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Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

According to CNN Business, “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struggle to deal with New Zealand shooting video.”

“Deal with” is code for “censor on demand by governments and activist organizations who oppose public access to information that hasn’t first been thoroughly vetted for conformity to their preferred narrative.”

Do you really need to see first-person video footage of an attacker murdering 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand?

Maybe not. Chances are pretty good you didn’t even want to. I suspect that many of us who did (I viewed what appeared to be a partial copy before YouTube deleted it) would rather we could un-see it.

But whether or not we watch it should be up to us, not those governments and activists. Social media companies should enable our choices, not suppress our choices at the censors’ every whim.

If Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube had been primary news sources in 1915, would they have permitted us to view footage  (rare, as film was in its early days)  of New Zealanders’ desperate fight at Gallipoli?

How about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

The assassination of president John F. Kennedy?

The second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

Lucinda Creighton of the Counter Extremism Project complains to CNN that the big social media firms aren’t really “cooperating and acting in the best interest of citizens to remove this content.”

The CEP claims that it “counter[s] the narrative of extremists” and  works to “reveal the extremist threat.”  How does demanding that something be kept hidden “counter” or “reveal” it? How is it in “the best of interest of citizens” to only let those citizens see what Lucinda Creighton thinks they should be allowed to see?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections

Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections

Photo Source Mike Mozart | CC BY 2.0

On October 11, Facebook announced the removal of 559 pages and 251 accounts from its service, accusing the account holders of “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The purged users stand accused of posting “massive amounts of content … to drive traffic to their websites” with suspicious “timing ahead of US midterm elections.”

Facebook admits to “legitimate reasons” for such behavior — “it’s the bedrock of fundraising campaigns and grassroots organizations.” Not to mention the operations of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and a bunch of other users/pages which weren’t purged.

Facebook also admits that it has previously “enforced this policy against many Pages, Groups and accounts created to stir up political debate …”

In other words, Facebook’s administrators are meddling in politics — including the 2018 US midterm elections — in the name of preventing meddling in politics.

Who benefits from the meddling? It doesn’t seem to fall along “left/right” lines in particular. The victims come from across the political spectrum — from Reverb Press on the left, to Right Wing News on the right, to the libertarian Free Thought Project — some with millions of Facebook followers.

The primary thread connecting victims of the purge seems to be that they are critics and/or opponents of the American political “mainstream” or “establishment.”

In a sense, this is nothing new. Even before Internet “social media,” the old guard “mainstream media” tended to draw fairly narrow lines on either side of the perceived political “center” or “consensus” and avoid coloring (or publishing e.g. reader letters that colored) very far outside those lines. One might support or oppose a tax increase, or even a particular tax, but opposing taxation in general? Why, that was just crazy and not worthy of consideration — or of column inches.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Need More, Not Less, Separation of State and Journalism

We Need More, Not Less, Separation of State and Journalism

“Newspapers are dying,” writes Rob Kall, Editor-in-Chief of progressive (but refreshingly open-minded) opinion site OpEdNews, in a (recently updated) 2010 op-ed. “Let them. There may have been people who wanted to rescue the buggy whip industry. But they were misguided. It was transportation they really cared about. We need to initiate dynamic, bottom-up approaches to support the ailing field of Journalism, not newspapers.”

Kall’s analysis is as trenchant now as when he first addressed himself to the decline of the newspapers that previous generations knew, and to what looks like a “market failure” on the part of today’s Internet-based news culture. Any mistakes in translating that analysis here are mine, by the way. Here we go:

The rise of free content and ease of entry into the field has us getting more “journalism” … but less real information. Opinion writers (like me) are a dime a dozen. Amateur stringers and glorified copy editors cover five-point-lede “hard news” on the cheap. But the shock troops of news, full-time investigative journalists, have to learn the ropes and they have to be paid. That’s not happening. The result: Many important things get missed and many things that aren’t missed get only insufficient, inaccurate — or worst, sponsor viewpoint biased — coverage.

Kall’s proposed solution: “If the US government invests directly in journalists, so their writings and reports can be freely used by any media organization or site, that investment will yield big results.” He suggests a $3.5 billion program, translating to 50,000 investigative journalists receiving salaries of $60,000 per year with benefits.

My response to Kall: “If the US government invests directly in journalists, we’ll get the journalism the US government wants us to have.”

Kall’s response to me: “That’s a knee-jerk, anti-government reaction. If the funding is structured so journalists can be independent … it doesn’t have to be that way.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors

Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors

In a recent tweet, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart.” His solution: “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Yes, odd as it might seem, Senator Murphy believes that the future of America can only be secured by suppressing information and discussion he doesn’t like. That sentiment seems to be going around. David McCabe  of Axios reports on a leaked policy paper from the office of US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Two of its most dangerous proposals:

“[N]ew federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms.” In other words, well-financed government propaganda to make sure we hear what Mark Warner wants us to hear (and think what he wants us to think about what we hear elsewhere).

“[R]equiring web platforms to label bot accounts or do more to identify authentic accounts, with the threat of sanction by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to do so.” America’s long tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous political speech — not least among it the Revolution-era pamphlets of Thomas Paine — shouldn’t be subject to the veto of Mark Warner or Chris Murphy.

Then, a good laugh: “The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics.”

Since when has government ever produced proper oversight, transparency, or effective management of anything? And what could possibly go wrong with eviscerating the First Amendment to give these jokers “oversight” or “management” powers over technologies that undergird our politics? What’s really going on here?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State

Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State

Since the “Russiagate” probe began, US president Donald Trump and his supporters have used lots of bandwidth raging against what they refer to as the “Deep State.” Does the Deep State exist? If so, what is it, and are its forces arrayed specifically against Donald Trump and  his administration?

Yes, the Deep State exists — probably more so at one end of its numerous definitions and less so at the other, but to some degree at both ends.

At the seemingly more benign end, the Deep State is simply what one might think of as the “permanent government” — the army of bureaucrats and functionaries whose careers span multiple administrations. Like all career employees of large organizations as groups, they tend to fear and resist change, and their sheer mass has an inertial effect. They energetically do things the old way and drag their feet on new things.

At the end dismissed by mainstream commentators as “conspiracy theory,” the Deep State is an invisible second government which acts in a coordinated manner to protect its prerogatives and advance its interests and favored policies versus changes supposedly demanded by “the people” via their elected representatives in Congress and the presidency. The premier example of this view is the claim that John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and the military industrial complex because (in one version) he was about to get the US out of Vietnam.

If that end of the spectrum sounds crazy to you, consider:

Former FBI attorney Lisa Page and former FBI deputy counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok, while working on a pre-election investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, exchanged text messages with incendiary content such as “there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April. The country’s opposition denounces the process as a sham and Maduro as a dictator, both of which may be true.

Oddly,  a third voice — the US government — also weighed in. Per US state media outlet Voice of America, “the United States, which under President Donald Trump has been deeply critical of Maduro’s leadership in crisis-torn and economically suffering Venezuela, on Saturday rejected the call for an early legislative vote.”

Given the perpetual public pearl-clutching over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, that’s some major league chutzpah.

The US State Department wants “‘a free and fair election’ involving full participation of all political leaders, the immediate release of all political prisoners, credible international observation and an independent electoral authority.

Let’s take that one at a time.

Participation of all political leaders? In some US states, it’s harder for a third party to get on a ballot than in, say, Iran.

The immediate release of all political prisoners? Last I heard, US president Donald Trump hadn’t pardoned (among others) Leonard Peltier.

Credible international observation? The US proper committed to admitting international election observers in the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s 1990 Copenhagen Document, but many US states forbid international observers or, for that matter, local observers who aren’t affiliated with one of the two ruling parties.

Electoral authorities? The two ruling parties control them all and routinely use them to suppress threatened competition, as do pseudo-private entities like the Commission on Presidential Debates, which makes giant illegal (but government approved) in-kind contributions to the Republican and Democratic candidates in the form of televised candidate beauty pageants which exclude the opposition parties.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Does The Federal Reserve Have to Hide?

What Does The Federal Reserve Have to Hide?

Such was the case on January 12, when the US Senate defeated a motion to bring the latest version of “Audit the Fed” to the floor for full debate and a vote. What’s up with that?

Supporters paint a Fed audit as simple common sense; opponents as an attempt to “politicize” US monetary policy.

It seems to me that logic and reason are entirely with the pro-audit side. The Federal Reserve system was established by Congress in 1913  for the express purpose of manipulating the national currency pursuant to statutory objectives (creating and maintaining “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates”). That’s inherently “political.”

It’s not “politicization” that audit opponents really object to. What they object to,  their dark references to “conspiracy theory” and other attempts at distraction notwithstanding, is transparency.

Why? Well, given that the primary opposition to an audit comes from the the political class and the usual Wall Street suspects — the rest of us either support an audit or, more likely, don’t think much about the matter at all — it’s pretty obvious:

The Federal Reserve operates, its statutory goals be damned, for the purpose of protecting the interests of “the 1%” in preference to the interests of, and when necessary at the expense of, the rest of us.

That’s the only plausible motive for audit opponents’ insistence that the Fed be allowed to operate in secrecy, immune from public inspection or even inspection by the political authority that created it and gave it its alleged mission.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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