Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared
Michael Krieger | Posted Monday Aug 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm
“Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer.”
– Bangambiki Habyarimana
Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.
In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward. It really got going earlier this year when issues surrounding egregious privacy violations in the case of Cambridge Analytica (stuff that had been going on for years) could finally be linked to the Trump campaign. It was at this point that powerful and nefarious forces spotted an opportunity to leverage the company’s gigantic influence in distributing news and opinion for their own ends. Rather than hold executives to account and break up the company, the choice was made to commandeer and weaponize the platform. This is where we stand today.
Let’s not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we’re aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance. As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.
But it’s all out in the open now. Facebook isn’t even hiding the fact that it’s outsourcing much of its “fake news” analysis to the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by NATO, Gulf States and defense contractors. As reported by Reuters:
Facebook began looking for outside help amid criticism for failing to rein in Russian propaganda ahead of the 2016 presidential elections…
With scores of its own cybersecurity professionals and $40 billion in annual revenue in 2017, Facebook might not seem in need of outside help.
It doesn’t need outside help, it needs political cover, which is the real driver behind this.
But the lab and Atlantic Council bring geopolitical expertise and allow Facebook to distance itself from sensitive pronouncements. On last week’s call with reporters, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, said the company should not be expected to identify or blame specific governments for all the campaigns it detects.
“Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation-state,” said Stamos, who is leaving the company this month for a post at Stanford University. Instead, he said Facebook would stick to amassing digital evidence and turning it over to authorities and researchers.
It would also be awkward for Facebook to accuse a government of wrongdoing when the company is trying to enter or expand in a market under that government’s control.
Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.
Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks. The more he succeeds, the fewer complications for Facebook’s expansion, the smaller its payroll, and the more plausible its positioning as a neutral platform. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
With that in mind go ahead and check out the Atlantic Council’s donor list and all the shady characters on its board.
Atlantic Council's board members include Kissinger, fmr CIA chief Michael Hayden, fmr CIA head Mike Morell (who said US should kill Russians & Iranians in Syria), Bush DHS chief Michael Chertoff (inventor of color coded terror chart). Funded by Lockheed Martin, Chevron, UAE, NATO https://t.co/4CSDMWsfHu
— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) August 9, 2018
Now that it’s been established that Facebook is in fact censoring based on advice provided by former spooks and other assorted establishment charlatans, let’s talk about what this means. I think there are two major takeaways.
First and foremost, the entire push to make arbitrary de-platforming by tech giants the new norm proves the establishment is scared to death. The very powerful folks accustomed to manipulating and shaping the world via narrative creation aren’t terrified about what Alex Jones says, they’re terrified that it’s popular. The establishment “elites” are in such denial about the consequences of the world they created, all they can do is spastically attack symptoms. Trump didn’t divide U.S. society and Alex Jones didn’t cause our widespread (and entirely justifiably) distrust in institutions; the status quo system did that via its spectacular failures. Trump’s election and Alex Jones’ popularity are merely symptoms of an incredibly corrupt and failed status quo paradigm, the stewards of which continually refuse to take a look in the mirror, accept blame and reform.
The way I see it, two key events of the 21st century directly led to the situation we find ourselves in currently. The launching of the Iraq war based on false evidence spread by intelligence agencies, politicians and the media, and the decision to bail out bankers and protect them from jail in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Combined, these two things created an environment of anger and distrust in which nearly anything becomes possible politically and socially. Trump and Alex Jones are symptoms of a failing society, not the root causes of it.
If I’m right about this, censorship of such voices by SilIcon Valley billionaires will backfire spectacularly. Alex Jones has now been made a martyr by tech oligarchs and deep state think tanks, which gives him more street cred than he had before. De-platforming does nothing to the demand side of the equation when it comes to his content, as we saw with his Infowars app soaring in the charts soon after the purge. If people want to find Alex Jones and Infowars, they will find it. Moreover, other communities are beginning to wake up to how dangerous all of this is. For example, last week we witnessed a growing number of Bitcoiners create accounts at decentralized Twitter-alternative Mastodon in case Jack Dorsey decides to step up censorship there.
Ultimately, it’s safer for society to have open public forums where all ideas — whether you consider them dangerous and crazy or not — can be openly expressed alongside each other. That way we can see what’s out there and debate or debunk them in front of large and diverse audiences.
This is 2018 and de-platforming popular content won’t make it go away. It’ll just shift it over into areas of the internet you can’t see, where it’ll fester and grow stronger over time in even more intense and radicalized echo chambers. You’ll think it’s gone from society because it’s been safely cleansed from your corporate-government Facebook timeline, but it may grow even stronger in the shadows. This is particularly the case in a nation dominated by an entrenched, corrupt and unaccountable elitist class. One that refuses to confront the reality of its monumental failures, and instead chooses to self-interestedly obsess over what are just symptoms of a decadent empire in decline.
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Categories: News Items Tags: Atlantic Council board, Atlantic Council donors, Atlantic Council Facebook, government involvement tech companies, tech giant censorship, think tank censorship Comments: 29
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Henny Bogan August 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm
You make good points however I still don’t believe you are getting to the root source of the evil. Please target your research towards the Khazarian Talmudic Zionists.
Are you sure Alex Jones isn’t a front man for the Secret Shadow Government(SSG)?
Does Julian Assange have Mossad ties?
The US Inc. began in 1933. The elections are nothing more than an illusion.
Trump as every prez since ę33 was selected not elected.
The SSG simply want authoritarianism through the guise of socialism.
First they need to destroy the US Inc.
Tjm August 21, 2018 at 5:17 am
Henny you are right on the mark, the idea Alex Jones is some “freedom fighter” is about as plausible as POS Zionist Trump is a patriotic American. How stupid do they think we are? JUST LIKE TRUMP, the SMS and much of the Zionist controlled “alt media” are conducting another psy-op this time with Alex Jones to make him the alt-darling and standard bearer for him and his misinformation program. Jones blames everything on the Saudis and China, omitting his Zionist Jewish paymasters whom are the true villains.
Sandy English August 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm
Are you familiar censorship of the World Socialist Web Site by Google? if so, what is your view?
Carolyn Mcdowell August 13, 2018 at 3:10 pm
Good points, Michael. Still learning and in shock how corrupt and unaccountable these elites are. I’ve only been awakened a couple of years,
and it still blows my mind. So many areas are so corrupt, from medicine to the food industry, financial, govt, you name it. So many LIES out there.
Federico August 13, 2018 at 5:57 pm
Sistema corrupto, falso, etc sim . Fracassado tenho as minhas dúvidas. O sistema é uma piramide onde se delega a falsidade e os ganhos em decrescente.
Brisa August 13, 2018 at 8:40 pm
I so enjoy your persective. Migrating to alternative platforms, some block chain based, may be part of the answer. MySpace anyone?
Hermes August 14, 2018 at 11:58 am
Just keep writing on your wordpress blogs. Let’s hope wordpress doesn’t get corrupted. If it gets super bad people can actually require people to log into an account to see their content. Not sure it will come to that. My guess WW3 actors are choosing sides right now. And I think US is going to be more isolated than it realizes. I would not trust Trump. I voted for him, btw. One of those deplorables who could not stand Hillary to such a degree I went ahead and chanced my vote with DT.
Genaro August 15, 2018 at 5:36 am
At this particular point in time it doesn’t really matter who the puppet president of the US happens to be.
The .001% has Trump where they want him. On his heels due to the Russian Snipe hunt. That was their Plan B if he was elected, and they are implementing it exactly.
So they will get what they want out of Trump.
Michael is correct about them taking these overt censorship actions because they are afraid. There is no doubt that they would have preferred to float the censorship trial balloon at a later date.
But the Universe has intervened and caused them to act too soon. Now they’re like an advanced skier trying to ski a black diamond slope with a lot of trees and only one ski pole.
Arioch The August 19, 2018 at 1:24 pm
If “hot” WW3 starts then – and it was long stated by many – USA was selected to be next Big Meanie, next Hitler, next Napoleon, next “big scaring threat” that would make few initial fanfare victories to make rest of the world unite and squash it after many bitter sacrifices. Alternatively, WW3 may already be going as economic war (it is soothing to think the economic war is substitution not merely foreplay).
Today everyone knows what evil crimes did Third Reich – and it lampshades the same things England and Belgium did in their colonies.
Tomorrow every school class would have a course of American crimes against humanity in the 21st century, and those would be the only crimes ever mentioned.
BTW i repeat WW3 analogue explains this censorship. Before WW2 USSR prohibited their citizens to have radio receivers with free wave tuning. Big wars need control over the country, including control over population.
Will there be economic collapse and civil war inside America or a desperate Hitleresque attempt to conquer compeating countries, both ways USA would have, to quote Michael himself, “brace for impact”. Limiting uncontrolled population behavior, like Alex Jones narratives, is perhaps exactly that very bracing. Frankly, if the impact gets inevitable, what should rulers practically do to brace themselves and their sheeple? One may say them being “scared of the impact”.
Controlling internet more and more tightly goes around the world.
Twitter and Facebook used to control population in other governments “homes”. And US rulers know it more intimately than anyone else.
Long term effect would be people dispersing from Gang Of Six platforms, hopefully finding better less centralized way to regain vast mass communication. But short term would be just chilling. People would get automized into small groups on different unrelated niche platforms. Unable to get together, feel together, panic together, act together.
If impact is really hanging over then maybe rulers would reach for short-term effects and about long term losses “they would think tomorrow”?..
Faulkner August 14, 2018 at 4:32 pm
The neoliberal globalists refuse to accept the demise of their decades long agenda… the end of the nation-state, the permanent death knell of democracy, maybe the literal dismantling of the Capitol and WH as HQ becomes the vastly expanded MIC.
The reason other nations like Denmark and China are doing much better is that, unlike the US, the State still has regulatory control of their private banks.
Here, they’re running the joint!
“The bank strategy continues: “If we can privatize the economy, we can turn the whole public sector into a monopoly. We can treat what used to be the government sector as a financial monopoly. Instead of providing free or subsidized schooling, we can make people pay $50,000 to get a college education, or $50,000 just to get a grade school education if families choose to go to New York private schools. We can turn the roads into toll roads. We can charge people for water, and we can charge for what used to be given for free under the old style of Roosevelt capitalism and social democracy.”
This idea that governments should not create money implies that they shouldn’t act like governments. Instead, the de facto government should be Wall Street. Instead of governments allocating resources to help the economy grow, Wall Street should be the allocator of resources – and should starve the government to “save taxpayers” (or at least the wealthy). Tea Party promoters want to starve the government to a point where it can be “drowned in the bathtub.”
But if you don’t have a government that can fund itself, then who is going to govern, and on whose terms? The obvious answer is, the class with the money: Wall Street and the corporate sector. They clamor for a balanced budget, saying, “We don’t want the government to fund public infrastructure. We want it to be privatized in a way that will generate profits for the new owners, along with interest for the bondholders and the banks that fund it; and also, management fees. Most of all, the privatized enterprises should generate capital gains for the stockholders as they jack up prices for hitherto public services.
You can see how to demoralize a country if you can stop the government from spending money into the economy. That will cause austerity, lower living standards and really put the class war in business. So what Trump is suggesting is to put the class war in business, financially, with an exclamation point.”
Hudson: As Samir Amin said at the meeting yesterday, China is the economy that is trying to be the exception to the Western economic model. That model is forcing a choice between civilization and barbarism. The West is moving rapidly into economic barbarism and militarism. As you can see, the austerity program of the Euro is destroying the economy there. The United States is cutting taxes on the rich, while indebting the working class very highly. The one country that is independent and not taking the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is China.
Al August 18, 2018 at 9:35 am
China does not fit into any equation involving other countries. They have stolen our manufacturing, technology, and military secrets. They have manipulated their currency while stockpiling gold. China owns our ‘elected’ representatives as they always vote in favor of China.
Their economy has nothing to do with normal principles as a mafia owned business does not compare to a similar legitimately owned business.
Tom Kath August 14, 2018 at 11:20 pm
Every author or anyone wanting publicity knows the value of being denounced publicly by a Bishop or being “Banned in Boston”. In the early 70s everyone at my school had a copy of Mao’s “Little Red Book”, banned in the west! – And we all read it with far more interest than Shakespeare or “prescribed” reading.
So, I agree, it will backfire!
Charlotte Nc Bill August 15, 2018 at 3:37 am
The m_sk w_s torn completely off for most people by the 9-11 F_lse Fl_g.
Tom August 15, 2018 at 7:36 am
infowars site just went down amid big tech censorship. who will be next ?
Arioch The August 19, 2018 at 6:58 pm
…and as Facebook finally threw away last pretense of innosense they started censoring other wrong voices. Precedent created, now full steam and no remorse.
Arioch The August 19, 2018 at 7:16 pm
Oh, and they did it after teleSur covered another case of FB censorship, what double pkue good thinkers!
Tjm August 21, 2018 at 5:34 am
It is being done on purpose, WAKE UP! Infowars is a controlled opposition site. Alex Jones is nothing but a talking head. Jones never talks about Israel our their control or participation in pushing America into wars, 9/11, the militarization of US police forces, open borders, or Hollywood war mongering, nope, he blames it all on the Saudis and Chine, only Americans could be so flourinated to believe such nonsense
Derek August 16, 2018 at 5:53 pm
“Ultimately, it’s safer for society to have open public forums where all ideas — whether you consider them dangerous and crazy or not — can be openly expressed alongside each other. That way we can see what’s out there and debate or debunk them in front of large and diverse audiences.”
This is a noble philosophy, but has zero regard for morality or human psychology. Human society would never operate like that. All ideas are not created equal, and debating and debunking is 1) often ineffective because arrogance keeps people holding onto ideas even if there’s good reason not to and 2) often come down to skill in language and rhetoric, the winner is the one better at framing arguments and controling the narrative, not necessarily the one with the right information. There needs to be governance (somehow, by whom I’m not sure) so as to protect public wellbeing from dangerous, threatening, and intentionally false and misleading information. That’s not a bad thing.
And besides, how can any true “open public forum” be controlled by a private entity? Twitter, etc have the right to restrict access, just like AJ has the right to create his own forum if he can find it. Or he can literally go to the town square.
Genaro August 19, 2018 at 6:52 am
“There needs to be governance (somehow, by whom I’m not sure) so as to protect public wellbeing from dangerous, threatening, and intentionally false and misleading information. That’s not a bad thing.”
Actually, that’s already been proven to be a really bad thing, Derek.
As soon as anyone starts taking actions to “protect public wellbeing” with regard to “information”, it creates fertile ground for propagandists to tell the public what is, and what is not, to be believed. (I.E.- “fake news”).
That is why this is the foundation of the US Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As soon as this country starts “abridging the freedom of speech” under the auspices of protecting “public wellbeing” liberty goes out the window, and tyrants enter through that same window to establish tyranny.
The Framers knew that all too well as a result of their experiential knowledge gained by dealing with the tyrant known then as “Mother England”.
Our current group of statists within the corporatist State would love nothing more than to become a modern day version of Mother England. They’ve already got a really good start. But they need a “Ministry of Truth” to solidify their goal.
Black Cat August 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm
When the garden is systematically diseased there’s only one thing you can do, burn it down!!!
Michael Mcnulty August 18, 2018 at 2:56 pm
I think western elites want the society Hitler’s Nazis would have given them where they’d be totally unaccountable. In 1984 Orwell said technology will allow them total control and now the microchip gives them almost everything they need: CCTV surveillance; digital comm’s; data storage; entry keypads; automation; electronic banking; cellphone tracking; RFID and so on.
Parallel with that neoliberal policies break down social cohesion so we end up unable to organize ourselves like before. As unemployment and austerity bite deep people meet and talk so much less. Technology and neoliberalism could enable western elites to dismantle the working classes completely. Our wealth and particularly our young, not just as cannon fodder and cheap labor but as sex objects too, would be totally at their bidding. And “disposable”.
Don August 18, 2018 at 7:48 pm
Another Great Article, Michael! Big congrats, getting quoted on Fox!
Vlad The Skewerer August 19, 2018 at 5:32 am
Man I’m so old I remember when liberalism meant you fearlessly exposed yourself to new ideas all the time, life was a constant re evaluation of why do I believe what I believe. Still is for me. And conservatism meant even though you supported unbridled personal freedom you recognized the personal slavery of following your most craven desires all the time. All things in moderation was the battle cry. That was between 1969 and 1979 for me.
Steven Flynn August 19, 2018 at 10:21 am
Censorship is literally hate speech because you actually hate what someone else has to say, and have no rebuttal other than to silence them.
Bob Bevill (@Merrimackbob) August 19, 2018 at 6:28 pm
Thank you, Tucker Carlson and Alex Jones, for telling us about this article. I have re-tweeted it and hope everyone else does, too.
Tjm August 21, 2018 at 5:30 am
So, you think Tucker Carleson would still be on Fox if he was truly speaking truth to power…Have you not witnessed those who truly challenged authority? One need only look at the parade of talking heads who questioned Israel to see what happens to real patriots. You who buy this are just useful idiots, doing the bidding of your controllers, so sad but so true.
Tjm August 21, 2018 at 5:27 am
So, Alex Jones, the man who claims China is taking over Hollywood and Saudis were behind 9/11, even though anyone with a brain knows Israel and the Zionists did 9/11 and run Hollywood, and US foreign and domestic policy. NOPE, this is just another broad spectrum assault on the minds of Americans. They did the same thing with Trump, driving hordes of otherwise waking up Americans into the arms of Trump, who is doing everything the Zionist “Deep State” desire, all to the crocodile tears of the media, covering his actions as if they are not truly happy Trump is in office. Americans are far too easily duped by this nonsense, I guess they just don’t get how far along Zionist control has become. Mark Twain once said “it is easier to fool a man, than it is to convince him he has been fooled”.