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FACEBOOK & TWITTER: Are you ever going to tell me the real reason you banned me?

Carey Wedler | January 31, 2019

Please share this video on Twitter. I’d do it myself, but I’m permanently suspended.

inb4 “they are private companies”: Yes, and they collude with the government in many ways, but more importantly, they appear to be straying from their own policies, and as a consumer of their products, I am free to discuss this and express my preferences in the marketplace. :)

Note: My public page, Carey Wedler, is still active on Facebook. Anti-Media is still unpublished.

Find me on Instagram: @CareyWedler And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CareyWedler/

Minds: https://www.minds.com/careywedler

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@careywedler

If you like this video, please subscribe to this channel to help me fight Youtube’s algorithms! xo

Support me on Patreon, where there are extra videos: https://www.patreon.com/CareyWedler or via Bitcoin: 3KaqgxSiiHowtgHjY1aVCYxeav5tL8U834

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook, Twitter delete accounts linked to Iran, Russia, Venezuela with anti-west content

Press TV – February 1, 2019

Facebook and Twitter say they have taken down hundreds of accounts they claim have been part of “coordinated influence operations” from Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

Facebook said it had removed 783 pages, groups, and accounts for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran.”

The accounts, some of which had been active since 2010, had garnered about 2 million followers on Facebook and more than 250,000 followers on Instagram.

The decision came after the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab said the accounts had been designed to amplify views “in line with Iranian government’s international stances.”

“The pages posted content with strong bias for the government in Tehran and against the ‘West’ and regional neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel,” the center wrote in a blog post.

Several of the accounts focused on sharing content supporting Palestinians and condemning Israeli crimes in French, English, Spanish and Hebrew, while others were critical of Saudi policies, it said.

Twitter separately announced that it had deleted thousands of “malicious” accounts from Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The accounts had “limited operations” targeting the US midterm elections in November, the company alleged, and the majority were suspended prior to election day.

Back in August 2018, Facebook targeted hundreds of accounts allegedly tied to Iran and Russia under the pretext of fighting what it calls “misinformation” campaigns.

Among the accounts was one belonging to the Quest 4 Truth (Q4T) Iranian media organization, which promotes Islamic values.

A similar move was taken by Google against 39 YouTube channels at the time.

The channels reportedly belonged to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which condemned the move as a “coordinated” campaign and a “clear example of censorship” aimed at preventing the dissemination of truth and alternative viewpoints online.

Three months later in October, Facebook deleted 82 more Iranian accounts, claiming that it had detected “coordinated activity” between the accounts earlier in the month.

In September 2018, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif harshly criticized Twitter for blocking the accounts of “real Iranians” but overlooking the “regime change” propaganda spewing out of Washington.

He said the accounts of real Iranians, including TV presenters and students, have been shuttered for allegedly being part of an “influence operation.”

Earlier in January, the detention of Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi in the United States raised deep concerns among the world’s media activists and journalists, who launched a social media campaign with the hashtags #FreeMarziehHashemi and #Pray4MarziehHashemi in support of the detained journalist.

Hashemi’s long detention without charge finally ended last Wednesday when she was released from a Washington jail. The newscaster’s ordeal is apparently over but Hashemi is taking a firm stance against the practices of the US judicial system.

Following her release, she said in a filmed statement that public support definitely played a part in her release and vowed to further protest rights violations in the US.

February 1, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsguard Turns to EU to Push Controversial Ratings System on Tech Companies, Smears MintPress as “Secretly Supported” by Russia

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | January 30, 2019

BRUSSELS —  The neoconservative-backed news rating upstart “Newsguard” is now lobbying the European Union to “force the hand” of major U.S.-based tech companies — including Facebook, Google, and Twitter — to integrate its controversial ratings system into the world’s most popular social media platforms and search engines, according to a recent statement made by Newsguard co-CEO Steven Brill during a Tuesday event on “countering online disinformation” hosted by the EU in Brussels.

Brill also announced during his Brussels speech that Newsguard will be fully operational in four EU countries — U.K., Italy, France and Germany — by this April and is hoping to partner with EU-connected and EU-funded fact-checking organizations in order to increase Newsguard’s profits and influence as well as the likelihood of its adoption by major tech companies. Many of those companies have apparently gotten cold feet after concerns were raised about Newsguard’s browser plug-in collecting location and browsing-history information on its users, a practice discovered by independent tech experts who examined the code behind the plug-in. This undisclosed collection of user information was publicly denied by Newsguard despite it clearly being in the code of the plug-in itself.

Newsguard — whose connections to prominent neoconservatives, former government and intelligence officials and powerful PR firms were the subject of a recent MintPress exposé that went viral — has apparently shifted its hopes overseas following domestic backlash within the United States, triggered by critical reporting on the group. Brill, during his brief speech at the EU event on Tuesday, claimed that news sites that have recently criticized Newsguard’s motives — MintPress among them — are “secretly supported” by the Russian government, a claim for which he provided no evidence.

Another consequence of the growing domestic backlash, as evidenced by Brill’s appearance and the content of his speech in Brussels on Tuesday, is that Newsguard is now seeking to partner with the EU bureaucracy in order to pressure social media and other tech companies to pay Newsguard a hefty licensing fee for use of its “nonpartisan” ranking system.

This would not only ensure a steady stream of income for Brill and Newsguard’s other CEO, Louis Gordon Crovitz, but would also ensure the success of Newsguard’s ultimate ambitions of becoming an involuntary part of the internet browsing experience for citizens of the United States, the Europe Union and beyond.

An unexpectedly uphill battle for the giants’ blessing

As MintPress reported earlier this month, Newsguard aims to soon be “running by default on our computers and phones whenever we scan the Web for news” and has been in talks with “online titans” for several months, having already teamed up with Microsoft. Newsguard’s Microsoft partnership is credited with the ranking system, now available only as a browser plug-in, being pushed onto public library systems and even universities throughout the United States.

Newsguard has since used a series of interviews with mainstream outlets (all of which have received high ratings from the company) to promote its “popularity” by citing a Gallup poll that found that “89% of users of social media sites and 83% overall want social media sites and search engines to integrate NewsGuard ratings and reviews into their news feeds and search results.” However, few of the outlets that reported on the poll and Newsguard disclosed that Newsguard itself and one of its top investors funded the poll, that participants were paid to answer questions, and that the poll’s findings “may not be reflective of attitudes of the broader U.S adult population.”

Despite that, for whatever reason, there remains some resistance from social media giants to adopting Newsguard. Such a response was unexpected by the company’s CEOs Brill and Crovitz, however, given that both — when they announced Newsguard’s formation and raising of $6 million in seed funding last March — stated in several interviews that they anticipated near-immediate offers from major tech companies.

For instance, an interview with Business Insider, Crovitz (who is also a board member of Business Insider) had stated that they expected at least one of “the big tech platforms to sign on as a paying customer in a couple of months,” while Brill was quoted in the same article as stating that “We would not have gone forward [with Newsguard]” without at least some interest from these very platforms. Several mainstream reports on Newsguard have noted that if it does not successfully partner with major social media platforms or search engine companies, it is likely to fail.

The tech companies lack of interest could be explained many ways. One possibility is that Newsguard has drawn criticism from big-name, high-traffic websites it has poorly rated, particularly among conservative outlets like the Daily Mail, Breitbart and the news aggregations site Drudge Report, which has resulted in a steady stream of negative reports about the operation since MintPress’ original exposé was first published on January 9.

Such negative reporting has led to a bombardment of negative comments on Newsguard’s Facebook posts and tweets, as well as low ratings for its browser plug-ins. Mozilla, Firefox’s parent company, was recently accused of deleting many of the 1-star ratings for the plug-in, presumably at Newsguard’s request.

In addition, Facebook’s ”third party fact-checking organization” since December 2016 — the Poynter Institute, itself controversial for being heavily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Society Foundations — has openly criticized Newsguard.

In a recent article on Newsguard published in Slate, Alexios Mantzarlis, head of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), stated that — while he “appreciates” what Newsguard is trying to do — he found Newsguard’s red-green rating system “reductive,” adding that “it feels like one of those recipes where the ingredients all look right, but then you follow it closely and the result isn’t great.” Mantzarlis brought up the red rating given to Al Jazeera and the green rating given to Fox News as a glaring example of Newsguard’s questionable rankings of news organizations.

Furthermore, internet privacy activists have raised concerns about Newsguard’s plug-in collecting and storing information on the browser history of its users, along with information on the device on which it is installed and geolocation information, among other data.

Though Newsguard has responded to such criticism by stating that it does not share or store the information it collects (the “Trust Us” response), privacy advocates have noted that collecting such information was a choice the company made, not a technical requirement for the stated purpose of the plug-in. It is worth noting that Newsguard’s Crovitz has repeatedly defended illegal NSA surveillance — and the man who oversaw that surveillance operation for several years, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden, is on Newsguard’s board of advisors.

These factors and others have led some prominent privacy activists and technologists, such as Mozilla co-founder and former CEO Brendan Eich, to call Newsguard “a bad operation all around.” With prominent technologists like Eich and prominent fact-checkers like Mantzarlis lining up against Newsguard, the company’s plans to integrate smoothly into social media aren’t going as planned.

Leveraging the EU

Brill and Crovitz are apparently growing uneasy that large U.S. tech companies are getting cold feet on incorporating Newsguard into their online products and paying Newsguard’s hefty (yet undisclosed) licensing fee, given that licensing fees are the linchpin that would ensure the company’s profitability.

Slate’s recent article on Newsguard, published last Friday, admits as much. Will Oremus, Slate’s senior technology writer, stated that “whether NewsGuard’s shields become ubiquitous or a footnote in the history of online journalism will depend on the willingness of the large tech platforms to license its product.” Oremus then goes on to note that Brill said during an interview that he is confident that “a European Union agreement, little-known stateside, might help to force their hand. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Mozilla (maker of the Firefox browser) have all signed on this year to the European Commission’s Code of Practice on Disinformation, which commits them to various measures to tackle false news on their platforms.”

Oremus continues:

If it sounds like an empty bureaucratic gesture, well, it might be. But Brill and Crovitz are counting on it to have teeth, and they’ve been making regular trips [emphasis added] to Brussels to try to persuade these platforms that adopting NewsGuard is their best path toward satisfying the agreement. If this or other arguments fail to convince Big Tech, NewsGuard will fail too.”

Indeed, Newsguard is undeniably looking to the EU to “force the hand” of uneasy tech companies in integrating — and licensing — Newsguard’s ranking system. On Tuesday, Brill made yet another of his “regular trips” to Brussels, this time to participate in an EU-hosted conference titled “Countering online disinformation – Towards a more transparent, credible and diverse digital media ecosystem.” Brill participated in a panel discussion with representatives from European fact-checking organizations, titled “How can the fact-checking community help ensure a fair public debate?”

During his brief speech at the conference (link – speech begins around 5:38:30), Brill used many of the same talking points he has used domestically, touting Newsguard’s ostensible nonpartisanship and “growing popularity” with consumers (yes, he cites only the same aforementioned Gallup poll as evidence).

However, a few minutes into his speech, Brill states the real reason for attending the conference:

I am here to announce that by mid to the end of April, we expect to have hired enough native journalists and enough experienced editors and get the process going so that we will have launched in Italy, Germany, France and the U.K. and will have covered at least 90 percent [of the most visited news websites in those countries].”

In other words, Newsguard Europe is soon to open its doors, showing that the company’s global ambitions are speeding up sooner than many observers had expected.

As Newsguard has done in the U.S., Brill also noted that “we [Newsguard] are now talking to library systems here in Europe” and that Newsguard hoped to partner with “the fact checkers on this stage.” The other fact-checking organizations on that panel included representatives from the Poynter Institute’s IFCN, which, as previously mentioned, has recently criticized Newsguard’s rating system; the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the world’s “largest community of public service [read government-funded] media organizations in the world,” whose members include the BBC, France24 and Deutsche Welle; and the EU government- and Google-funded “disinformation observatory” SOMA.

It is currently unclear whether Newsguard has partnered with any of these organizations or is involved in talks to do so. However, Brill’s stated desire to partner with fact-checkers supported by and also funded by the EU government shows that Newsguard Europe is interested in protecting establishment corporate and state-funded media outlets — much as it has in the United States, where Newsguard has targeted independent media sites, particularly those with an “anti-establishment” leaning.

Obviously not a first choice

Given Brill’s recent announcement and his recent statements regarding Newsguard’s shift across the Atlantic, the question then becomes — will it work? Will Brill and Crovitz be able to use the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation to pressure Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Mozilla — all of whom signed the code last fall — to follow in Microsoft’s footsteps and adopt Newsguard?

On Tuesday, the European Commission commented on the initial reports by Google, Facebook, Twitter and Mozilla on their efforts “to fight fake news.” In a statement, the commission wrote:

There has been some progress, notably in removing fake accounts and limiting the visibility of sites that promote disinformation. However, additional action is needed to ensure full transparency of political ads by the start of the campaign for the European elections in all EU Member States.”

Those elections will take place in May.

As noted by Forbes, the commission will perform a comprehensive assessment at the end of 2019 and “should the results prove unsatisfactory … [the commission] may propose further actions, including of a regulatory nature.” In other words, the commission is threatening tech companies with government regulation if the results of their efforts to fight “fake news” are considered “unsatisfactory” by EU bureaucrats.

If Newsguard is able to partner with groups that are EU-connected and funded like the EBU and SOMA, that conflict of interest alone could be enough to have Newsguard integration promoted by the EU as a “satisfactory” step towards meeting the requirements of the Code. In addition, Newsguard’s ties to one of the largest advertising firms in the world, the French-based Publicis Groupe, could also help it win EU support.

Indeed, Brill showed a subsection of the Code that fits neatly with Newsguard’s stated mission and its description of its own activities during his Tuesday speech. He highlighted the Code’s Commitment 11.D “Empowering Consumers,” which states:

Such transparency should reflect the importance of facilitating the assessment of content through indicators of the trustworthiness of content sources, media ownership and verified identity. These indicators should be based on objective criteria and endorsed by news media associations, in line with journalistic principles and processes.”

Yet, despite EU threats and Brill’s presentation to EU officials and tech company representatives on Tuesday, social media platforms like Facebook seem intent on resisting Newsguard. For example, Facebook, in an effort to pre-empt the commission’s response to its efforts and the “disinformation” conference Tuesday, announced at a Monday press conference in Brussels that it plans to create an “independent content oversight board with the power to overturn company decisions on user posts,” to be composed of 40 “technology and human rights experts free of commercial influences,” who will be selected by Facebook for inaugural three-year terms.

Though it is doubtful that the EU will find Facebook’s new “content oversight board” to be “satisfactory” over the course of the year, it shows that Facebook is willing to try all sorts of alternatives to Newsguard, despite Brill and Crovitz’s heavy lobbying of the popular yet beleaguered social media platform.

Newsguard critics are all Kremlin mouthpieces?

Newsguard’s ambitions seem to be hitting more roadblocks than expected in the U.S., leading the group to turn their attention to unelected EU bureaucrats and to cultivating alliances with establishment media organizations and fact-checkers in Europe in order to pressure U.S.-based tech companies to license its ranking system.

A clear factor in creating this scenario for Newsguard has been initial critical reporting from MintPress and other subsequent reports from various outlets such as RT and Breitbart. Brill, during his Tuesday speech, made his disdain for these reports clear and attempted to write off  all critical reporting on Newsguard as being “secretly supported” by the Russian government. During a short Q&A session following his speech on Tuesday, Brill briefly donned his tinfoil hat and lamented “this sustained attack we’ve been getting from RT and Sputnik for the last 10 days and all of the various websites that they kind of secretly support [emphasis added] in the United States.”

RT’s initial report on Newsguard cited MintPress as having broken the story, and Sputnik’s coverage focused on MintPress’ article as well as a radio interview the author of this article did with a Sputnik radio program a few days after the report had been published. As a consequence, Brill implied on Tuesday that MintPress is “secretly supported” by RT and Sputnik, a bold-face lie that had first been circulated in a January 15 report by Folio that had insinuated that MintPress was a “Kremlin-linked outlet.” Folio was eventually forced make the following clarification after being contacted by MintPress Editor-in-Chief Mnar Muhawesh:

A social media headline on this story, mentioning “Russian-linked news media,” was a reference to RT and Sputnik News. MintPress News is an independent, Minnesota-based news outlet.”

Newsguard and the establishment media it seeks to protect have now made it clear that not only are they unconcerned with the actual opinions of U.S. adults regarding their platform and ranking system, they are also willing to smear any news outlet that points out their numerous conflicts of interest and troubling ambitions as “Kremlin-linked.” The only “evidence” for that smear is absurdly based on the fact that RT and Sputnik have reported on the topic. The hypocrisy is glaring given that RT and Sputnik both regularly write articles based off of stories that were first published by establishment, “green-rated” U.S. outlets; yet, those outlets are not implied as receiving “secret support” from the Russian government by association.

The absurdity of these smears, along with Newsguard’s push to hammer out a deal with EU bureaucracy over the heads of tech companies and global internet users, show growing concern among Newsguard executives and their investors that their project could fail despite their best efforts. Indeed, if they have already resorted to deleting poor reviews for their browser plug-in, it certainly — as one FireFox user noted — “seems like a desperate move.”

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

January 30, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Kafka: How Youtube & Facebook Keep Purging Alternative Media

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EU and the warning signs of Fascism

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

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

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

The EU Defence Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EU’s Ministry of Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One – establish the “truth”:

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

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

Two – eliminate dissent:

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

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

Three – control the narrative:

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

To sum up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberal journalists rejoice as controversial British blogger Graham Phillips banned from Twitter

Graham Phillips © Facebook / Graham William Phillips
RT | November 21, 2018

Controversial British blogger Graham Phillips has had his Twitter account permanently suspended, prompting many liberal journalists who have been following his activities to rejoice.

According to Phillips – writing in a Facebook post – his account has been “permanently banned,” adding that Twitter has provided “no examples of the ‘hateful content’ they accuse me of.”

Philips’ often unconventional, always confrontational, practices have led to him being maligned by many of his peers.

After his apparent disappearance from Twitter his detractors were quick to post on the numerous other accusations against him. For example, the UK-based independent journalist and filmmaker Jake Hanrahan, who has worked for the BBC, Bellingcat, and The Guardian, has accused him of looting “a dead Ukraine soldier’s body.”

One such critic who has regularly targeted Phillips is Elliot Higgins, head of Bellingcat, a UK-based investigatory website linked to NATO. Higgins has tweeted his delight at the news.

Higgins had invariably sparred with Phillips over Twitter, namely over NATO’s funding for Bellingcat, a supposedly non-partisan organisation.

Meanwhile, the ‘gonzo’ journalist urged his fans to lobby Twitter’s administrators asking them to unlock the account of “an independent British journalist, telling the truth.” Some of his supporters decried the ban as an attack on freedom of speech, urging Twitter to reverse the decision.

The Russian-speaking blogger came to prominence during the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where he was often accused of bias towards the separatists.

In May 2014, Phillips was detained and interrogated by the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU. His subsequent expulsion from the country has not stopped Phillips targeting the Ukrainian government and those he perceives as their supporters.

Most recently he got into an altercation with Ukraine’s ambassador to Austria Alexander Shcherba, Phillips filmed as the men exchanged insults.

Despite his controversies the apparent banning of Phillips, reportedly without stated reason, will come as a worry for those who fear Twitter is purging its platform of alternative voices. Twitter has drawn the ire of conservative media in recent months for a series of purges targeting online commentators and political figures such as Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan, among others.

Twitter was contacted for comment but had not yet responded at the time of publication.

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Francis Fukuyama and the End of Social Media Freedoms

By Robert BRIDGE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.11.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gab.com & the Great Purge on the Horizon

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 30, 2018

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

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

Why did this happen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RT | October 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amid Mainstream Hysteria, Twitter Troll Trove Shows Little Evidence of Meddling

By Kit Klarenberg | Sputnik | October 19, 2018

On October 17, Twitter released an archive of over ten million tweets posted by 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, the Russian ‘troll farm’ that has been relentlessly accused by Western journalists and politicians of waging an ‘influence campaign’ during the 2016 US Presidential election in support of Donald Trump.

In an official statement accompanying the data dump, the social media giant said it was disclosing the “full, comprehensive archive” of tweets and media “connected with previously disclosed, potentially state-backed operations” on its platform.

Prior releases provoked much comment and analysis, but also controversy — several accounts widely described as ‘bots’ turned out to be real people, their baffled and scandalized owners taking to the airwaves to make their authenticity, and the authenticity of their opinions, clear. This time, Twitter has “high confidence” the named accounts are bots or ‘trolls’ — fake personas concocted and managed by real people.

An example of some of the media shared by an alleged Russian troll account

Whether Twitter’s certainty is apt this time round remains yet unclear, given several accounts provided published little in the way of political content, instead favoring comedic memes, tweets about preparing for a night out on the town, or screenshots of their favorite US sitcoms, such as Friends. Quite what impact such activities could’ve had — or could’ve been intended to have — on the US political process is unclear, but perhaps further analysis will unfurl a hidden agenda.

Who’s Influencing Who?

Moreover, if the accounts were involved in an attempt to influence US politics, their tweets are somewhat baffling — the vast bulk posted by the offending accounts were in Russian, and as less than a million US citizens speak the language, it’s fair to say no Americans were influenced by these activities, and indeed that wasn’t the intention of the tweeters in question.

This leaves open the question of what the posters were trying to achieve — although on the basis of the tweets Sputnik has seen so far, it may well have simply been a cynical attempt to drive traffic to certain websites, in order to reap advertising revenue.

The Atlantic Council’s Analysis of Troll Tweet Language © Atlantic Council 2018

There is much elsewhere to support the notion these accounts’ activities amounted to opportunistic ‘clickbait’ efforts — their tweeting seemingly spiked during and after major events, with trending hashtags bookending often unrelated posts, or politically charged messages accompanied by a shortened link to a third-party website. By piggybacking off anti-Islam or Euroskeptic hashtags, account owners presumably sought to drive traffic elsewhere.

An example of some of the media shared by an alleged Russian troll account

Irreducible Complacency

This lack of apparent overriding objective is palpably divorced from initial claims of a concerted effort to achieve specific results — such as the election of Donald Trump — but the mainstream media seemingly remains undeterred, as the flurry of alarmist articles that have circulated in the wake of the data dump surely attests. Look past the headlines, however, and accompanying articles are scant on information and discussion, leaving readers in search of said proof wanting. For this glaring deficit, major news outlets can perhaps be forgiven — the data amounts to several hundred gigabytes, and it will surely take a vast army of journalists considerable time to wade through and analyze the full cache.

Nonetheless, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab was given a headstart, with Twitter providing the organization’s data scientists an advance look at the trove “in an effort to promote shared understanding of the vulnerabilities exploited by various types on online influence operations, as well as social media’s role in democracy”.

Many articles cite the Council’s analysis, authored by Ben Nimmo, in justification of their paranoid headlines — but while the Lab’s superficial updated conclusion is that troll accounts were intended to divide online communities and exploit polarization and division in society proper, a review of the organization’s detective work suggests journalists haven’t taken the time to actually read that article either. After all, the piece concludes the “troll operations do not appear to have had significant influence on public debate”, “there is no evidence to suggest they triggered large-scale changes in political behavior”, and the accounts’ activities “had little to no discernible impact on the target populations’ political behavior”.

Nimmo concludes the article by despairing of the difficulty of identifying future foreign influence operations, given trolls “use exactly the techniques which drive genuine online activism and engagement”, making it “much harder to separate them out from genuine users”. Nonetheless, Twitter avowedly remains committed to “proactively combat[ing] nefarious attempts to undermine” its integrity, and neutralizing such efforts as “quickly and robustly as technically possible”.

Given Nimmo himself concedes the activities of alleged troll accounts had “little or no impact” whatsoever, with their ‘operations’ “washed away in the firehose of Twitter”, it’s highly questionable if it’s worth undertaking any effort at all.

Despite the paltry yield of information so far, Sputnik journalists will continue analyzing the released data, and report in weeks to come on their findings — if indeed findings are actually forthcoming.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 3 Comments

Twitter Data Release Aimed to Discredit Trump Ahead of Midterms – Commentator

Sputnik – October 19, 2018

Twitter has shared an archive of material that could be linked to alleged information campaigns by Russia and Iran. This comes after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before Congress about foreign interference in US elections. Sputnik has discussed the issue with UK-based political commentator and activist Alan Bailey.

Sputnik: What’s your take on the timing of Twitter’s release of data dating back years? Why now?

Alan Bailey: This is all related to the upcoming US mid-term elections, and further back to the campaign to discredit current US President Trump. There has been a long-running process of undermining Trump’s validity by blaming his victory on external actors. Mainly Russia. According to the US authorities, social media was the main weapon of choice in swinging the public opinion towards Trump and we are now seeing a process of neutering social media so that any dissenting voices outside the mainstream will struggle to be heard.

In its blog post Twitter mentioned some 3,800 accounts it says were affiliated with Russia and some 770 accounts associated with Iran, so over 4,500 accounts overall. How big of a role could these 4,500 accounts have played in the so-called disinformation campaign?

The thing to remember about Twitter is that the vast majority of people only see posts from members they subscribe to. In other words, anyone reading these posts has subscribed to these members’ posts or to someone re-tweeting the posts. It’s not TV. You don’t sit there and watch anything Twitter broadcasts. If the tweets from these members had any effect, then it was because those reading them had sympathy with the content of the tweets anyway.Sputnik: The company also revealed that these accounts have sent over 10 million tweets over the years. Meanwhile, according to Google, some 500 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day. Again, how big of a role could this have played in shaping public opinion?

Alan Bailey:  Same as above really. If people were influenced by these tweets, then it is because the mainstream media is not supplying the quality of info they require and this is being fulfilled by the “Russian tweets.” What on earth is wrong with reading a Russian point of view on social media? Nothing. It’s up to the Mainstream to disprove the content and at this, they fail regularly.

Sputnik: In your view, how much of a role do Twitter’s and Facebook’s identification policies play when it comes to setting up new accounts with these networks?

Alan Bailey:  Twitter made it official policy that impersonation of another person is a violation of their terms of use and can delete an account upon finding out that this has occurred. Yet many parody accounts exist, mocking celebrities and the like. So this policy, in particular, has been leveraged as a means of deleting accounts producing content that is not in line with US policy and/or representing movements seen in a bad light by the US authorities.

Sputnik: What measures should Twitter take to improve its performance as a safe and unbiased platform, in your opinion?

Alan Bailey:  Twitter needs to resist outside pressure to censor its content. Beyond ensuring that only people of a certain age are allowed to sign up for the network, it’s my view that everything else should be open and uncensored. It’s very easy to block or mute a user who is annoying to a user.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

CNN: “Twitter has suspended accounts” that “appear” to smear Khashoggi

By Catte | OffGuardian | October 19, 2018

Further indication of the alleged murder of Khashoggi being a narrative issued from high levels in the power structure is rolling out all the time. But this is a significant little pointer:

The Khashoggi murder narrative, true or false, is being protected and promoted aggressively by the mainstream media. I don’t think this is simply because the press are mad about the attack on “one of their own” or because the scandal is just too big to ignore. In fact I think these frequently-repeated claims are based on a fundamental and dangerous misapprehension about the relationship between the media and its masters and how narratives are currently produced.

Whatever happens with the Khashoggi story we need to keep talking about these misapprehensions because they fatally undermine people’s ability to grasp the reality of our current situation. I guess I’ll be returning to it in the future.

In the meantime, I note several articles in alt media outlets that ought to know better – all discussing what the murder of Khashoggi might mean for this or that foreign policy question, or this or that aspect of the western narrative. None, or shamefully few of them, pointing out that we have as yet seen no evidence the murder has actually happened.

This erosion of our requirement for verification is appalling. I don’t care what beneficial long term interests may be served by climbing on this bandwagon and screaming for vengeance on the Saudis, if we agree to live in a world where allegation becomes evidence simply by repetition, we are allowing the propagandists an easy victory.

Catte Co-founding editor at OffGuardian. Writer. Occasional polemicist. Lives in UK. Email at blackcatte@off-guardian.org

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment