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Twitter Targets Accounts of MintPress and Other Outlets Covering Unrest in Bolivia

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | June 29, 2020

Social media giant Twitter took the step of suspending the official account of MintPress News on Saturday. Without warning, the nine-year-old account with 64,000 followers was abruptly labeled as “fake” or “spam” and restricted. This move is becoming a frequent occurrence for alternative media, especially those that openly challenge U.S. power globally.

Immediately preceding the ban, MintPress had been sharing stories about Israeli government crimes against Palestinians, the Saudi-led onslaught in Yemen (both funded and supported by Washington), and about activists challenging chemical giant Monsanto’s latest plans. However, MintPess correspondent Ollie Vargas, stationed in Bolivia and covering the coup and other events there, had another theory on the suspension. Vargas noted that his account, along with union leader Leonardo Loza and independent Bolivian outlets Kawsachun Coca and Kawsachun News were all suspended at the same time. “There was a coordinated takedown of numerous users & outlets based in Chapare, Bolivia. Thousands of fake accounts appeared after the coup. We believe they’re being mobilized to mass report those who criticize the regime,” he said. Since the November coup, Bolivia has been the sight of intense political struggle, with MintPress one of the only Western outlets, large or small, extensively covering the situation (and from a perspective that directly challenges the official US government line). Vargas added that all those accounts suspended appeared in his Twitter bio.

In December, MintPress reported how the strongly conservative Bolivian elite is treating social media as a key battleground in pushing the coup forward, with over 5,000 accounts created on the day of the insurrection tweeting using pro-coup hashtags. With the new administration still lacking both legitimacy and public support, it appears the next step is to simply silence dissenting voices online like they have been silenced inside the country. Kawsachun Coca and Kawsachun News, located in the Chapare region, still not under government control, are among the only remaining outlets critical of the Añez administration.

As Twitter has developed into a worldwide medium of communication, it has also grown an increasingly close relationship with Western state power. In September, a senior Twitter executive was unmasked as an active duty officer in a British Army brigade whose specialty was online and psychological warfare. It was almost entirely ignored by corporate media; the one and only journalist at a major publication covering the story was pushed out of his job weeks later. Earlier this month, Twitter announced it worked with a hawkish U.S.- and Australian-government sponsored think tank to purge nearly 200,000 Chinese, Russian and Iranian accounts from its platform. It has also worked hard to remove Venezuelan users critical of U.S. regime change, including large numbers of government members. Meanwhile, despite detailed academic work exposing them, Venezuelan opposition bot networks remain free to promote intervention.

Facebook has also been working hand-in-hand with the Atlantic Council, a NATO think tank, to determine what users and posts are legitimate and what is fake news, effectively giving control over what its 2.4 billion users see in their news feeds to the military organization. Reddit, another huge social media platform, recently appointed a former deputy director at the council to be its head of policy.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it was banning all positive appraisals of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general and statesman assassinated by the Trump administration. This, it explained, was because Trump had labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” it said in a statement. This is particularly worrying, as Soleimani was the country’s most popular public figure, with over 80 percent of Iranians holding a positive view of him, according to a University of Maryland poll. Therefore, because of the whims of the Trump administration, Facebook began suppressing a majority view shared by Iranians with other Iranians in Farsi across all its platforms, including Instagram. Thus, the line between the state, the military industrial complex, and big media platforms whose job should be to hold them to account has blurred beyond distinction. The incident also once again highlights that big tech monopolies are not public resources, but increasingly tightly controlled American enterprises working in conjunction with Washington.

More worryingly, it is the tech companies themselves who are pushing for this integration. “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Cohen in their book, The New Digital Age, “technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first.” The book was heartily endorsed by Atlantic Council director Henry Kissinger.

After an online outcry including journalists like Ben Norton directly appealing to administrators, the accounts were reinstated today. However, the weekend’s events are another point of reference in the trend of harassing and suppressing independent, alternative or foreign media that challenges the U.S. state power, an increasingly large part of which is linked to the big online media platforms we rely on for free exchange of ideas, opinions and discourse.

On the incident, MintPress founder Mnar Muhawesh said:

Twitter’s ban hammer and censorship army of flaggers is an attempt to re-tighten state and corporate control over the free flow of information. That’s why it’s no wonder independent media like MintPress News, Kawsachun, and watchdog journalists covering state crimes like Ollie Vargas have been targeted in what appears to be an organized effort to silence and censor dissent. Twitter’s message is very clear: our first amendment is not welcome, as long as it challenges establishment narratives.”

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent.

July 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Twitter cracks down on ‘state-linked information ops’… but gets help from questionable ‘research partner’

RT | June 12, 2020

Twitter has removed thousands of accounts it claims were tied to Chinese and Russian information campaigns involved in “manipulation” efforts – but its decision to team up with the Stanford Internet Observatory raises a red flag.

In a blog post on Friday, Twitter said it was disclosing 32,242 accounts to its archive of “state-linked information operations,” including three distinct operations from China, Russia and Turkey.

“Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service,” it said, claiming that its goal was to get rid of “bad faith actors.”

The social media giant said it discovered a “core network” of 23,750 accounts relating to China, with 150,000 “amplifier” accounts boosting their content. All were engaging in “manipulative and coordinated activities,” it said.

It also shut down 1,152 accounts associated with Current Policy, which it described as a website “engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia.” Twitter said the network of accounts was posting in a “coordinated manner for political ends.”

One of Twitter’s leading “research partners” in this effort is named as the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), which describes itself as studying “the abuse of the internet” with a particular focus on social media.

Indeed, one of SIO’s researchers, Renee DiResta, should be well aware of how to spot online manipulation campaigns, given that she previously worked for cybersecurity firm New Knowledge – an outfit that was busted by the New York Times for reportedly running a disinformation campaign targeting American voters in 2017.

The article then stated that the firm “orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation” with an army of fake Russian bots, which was designed to make voters believe that Republican candidate Roy Moore was backed by Moscow when he was running for the US senate. This could easily be described as the kind of “abuse of the internet” SIO claims it is against.

The stunt even got the firm’s CEO Jonathan Morgan kicked off Facebook for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” – an event described by the Times as a “stinging embarrassment” for the researcher given his reputation as a “leading voice” against disinformation campaigns online.

Adding further irony to Twitter’s choice of research partner is the fact that SIO Director Alex Stamos “serves on the advisory board to NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.”

NATO is no stranger to social media manipulation either, with its Public Diplomacy Division having reportedly been a funder of a British ‘Integrity Initiative’ psy-op exposed in the past, which had been posing as a disinformation-busting charity.

Twitter said this week it was trialling a “read before you retweet” pop-up message in order to promote “informed discussion,” but it looks as though the platform itself is missing (or ignoring) some crucial information about its own research partners.

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

SouthFront is Censored under Cover of Pandemic

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | June 8, 2020

Censorship of alternative media is becoming more widespread in the COVID19 era. This article documents the case of SouthFront.

Introducing SouthFront

Where do you find daily news, videos, analysis and maps about the conflict in Syria? Detailed reports about the conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Venezuela? News about the rise of ISIS in Mozambique? Original analysis of events in the US and Russia? SouthFront is the place.

SouthFront is unique and influential, reaching a global audience of hundreds of thousands. They have  opinion articles but their reports and videos are informational and factual. Their website says,

SouthFront focuses on issues of international relations, armed conflicts and crises…. We try to dig out the truth on issues which are barely covered by the states concerned and the mainstream media.

Censorship by Facebook and YouTube

A major disinformation and censorship drive against SouthFront was recently launched. On April 30 the SouthFront Facebook account with about 100,000 subscribers was deleted without warning or notice.

On May 1, SouthFront’s main YouTube account with over 150 thousand subscribers was terminated. The English language channel had 1,900 uploaded videos with 60 million views over the past 5 years.

While the SouthFront website continues as before, the above actions remove important distribution channels which SouthFront has painstakingly built up.

The censorship has been accompanied by a parallel disinformation campaign promoted by corporate, governmental and establishment “think tank” organizations. This is in the context where the US State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) has a direct liaison with Silicon Valley companies and teams focused on “countering the propaganda” from Russia, China and Iran with a current budget of $60 million per year.

In a March 2020 hearing, Senator Chris Murphy (D – Conn) lobbied for increased funding and more censorship. He said, “It’s hard to chase one lie after another. You have to actually go after the source and expose the source as illegitimate or untrustworthy, is that right?” Lea Gabrielle, head of GEC, responded “That’s correct.”

When the Senator says “it’s hard to chase one lie after another,“ he is acknowledging that it’s often hard to show that it’s a lie. Even more so when it is not a lie. It is much easier for the authorities to simply say the source is untrustworthy- or better yet to eliminate them — as they have tried to do with SouthFront.

False Accusations by Facebook

The elimination of SouthFront’s Facebook account was based on a Facebook sponsored investigation titled “April 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report.” The 28 page report says:

We’re constantly working to find and stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our platforms…. We view influence operations as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal where fake accounts are central to the operation…. This month we removed eight networks of accounts, Pages and Groups….. Our investigation linked this activity to … two media organizations in Crimea – News Front and SouthFront. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior.

First, SouthFront is not trying to “manipulate public debate”; they are providing news and information which is difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. It seems to be the censors who are trying to manipulate debate by shutting out some voices.

Second, SouthFront does not have “fake accounts”; they have a public website plus standard social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube (until cancelled). Third, SouthFront has no connection to NewsFront nor operations in Crimea.

NewsFront and SouthFront are completely different organizations. They share the name “Front” but that is irrelevant. Does Facebook confuse the New York Times with Moscow Times? After all, they both have “Times” in their title.

Facebook has shut down SouthFront on the basis of misinformation and smears.

False Accusations by DFRLab

The  Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) was created by the Atlantic Council, a “non partisan organization that galvanizes US global leadership.” It is another organization which is quick to label alternative foreign policy voices as “Russian propaganda.” DFRLab claims to have “operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news”. They reported the censorship of SouthFront with a report titled “Facebook removes Russian propaganda outlet in Ukraine” with subtitle “The social network took down assets connected to NewsFront and SouthFront, propaganda websites supportive of Russian security services.”  They reported that the two “demonstrated a close relationship by liking each other’s pages.” As anyone who uses Facebook is aware, it is common to “like” a wide variety of articles and publications. The suggestion that “liking” an article proves a close relationship is silly.

The DFRLab  report says NewsFront and SouthFront “disseminated pro-Kremlin propaganda in an array of languages, indicating they were attempting to reach a diverse, international audience beyond Russia.”

First, NewsFront and SouthFront are completely distinct and separate organizations. Second, is there anything unusual about a website trying to expand and reach different audiences? Don’t all publications or outlets do that? This is a tactic of the new censors: to portray normal behavior as sinister.

Another censorship tactic is to assert that it is impermissible to question the veracity of certain findings. Thus DFRLab report says NewsFront posted “outright disinformation” when it published a story that “denied the culpability of Russian-backed separatists’ involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH-17”. They suggest this proves it is Russian propaganda and false. However, the facts about the downing of MH-17 are widely disputed. For example. one of the foremost American investigative journalists, the late Robert Parry, came to the same conclusion that the MH-17 investigation was manipulated and the shoot-down was probably NOT as portrayed. Parry did many articles on this important event, confirming that it is not “Russian propaganda”.

The Atlantic Council is one of the most influential US “think tanks”. It appears they have created the DFRLab as a propaganda tool to disparage and silence the sources of alternative information and analysis.

Disinformation by European Council “Task Force”   

The goals and priorities of the European Union are set by the European Council. They are also increasingly active in suppressing alternative information and viewpoints.

In 2015 the European Council created an East StratCom Task Force to “address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns”. Their major project is called EUvsDISINFO. They say, “Using data analysis and media monitoring services in 15 languages, EUvsDISINFO identifies, compiles, and exposes disinformation cases originating in pro-Kremlin media.”

This organization is part of the disinformation campaign against SouthFront. In April 2019 they published an analysis “SouthFront – Russia Hiding Being Russian.” The story falsely claims that SouthFront “attempts to hide the fact it is registered and managed in Russia.” The SouthFront team is international and includes Russians along with numerous other nationalities. Key spokespersons are the Bulgarian, Viktor Stoilov, and an American, Brian Kalman. They do not hide the fact that the website is registered in Russia or that PayPal donations go to an account in Russia. The website is hosted by a service in Holland. It is genuinely international.

EUvsDISINFO demonstrates the disinformation tactic of falsely claiming to have “exposed” something that is “hidden” when it is public information. There is nothing sinister about collaboration between different nationalities including Russia. EUvsDISINFO suggests there are sinister “pro-Kremlin networks.” In reality, SouthFront is a website run by a dedicated and underpaid staff and lots of volunteers. While the European Council gives millions of dollars to EUvsDISINFO, SouthFront operates on a tiny budget without government support from Russia or anywhere else.

False accusations by US Department of Defense

On April 9, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Laura Cooper, spoke at a press briefing. She identifies SouthFront by name and accuses them of “reporting that there actually was no pandemic and that some deaths in Italy might in fact have been from the common flu.”

The first accusation is because of the SouthFront article “Pandemic of Fear.” In contrast with the accusation, the article says, “The COVID-19 outbreak is an apparent threat which cannot be ignored.” The article also discusses the much less reported but widespread pandemic of fear.

The second false accusation is regarding the high death toll in Italy. SouthFront reported the findings of a report from the Italian Ministry of Health which suggested the previous mild winter and flu season had “led to an increase in the pool of those most vulnerable (the elderly and those with chronic illnesses) that can increase the impact of the epidemic COVID-19 on mortality and explain, at least in part, the increased lethality observed in our country.” This is very different than saying the deaths were caused by the common flu. In any case, the findings came directly from Italian health authorities not SouthFront.

In the same press conference, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense says she wishes to “reign in malign actors that are spreading misleading disruptive information”. The censors claim the higher ground but engage in misinformation and falsehoods as they seek to silence discussion and debate.

Conclusion

There is a coordinated effort to manipulate and restrict what the public sees and hears in both North America and Europe. Under the guise of “fact checking” and stopping “Russian propaganda,” the establishment has created private and government sponsored censors to distort and diminish questioning media. They label alternative media “Russian” or “pro Kremlin” even though many of the researchers and writers are from the West and have no connection or dependency on the Russian government.

SouthFront is an example of a media site doing important and original reporting and analysis. It is truly international with offices in several countries. The staff and volunteers include people from four continents. The censorship and vilification they are facing seems to be because they are providing information and analysis which contradicts the western mainstream narrative.

In recent developments, SouthFront is posting videos to a secondary YouTube channel called SouthFront TV. When that was also taken down on May 16, they challenged the ruling and won. The channel was restored with the acknowledgment “We have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service.”

SouthFront is still trying to have their main channel with 152K subscribers restored. Their Facebook account is still shut down and attempts to disparage their journalism continues. The censorship has escalated during the Covid-19 crisis.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Tech Pandemic

By Leo Goldstein | Watts Up Wth That? | June 8, 2020

Patients in Wuhan, China, are being saved with high-dose vitamin C. In the U.S., you can get your Twitter or Facebook account deleted or your video scrubbed for even talking about it. – American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

The Statistics

Strikingly, the 10 countries with the highest COVID-19 mortality rates are large Western countries, including the US, UK, France, Spain, and Italy. The non-Western country with the highest mortality rate is Ecuador, ranked at #13. Ecuador only has 195 deaths/million, however, compared with the median of around 450 deaths/million in the “top 10”. No Asian countries make the top-20 list despite being close to the epicenter of the epidemic and having high population densities. No African country makes the list despite many having much traffic from China.

Table 1. The 20 countries with the highest COVID-19 mortalities (2020-06-03)

Country Cases/M Deaths/M Population
1 Belgium 5,065 822 11,585,802
2 Spain 6,139 580 46,753,443
3 UK 4,097 580 67,858,826
4 Italy 3,862 555 60,468,295
5 Sweden 4,042 450 10,094,432
6 France 2,319 443 65,262,729
7 Netherlands 2,728 349 17,132,042
8 Ireland 5,081 336 4,933,409
9 USA 5,693 327 330,854,064
10 Channel Islands 3,223 265 173,737
11 Switzerland 3,572 222 8,649,729
12 Canada 2,450 196 37,716,316
13 Ecuador 2,293 195 17,621,217
14 Luxembourg 6,431 176 625,142
15 Brazil 2,628 147 212,442,762
16 Peru 5,310 145 32,934,728
17 Portugal 3,261 142 10,198,850
18 Germany 2,198 104 83,763,806
19 Denmark 2,033 100 5,790,665
20 Iran 1,915 95 83,906,701

Worldometers, 06/03/2020, 9:30 am CT

*Eliminated from the comparison are countries with less than 100k population (San Marino, Sint Maarten, Montserrat, Monaco, Bermuda, Isle of Man, and Andorra).

Possible Explanations

The popular hypotheses, such as the use of anti-malarial drugs in some countries and anti-tuberculosis vaccination of children in others, do not explain these differences.

Chloroquine and similar drugs are not widely used for malaria prevention in India and other malaria-affected countries. Travelers do take anti-malarials for prophylaxis, but locals acquire some immunity from exposure to it in childhood. If they do contract malaria, they are treated with chloroquine or artemisinin combo for a few days. India uses less HCQ per million population than the US.

One observational hypothesis posits that full national anti-tuberculosis vaccination (BCG) correlates with lower COVID-19mortality. BCG is typically given to babies at birth, sometimes with boosters in late childhood. This hypothesis suggests that BCG provides some degree of long-term immunity to COVID-19. Even if there is correlation, however, it is not relevant here. The UK had full BCG from 1953–2005. Belgium had it from about 1953–1995 and France from 1950–2007. Ireland started mandatory BCG vaccination in the 1950s and still has it.

Other factors exist. Less developed countries might not detect and report cases and deaths from COVID-19 as completely as more developed countries. They also have lower ratios of older people and have low urbanization.

Amplifying Factors

On the other hand, population density in the cities of non-Western countries is typically higher than in Western ones. Mumbai has 32 thousand persons per km2, while New York City has just 10,000 persons per km2. People in non-Western countries also tend to have less physical distance between them. There are more persons per area at work and home, and multiple generations often live together in the same households. Even in developed Russia and Ukraine, the typical physical distance between persons is about three times less than in the US, which should translate to a much higher transmission speed, and exponentially higher rates of cases and deaths.

Many non-Western countries also have low hygienic standards. Many suffer from bad nutrition, cold weather, lack of UVB sunlight, and other immunity-compromising factors. Less developed countries also have much lower capacities to hospitalize and treat those who are severely ill.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The top dozen Western countries share another distinguishing factor: information flow dominated by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and their accomplices (here, Masters of the Universe or “MOTUs”). The media are downstream of them, depending on information, clicks, and even cash handouts from them. These companies collaborated with the WHO, spread panic (like Google’s SOS Alert), misled government health agencies and the public about coronavirus mortality (e.g., calling COVID-19 a pandemic was wrong). They have been removing helpful medical advice and even opinions simply because they were not endorsed by the WHO or confused government agencies. Notice that this debate ban prevents scientists and clinicians from communicating helpful information to government agencies, and even communicating among themselves. Many governments censor information, such as the Soviet Union. With all the inferiority of such a model, the Soviet government developed and possessed all the anti-epidemic expertise and capacities it wanted. In the US, most expertise and capacity in this and other fields is with its citizens, from whom the government can receive help and advice when needed. Citizens do provide such help and advice, but the MOTU use their physical control of the communications channels to block and remove information helpful to fight the epidemic. For example, Google blocked access to the scientific paper An Effective Treatment for Coronavirus (COVID-19) by James Todaro and Gregory Rigano, which made a case for CQ and HCQ on March 13–15.

Effects of COVID-19 Misinformation in the US

In the US, most COVID-19 deaths happened in the New York cluster. NYC also spread COVID-19 nationally and internationally. These are some main mistakes made by NYC in handling the epidemic:

  • It blocked early HCQ treatment of COVID-19 victims.
  • It failed to recommend and, where relevant, implement nutritional and environmental mitigation measures to slow the epidemic.
  • It allowed COVID-19 patients to mix with other patients and unprotected healthcare personnel in hospitals.
  • It sent young COVID-19 patients to nursing homes.

None of these mistakes was caused by material factors or a lack of knowledge in the public domain. None of these are obvious only in hindsight. All were caused by incorrect assumptions about COVID-19 and/or by panic, both of which were spread by the MOTUs (General incompetence and the politics of NYC have just aggravated these mistakes, I hope).

The resistance to recommending vitamin C, which was caused by misinformation spread by the MOTU directly and through their proxy “fact-checkers,” is an example of how much damage they inflicted.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has always been recommended as safe and helpful for many health conditions, including the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections. An abundance of evidence and studies supports the use of vitamin C to prevent and alleviate respiratory diseases.

Despite this, in February, the WHO published a Q&A on COVID-19 advising against taking vitamin C, even comparing taking vitamin C to smoking:

“The following measures ARE NOT specifically recommended as 2019-nCoV remedies as they are not effective to protect yourself and can be even harmful:
* Taking vitamin C
* Smoking
* Drinking tradition herbal teas
* Wearing multiple masks to maximize protection
* Taking self-medication such as antibiotics

With all the incompetence and power hunger of the WHO, this is bad copywriting rather than bad judgment. An ordinary person can easily recognize that. However, the MOTU “fact-checkers” interpreted it in the worst conceivable way.

Apparently, it started in the article “These are false cures and fake preventative measures against coronavirus. Help fact-checkers spread the word” (February 13) published by the Poynter Institute (the entity that certifies the fact-checkers used by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft):

Aos Fatos reported that the World Health Organization says on its website that taking vitamin C is not recommended as a way to prevent coronavirus. It is actually dangerous, just like smoking and taking antibiotics without a prescription.

The linked Aos Fatos article did not say that. The Poynter Institute omitted the “not specifically recommended” clause. “Fact-checkers” are in the clickbait business, too. This “advice” went beyond Google and Facebook: the New York Times (NYT) article “Coronavirus Myths” (March 17) said:

You might be tempted to bulk order vitamin C or other supposedly immune-boosting supplements, but their effectiveness is a long-standing fallacy. Even in the cases of colds or flus, vitamin C hasn’t shown a consistent benefit.

Unlike Google, the NYT is supposed to have human editors. Where were they? Its other article with the strange title “Supplements for Coronavirus Probably Won’t Help, and May Harm” (March 23) called vitamin C “a purported immune booster.”USA Today was even worse: “We rate the claim that vitamin C can help cure or prevent the novel coronavirus FALSE because it is not supported by our research”—as if it conducted research.

It seems that Google and Facebook forgot that these fact-checkers were intended as proxies to justify their politically motivated editorializing by pretending it was third-party information. They started using them as authoritative sources. By May 20, it was easier to find “stabilized oxygen” than vitamin C in Google searches including the word COVID-19.

The MOTU financially benefited from their misdeeds. More people were forced to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube, and Microsoft Skype instead of meeting face-to-face.

Facebook and Twitter Examples

The MOTU have been collaborating and colluding with the WHO to misinform the public and government in the US and other countries since early February. The NYT article “W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: an ‘Infodemic’” (Feb 6) wrote

Google launched what it calls an “SOS Alert,” which directs people who search for “coronavirus” to news and other information from the W.H.O., including to the organization’s Twitter account . . .

The health agency has worked especially closely with Facebook. The company has used human fact-checkers to flag misinformation, which can come to their attention through computer programs that identify suspicious keywords and trends. Such posts can then be moved down in news feeds, or, in rare cases, removed altogether.

These are some results of this close work. “Coronavirus: World leaders’ posts deleted over fake news” (BBC, 2020-03-31),

Facebook and Twitter have deleted posts from world leaders for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. Facebook deleted a video from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that claimed hydroxychloroquine was totally effective in treating the virus.

Brazil is the sixth-largest country of the world by population. By that time, the use of CQ or HCQ for COVID-19 had been endorsed to some degree by the governments of China, India, and the US. Did Facebook and Twitter executives think they knew better?

Facebook: Combatting COVID-19 Misinformation

We regularly update the claims that we remove based on guidance from the WHO and other health authorities.

Once a post is rated false by a fact-checker, we reduce its distribution so fewer people see it, and we show strong warning labels and notifications to people who still come across it, try to share it or already have.

Facebook: An Update on Our Work

Informing People Who Interacted With Harmful COVID-19 Claims

We’re going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed. These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO …

Twitter: An update on our continuity strategy during COVID-19

Broadening our definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information. . . . [W]e will require people to remove tweets that include:

* Denial of global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 . . .

* Description of alleged cures for COVID-19, which are not immediately harmful but are known to be ineffective . . .

* Denial of established scientific facts . . .

* [The list is going on and on]

It is incredible: denial of recommendations … global health authority … alleged cures … denial of established scientific facts. “Require people to remove tweets” means temporary disabling their accounts until they remove the tweets that Twitter dislikes.

The global conversation about COVID-19 and ongoing product improvements are driving up total monetizable DAU (mDAU), with quarter-to-date average total mDAU reaching approximately 164 million, up 23% from 134 million in Q1 2019 . . .

… manufacturing delays in China have compromised the supply chain, resulting in delays in deliveries to our data centers.

Have they de-platformed critics of the Chinese government to avoid “manufacturing delays” or something else?

Most people would think that if Google, Facebook, or Twitter deleted information related to treatment or prevention of the pandemic, they were 100% sure it was false and harmful. Few would believe that they did that on a whim or based on the opinion of entities like Snopes. And they would be branded “conspiracy theorists.”

Remarks

Other Possible Factors

Anti-tuberculosis vaccines and their administration schedules vary by country, and some countries might have COVID-19 protective effects from them.

Another hypothesis is put forward in the following papers:

“Have the malaria eradication measures been behind the COVID-19 pandemic?” Elnady Hassan M., Sohag Medical Journal, opinion article

“Parasites and their protection against COVID-19—Ecology or Immunology?” Ssebambulidde et al., preprint:

One plausible hypothesis for the comparatively low COVID-19 cases/deaths in parasite-endemic areas is immunomodulation induced by parasites.

I consider these hypotheses too exotic to discuss here and just mention them. Many confounding factors remain when comparison among countries is done.

Miscellaneous

  • Another commonality among the highest-mortality countries is climate alarmism taking over the scientific community.
  • The “fact-checkers” seem to be the original sources of some of the worst hoaxes on the Internet.
  • Yes, the MOTUs used artificial intelligence to misinform the public and governments about COVID-19.
  • Besides the direct effects of bans, removals, and the deplatforming of information and speakers who knew more about COVID-19 than the WHO, these actions had chilling effects on discussions related to COVID-19.
  • Coughing into one’s elbow is outright harmful advice because it makes the sleeve a virus-spreader.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 1 Comment

Zuckerberg won’t censor Trump, but don’t mistake Facebook for a bastion of free speech

By Helen Buyniski | RT | June 2, 2020

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken heat over refusing to hide a post from US President Donald Trump that Twitter claimed “glorified violence.” But his reasons are more about placating power than defending free speech.

Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up a Trump post condemning the riots in Minneapolis that warned “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” upset Facebook employees, a few of whom even threatened to appeal to the company’s newly-appointed oversight board – notoriously larded with anti-Trump voices.

But the CEO’s reasoning – “people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open” – had little in common with the fiery rhetoric of free speech activism. In fact, it was so mind-numbingly obvious it would likely have gone unremarked-upon in any other era. How, indeed, are Americans supposed to hold their leaders accountable if they don’t know what those leaders are saying?

It’s not clear if anyone would even have expected Facebook to take action on Trump’s post, had Twitter not already done so, hiding the message behind a warning that it violated the platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.” And it’s unlikely that Twitter would have taken action on that particular message had the president not been needling the platform for weeks with envelope-pushing tweets, starting with accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering an intern nearly 20 years ago.

While Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski demanded Trump be kicked off Twitter for the smears, it was a post about mail-in voting that finally brought down Twitter’s fact-check hammer. Still, that was enough of a rationale for Trump to unveil an executive order proposing to strip social media platforms of their cherished Section 230 immunity, which protects them from lawsuits based on user-generated content but also forbids them from selectively curating that content. Checkmate?

Silicon Valley is hurtling into a future whose ever-shrinking boundaries are dictated by censorship algorithms and all rough edges are sanded off (literally, in Twitter’s case) lest any comment wound another user’s feelings. Facebook is as guilty of this as anyone, alerting Instagram users when they’re about to post a “bullying” comment and banning “sexual” emojis. Even as social media styles itself the “new public square,” platforms find themselves in the surreal position of trying to outdo each other in silencing their users: if Facebook exiles conservative performance artist Alex Jones, declaring him a “dangerous individual,” Youtube and Twitter follow suit.

However, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has attempted to apply the platform’s increasingly absurd restrictions across the board, subjecting even the president of the US to Kafkaesque limitations that seem to shift from day to day, Zuckerberg knows on which side his bread is buttered. While his competitors in Silicon Valley wore their anti-Trump politics on their sleeves, the Facebook founder met with Republican congressmen and took care to include Breitbart in the rollout of Facebook News, triggering howls of outrage from liberals.

While Dorsey exiled political advertising from his platform completely earlier this year, Zuckerberg has clung to his promise not to fact-check the speech of politicians – ensuring a steady flow of advertising dollars from both parties’ campaigns, even as Democratic politicians condemn Facebook’s hands-off approach.

This doesn’t make Zuckerberg a free speech hero, or Facebook a bastion of political enlightenment. “Regular” users will still find themselves shadow-banned or exiled entirely if they post too much “wrongthink,” as even popular pages like PragerU have discovered recently. The Facebook CEO’s equal-opportunity pandering merely makes him a competent businessman, and means he’ll almost certainly survive whatever Section 230-related crackdown is coming.

It also makes it vanishingly unlikely Zuckerberg’s platform will face anything like a takeover bid from formidable Republican “vulture capitalist” and rabidly pro-Israel Trump donor Paul Singer. The notorious hedge-funder reportedly sought to oust Dorsey from Twitter earlier this year when the CEO suggested he’d be stepping back from full-time management of the company to spend six months of the year in Africa. While Singer was apparently rebuffed with the help of loyal Twitter employees and fellow billionaire Elon Musk, he still has four directors on the company’s board and may still be circling overhead looking for signs of weakness.

Twitter has fallen a long way from the days when it referred to itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party” and now competes with Facebook and YouTube for the title of Silicon Valley’s Ministry of Truth. The future of social media looks bleak indeed when Zuckerberg is cast as the defender of free speech. But ordinary Facebook users shouldn’t mistake his indulgence of Trump for standing on principle. His legendarily low opinion of the platform’s users – “dumb f***s” – is more pertinent now than ever.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Two can play Section 230 game: Trump’s EO uses key statute against social media censorship

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 28, 2020

Social media giants have long hid behind a law shielding them from litigation to censor content they did not like. President Donald Trump’s executive order just reminded them that laws can also be used as a sword.

Though the First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the government from restricting freedom of speech, social media platforms have long argued this does not apply to them as private companies. The executive order signed by Trump on Thursday points out that their status as platforms, and immunity from endless civil lawsuits, depends on their removal of controversial content being done “in good faith.”

The order instructs federal agencies to focus on that qualifier when considering Section 230 (C) of 47 US Code to social media companies, noting that this clearly does not apply when their practices are “deceptive” or “pretextual,” inconsistent with their own terms of service, and used to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.

Until now, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others could have it both ways, insisting they were “platforms” and therefore not liable for user-generated content, while acting as “publishers” and actively deciding which content they would allow, using entirely arbitrary and ever-changing rules.

The issue became political after 2016, when Trump used social platforms to bypass the establishment media that overwhelmingly favored – and endorsed – his opponent. The ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory wasn’t just used in an attempt to get Trump out of office, but also to pressure social media giants to censor viewpoints the establishment did not like – overwhelmingly targeting Trump supporters, but also purging dissident voices on the left.

It made little difference whether the companies did so internally, or by outsourcing it to third parties – such as Facebook did recently – the people making these decisions invariably turned out to be passionately partisan.

The fact that Trump specifically called out Twitter’s “head of integrity” and referenced the presence of a Democrat impeachment witness on Facebook’s Oversight Board indicates that Thursday’s order did not come out of the blue. The advanced copy leaked to friendly journalists earlier in the day likewise suggested that the White House has been laying the groundwork for such a measure for years, just waiting for the right moment.

Remember when a federal judge ruled that Trump is not allowed to block trolls on his personal account, because Twitter was a “designated public forum” and he is an elected official? Trump does, and he’s using the same logic to put the responsibility on social media to act as such.

Critics, of course, claimed that Trump was only acting now – after years of doing nothing and “monitoring the situation” – because Twitter dared “fact check” his opinions on mail-in ballots this week.

Attempting to shield his employees from Trump’s ire, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey argued that the president’s tweets “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot.”

Trump called this “ridiculous” and “stupid.” Think of him what you want, but in this instance he’s correct – Dorsey is really reaching here, and insulting the intelligence of millions of Americans in the process.

Perhaps one of the most absurd features of the Trump era is the extent to which his critics have openly sacrificed their own publicly professed principles in order to oppose him. Thus the self-styled civil libertarians on the left suddenly decided they actually love private corporations and hate government regulations, coming out in support of purging “hate speech” (a nonexistent category in US law).

All of a sudden, the First Amendment applied only to the government – but not to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Nor did they bother protesting when those companies applied German, Pakistani or Chinese laws to silence Americans. But now the American Civil Liberties Union is reacting to Trump’s order by shrieking “He can’t do that!”

Except that yes, he can. Ensuring US laws are faithfully executed is literally his mandate (Article II, Section 3). Trump is not revoking Section 230 – only Congress can do that – but he is clearly issuing new guidance as to how it is to be enforced. The federal government may not even need to do much – Trump seems to be well aware of Saul Alinsky’s Rule 9:“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

The mere prospect of being stripped of Section 230 protections and facing costly litigation as a result may prompt these companies to rethink their behavior. Or they could decide their commitment to the ideology of “social justice” and connections to one party in the US political system trump business concerns, so to speak. We’ll see what happens.

The trouble with the latter approach is that Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee facing off against Trump in November, has just recently called for abolishing Section 230 altogether – making Trump’s position the more moderate and reasonable one by comparison, from their standpoint.

As I’ve argued before, the battle has never been over a particular tweet or two, but over who gets to be the arbiter of truth – the American people, or the establishment and its allies in legacy and social media.

At the end of the day, that’s what this executive order is all about.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Wait, Twitter, it’s a trap! Social media platform pressured to ‘fact check’ Chinese spokesman after doing so with Trump

RT | May 28, 2020

Twitter seems to be falling further into the trap of de facto becoming a publisher. After ‘fact checking’ President Donald Trump’s tweets, it was pressured to do the same with a Chinese spokesman.

The decision of Twitter to mark some of Donald Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots with notices implying they contained misinformation, may have been welcomed by the many critics of the US president, but some say the move was short-sighted. After all, how does Trump differ from any other public figure whose tweets may need to be ‘corrected’ with a ‘fact check’?

Apparently, in at least one case, Twitter couldn’t come up with a good answer, and instead chose to issue more notices. It dug up some March tweets by Lijian Zhao, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who infamously accused the US military of possibly starting the Covid-19 epidemic by bringing the coronavirus into his country.

Twitter has been labeling what it believes to be Covid-19 misinformation on its platform since mid-May, but those particular notices were issued on purpose. At least that’s what the New York Post believes, saying it was done after they confronted Twitter about its apparent double standards in targeting Trump and not the Chinese official.

Quite a few commentators pointed out that Twitter is putting itself in a vulnerable position by getting involved in what is essentially a political quarrel – regardless of whether Trump delivers on his threat to “regulate or shut down” social media in retaliation.

Twitter’s move against Trump’s tweet is probably horrifying to fellow social media giant Facebook, whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, responded to it by reiterating in an interview with Fox News his long-held position that private companies shouldn’t be “the arbiter of truth.”

His counterpart at Twitter, Jack Dorsey, insists that his company is not taking on that role. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves,” he tweeted.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

Twitter & media know this isn’t about mail-in ballots or fraud, but about who gets to define truth; Trump does too

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 27, 2020

Twitter opened a new battlefront in the 2020 US election by ‘fact-checking’ posts by President Donald Trump to say he was wrong about voter fraud. That would normally be the end of the story – except nothing about this is normal.

On Tuesday, Twitter took the unprecedented step of posting a link under the two tweets – made by the president on his personal account – listing a bunch of mainstream media articles to assert that “fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud,” and therefore Trump’s opinion about the matter is factually wrong.

The move followed a campaign by mainstream media and Democrats to censor Trump over other tweets, insinuating that the intern for former congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough may not have died accidentally, which culminated in a demand for Twitter to “cleanse the Trump stain” in a New York Times op-ed earlier on Tuesday.

Try as they might, Twitter couldn’t find any violation of their ever-shifting rules to pin on Trump, so they did the next best thing and “fact-checked” him. No doubt, whoever came up with this figured it was a really clever way to appease the outrage mob. Sure, the Trump 2020 campaign would protest the bias – and reveal in the process that they pulled advertisements from Twitter months ago – but they can be brushed off, unlike the chorus of his critics.

Then the White House Press Secretary fired off a thread filled with recent stories about mail-in ballot problems – forms being mailed to the dead or people who’d long since moved away, a Philadelphia judge just convicted for stuffing the ballot box, etc. – clearly showing the Twitter “fact checkers” had some explaining to do.

That should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, these are the same outlets that have peddled the Russiagate conspiracy theory with impunity for the past four years, and even racked up prestigious awards for the blatantly fraudulent coverage. Mainstream media archives are littered with “bombshells” designed to first prevent Trump’s election, then inauguration, then get him impeached or otherwise removed from office. Every single one turned out to be a dud.

“But Trump lies! Constantly!” scream in unison the people used to being not just gatekeepers of “respectable discourse” but the tone police of Washington, the arbiters of the acceptable, the people who believe their pen shapes the very fabric of reality. People who headline their stories with “what you should know” and “how you should think.”

When challenged, they form ranks and scream they are being unjustly attacked and “delegitimized” – but only if it’s one of their mainstream colleagues called out for their excesses. Anyone else, from Julian Assange to alternative outlets, can rot because the precious First Amendment doesn’t apply to them, supposedly.

CNN had to settle a lawsuit after defaming a teenager from Covington, Kentucky. To avoid a similar fate, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow argued that when she says “literally” that’s not news but humorous hyperbole, essentially dismissing her entire show as fake news.

It’s telling that this very phrase – fake news – has become synonymous with Trump’s criticism of the media, even though it was originally used by Hillary Clinton as an excuse for losing the 2016 election. You know, the election the mainstream media gave her 98 percent chances of winning almost to the very end, and openly endorsed her at the same rate?

If you thought Clinton took that loss hard, though, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the media. Trump’s victory was an existential crisis for them, the moment their power to dictate the shape of reality itself was exposed as a mirage.

This is why they’ve spent the past four years lobbing Russiagate and other ‘bombshells’ at him. This is why they have led the outrage mobs, not just against Trump or the millions of “deplorables” that voted for him, but also against the social media platforms he used to bypass them in 2016, so he wouldn’t be able to do that again this November. Don’t think for a second any of this is about mail-in ballots, which – much like immigration and other issues – Democrats themselves once used to be against.

When they wrote freedom of speech into the Constitution, America’s founders may not have imagined that a president would be an unlikely champion of it, while the “free press” would be clamoring for censorship to preserve its power. Yet here we are.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

This Is Why You Can’t Trust The Fact Checkers

By Derrick Broze | The Last American Vagabond | May 11, 2020

For the last eight years I have worked as a writer, researcher, and investigative reporter for many well-known American independent media outlets. I have spent my time investigating digital surveillance technology, attacks on indigenous communities, and the overall growth of the government and corporate power. As someone working in this field, writing about topics which are often seen as controversial or “outside the mainstream” – censorship and personal attacks are part of the job description.

However, the attacks on independent media have rapidly increased in the last four years, with many formerly active journalistic outlets ceasing to exist due to lack of traffic and thus, lack of funds. We have seen outlets outright branded “fake news” or accused of collusion with the Russian government. Some channels and websites have been unable to apply for advertising or use certain digital products based on these labels. Some channels and reporters have been deleted off social media and other digital platforms altogether. And, if the social media managers don’t delete you, they might just use the algorithm to hide your posts, limiting your ability to interact with the public.

Attack of the “Fact” Checkers

Perhaps the most insidious method is the recent use of “fact checkers” to limit the reach of an outlet, or simply brand them with the fake news scarlet letter to discourage readers from engaging. This has been increasing in the last 2 years and I personally know of several remaining indy media outlets who have had to decide whether or not to run certain articles or video reports out of fear they might be censored or banned. Of course, with the algorithmic games being played by social media platforms, most outlets are reaching a tiny fraction of what they once were.

Case in point, The Mind Unleashed. I have been part of the TMU team on and off for the last year or so. In that time we have been struggling to reach a small fraction of our 9 million Facebook followers. Part of the reason we are struggling to reach people is because we have the dubious recognition of being labeled fake news by Facebook and affiliated fact checkers.

In a recent article published in Newsweek Espanol, in partnership with Newsguard, The Mind Unleashed is described as a “site that promises to ‘promote and inspire unconventional thinking,’ but is actually dedicated to publishing falsehoods.” The quote was in reference to a story TMU had written about the origins of COVID-19 and the potential for the virus to have been created as a bio weapon.

Newsguard is one of a number of “fact checker” services which has proliferated since the election of Donald Trump to U.S. President. Newsguard is a browser plug-in for Chrome and Microsoft Edge that gives trustworthiness ratings to most of the internet’s top-trafficked sites. It uses a color coded system to warn readers of an article or website’s trustworthiness. In a previous investigation, TLAV writer Whitney Webb exposed the neoconservative roots of the Newsguard team. Webb wrote:

“Newsguard’s advisory board makes it clear that Newsguard was created to serve the interests of American oligarchy. Chief among Newsguard’s advisors are Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and Ret. General Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, a former NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy seeking to “advise corporate clients and governments, including foreign governments” on security matters that was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who also currently serves as the board chairman of major weapons manufacturer BAE systems.”

Newsguard started as a partnership between Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, with Crovitz appearing to be the connection to the world of finance, media, and geopolitics. Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at the Wall Street Journal, is a board member of Business Insider, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and claims to have been an “editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” As Webb noted, “the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the most influential neoconservative think tanks in the country and its ‘scholars,’ directors and fellows have included neoconservative figures like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton and Frederick Kagan.”

Most recently, Newsguard has created a list of “Websites Publishing False Coronavirus Information” and a list “Super Spreaders” of false information. These lists include many well-known and credible independent media outlets. This is not to say that every website listed is credible and should be supported. The point is that these types of lists only serve to “blackball” certain outlets and schools of thoughts which counter the mainstream version of events.

Newsguard is not the only fact checker service operating in the current “post-truth era”. Social media companies like Facebook have partnered with several organizations with the stated aim of fact checking and debunking disinformation. Of course, these organizations tend to reinforce the narratives being woven by the mouthpieces in the corporate media and the puppet masters working the politicians.  For a moment Facebook partnered with reviled “fact checker” Snopes, but, after Snopes was discredited, Facebook has now partnered with companies like Lead Stories.

Lead Stories also “fact checked” The Mind Unleashed a couple times, always using arbitrary standards and semantics to make a story appear to be false or misleading. In one story, Lead Stories relies on data from the aforementioned Newsguard. So who is Lead Stories? The About page states that since January 2019 they have been a part of Facebook fact checker program. They describe the partnership as follows:

“Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook’s systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.”

Lead Stories is run by Perry Sanders Jr., an attorney known for representing the family of rapper Notorious B.I.G. after his murder, and Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke, who helped create Lead Stories after 26 years with CNN. Despite Duke’s bio stating that he “did ground-breaking investigative reporting on the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal“, CNN is most known as a “super spreader” of propaganda and fake news. It is CNN, ABC, CBS, the Washington Post and others who actually helped cover up Epstein’s crimes. The entire Lead Stories team is filled with former and current CNN employees, as well as other MSM outlets.

Two other organizations that have partnered with Facebook and fact checked TMU are Science Feedback and Africa Check, both which claim to identify and expose the spread of disinformation. Science Feedback describes itself as “a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in science based media coverage. Our goal is to help readers know which news to trust”. Africa Check says they are a non-profit attempting to “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”

As with Lead Stories and Newsguard, Africa Check uses semantics to label a story false or misleading. Science Feedback uses a similar strategy, casting The Mind Unleashed (and other alternative media sites) in a web of “disinformation” related to a report about the potential for a “mini ice age”.

Interestingly, Africa Check’s list of partners includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet another example of how the Gates’ spread their influence and agenda around the world – this time as part of an effort to control the dialogue around hot topics. Gates also funded the Event 201 pandemic simulation exercise which discussed the potential for censoring the internet or even arresting individuals who spread information that has been deemed false. Africa Check is also partnered with the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

How to Limit Discussion and Control the Narrative

The strategy for the social media companies and fact checkers is simple: label someone fake news, lower their reach with algorithmic manipulation, force them to comply to arbitrary commands if they want the fake news label removed, control the narrative and shape the conversation.

Over the last two years I have seen good, hard working reporters and members of the independent/alternative media struggle to maintain integrity and report truthfully about controversial topics while also walking on egg shells in an attempt not to upset the fact checkers. For example, in late February, one writer had an article fact checked for discussing the various reports about COVID-19 being engineered in a lab. The Facebook fact checker stated:

“As explained in our fact-check, the claim that was reported in your article, namely that the coronavirus was created in a lab, is unsupported by evidence and is in fact contradicted by multiple scientific studies indicating that the virus originated naturally in wildlife.”

The writer of this particular order actually went to great lengths to make it clear that some sources disagreed with the claim, but according to Facebook’s fact checker, “it does not acknowledge that the claim is false to begin with, giving readers the misleading impression that there is legitimate scientific doubt over the issue when this is not the case.”

In other words, there is no reason to tell the public that some professionals and researchers have a different theory about the origins of the virus. No matter what was offered to the fact checker there was no compromise. Not only did they want the title to be changed and for an editor’s note to be attached acknowledging the apparently “false” claim, but they said they would not remove the fake news label if we took the article down. The options were essentially to keep the article up and comply, or keep it up, change nothing, and be labeled fake news.

In emails from Newsguard, TMU was admonished for “its history of promoting conspiracy theories related to the Sept. 11 attacks and the Douma, Syria chemical weapons attacks, as well as its promotion of marijuana as a cancer cure in stories”. It’s clear to see that anyone who does not buy the official narratives about the major geopolitical events of our day, or support the Big Pharma kool-aid – will be punished.

Unfortunately, the censors are winning because many in the alternative media are choosing to self-censor in the hopes that things will get better in the long run or that doing so will allow them to stay on the platform longer, and continue to reach more people. As we are now seeing, this is a losing strategy.

Two Years After the FB-Atlantic Council Partnership & the Independent Media Purge

What we are witnessing today, in May 2020, is the continuation of the fight against “fake news” which began immediately following the election of Donald Trump. In November 2016, Merrimack College associate professor Melissa Zimdars posted a public Google document titled, “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources” which went viral after being reported on by most corporate mainstream outlets.

Within a matter of weeks, a new list appeared online from an organization calling itself PropOrNot, an allegedly independent group of researchers trying to find the truth about the dissemination of Russian propaganda and fake news. This list also contained names of prominent independent media outlets like Anti Media, The Corbett Report, Mint Press News, and many others.

It was this combination of the Zimdars list and the PropOrNot list which had the immediate effect of placing a target on the vast majority of independent journalists and outlets who have also been accused of directly or indirectly conspiring with the Russians. Websites and social media pages for these outlets began to suffer a drastic reduction in reach and interaction with their audiences. Many websites have lost access to Google advertising money due to these false associations. The problem is that the majority of the mainstream media unquestionably reported on and repeated the claims made by these two lists without any attempt at investigative work.

In January 2018, PropOrNot would be exposed for their connections to The Atlantic Council, a think tank with connections to the western Military-Industrial Complex. Coincidentally, in May 2018, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council, which officially claims to provide a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. The social media giant said the partnership was aimed at preventing Facebook from “being abused during elections.”

The press release promoted Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news by using artificial intelligence, as well as working with outside experts and governments.

“Today, we’re excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems. Experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. This will help increase the number of “eyes and ears” we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.”

The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 to bolster support for international relations. Although not officially connected to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Atlantic Council has spent decades promoting causes and issues which are beneficial to NATO member states. In addition, The Atlantic Council is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Organization, an umbrella organization which “acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond.” The ATO works similarly to the Atlantic Council, bringing together political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats to promote values that are favorable to the NATO member states.

Officially, ATO is independent of NATO, but the line between the two is razor thin.

Essentially, the Atlantic Council is a think tank which can offer companies or nation states access to military officials, politicians, journalists, diplomats, etc., to help them develop a plan to implement their strategy or vision. These strategies often involve getting NATO governments or industry insiders to make decisions they might not have made without a visit from the Atlantic Council team. This allows individuals or nations to push forth their ideas under the cover of hiring what appears to be a public relations agency but is actually selling access to high-profile individuals with power to affect public policy. Indeed, everyone from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to the family of international agent of disorder Zbigniew Brzezinski have spoken at or attended council events.

In 2016, The New York Times wrote “The Atlantic Council, which has seen its annual revenue grow to $21 million from $2 million in the last decade, offers access to United States and foreign government officials in exchange for contributions. Individual donors, like FedEx, have also helped fund specific reports that align with their agendas.” The Times wrote that giving financial support is rewarded with “an ‘unprecedented level of information and access,’ including the chance to have a corporate executive, if the company donates at least $50,000 a year, speak at an Atlantic Council event ‘with top U.S. and foreign leaders’ present.”

According to their website, “The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.” The DFRLab tracks global disinfo campaigns, fake news stories, and “subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space.”

The Atlantic Council’s list of financial supporters reads like a who’s-who of think tanks and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Atlantic Council receives funding from the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment, Cato Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rand Corporation, to name a few. In addition, various members of the Military-Industrial Complex are benefactors of the Atlantic Council, including Huntington Ingalls, the United States’ sole maker of aircraft carriers; Airbus, the plane manufacturer; Lockheed Martin, the shipbuilder and aviation company; and Raytheon, which makes missile systems. All of the companies have contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and offer financial support to the Atlantic Council. The Council also receives support from Chevron and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Finally, the Atlantic Council receives direct financial support from the U.S. Departments of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Energy and from the U.S. Mission to NATO.

By October 2018 – only five months after the Atlantic Council partnership with Facebook – the social media giant announced they were unpublishing, or purging, over 500 pages and 200 accounts who are accused of spreading political spam. Several of these pages and writers were also removed from Twitter on the same day.

“Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook stated in a blog post. Facebook states that the people behind this alleged spam “create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names” and “post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups”.

Nearly 3 years later, we are still seeing the repercussions of the purge of independent media voices. In the wake of COVID-19 and calls for stemming the flow of “misinformation”, we will likely see more censorship and digital purging. Those who are attempting to stay informed and aware need to recognize that getting your news from Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc., will keep you trapped in a bubble of sanitized, state-approved information.

Step Outside the Matrix and Question Everything.

Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Information Wars

By Craig Murray | May 8, 2020

I am subject to a very peculiar hidden censorship by Twitter. I have long noted that many of the articles I deem most important were reaching far fewer people than I might expect through Twitter, whereas inconsequential tweets reach large numbers with ease. I decided to do a controlled test on this, with a content free tweet.

This got retweeted 131 times and was seen by 134,576 people.

That’s 1,027 people per retweet.

That is the neutral control. Now here is the tweet of an article which I believe to be very important.

That got retweeted 419 times but was seen by just 38,288 people.

That’s 91 people per retweet.

On that measure 11 times less than the content free tweet.

The “Impressions” measure is governed by Twitter actually introducing the Tweet into somebody’s timeline. When I tweet, (the same principle applies when somebody retweets) Twitter does not just automatically drop that tweet into the timeline of all 80,000 people who follow me. It starts with a sample of those, and then an algorithm increases the number depending on how popular the tweet was. There are a number of moving parts to that, but retweets is a major factor. Yet in this instance, a tweet which is retweeted by over 1.1% of those who see it, is given far less exposure by twitter than a tweet retweeted by less than 0.1% of those who see it.

The reason that I did this experiment is that I have been observing this happening for a long time, with many of my most important tweets suppressed. Either there is electronic monitoring and analysis of subject matter to suppress certain political subjects, or there is active human monitoring. I am very much inclined to believe the latter, because I find the suppression kicking in is quite nuanced; it depends not so much on subject matter, as on precisely my take on the subject matter and how far it challenges the mainstream narrative.

Impressions per retweet is a rough measure of what is going on. For a more accurate measure you would need to divide Impressions by: my 80,000 follows plus the totaled follows of all who retweeted, in each case. But the rough measure is a good indication that something is amiss. As I said, I am attempting to measure a phenomenon I have noticed over a long period.

Yesterday, my friend Stuart Campbell had all his twitter accounts cancelled. The highly popular Wings Over Scotland account was taken down some time ago, and now his personal account and his old Sealand Gazette account have also been taken down. This is following a campaign against him by activists opposed to his view on trans rights. I do not share Stu’s views on that specific subject, but the attempt to impose conformity of opinion and to limit the right of free expression is appalling.

These attacks on free speech matter.

Sadly the internet has developed in such a way that alternative media outlets like this one are highly dependent on two major corporate gatekeepers – Facebook and Twitter – for bringing in the majority of our traffic. Both have instituted policies of deliberate suppression of views which do not accord to the agenda of the mainstream media.

The reason that my tweet in this instance was suppressed is that it points to my article giving information on the UK government’s coronavirus App which you will not find in the mainstream media.

I find Twitter much worse than Facebook in this regard. A few years ago I would have mentioned Google as a major source of traffic too, but that pass has long been sold. This website used to get a great deal of traffic from Google, but even though our readership is now many times what it was a few years ago, Google has penalised alternative media heavily in its rankings and we now get almost no traffic from that source.

People learn. About 40% of readers of this site now just come straight here, and not from any link or source, just dropping in themselves to see if there is anything new. Five years ago that number was less than 10%. The internet retains its ability to work round blockages, because it empowers the ingenuity of people. Keep that hopeful thought and cherish it.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

May 8, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

Why I No Longer Read Facebook

By Eve Mykytyn | May 2, 2020

In an effort to stem the torrent of ‘false’ cures and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, Facebook announced it would begin informing users globally who have liked, commented on, or shared “harmful” misinformation about the coronavirus, that the content they reacted to was incorrect and  pointing them in the direction of what Facebook considers to be a ‘reliable’ source. The reliable source? The World Health Organization. Here’s the distinctly noninformative WHO Covid 19 website .

I don’t know what caused Covid 19 to become our disease du jour. Was it a bat? A natural or laboratory mutation? Not only do I not know, but I don’t believe that Facebook, or the WHO know either. Why not let theories abound? Perhaps free speech means that we trust the people to evaluate the source and sort out the facts for themselves.

The general rule in the US is that no publisher has an obligation to print any particular view: that rule dates from when ‘publisher’ meant print and print was inexpensive. The founders intentionally strove to open a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ a ‘public square’ with pamphleteers and speeches. Published content was restricted only by the threat of litigation over libel or defamation which requires publishing material known (or should have known) to be false.

Exceptions to the general rule came about when publishing was through a limited medium regulated by the government. When television stations were a limited resource obtained through government licensing of the  few channels, the government imposed free speech requirements including an equal time rule, requiring television stations to present both sides of an issue. The rule was dropped, considered unnecessary only when television began to offer a plethora of stations.

So now we get to Facebook ( youtube, twitter, etc.). Which is it most like, television or freely available printing?

For many years, including the time that these major platforms became monopolies, the internet depended on cable service which due to the physical nature of cable was a limited resource for which the government issued licenses to certain cable companies. In 1965, the FCC established rules for cable systems and the Supreme Court affirmed the FCC’s jurisdiction over cable. I believe that Facebook is also subject to regulation as a monopoly as the government has authority to interfere with monopolies, particularly when they are successful (which is, admittedly another issue) ask AT&T.

But Facebook wants it both ways. They don’t admit liability for defamatory statements published on their site. They argue that they behave simply as a platform, a means of transmission. But they also reserve the right to censor content by restricting or deleting material they deem incorrect. So which is it? If they have the power to censor what we see why shouldn’t they be liable for the content?

This censoring of free speech applies broadly. Google favors some content over others in its search engine, Youtube has been on a tear not only deleting videos but replacing videos with others that express an alternative view. See where they plan to ban holocaust ‘denial’ (revisionist in any way) videos and offer wikipedia instead. Further they intend to offer the banned videos to researchers and NGOs “looking to understand hate in order to combat it,” thereby providing content only to a restricted class of their own choosing. Twitter inserts a page when a ‘controversial’ link is clicked warning the user that the link has been identified as  malware although Twitter admits that malware warnings are posted based on content.

What is it that compels these platforms to come down on both sides of the free speech issue? After all, by editing content Facebook becomes more like a  publisher and less like a mere platform. Facebook does so because it regularly gets brought before Congress to explain free speech congress doesn’t like. Facebook also defers to European countries that regulate speech.

Facebook argues that internet companies aren’t governments and they can restrict what they like. That’s why they don’t follow the First Amendment and instead enforce more restrictive rules in response to criticism of their content. See, for ex., the New Yorker on the ‘free speech excuse.’

I believe that major platforms have become the public square. Yet we allow Facebook to restrict our speech and they do so effectively. As owners of the public square they are uniquely positioned to and do silence  dissenters. Platforms take down posts that don’t fit their ‘standards, and they do so swiftly. Perhaps before we allow Facebook to be the arbitrator of free speech, we should rethink the present day meaning of a marketplace of ideas.

May 2, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Twitter jams open a back door to track your phone – which may already be in use by the government

By Helen Buyniski | RT | April 9, 2020

Twitter is no longer allowing users to hide private data like their phone’s unique tracking identifier from advertisers, at the same time the US government is apparently targeting advertiser data to track Covid-19. Coincidence?

The social media giant announced the changes in a popup when users logged in on Wednesday, glibly informing those outside Europe that they would no longer be able to disable sharing “mobile app advertising measurements” and that there was nothing they could do about it.

The latest invasion of user privacy is just the most recent incursion on user rights coming out of the social media monopolies. Last month, users were informed that content not violating the rules might be removed anyway, because coronavirus had somehow forced the platforms’ human content moderators (some of whom already worked from home) to take time off for safety reasons.

But while Twitter claims that the new always-on “share data” setting is merely intended to reassure advertisers that people are watching their ads, it coincides with a dramatic uptick in government interest in advertisers’ location data, supposedly to track the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has torpedoed the world economy and effectively imprisoned a good chunk of humanity in their homes.

The US government was reportedly already slurping up location data on millions of Americans through mobile advertisers – the same companies that are benefiting from Twitter’s new “always-on” mobile data sharing policy – even while it was meeting with Twitter and other social media platforms to gain access to their own treasure troves of user information, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited several individuals involved in the surveillance project.

Given the public outrage in the past when social media users discovered the government spying on them through their beloved platforms, it’s no surprise Twitter would rather just leave the back door open through its advertisers and let the government take what it wants without getting directly involved. Certainly, Facebook is taking a bigger gamble by bragging about pressing users’ private data into service in the fight against the virus. The company of course claims to be protecting user privacy, but they’ve made that claim many times – usually right before a big privacy scandal.

Even those who believe enhanced government surveillance during a pandemic is justified need only look to history to observe how ’wartime powers’ are seldom relinquished during peacetime. While it would be naive to claim Twitter isn’t already funneling users’ private data to governments as well as its corporate clients – that has been public knowledge since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released documents on the PRISM project in 2013 – the growing romance between Big Brother and Big Tech should be cause for concern for anyone interested in ensuring privacy doesn’t become the biggest casualty of the coronavirus epidemic.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

April 10, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment