The censorship of alternative media is becoming more widespread. The latest victim to fall to Facebook and YouTube’s overzealous banhammer is well-known conflict watchdog website, SouthFront.
Where can 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? The original analysis of events in the United States and Russia? SouthFront is the place, or at least it was before recently being targeted by tech giants Facebook and Youtube.
Unique and influential and reaching a global audience of hundreds of thousands, SouthFront offers both editorials and factual news reports, both in text format and informational videos. As 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, SouthFront’s Facebook account, which had nearly 100,000 subscribers, was deleted without warning or notice.
On May 1, SouthFront’s main YouTube account, boasting over 150,000 subscribers, was also terminated. The English language channel had 1,900 videos which racked up 60 million views over the past five years.
While the SouthFront website is still operational, the removal of its Facebook and YouTube accounts deprives it of important distribution channels that it so painstakingly built.
The censorship has been accompanied by a disinformation campaign pushed by government-linked think tanks. The move is part of a broader push by the US State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), which has a direct liaison with Silicon Valley companies and teams focused on countering what it claims is propaganda from Russia, China, and Iran. The GEC operates with a current budget of $60 million per year.
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