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Posts Tagged ‘Alternative Media’

FBI launches open attack on ‘foreign’ alternative media outlets challenging US foreign policy | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on June 9, 2020

Thus the takedown of the publication by Facebook, with FBI and FireEye encouragement represents a disturbing precedent for future actions against individuals who criticize US foreign policy and outlets that attack corporate media narratives.

Not exactly new news.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/06/05/the-fbi-launches-open-attack-on-foreign-alternative-media-outlets-challenging-u-s-foreign-policy/

Under FBI orders, Facebook and Google removed American Herald Tribune, an alternative site that publishes US and European writers critical of US foreign policy. The bureau’s justification for the removal was dubious, and it sets a troubling precedent for other critical outlets.

By Gareth Porter

The FBI has publicly justified its suppression of dissenting online views about US foreign policy if a media outlet can be somehow linked to one of its adversaries. The Bureau’s justification followed a series of instances in which Silicon Valley social media platforms banned accounts following consultations with the FBI.

In a particularly notable case in 2018, the FBI encouraged Facebook, Instagram and Google to remove or restrict ads on the American Herald Tribune (AHT), an online journal that published critical opinion articles on US policy toward Iran and the Middle East. The bureau has never offered a clear rationale, however, despite its private discussions with Facebook on the ban.

The FBI’s first step toward intervening against dissenting views on social media took place in October 2017 with the creation of a Foreign Influence Task Force (FTIF) in the bureau’s Counterintelligence Division. Next, the FBI defined any effort by states designated by the Department of Defense as major adversaries (Russia, China, Iran and North Korea) to influence American public opinion as a threat to US national security.

In February 2020, the FBI defined that threat in much more specific terms and implied that it would act against any online media outlet that was found to fall within its ambit. At a conference on election security on February 24, David K. Porter, who identified himself as Assistant Section Chief of the Foreign Influence Task Force, defined what the FBI described as “malign foreign influence activity” as “actions by a foreign power to influence U.S. policy, distort political sentiment and public discourse.” 

Porter described “information confrontation” as a force “designed to undermine public confidence in the credibility of free and independent news media.” Those who practice this dark craft, he said, seek to “push consumers to alternative news sources,” where “it’s much easier to introduce false narratives” and thus “sow doubt and confusion about the true narratives by exploiting the media landscape to introduce conflicting story lines.”

“Information confrontation”, however, is simply the literal Russian translation of the term “information warfare.” Its use by the FTIF appears to be aimed merely at justifying an FBI role in seeking to suppress what it calls “alternative news sources” under any set of circumstances it can justify.

While expressing his intention to target alternative media, Porter simultaneously denied that the FBI was concerned about censoring media. The FITF, he said “doesn’t go around chasing content. We don’t focus on what the actors say.” Instead, he insisted that “attribution is key,” suggesting that the FTIF was only interested in finding hidden foreign government actors at work.

Thus the question of “attribution” has become the FBI’s key lever for censoring alternative media that publishes critical content on U.S. foreign policy, or which attacks mainstream and corporate media narratives. If an outlet can be somehow linked to a foreign adversary, removing it from online platforms is fair game for the feds. 

The strange disappearance of American Herald Tribune

In 2018, Facebook deleted the Facebook page of the American Herald Tribune (AHT), a website that publishes commentary from an array of notable authors who are harshly critical of U.S. foreign policy. Gmail, which is run by Google, quickly followed suit by removing ads linked to the outlet, while the Facebook-owned Instagram scrubbed AHT’s account altogether.

Tribune editor Anthony Hall reported at the time that the removals occurred at the end of August 2018, but there was no announcement of the move by Facebook. Nor was it reported by the corporate news media until January 2020, when CNN elicited a confirmation from a Facebook spokesman that it had indeed done so in 2018.  Furthermore, the FBI was advising Facebook on both Iranian and Russian sites that were banned during that same period of a few days.  As Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos noted on July 21, 2018, “We have proactively reported our technical findings to US law enforcement, because they have much more information than we do, and may in time be in a position to provide public attribution.”

On August 2, a few days following the removal of AHT and two weeks after hundreds of Russian and Iranian Pages had been removed by Facebook, FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters at a White House briefing that FBI officials had “met with top social media and technology companies several times” during the year, “providing actionable intelligence to better enable them to address abuse of their platforms by foreign actors.”  He remarked that FBI officials had “shared specific threat indicators and account information so they can better monitor their own platforms.”

Cybersecurity firm FireEye, which boasts that it has contracts to support “nearly every department in the United States government,” and which has been used by Department of Homeland Security as a primary source of “threat intelligence,” also influenced Facebook’s crackdown on the Tribune. CNN cited an unnamed official of FireEye stating that the company had “assessed” with “moderate confidence” that the AHT’s website was founded in Iran and was “part of a larger influence operation.”

The CNN author was evidently unaware that in U.S. intelligence parlance “moderate confidence” suggests a near-total absence of genuine conviction. As the 2011 official “consumer’s guide” to US intelligence explained, the term “moderate confidence” generally indicates that either there are still differences of view in the intelligence community on the issue or that the judgment ”is credible and plausible but not sufficiently corroborated to warrant higher level of confidence.” 

CNN also quoted FireEye official Lee Foster’s claim that “indicators, both technical and behavioral” showed that American Herald Tribune was part of the larger influence operation. The CNN story linked to a study published by FireEye featuring a “map” showing how Iranian-related media were allegedly linked to one another, primarily by similarities in content.  But CNN apparently hadn’t bothered to read the study, which did not once mention the American Herald Tribune.

Finally, the CNN piece cited a 2018 tweet by Daily Beast contributor Josh Russell which it said provided “further evidence supporting American Herald Tribune’s alleged links to Iran.” In fact, his tweet merely documented the AHT’s sharing of an internet hosting service with another pro-Iran site “at some point in time.”  Investigators familiar with the problem know that two websites using the same hosting service, especially over a period of years, is not a reliable indicator of a coherent organizational connection.

CNN did find evidence of deception over the registration of the AHT. The outlet’s editor, Anthony Hall, continues to give the false impression that a large number of journalists and others (including this writer), are contributors, despite the fact that their articles have been republished from other sources without permission.

However, AHT has one characteristic that differentiates it from the others that have been kicked off Facebook: The American and European authors who have appeared in its pages are all real and are advancing their own authentic views. Some are sympathetic to the Islamic Republic, but others are simply angry about U.S. policies: Some are Libertarian anti-interventionists; others are supporters of the 9/11 Truth movement or other conspiracy theories.

One notable independent contributor to AHT is Philip Giraldi, an 18-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service and and an articulate critic of US wars in the Middle East and of Israeli influence on American policy and politics. From its inception in 2015, the AHT has been edited by Anthony Hall, Professor Emeritus at University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

In announcing yet another takedown of Iranian Pages in October 2018, Facebook’s Gleicher declared that “coordinated inauthentic behavior” occurs when “people or organizations create networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are what they’re doing.” That certainly doesn’t apply to those who provided the content for the American Herald Tribune.

Thus the takedown of the publication by Facebook, with FBI and FireEye encouragement represents a disturbing precedent for future actions against individuals who criticize US foreign policy and outlets that attack corporate media narratives.

Shelby Pierson, the CIA official appointed by then director of national intelligence in July 2019 to chair the inter-agency “Election Executive and Leadership Board,” appeared to hint at differences in the criteria employed by his agency and the FBI on foreign and alternative media.

In an interview with former acting CIA Director Michael Morrell in February, Pierson said, “[P]articularly on the [foreign] influence side of the house, when you’re talking about blended content with First Amendment-protected speech…against the backdrop of a political paradigm and you’re involving yourself in those activities, I think that makes it more complicated” (emphasis added).

Further emphasizing the uncertainty surrounding the FBI’s methods of online media suppression, she added that the position in question “doesn’t have the same unanimity that we have in the counterterrorism context.”

Be seeing you

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Get Russian – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on May 6, 2020

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/05/01/get-russian/

Dissent is Russian, or haven’t you heard?

Dissent is Russian.

Peace activism is Russian.

Exposing war crimes is Russian.

Inconveniencing Democrats is Russian.

Tara Reade? Russian.

Julian Assange? Russian.

Jill Stein? Russian.

Tulsi Gabbard? Russian.

Russia? You bet your sweet ass that’s Russian.

Conspiracy theories are Russian.

Alternative media are Russian.

It’s Russian to ask questions.

It’s Russian to reveal objective facts.

It’s Russian to tell the truth.

Truth is Russian in an empire of lies.

If truth is Russian, I don’t want to be Australian.

If truth is Russian, you can call me Svetlana.

If truth is Russian, then I will ascend to the clouds

by climbing a Tolstoy novel,

kicking my feet out in front of me

with my bum low to the ground

balancing a bottle of vodka atop a fur hat

whilst shouting “Stallone was the bad guy in Rocky IV

until my voice is hoarse.

If truth is Russian, then let’s all get Russian.

Get as Russian as possible.

Get aggressively Russian.

Get offensively Russian.

Get Russianly Russian.

Get so Russian it hurts.

Get so Russian they write Palmer Report articles about you.

Get so Russian that Rachel Maddow spits your name like it’s poison.

Get so Russian that Putin calls you and says tone it down.

Get so Russian that Khabib Nurmagomedov has nightmares about fighting you.

Camus said “The only way to deal with an unfree world

is to become so absolutely Russian

that your very existence is an act of rebellion,”

or something like that.

So get Russian, baby.

Fold your arms and get low on the dance floor.

Get low, shorty,

get low, low, low.

Get low,

get low,

and get Russian.

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Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Be seeing you

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51% of Americans Want to END Free Speech – The Organic Prepper

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2019

57% of those surveyed wanted to see the government crackdown on newspapers and TV stations that published “biased, inflammatory or false” content. 54% wanted journalists punished with a fine or a ticket, while 46% felt they should face jail time.

They differentiated between the mainstream media, who they felt “check facts, even if they are occasionally wrong or slanted” and alternative media, whom they opined “allow anyone to say anything.” 36% wanted to see a government agency reviewing alternative media content and 47% did not want to see that happen.

How can anyone with functioning brain cells believe government can fix anything?

https://www.theorganicprepper.com/americans-give-up-freedom-of-speech/

by Daisy Luther

Of all the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution, the First Amendment is arguably the most important. And despite the fact that we are country built on glorious dissent, a poll undertaken by the Campaign for Free Speech found that more than 51% of Americans are ready to give up the rights guaranteed by that amendment, deeming it “outdated.”

A Quick Primer on the First Amendment

First things first (pun intended), most folks don’t even know what the First Amendment protects.

“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.”

The basis of freedom lies within that small paragraph. If you want to be able to access information other than that which is provided by the government, or be able to speak out when you believe that the government is in the wrong without fear of governmental prosecution, then you should be utterly horrified that more than half of Americans are ready to just get rid of it.

But that might be because a whopping majority of Americans don’t understand the First Amendment. CFS reports:

80% don’t actually know what the First Amendment really protects. Those polled believed this statement is true: “The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.”

It’s actually not true. The First Amendment prevents the government from punishing you for your speech (with exceptions such as yelling “fire” in a crowded area to induce panic).

But more broadly, freedom of speech does not mean you are protected from social consequences for your speech. You may have the right to say something extreme or hateful and not get thrown in jail, but others in society have the right to shun you. (source)

This is something we’ve mentioned repeatedly here: just because you have the “right” to say something, it doesn’t mean that others don’t have the “right” to think you’re a terrible person and no longer do business with you. The freedom to say something doesn’t free you from the repercussions of what you say. It just means you can’t be prosecuted for it.

Here’s what the Campaign for Free Speech’s survey found.

Despite (or maybe because of) not understanding the First Amendment, 51% believed that the First Amendment is outdated and needs to be rewritten to “reflect the cultural norms of today.” Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) believed that “hate speech” should be illegal, with half of those people considering jail time a reasonable punishment. The poll did not define “hate speech,” leaving it up to the respondent.

Bob Lystad, the executive director of the Campaign for Free Speech (CFS) told the Washington Beacon that “free speech is under more threat than previously believed.”

“The findings are frankly extraordinary…Our free speech rights and our free press rights have evolved well over 200 years, and people now seem to be rethinking them.” (source)

More than 60% of those surveyed wanted to see free speech curbed in some way.

Of the 1,004 respondents, young people were the most likely to support curbing free expression and punishing those who engage in “hate speech.” Nearly 60 percent of Millennials—respondents between the ages of 21 and 38—agreed that the Constitution “goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America” and should be rewritten, compared to 48 percent of Gen Xers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers. A majority of Millennials also supported laws that would make “hate speech” a crime—of those supporters, 54 percent said violators should face jail time.  (source)

And since “hate speech” is such an arbitrary term dependent upon the whims of popular culture in many cases, that’s some pretty alarming stuff.

More alarming still are opinions on the free press.

Here at OP, we point out the shortcomings, biases, and inflammatory reporting of the mainstream media all the time. But that doesn’t mean we want to see them silenced.

That’s not the case for many of the respondents of CFS’s poll.

57% of those surveyed wanted to see the government crackdown on newspapers and TV stations that published “biased, inflammatory or false” content. 54% wanted journalists punished with a fine or a ticket, while 46% felt they should face jail time.

They differentiated between the mainstream media, who they felt “check facts, even if they are occasionally wrong or slanted” and alternative media, whom they opined “allow anyone to say anything.” 36% wanted to see a government agency reviewing alternative media content and 47% did not want to see that happen.

We believe that the alternative media is an important balance in this day and age of constant propaganda and that the attacks on alternative media support the fact that this type of independent journalism threatens the establishment. I’ve gone so far as to say that the destruction of alternative media and unpopular opinions can be likened to virtual book burning, a terrifying comparison for those who are familiar with the history of censorship.

68% of those polled wanted to see restrictions placed on social media speech.

Facebook was a particular topic of contention. (Beginning on page 13 of the survey.)

38% of respondents believed all speech should be allowed on the platform while 49% felt that “Facebook should monitor and restrict offensive speech and views.”

There are specific topics that rose to the top of the list of things that people wanted to see restricted on social media:

  • Racist content: 52%
  • Neo-Nazi content: 50%
  • Radical Islamic content: 46%
  • Holocaust denial content: 35%
  • Anti-vaccination content: 20%
  • Climate change denial content: 18%

Facebook and other social media outlets have taken great strides toward making the internet an echo chamber with the purge of alternative media accounts, the demonetization of alternative media, and widespread censorship.

Social media itself may be to blame for the shift against the First Amendment.

Lystad cites an incident in which some college students recorded themselves shouting racial slurs at people of color and the video went viral.

Lystad said such incidents and the rise of social media may be behind the increased willingness of Americans to curb speech rights.

“I think [our findings] are fueled in large part because of a rise of hate speech, but traditionally, hate speech is protected in the First Amendment,” Lystad said. “The Supreme Court has upheld that principle time and time again.”

“Hate speech should be condemned, but legally, the answer to speech we don’t like is more speech, not censorship,” he said. “Our primary focus is education, and to help people better understand the First Amendment, free speech, free press, and why it’s so vital to our democracy.” (source)

When there is no free press, there is no free thought.

If people can only access one government-approved point of view, freedom is dead. The free press, the freedom to speak our minds and not be prosecuted, and the freedom to peacefully dissent are all the very foundation on which liberty is built.

We’re far more restricted than we were decades ago and the trend seems to be taking us downhill into complete censorship faster and faster. But the answer isn’t more legislation because as we learned by the Patriot Act (anything but patriotic) and the Affordable Care Act (far from affordable for most Americans) when the government gets involved, the results are generally to the benefit of the government and its cronies, and quite the opposite of how they’re portrayed.

What’s the answer?

It’s simple. Learn to scroll past things with which you disagree or even engage in a productive discussion. Stop tattling on one another over words. Quit being a crybaby because somebody said a mean thing on the internet.

You can choose not to engage in circles with which you disagree, but trying to shut them down only leads to censorship.

Free speech and free press are the only antidotes to propaganda. You may not like hateful people or anti-vaxxers or voters of a different ilk, but when you silence them, you have to know that you’re opening the door to be silenced yourself when your line of thinking becomes unpopular.

Then you’re looking at a world with only one point of view – the approved point of view of the government. Selco has warned us what happens when that world occurs and we need to look no further than China to see that world in action today.

What do you think?

What do you think about this? Are you surprised or is it what you expected? I think that the end of free speech and free press would be the end of our country as we know it. I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments.​​

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Of Two Minds – Why Is Social Media So Toxic?

Posted by M. C. on November 1, 2018

The desire to improve our social standing is natural. What’s unnatural is the toxicity of doing so through social media.

https://www.oftwominds.com/blogoct18/toxic-social-media10-18.html

Charles Hugh Smith

…So why is social media so toxic to healthy dialog and tolerance, and to those who live much of their lives via social media? I think we can discern several dynamics that direct the entire social media space.

1. The feedback loops within each “tribe” strengthen the most divisive, toxic narratives and opinions.

In the anti-Trump tribe, for example, those calling most vociferously for Trump’s head on a stake are “rewarded” by praise from other members of the tribe via “likes” and positive comments on the “bravery” of their extreme language.

Others note this feedback and are naturally drawn into trying to top the extreme language: I want Trump’s head on a stake, and then let’s set it on fire, etc.

In the real world, expressing such extreme views soon draws negative or moderating feedback from those outside the social media’s claustrophobic “tribe.” More reasonable people will politely suggest that such extremism isn’t very helpful, or they will start shunning the frothing-at-the-mouth firebrand.

But in the social media world, there are no moderating feedbacks. Anyone who dares question the extremism being reinforced by the “tribe” is quickly attacked or ejected from the tribe. Attacking moderate voices increases the potential “rewards” / likes from tribal members. Read the rest of this entry »

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Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider – Grayzone Project

Posted by M. C. on October 27, 2018

https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/10/23/facebook-censorship-of-alternative-media-just-the-beginning-says-top-neocon-insider/

By Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague

In comments published here for the first time, a neoconservative Washington insider has apparently claimed a degree of credit for the recent purge — and promised more takedowns in the near future.

“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” remarked Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the influential think tank the German Marshall Fund, which is funded by the U.S. government and NATO. “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.”

Fly went on to complain that “all you need is an email” to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, lamenting the sites’ accessibility to members of the general public. He predicted a long struggle on a global scale to fix the situation, and pointed out that to do so would require constant vigilance.

Fly made these stunning comments to Jeb Sprague, who is a visiting faculty member in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara and co-author of this article. The two spoke during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany… Read the rest of this entry »

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Facebook Purges Over 80 Accounts in Sweeping Attack on the Alternative Media | The Daily Sheeple

Posted by M. C. on July 14, 2018

The Truth, courtesy of Zuckerberg. Aren’t we lucky!

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Starting in June of 2018, Facebook began deleting pages with up to 40 million followers in an unprecedented assault on independent media outlets using the platform.

Jake Passi, the founder of the popular Facebook page Collectively Conscious and victim of the purge called the effort a “deleting rampage” and “a crime against humanity.”

A website known as Swapd which allows for the buying and selling of Facebook pages issued a statement confirming that the pages were in fact being taken down by Facebook.

“After days of new reports coming in, we’re 100% sure Facebook is cleaning the house, hard. They are taking no hostages and deleting millions of fans without any hesitation. It doesn’t matter if your page is 50k or 40m, they’re all at risk.” – Swapd.co

Several commenters claimed to have had their pages taken down as well, including one user who claimed to run 10 pages about “dogs, machines, trucks, [and] farming”.

Read the rest of this entry »

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