Twitter must not give them any chance to convey ‘hate’.

In this context, Al-Manar TV accounts on Twitter, including @AlmanarEnglish, were suspended without any prior notification.

The accounts which had around one million followers were characterized by objectivity and accuracy in conveying truth.

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter editorial executive is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier – report

RT | September 30, 2019

A high-level Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time British Army officer in their psychological warfare unit, according to a report.

The Middle East Eye (MEE) claim that Gordon MacMillan, head of editorial for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), also serves with the 77th Brigade, a unit set up in 2015 in order to find “non-lethal” ways of waging war.

The 77th Brigade is an ‘information warfare’ operation that utilizes social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to develop “behavioral change” projects in regions such as the Middle East.

It brings together a variety of military units such as Media Operations and the 15 Psychological Operations Group. The group, before it was absorbed into the 77th Brigade, deployed commanders in the provision of psychological operations in operational and tactical environments.

Detailing his army background on LinkedIn, MacMillan wrote that he had trained at Sandhurst, the prestigious British military academy and that he is “a reserve officer in the British Army serving in 77th Brigade, which specializes in non-lethal engagement.”

The MEE report that his page has recently been edited and that all references to MacMillan’s service with the 77th Brigade have been deleted.

At its launch in front of the UK media four years ago, the new Brigade was billed as a unit of 1,500 “Facebook warriors,” consisting of both regular soldiers and reservists. According to the Middle East Eye, in recent months the army has approached British journalists to join the unit as reservists.

Twitter has responded by insisting that they “encourage all our employees to pursue external interests.” The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) claim that the 77th Brigade has no relationship with Twitter, other than using it for communication, according to the MEE.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Big Tech & Big Brother meet at Facebook HQ to discuss how to ‘secure’ US elections

RT | September 5, 2019

Security teams for Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence’s office to coordinate a strategy to win – er, secure – the 2020 elections.

The tech platforms met with government officials at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters on Wednesday, the company has confirmed, boasting that Big Tech and Big Brother have developed a “comprehensive strategy” to get control of previous election-related “vulnerabilities” while “analyzing and getting ahead of new threats.”

Facebook has scrambled to get in front of the 2020 election after being blamed for Trump’s 2016 electoral victory over merely allowing the “Russian trolls” to buy a bunch of ads, most of which appeared after the vote and had nothing to do with the election. But the company insisted last week it had tightened its rules for verifying purchasers of “political” ads, for real this time, after the 2018 contest showed they could still be duped into running obviously-fake ads “paid for by” the Islamic State terror group and Cambridge Analytica.

Aside from the occasional purge of accounts accused of being linked to countries like Russia, Iran, and China on the US’ ever-lengthening enemies’ list, however, it’s hard to tell what exactly any platform has done to make itself immune to ‘manipulation’. Twitter banned state-owned media from buying ads on its platform last month, holding the move up as a victory against the dreaded “foreign meddling,” but its own founder’s account was hacked last week, suggesting it has bigger security issues than a few wrongthink-prone advertisers.

And Google’s potential to sway elections has been the subject of Senate hearings – yet the company has remained silent on addressing the problem, suggesting it doesn’t see it as a bug at all, but a feature. Subsidiary YouTube, meanwhile, conducted another round of deplatforming last month even while declaring it was an open platform for controversial ideas.

The electoral meeting of the minds came less than a week after the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) declared war on deepfakes and other potentially discord-sowing information, promising to neutralize all “malicious” content within four years – if not for this election, then certainly for the next.

Until then, there’s Microsoft’s ElectionGuard software, which the company announced in July it would provide to all the nation’s voting machines, free of charge, out of the goodness of its (and the Pentagon-owned contractor that helped develop the program’s) heart. And if Microsoft’s act of selfless charity doesn’t convince a district their democracy is worth protecting, there’s always Cyberdome, the election security nonprofit advised by half a dozen former intel agency heads who want what’s best for your vote (when they’re not authorizing torture or warrantless wiretapping).

Getting the DHS involved was a nice touch, too, after that agency was accused of attempting to hack electoral systems in multiple states thousands of times during the period surrounding the 2016 election. Unlike the “Russian hacking” allegations that remain unproven, multiple officials from Idaho, Georgia, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky claim the agency attempted to access their systems after they opposed its efforts to “secure” those systems. After initially denying any involvement, the DHS claimed the attempted breach alarms were set off accidentally, during routine “legitimate work.”

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Absolutely Hypocritical’: Social Media Hunt for Pro-Beijing Accounts Ignores US Influence Ops

Sputnik – August 24, 2019

In the last week, social media giants moved to silence critics of the anti-Beijing protests in Hong Kong, disabling thousands of accounts, pages and channels by claiming they’re promoting “disinformation” and “sowing discord.” But the move is deeply hypocritical, a technologist told Sputnik, because these companies do the same thing constantly.

Since Monday, Facebook, Twitter and Google have between them disabled hundreds of thousands of accounts judged to be behaving “in a coordinated manner,” as Google said, and “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” as Twitter put it. The three tech giants noted they each relied on tips from the others and that their reasoning was identical.

“‘In a coordinated manner,’ or all these phrases that Twitter, Facebook and Google use – ‘inauthentic coordinated behavior’ – they mean whatever those companies want it to mean,” web developer and technologist Chris Garaffa told Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary Friday. “They mean absolutely nothing to the rest of us.”

“These companies are doing the bidding of the US State Department and, in general, of Western capitalism. Their previous targets have been Russian accounts, they have been Iranian accounts, they have been Venezuelan accounts,” he noted. “And also, independent accounts and news sources that report a different perspective than the mainstream Western-spaced narrative. I mean, Google has delisted RT and Sputnik from news results. Facebook and Twitter have taken down the pages of VenezuelAnalysis and, at one point, TeleSUR English, even. Those, thankfully, have been reinstated after mass outrage.”

“Even if these accounts were being planned and coordinated with their tweets and their posts, it’s absolutely hypocritical, because the US does the same thing through Voice of America and other agencies; through the National Endowment for Democracy they do that. The Israel Defense Forces have an entire social media operations wing where they have people do the same thing whenever there’s news about Israel. They actually go out and basically combat anything they see as negative about Israel.”

“First of all, we have to consider the fact that we’re giving all these companies – or, these companies have this absolute free reign to shut down accounts and to do all of these things. They’re private companies,” Garaffa noted. “They are beholden to shareholders, but they are also beholden to the interests of capital, and so is the US government as the executive, so to say, of the capitalist market.”

The technologist said our consciousness “is absolutely being manipulated” by our use of these sites.

“There are many, many studies showing how just what the results from a Google search can do to an election. You want to talk about election interference, let’s talk about the way Google manipulated search results, or the way Facebook will show you what it thinks you want to see, even if those stories are absolutely fake. They often create echo chambers,” Garaffa explained.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

YouTube axes anti-protest channels as US Ministry of Truth battles China over Hong Kong

RT | August 23, 2019

YouTube has disabled 210 channels for posting content related to the Hong Kong protests “in a coordinated manner,” following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter in restricting its arbitrary censorship to pro-China accounts.

“Channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Google threat analyst Shane Huntley claimed in a blog post on Thursday, adding that the Google team’s “discovery” was “consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.”

Translation? The channels were “sowing political discord” on behalf of the Chinese government, and had to be stopped. How did Google know it was the Chinese nefariously attempting to poison the minds against the protesters? The “use of VPNs” and “other methods of disguise” – widespread in the era of mass surveillance – was all the proof required to wipe the channels out of existence.

Twitter got the anti-China censorship ball rolling earlier this week, in perhaps the first-ever social media preemptive strike “proactively” deplatforming hundreds of thousands of accounts for the capital crime of “sowing discord.” Their crimes included “undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.” One could argue that the protests themselves are a form of political discord, but resistance is futile when charged with such an inchoate offense.

None of the social media platforms have ever defined what exactly constitutes “attempting to sow discord,” though a common thread running through the mass deplatformings of the past year suggests it involves posting in support of a government the US doesn’t like – whether Russia, Iran, Venezuela, or China.

The social media Ministry of Truth has become increasingly open about the irrelevance of truth in what constitutes actionable disinformation. One group of “experts” in the spread of disinfo online even published a paper this week explaining that true statements could constitute disinformation if they were arranged to serve a purpose, calling for platforms to expand their definition of “inauthentic behavior” to include anyone reposting information portraying the “good guys” in a negative light.

The Chinese government challenged Twitter to explain its decision to ban state-owned media from advertising, asking “Why is it that China’s official media’s presentation is surely negative or wrong?”

Beijing has pointed to a US role in fanning the flames of unrest, a charge that grows more plausible with every day the protests continue despite having succeeded in forcing the Hong Kong government to withdraw a bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to China. Armies of pro-protest tweeters swarm any post by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with pleas to intervene in their plight, even as US lawmakers threaten to rain down fire and fury should anyone harm a hair on a protester’s head. And photos of the protest leaders meeting with US diplomats suggest there is certainly some “coordinated inauthentic behavior” at play on the other side.

YouTube, as a subsidiary of Google, has been exposed as even more partisan than Twitter’s arbiters of truth. A whistleblower released nearly 1,000 pages of internal documentation earlier this month showing YouTube’s algorithms were aimed more at shaping reality than at accurately portraying it. The platform removed Iranian state media channels as Washington ramped up tensions with Tehran in the Strait of Hormuz, and its deactivation of pro-China channels now suggests the protests – despite achieving their initially stated goal – are far from over.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment