EDITED AND HOSTED BY THE GREANVILLE POST
On this week’s program, Mickey Huff and his guests examine how Facebook, Twitter and Google are working to hide, “deplatform” or otherwise undermine news and opinions critical of US government policies, and thus reestablish the dominance of establishment-friendly corporate media.
Emil Marmol is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, and the co-author of a chapter in Censored 2020. Mnar A. Muhawesh is the founder and editor-in-chief at Mint Press News (www.mintpressnews.com).
Emil Marmol and Lee Mager
“Fake News”: The Trojan Horse for Silencing Alternative News and Reestablishing Corporate News Dominance
". . . the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. "—Hermann Göring 1Throughout living memory, the US public has been kept in a constant state of panic and fear by politicians and the corporate media who serve as their stenographers. For much of the second half of the 20th century the bogeyman of choice was the Cold War–era Soviet Union. Under the cover of having to keep the communists at bay, the United States perpetrated dozens of atrocities, including colonial and imperial wars of aggression, the assassination of political leaders, violent coups, acts of sabotage, and the suffocation of leftist movements both domestically and abroad. Then, once the Soviet threat had lost most of its fear value, we were instructed to fear and loathe the omnipresence of Islamic terrorism. Once again, the US government was free to commit any atrocity it desired, including the assassination of its own citizens, under the pretext of protecting the “homeland”2 from this external, existential threat.
Compared to how long Soviet Russia was purported to represent an existential menace, the diminishing returns of Islamic terrorism as a threat became clear relatively quickly. Before we knew it, America needed a new enemy. A new, preferably already familiar enemy that would suit the current imperial ambitions and geopolitical strategy of the ruling elites. Enter, stage right, the Russians, with their former Cold War KGB man, President Vladimir Putin. The incessant contemporary corporate news drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria is matched only by the merciless repetition of the assorted variants of the words “communism” and “terrorism” that preceded it. The Russians, the corporate media would have one believe, are hidden under every rock and within every crevice, ready to inflict malicious harm upon the world’s body politic. On US- focused online political discussion forums, particularly Reddit, levels of paranoia and hysteria may even have exceeded those of the Cold War, with countless accusations against out-of-favor account-holders of being secret “Russian bots” programmed to subvert discourse and sow discord. The unevidenced postulation of a small number of secret “Russian bots” subverting democracy in the world’s most powerful state has been repeated uncritically in corporate news media as well.3
In the United States for the last several years the Russians and Putin have been the focus of intense criticism and unyielding rebuke. The alleged crimes—by which we mean unproven rumors at best and gross distortions of reality at worst—that the Russian government has been accused of include imperialist aspirations, annexing Crimea by force,4 downing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17,5 poisoning the Skripals in the United Kingdom,6 poisoning Hillary Clinton,7 planting spy Maria Butina in the United States,8 militarily aiding despotic governments,9 promoting Brexit,10 hacking voting systems in 21 US states,11 and hacking the electrical grids of the state of Vermont and Ontario, Canada.12 They have even been accused of training whales that have been “harassing” the fishermen of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally, Norway.13
The most scandalous and unforgivable crime the Russians are alleged to have committed, however, involves colluding with Donald Trump to subvert the 2016 US presidential election in Trump’s favor—the conspiracy theory known as “Russiagate.” Almost immediately after the 2016 election, rumors, innuendo, and accusations about Russian hacking and collusion proliferated to explain the Democrats’ loss.14 Thus began the narrative the corporate media has been trumpeting incessantly ever since, which they continuously rehash to instill distress and abhorrence in the public mind about our relentless foes, the Russians. The US government, for its part, has brought the heads of social media before congressional committees, publicly excoriating them for permitting this political non-event to happen.15
As of this writing Russiagate has hit a brick wall, with Robert Mueller’s investigation revealing that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to subvert the election.16 This collusion claim therefore certainly qualifies as an unwarranted conspiracy theory: “a proposed explanation of some historical event (or events) in terms of the significant causal agency of a relatively small group of persons—the conspirators—acting in secret.”17 Yet it is rarely described as such by corporate media, since its main purveyors have been that very same corporate media. Despite Mueller’s findings, much of the public remains largely convinced that the Russians, via a purportedly Kremlin-backed troll farm called “the Internet Research Agency” (IRA) located in St. Petersburg, tilted the election to Trump’s advantage. In the name of aggressively eliminating a nonexistent Russiagate fake news threat, the social media giants, major tech firms, corporate news media outlets, and the US government through its affiliated organizations have collaborated to aggressively eliminate legitimate and trustworthy, alternative, and independent news media online.18 The public is naturally being fed the line that this targeted
harassment and persecution is undertaken for the sole purpose of safeguarding freedom and democracy against those who wish to cause us harm. As history has demonstrated, maleficent behavior by those holding power is most easily committed under the guise of protecting the nation against supposed evildoers.
Before delving into the actors and methods behind this recent campaign to censor the alternative and independent press in the United States, it would be beneficial to first dispel the belief that the IRA had any discernable effect on the outcome of the US election. The IRA bought $100,000 worth of Facebook ads. Of that, $46,000 was spent before the election, while the remainder was spent after the election.19 According to Facebook, 25 percent of the ads “were never shown to anyone.”20 And just because they were displayed does not mean they were ever viewed, as Facebook users only read about 10 percent of the content in their newsfeeds.21 Russian ads amounted to .0004 percent of total content on Facebook and represented only one of 23,000 Facebook newsfeed posts.22 Over a two-year period, between 2015 and 2017, Facebook logged 33 trillion posts; the IRA generated 80,000 of them.23 Putting that into further perspective, this means that IRA posts on Facebook amounted to a miniscule “.0000000024 of total Facebook content in that time.”24 Facebook’s total content for those two years was “413 million times more than the 80,000 posts” from the IRA.25 Russian-linked tweets amounted to .74 percent of Twitter’s election-related traffic.26 Twitter has confirmed that 200 accounts were linked with “Russian interference” out of their 328 million accounts.27 Russian Twitter accounts made up at most .02 percent of tweets related to the election.28 Google has reported a total of $4,700 from “Russian-linked ad spending.”29 To put the amount of money spent by the IRA into perspective, consider the fact that the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent $81 million on
Facebook ads alone.30 The IRA spent .05 percent as much.31 In total, $6.5 billion was spent on the 2016 elections,32 with $2.4 billion on the presidential election alone.33 Facebook’s total revenue for 2016 was more than $27 billion.34
Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Russian ads had nothing to do with the election and many did not favor one candidate over another.35 A Senate-commissioned study of the ads reported that, of the total content published on social media by the IRA, only 11 percent was election-related, and an even smaller proportion, 7 percent of their Facebook posts and 6 percent of their tweets, mentioned either of the two presidential candidates by name.36 Regarding the IRA’s content, Facebook vice president of ads Rob Goldman stated that “swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.”37 The ads were amateurish, inept, and oftentimes absurd in nature.38 Award-winning author, Russian dissident, and longtime critic of Vladimir Putin, Masha Gessen, commented that the posts were “not sophisticated,” and that, written in “sub-literate English,” they were “truly absurd” and “caricatures of American political propaganda.”39 Many experts and researchers concur that the IRA’s efforts as well as fake news media overall had little impact on those exposed to it and likely had no effect on the outcome of the election.
It is also important to note that no proof has been provided of Russian government involvement in any fake news electioneering. Even the strongest statements in corporate media merely claim without evidence that the owner of the “troll farm” responsible for most of the Facebook ads is an “ally” of Putin; for instance, the New York Times reported that the “Internet Research Agency [is] owned by a businessman, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who is a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.”40 One would hope that if the Russian government had indeed been involved, they would have been able to conduct a more sophisticated and professional operation, given the implicit respect bestowed upon their intelligence agencies by the US government.
Considering that the Russian-based fake news and disinformation campaign has been roundly debunked insofar as having any notable or measurable effect on the US election, we argue that the fake news hysteria created by those in government and echoed by the corporate news media is being harnessed and used as a pretext for the suppression of dissent and counterhegemonic viewpoints while re-establishing the corporate press’s pre-eminence as the sole purveyor and manufacturer of public opinion.41
The following section will examine the actors involved in these attacks on free speech, as well as their methods of maligning, suppressing, and censoring alternative news online. Next, we will focus on the ways that government-funded organizations, the corporate press, social media giants, and tech firms are working hand in hand to reinvigorate and rebuild public fealty to sources of establishment news and information. To conclude the chapter, we will examine why this effort is being undertaken and who stands to gain and lose by it.
[There is] a rapidly growing landscape of censorship of news critical of American corporate and political leaders who are trying to defend themselves from an increasingly angry population. It’s a story as old as civilization: a wealthy and powerful elite fending off popular unrest by trying to contain knowledge of how the insiders gain at the others’ expense, at home and abroad —Joe Lauria 42
One of the first salvos fired against the alternative press was a concerted effort by the Washington Post and the website PropOrNot, in the form of an article authored by Craig Timberg, titled “Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread ‘Fake News’ during Election, Experts Say.”43 The primary “experts” cited in the article are associated with PropOrNot. However, those purported experts spoke on condition of anonymity and did not provide a methodology for arriving at any of their claims, including the spectacular assertion that Russian disinformation on Facebook was viewed more than 213 million times by an unsuspecting public. The Washington Post published and stood by the article despite the glaring shortcomings of PropOrNot’s credibility. PropOrNot had only come into existence a few months prior to the article’s publication, and had demonstrated an amateurish and unprofessional, taunting style of messaging via social media. The most problematic aspect of the article was the promotion of PropOrNot’s McCarthyite blacklist of web-based news outlets that they claim are “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda,” either knowingly spreading Russian propaganda or serving as “useful idiots.”44 Included among the news sources blacklisted by PropOrNot are such well-regarded and award- winning alternative news websites as Black Agenda Report, Consortium News, CounterPunch, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, and WikiLeaks. [The Greanville Post is also on the list.—Ed) Not satisfied with merely creating a blacklist that was widely disseminated and endorsed by the corporate media, PropOrNot has called upon the government to investigate these alternative news websites for espionage, and developed a web browser plugin that flags these websites as Russian propaganda.
PropOrNot provided no substantiating evidence as rationale for including any particular websites on their blacklist, yet this libelous behavior was apparently acceptable to the editors at the Washington Post, including the executive editor Marty Baron, who tweeted in support of Timberg’s article, while later stating he did not endorse PropOrNot as an organization.45 PropOrNot recommends establishment mouthpieces such as the BBC, the New York Times, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal, but blacklists Russian government–funded news sources RT and Sputnik as sources of Russian propaganda. Say what one will of RT, there are clearly no grounds to consider them less credible than any state-funded news organization, including the British government–funded BBC. Indeed, the BBC’s long record of serving as a peddler of biased news in the interests of Western economic and political elites makes them an unlikely candidate for commendation in the fight against spreading propaganda.46
Given PropOrNot’s unsubtle alignment with the interests of NATO, it would seem their guiding principle in defaming the alternative press is to silence those who question US foreign policy and Western hegemony more generally. Toward that end, it should come as no surprise that one of the other “experts” cited in the Washington Post article is Clint Watts. Watts is a former FBI special agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force and has been heavily involved in US intelligence and the security apparatus.47 He provided key “expert” witness testimony to a Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.48 He is currently a fellow at the hawkish, conservative think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute,49 and has written prolifically to help promote the false Russiagate narrative.50
In October 2018, after Facebook conducted a massive purge of pages on its platform, some of which were listed on PropOrNot’s blacklist, PropOrNot ominously tweeted, “All of these are cross platform & have websites, but one thing at a time.”51 While not as unsubtle as PropOrNot, tech giant Google has created a blacklist of its own, though theirs is algorithmic. In April 2017, as part of an initiative called Project Owl, Google changed its search algorithm in an effort to fight fake news and “surface more authoritative content.”52 This was justified on a blogpost by Ben Gomes, now head of search at Google, where he argued that the changes were in response to the problem of fake news, “where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.”53 He claims that Google intends to “provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available.”54 To help with this effort, Google has contracted more than 10,000 “search quality” raters whose job it is to flag content that, in Gomes’s words, includes “misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories.”55 The work done by these search quality raters is then used, in turn, to improve the Google search algorithm’s ability to more efficiently and automatically demote “such low-quality content and help us to make additional improvements over time.”56
Google accounts for 90 percent of searches conducted on the internet. Any changes they make to their algorithm will have drastic consequences regarding information to which the public is privy. The effects of Google’s algorithmic changes make it clear that the sources it considers unauthoritative, unreliable, and misleading are frequently also critical of, and challenge, the status quo. Since their changes were implemented in April 2017, there has been a precipitous decline in traffic for many of the internet’s most respected, popular, and trusted sources of independent and alternative news sources, including Common Dreams, Consortium News, CounterPunch, Democracy Now!, Global Research, [Greanville Post], Media Matters for America, MintPress News, Truthout, WikiLeaks, and the World Socialist Web Site.57 It is also worth noting that Microsoft’s web browser, Bing, has implemented similar changes to its algorithms.58
In May 2019 a number of right-wing alternative news pundits were outright banned from Facebook, under the rationale of controlling “hate speech,” and many on the Left applauded such measures, given the frequently offensive statements coming from the now-banned pundits.59 However, such censorship can prove to be a dangerous, slippery slope, and should be resisted by the Left; the giant tech firms’ sudden commitment to selectively persecuting offensive content might simply be an excuse to test the waters for further censorship, beginning by erasing content that most of the public disagrees with in the first place. Those applauding such Orwellian disappearance measures may very well find themselves on the receiving end of them in the future, once regulations are embedded and accepted as the norm.
An internal Google document leaked to the public, titled “The Good Censor,” makes unequivocally clear the tech industry’s new stance on the control of information.60 The document acknowledges that Google, Facebook, and Twitter “now control the majority of our online conversations” and that they are all moving “away from unmediated free speech and towards censorship and moderation.”61 There are a litany of excuses given for this unacceptable move toward censorship, which include the threat of fake news disseminated by “Russian-based entities” and “Russian involvement” during the 2016 election campaign; tech users’ bad behavior, as Google claims that “human beings en masse don’t behave very well”; and the need to “monetize content through its organization,” “increase revenues,” and “protect advertisers from controversial content.”62 Google frames free speech as a “utopian” ideal, arguing that it is better for us to be presented with content from authoritative sources, because “rational debate is damaged when authoritative voices and ‘have a go’ commentators receive equal weighting.”63 Google tells us that, in response to the spread of misinformation and fake news, the public is “turning to [corporate] mainstream media outlets for trustworthy information.” In Google’s implicitly stated estimation, those trustworthy outlets are “The New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.”64 In the leaked document, Google frames itself as the unsolicited and unelected guardian of the public’s best interests, arguing in essence that the rabble must be protected from its own irrationality and from treacherous foreign actors.
Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have likewise taken drastic measures to combat the supposed Russian scourge of misinformation. Facebook has partnered with a number of organizations to help purge so-called fake news from its platform. Among them are the Atlantic Council, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).65 Twitter has also partnered with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and the NDI.66
The Atlantic Council is, essentially, an arm of NATO.67 It is funded by NATO, the US and UK governments, the European Union, major weapons manufacturers, the military, conservative think tanks such as the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), international banks, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.68 On its board of directors and advisory board sit a great many right-wing or Far-Right establishment characters, including Brent Scowcroft, Michael Chertoff, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Hayden, Madeleine Albright, and Henry Kissinger.69 The Atlantic Council has published work by John T. Watts in which he argues that the invention of the printing press brought about centuries of “conflict and disruption,” and that the “invention of the internet” is having much the same effect.70 He also suggests that online news organizations should disable their systems that allow user comments, thereby preventing the public from sharing their views with each other about particular news items.71 (Editor's Note: Constant attacks using our comments window have forced us to largely shut down reader commentary. Maybe this is the purpose of such attacks.)
The IRI and NDI are both offshoots of the NED. The NED was created during the Reagan administration with the explicit purpose of spreading US government propaganda and interfering with the affairs of other countries.72 On the board of the NED sit Victoria Nuland and Elliott Abrams, both known for their interventionist policies that have wreaked havoc on foreign populations from Ukraine to Nicaragua.73 The board of the IRI includes senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, virulent supporters of foreign meddling, with the former playing a vanguard role in the attempted coup and propaganda efforts currently directed at Venezuela.74 The IRI’s former chairman was the now-deceased senator John McCain, who seemingly wanted to bomb half the globe, and who once cheerily sang into a microphone, “It’s that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran? Bomb bomb bomb...’”75 The NDI’s current chairperson is Madeleine Albright, who, as secretary of state under president Bill Clinton, was questioned by CBS journalist Lesley Stahl about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children caused by US sanctions, and notoriously responded, “we think the price is worth it.”76
Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers include Check Your Fact and PolitiFact, and it previously partnered with the now-defunct and unabashedly neoconservative publication the Weekly Standard.77 Check Your Fact is wholly owned by the Daily Caller, a right-wing news organization cofounded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.78 The Daily Caller has regularly published false news, offensive content, and propaganda.79 Facebook censored an article by ThinkProgress after the Weekly Standard declared it to be fake news.80 The ThinkProgress article was widely defended as accurate, leading to the speculation that it was censored simply because of the Weekly Standard’s political orientation.81 Like the Daily Caller, the Weekly Standard had been known to publish falsehoods.82 For instance, the [heavily Zionist] Weekly Standard was instrumental in selling the Bush regime’s lie that Saddam Hussein was connected to Al Qaeda, helping to pave the way for war with Iraq.83 And PolitiFact has been known to maintain the position that particular partisan claims are true, long after major news outlets have declared them to be false.84
As an internal measure for combating fake news, Facebook has been hiring tens of thousands of employees as fact-checkers. These zealous censors now number more than 30,000 and make up the largest contingent of Facebook employees.85 According to Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, they include “former intelligence and law- enforcement officials and prosecutors who worked in the area of counterterrorism.”86 As put by Samidh Chakrabarti, product manager of civic engagement at Facebook, “We basically have some of the best intelligence analysts from around the world.”87 Those at the helm of Facebook are a veritable who’s who in the revolving door between government and corporations. The head of Facebook security, Nathaniel Gleicher, was formerly Obama’s National Security Council director for cybersecurity policy.88 Additionally, Gleicher is a senior associate at the hawkish think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies.89 Facebook recently hired Jennifer Newstead as their general counsel.90 Newstead was a co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act and has defended unilateral US sanctions against Iran under the Trump administration.91 Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, served as the White House deputy chief of staff for policy under George W. Bush.92 Kaplan has argued the Daily Caller and Breitbart should be promoted on Facebook the same way as other major news outlets.93 Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications is former British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, a proponent of neoliberal politics and austerity measures.94
Other shadowy organizations that are working to censor content online include the German Marshall Fund. Jamie Fly is a senior fellow and director of the Future of Geopolitics and Asia programs at the German Marshall Fund.95 He was the executive director of the aggressively interventionist, now defunct, Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), whose board of directors included Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, former founders of the Project for a New American Century.96 Fly left the FPI to work as an advisor to US Senator Marco Rubio.97 He has been an ardent supporter of censorship on social media platforms, appearing often in the media to express such views.98 As he stated to Jeb Sprague, visiting faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, “we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”99
The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) is a project of the German Marshall Fund, which itself receives funding from the US government and NATO.100 The ASD has been a chief instigator of anti-Russian sentiment. The ASD receives additional funding from Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.101 Omidyar funds a number of groups and media organizations that work to influence politics and massage public perception globally, including the stoking of anti-Russian sentiment.102 The Intercept, an ostensibly anti-war, progressive publication, is primarily funded by Omidyar. Despite claims of editorial freedom and independence, the Intercept may not be the independent news outlet it purports to be, given its intimate connections to pro-war, right-wing organizations, journalistic slant, and delayed publication of a key document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.103 Omidyar is one of the funders of the International Fact-Checking Network, the organization that certifies Facebook’s fact-checkers such as Check Your Fact and PolitiFact.104 On the “team” at ASD is Jamie Fly, as well as Laura Rosenberger, who worked for the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council.105 ASD’s advisory council includes Michael Chertoff, Bill Kristol, John Podesta, and Michael Morell, as well as former intelligence officers and State Department officials.106 ASD is responsible for creating the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, for which Omidyar provided funding.107 The Hamilton 68 Dashboard, currently offline and awaiting the “new and improved” 2.0 version, is a tool that serves to make the public aware of social media accounts and websites that purportedly peddle Russian disinformation.108 Its lack of usefulness and accuracy has led to disavowal of the service by some of those behind it, as well as calls of “bullshit” by some commentators.109 New Knowledge is linked to the Hamilton 68 Dashboard by way of Jonathon Morgan, who is the CEO of New Knowledge as well as a co-creator of Hamilton 68.110 Morgan was responsible for creating an army of fake Russian bots to help elect Democratic candidate Doug Jones in Alabama’s 2017 Senate race.111
Finally, there is FireEye, a cybersecurity firm that has received funds from In-Q-Tel, an investment arm of the CIA, and through its leadership has ties to military partners and weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Mandiant, and Aegis Research Corporation.112 Its CEO, Kevin Mandia, has testified to Congress about the alleged Russian disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election.113 FireEye published a report on the topic shortly thereafter.114 Christopher Porter, their chief intelligence strategist, is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.115
So how has all this fake news and election interference hype played out in practice on the social media and tech giants’ platforms? They have been engaging in a brazen, wholesale process of censorship via deplatforming and de-ranking of dissident, counterhegemonic, and alternative media voices, from the libertarian Right to the anarchist Left. This has often been conducted under the amorphous and nebulous accusation of “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” or sometimes with no rationale given at all, with no follow-up provided to those individuals and groups who have been disappeared.116 The following is just a sampling of censorship activity carried out by the tech and social media giants:
- On October 11, 2018, more than 800 accounts were deplatformed on Facebook and Twitter. Included in this purge were Anti-Media, Cop Block, Counter Current News, Filming Cops, the Free Thought Project, Police the Police, and RT America correspondent Rachel Blevins. Twitter simultaneously suspended many of the accounts of these pages and their editors. The combined following of the pages purged was in the tens of millions. The focus of the content in these purged accounts was opposition to police brutality and war, with criticism of US domestic and foreign policy.117
- On October 1, 2018, Twitter banned the posting of hacked materials to its site.118 This includes materials brought to public attention by whistleblowers.
- Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, suspended the accounts of several Iranian government officials, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.119
- Days before the Spanish general election, Facebook-owned WhatsApp shut down the channel of Podemos, one of Spain’s leftist political parties. The channel had 50,000 members.120 [Podemos is actually a tame social democratic outfit no more leftist in practice than the treacherous Syriza in Greece.—Ed)
- Iranian government–funded TV news channels Press TV and Spanish-language HispanTV were disabled without warning on Google platforms, including YouTube and Gmail.121
- Following a day of tweets urging global support for her son and in defense of free speech, Julian Assange’s mother had her Twitter account suspended. Twitter provided no explanation to Christine Assange for its actions.122
- Twitter suspended the accounts of the Venezuelan Consulate in Vancouver, Canada, the Venezuelan Ministry of Popular Power for Women, the Ministry of Popular Power for Education, and the Ministry of Popular Power for Petroleum, as well as the accounts of Venezuelan media outlets El Correo del Orinoco, Diario Vea, and ViVe Televisión. Meanwhile, Twitter verified the account of Juan Guaidó, self-anointed president of Venezuela and leader of a US-organized and -funded coup.123
- Twice in 2018, Facebook shut down the page of respected Venezuelan news outlet teleSUR English.124 Each time, its account was only reinstated after public outcry.
- On August 9, 2018, Venezuelanalysis, an independent, reader-supported news website endorsed by figures such as Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, had its account removed by Facebook. The account was restored after public outcry.125
- Thousands of accounts in support of Nicolás Maduro, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, have been banned by Twitter.126
- On February 15, 2019, Facebook deplatformed the pages for BackThen, In the Now, Soapbox, and Waste-Ed, all produced by Maffick Media. This was done after CNN ran a report on Maffick Media that was instigated by the Alliance for Securing Democracy.127
- Facebook, in coordination with the Israeli and US governments, has shut down the accounts of prominent Palestinian political parties, activists, and news organizations.128
- YouTube, a Google subsidiary, has been censoring content it deems “controversial,” including work produced by Abby Martin, a respected and prolific journalist and presenter.129
- Facebook removed ads placed on its platform by US presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren that called for the break-up of big tech companies.130
- On the same day that Julian Assange was arrested, Facebook removed the page of Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador. In 2012, Correa had granted Assange asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.131
- Facebook, Twitter, and Google have removed hundreds of accounts, pages, and channels based upon information provided to them by FireEye. Many of the accounts were left- wing and held views critical of the United States and its Middle Eastern allies.132
Many accounts and pages have often been banned simultaneously by different giant tech platforms—for example, the profiles, shows, and channels of Alex Jones. In August 2018 Jones was removed from Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube within the same week.133 This has led to speculation that the social media giants are working in concert with one another.
A recent operation by the name of “NewsGuard” has emerged that resembles PropOrNot in its intentions and aims, though with more sophisticated, subtle, and potentially nefarious tactics. NewsGuard bills itself as a company that can solve the woes of the social media giants and the unsuspecting public by alerting us to fake news and misinformation. They have gone as far as embedding themselves in academic conferences, promoting their services as a tool for critical media literacy educators.134 Their product is a web browser plugin that alerts the reader, via a color-coded rating system, as to the veracity and trustworthiness of online news sources. A green icon is a trustworthy site, whereas a red icon is untrustworthy.135 They are striving for their app to be integrated into social media platforms, and to run by default on all computers and phones, whether public or private, in the United States and Europe.136 The app is already standard on the Microsoft Edge phone browser, and Microsoft has agreed to include the app on future products, such as, potentially, the Windows 10 operating system.137 Hawaii is using NewsGuard in all its public libraries across the state.138
But who are the people behind NewsGuard? Some of the very same characters who have already been mentioned in this chapter, of course. On the advisory board for NewsGuard sit Michael Hayden, Tom Ridge, and Richard Stengel.139 Michael Hayden is the former director of the National Security Agency, and during his tenure he vigorously defended the agency’s illegal spying on Americans.140 He is also former head of the CIA, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a principal at the Chertoff Group,141 the security firm run by Michael Chertoff, the former US secretary of homeland security and coauthor of the USA PATRIOT Act.142 Both Chertoff and Hayden sit on the board of the Atlantic Council.143 Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, is famous for his color-coded terror alert system which helped keep Americans in a compliant state of fear.144 It’s not surprising that NewsGuard uses a similar color- coded system. Richard Stengel is former editor of Time magazine, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs under Obama, and currently a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.145 Stengel declared his support for propaganda in a public forum hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, stating nonchalantly, “My old job at the State Department was what people used to joke [call] the chief propagandist job. I’m not against propaganda, every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.”146 Finally, there is the co-CEO of NewsGuard, Louis Gordon Crovitz. Crovitz has edited and contributed to books for such neoconservative think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.147 As a journalist, Crovitz has an appalling record of spreading misinformation and falsehoods.148 These include “fantastically false claims about the origins of the internet,”149 and a “misleading and error- filled column about NSA surveillance.”150
As with the other censorious initiatives profiled in this chapter, NewsGuard doesn’t seem as concerned with eliminating fake news as it does with discrediting news sources that are critical of Western political and economic elites. For example, NewsGuard gives WikiLeaks a red rating, in part, they claim, because the organization does not correct their errors. Yet the rationale is plainly nonsensical, given the fact that WikiLeaks has never published anything false or incorrect.151 NewsGuard’s summary for their red rating of WikiLeaks runs as follows: “A publisher of confidential documents, often acquired from leakers and hackers. WikiLeaks published hacked emails, traced to the Kremlin, that hurt Democrats ahead of the 2016 presidential election.”152 They also give red rating to the Russian outlet RT and the excellent alternative news website MintPress News. However, they give Fox News and Voice of America, the former a largely discredited organization and the latter an explicit outlet of US propaganda, green ratings. The Daily Caller and the now defunct Weekly Standard both also receive green ratings.
The gushing support given to NewsGuard by the corporate media is indicative of their support for this type of soft censorship, and contributes to the suspicion that initiatives like NewsGuard are specifically designed to protect and promote corporate media interests.153 Another product by NewsGuard, BrandGuard, seems similarly ominous for producers of alternative news and dissenting content.154 Companies can sign up for BrandGuard to prevent their advertisements from appearing on any of the sites that NewsGuard has flagged as red. While many alternative news organizations rely on direct reader and listener support rather than advertising, outlets that depend to any degree on advertising dollars may find important sources of revenue suddenly choked off in the wake of initiatives like BrandGuard, putting their organizations at risk.
Propping Up the Manufacturers of Consent
Censorship, deplatforming, and de-ranking counterhegemonic content and alternative news, while simultaneously promoting more “authoritative” (i.e., corporate news) content, has so far proven insufficient for the tech and social media giants. They wish to financially and ideologically reestablish the corporate press’s dominance as the manufacturers of public opinion and consent, and as the gatekeepers of information to which the public has access, in addition to recapturing advertising profits by limiting audience access to alternative media sources.
The Google News Initiative is a partnership between Google, the Financial Times, Gannett, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Stanford University, the Poynter Institute, and many other organizations.155 This 300-million-dollar project aims to “stem” the tide of what these companies regard as fake news, disinformation, and misinformation and to promote “trustworthy” and “authoritative” content—essentially, themselves.156 Another goal is to facilitate payment to corporate news sources that charge for content, thereby increasing their audiences and revenues.157 Report for America (RFA) and Google News Lab are working in conjunction to hire more than one thousand journalists all over the United States.158 The costs for employing these journalists will be shared: RFA will cover 50 percent, while newsrooms and local donors will pay 25 percent each.159 Google happens to be RFA’s largest donor, making them the de facto paymaster behind this venture.160 A look at the advisory board of the RFA will reveal the presence of individuals who currently hold, or previously held, positions with the Charles Koch Institute, Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Twitter, and the New York Times.161
Not wanting to be outdone by Google, Facebook has set aside $90 million to produce “trustworthy” and “informative” news programming in collaboration with corporate news giants Fox News, CNN, ABC News, and Univision.162 These shows, which stream on Facebook’s new “Watch” feature, includes hosts such as Anderson Cooper of CNN, Fox’s Shepard Smith, and Jorge Ramos of Univision.163 Of these, Facebook is giving preferential treatment to Fox News, which is the only network to have a show featured on “Watch” every day of the week.164
Apparently, Facebook thinks Fox News is so trustworthy that they should be featured front and center. Tellingly, advertising revenue will be shared by participating partners.165
Why the Move to Reestablish Discourse Control?
While the internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomenon has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. —Julian Assange166
Polls show that trust in corporate media and government are at all-time lows. The corporate press has lost much of its credibility and revenues in the 21st century.167 Newspapers and TV broadcasters are seeing a massive decline in readership and viewers, while people of all age groups, particularly the young, increasingly turn to the internet for news.168 A 2018 Gallup poll found that only 28 percent of Americans feel that corporate mainstream media work to support democracy, while the majority, 84 percent, believe news media is “critical” or “very important” to democracy.169 The Pew Research Center has found that only 18 percent of Americans have “a lot” of trust in the corporate media, while 74 percent perceive them as biased.170 A Harvard- Harris poll found that 65 percent of Americans believe the corporate media is generally untrustworthy.171 The Edelman Trust Barometer has found that overall public trust in US institutions has fallen more precipitously than in any of the 28 countries surveyed, as disaggregating for trust among the “informed public” puts the United States at the bottom of their list.172 Pew has found that the US public’s trust in government is near an all-time low, at only 17 percent.173 The public is unambiguously tired of endless wars and has frequently demonstrated its desire to put a halt to catastrophic foreign interventions.174
As the internet has grown in reach and dominance over other media forms, so has its potential as a source of diverse and democratic communication, allowing for many voices to express a multitude of opinions, concerns, and grievances. In many ways, it has become our new digital public sphere or square; however imperfect some might find it to be, it at least provides a voice to the hitherto voiceless. Through their engagement with each other on the internet, and with alternative sources of information, the public has become increasingly aware of the ways the corporate media and politicians commit acts of omission, obfuscate, distort, mislead, and sometimes tell outright lies about happenings in the world. The corporate media has at times been forced to admit its mistakes and misinformation after the alternative news media has published detailed factual accounts of events.175
The public has used the internet and social media as a tool to organize themselves and act against a number of oppressive and destructive forces in the United States and around the world. 2018, for instance, witnessed a decades-high number of labor strikes in the United States, led mostly by teachers who work under deplorable conditions.176 As of this writing, the Yellow Vest protests continue to rage in France. The power of the internet and of social media has been crucial to these recent movements, and the lesson has not been lost on those in the halls of power. The US Army War College has written, “The implications of social media and the rapid spread of information (and disinformation) in a highly digital city can be profound. . . Here in the United States, the release of videos showing killings by police has led to significant protests and political movements.”177 The Department of Homeland Security is currently working to compile a database of “social media influencers” that can track global news sources and social media, in real-time, and translate from more than one hundred languages, the online activities of those they might perceive as a threat.178 Those in power believe that we shouldn’t be privy to police killings and other state crimes and misdeeds. These should instead be hushed, they feel, and, as much as possible, kept out of view. This is the exact same logic behind the censoring of alternative media sources that are critical of state and corporate actors.
In the minds of economic and political elites, the problem with alternative, independent, and certain foreign news sources is that they cover, inter alia, issues such as class struggle, inequality, racism, environmental degradation and collapse, democratic and civil liberties shortcomings, brutality and murder committed by state actors both domestically and abroad, illegal wars, war crimes, illegal surveillance, and corporate and political malfeasance in all its forms. In sum, alternative media exposes and lays bare for all to see the bankruptcy and perversions of the capitalist system and those who foist it upon us. This is not merely objectionable to those in power, it is unacceptable to them. Alternative news media serve to discredit and make illegitimate the very foundations upon which establishment authority rests alongside that authority’s methods for accumulating and maintaining vast wealth. Perhaps the most threatening developments for them are any signs that capitalism is falling out of favor with the public. Polls show that Americans, especially young adults, are increasingly disillusioned with capitalism and are turning to alternatives.179 The government, corporations, and the corporate media—or we can just call them “ruling elites”—have lost their monopoly control over the narrative and they desperately want it back by whatever undemocratic means they may find at their disposal. They are working zealously to eliminate any resistance to their rule.
Historically, the economic and political elite have used methods both overt and insidiously covert to clutch onto their position of power, and the present moment is no exception to this trend. As this chapter has demonstrated, the government and organizations funded by it, the tech and social media giants, and the corporate news conglomerates are working diligently to extinguish alternative and independent news, as well as certain international news sources’ presence online. Concomitant with this are several other disturbing and related trends. The corporate media and politicians have attempted to discredit legitimate social movements such as Black Lives Matter, the Yellow Vest movement, and even progressive politicians like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein as being associated in some way with Russians.180 Network neutrality in the United States has been eliminated, a victory for telecommunications firms who wish to entirely privatize the internet. Meanwhile, the European Parliament has recently passed the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which many prominent scholars, advocacy organizations, and human rights experts are saying will lead to widespread censorship.181
Journalists are facing increasing threats to their lives and livelihoods, and are being scapegoated and characterized as the enemy of the people for doing their jobs. Whistleblowers, instead of being celebrated for revealing the sinister machinations of our governments, are being unjustly jailed or forced into exile—consider the unwarranted charges levied against, and imprisonment of, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes,182 as well as Edward Snowden’s forced exile for revealing the extent of surveillance being carried out illegally by the US government.183 Worldwide we are seeing a move toward authoritarianism and tyranny in the forms of neoliberal fascism, proto-fascism, and violent white nationalism. This constitutes a concerted and full-frontal assault against freedom of expression and our ability to resist oppression and express our dissatisfaction with the currently existing state of affairs. These retrograde and reactionary politics and forces must be confronted and defeated. Our freedom and whatever shreds of democracy still remain depend upon it.
The authors would like to acknowledge that this chapter would not have been possible without the groundbreaking journalism and research conducted by the alternative news media organizations and media watchdog groups cited herein. We encourage you to donate to them so that they may continue their excellent work.
We would also like to express our gratitude to Mickey Huff and Michael Tencer, whose feedback on this chapter has been invaluable.
1 G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995 [first published by Farrar, Straus in 1947]), 278– 79.
2 Jeremy Scahill, “Inside America’s Dirty Wars: How Three US Citizens were Killed by Their Own Government in the Space of One Month in 2011,” The Nation, April 24, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/inside-americas-
3 Thomas Frank, “The Hysteria over Russian Bots has Reached New Levels,” The Guardian, February 23, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/23/russian-bots-us-election-coup-d-etat.
4 Mike Whitney, “Obama Backs Down on Crimea,” CounterPunch, March 18, 2014, https://www.counterpunch.org/ 2014/03/18/obama-backs-down-on-crimea.
5 Lauren McCauley, “Clearing Russia from Blame, German Intelligence Says Rebels Downed Flight MH17,” Common Dreams, October 20, 2014, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/10/20/clearing-russia-blame-
6 Craig Murray, “Pure: Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe about the Official Skripal Narrative,” Craig Murray blog, March 7, 2019, https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/03/pure-ten-points-i-just-cant-believe-about-the-
7 Joe Concha, “‘Concussion’ Pathologist Says Clinton May have been Poisoned,” The Hill, September 13, 2016, https://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/295688-concussion-pathologist-says-clinton-may-have-been-poisoned.
8 Paul Jay, “Is Russian ‘Meddling’ an Attack on America?—RAI with Stephen Cohen,” The Real News Network, April 16, 2019, https://therealnews.com/stories/is-russian-meddling-an-attack-on-america-rai-with-stephen-cohen.
9 Robert Parry, “New ‘Group Think’ for War with Syria/Russia,” Consortium News, October 5, 2016, https:// consortiumnews.com/2016/10/05/new-group-think-for-war-with-syriarussia.
10 Robert Parry, “Russia-gate Spreads to Europe,” Consortium News, November 16, 2017, https:// consortiumnews.com/2017/11/16/russia-gate-spreads-to-europe/.
11 Derek R. Ford, “US Sovereignty Must Not be Defended: Critical Education Against Russiagate,” Educational Philosophy and Theory, Vol. 51 No. 1 (2019): 14–17.
12 Robert Parry, “Russia-gate’s Litany of Corrections,” Consortium News, December 11, 2017, https://
consortiumnews.com/2017/12/11/russia-gates-litany-of-corrections; CTVNews.ca Staff, “Exclusive: IP Address at Ontario Power Utility Linked to Alleged Russian Hacking,” CTV News, January 3, 2017, updated January 4, 2017, https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/exclusive-ip-address-at-ontario-power-utility-linked-to-alleged-russian- hacking-1.3226290.
13 “Whales Trained by Russia’s Military May be Harassing Fishermen from NATO Ally Norway,” CBS News, April 29, 2019, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whale-norway-arctic-beluga-maybe-trained-russia-military-norwegian- fisherman/.
14 For an excellent chronology of Russiagate from 2016, see Matt Taibbi, “It’s Official: Russiagate is This Genera=on’s WMD,” Untitledgate, March 23, 2019, https://taibbi.substack.com/p/russiagate-is-wmd-times-a-
million. For a list of hypothetical possibilities explaining the genesis of Russiagate, see Stephen F. Cohen, “How did Russiagate Begin? Why Barr’s Investigation is Important and Should be Encouraged,” The Nation, May 30, 2019, https://www.thenation.com/article/how-did-russiagate-begin/.
15 Chloe Watson, “The Key Moments from Mark Zuckerberg’s Testimony to Congress,” The Guardian, April 11, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/11/mark-zuckerbergs-testimony-to-congress-the-key-
16 Glenn Greenwald, “Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories. He
Obliterated Them,” The Intercept, April 18, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/04/18/robert-mueller-did-not- merely-reject-the-trumprussia-conspiracy-theories-he-obliterated-them/; Aaron Maté, “The Mueller Report Indicts the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory,” The Nation, April 26, 2019, https://www.thenation.com/article/russiagate- trump-mueller-report-no-collusion.
17 Brian L. Keeley, “Of Conspiracy Theories,” The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 96, No. 3 (March 1999): 109–126. 18 For a composite definition of alternative news media, see Emil Marmol, “Alternative Media as Critical
Pedagogical Intervention Against Neoliberalism and Racism,” Democratic Communiqué, Vol. 27 No. 2 (2018): 24– 34; and Emil Marmol, “Nine Key Insights for a Robust and Holistic Critical News Media Literacy,” Education for Democracy 2.0: Changing Frames of Media Literacy, eds. Michael Hoechsmann, Paul R. Carr, and Gina Thésée (Brill/Sense Publishers (in press)).
19 Daniel Lazare, “Censoring Facebook Censors Us All,” Truthdig, November 29, 2018, https://www.truthdig.com/
articles/censoring-facebook-censors-us-all; Aaron Maté, “New Studies Show Pundits are Wrong about Russian Social-Media Involvement in US Politics,” The Nation, December 28, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/ russiagate-elections-interference.
20 Max Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.: Hyping the Russian Threat to Undermine Free Speech,” Truthdig, November 13, 2017, https://www.truthdig.com/articles/mccarthyism-inc-hyping-russian-threat-undermine-free-
21 Gareth Porter, “33 Trillion More Reasons Why the New York Times Gets It Wrong on Russia-gate,” Consortium News, November 2, 2018, https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/02/33-trillion-more-reasons-why-the-new-york-
22 Maté, “New Studies Show Pundits are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement”; Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.”
23 Porter, “33 Trillion More Reasons.”
26 Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.”
27 Julianne Tveten, “How the ‘Fake News’ Scare is Marginalizing the Left,” In These Times, October 11, 2017, http://inthesetimes.com/article/20596/fake-news-left-facebook-twitter-tech-companies.
28 Philip Bump, “There’s Still Little Evidence that Russia’s 2016 Social Media Efforts Did Much of Anything,” Washington Post, December 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/12/28/theres-still-
29 Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.”
30 Maté, “New Studies Show Pundits are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement.”
32 Stephen Lendman, “US Definition of a Russian Agent, Asset or Troll. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Candidate for the
Presidency,” Global Research: Centre for Research on Globalization, February 6, 2019, https:// www.globalresearch.ca/us-definition-of-a-russian-agent-asset-or-troll-rep-tulsi-gabbard-candidate-for-the- presidency/5667683.
33 Maté, “New Studies Show Pundits are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement.”
34 “Facebook Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results,” PR Newswire, February 1, 2017, https://
s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2016/Q4/Facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2016- Results.pdf; Joe Lauria, “How Russia-gate Rationalized Censorship,” Consortium News, January 29, 2019, https:// consortiumnews.com/2019/01/29/how-russia-gate-rationalizes-censorship.
35 Nick Penzenstadler, Brad Heath, and Jessica Guynn, “We Read Every One of the 3,517 Facebook Ads Bought by Russians. Here’s What We Found,” USA Today, May 11, 2018, updated May 13, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/
story/news/2018/05/11/what-we-found-facebook-ads-russians-accused-election-meddling/602319002/. 36 Maté, “New Studies Show Pundits are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement.”
37 Eleanor Goldfield, “From Russia, with Absurdity,” Truthdig, February 25, 2018, https://www.truthdig.com/ articles/from-russia-with-absurdity.
38 Ibid.; Maté, “New Studies Show Pundits are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement.”
39 Amy Goodman with Masha Gessen, “Masha Gessen: Did a Russian Troll Farm’s Inflammatory Posts Really
Sway the 2016 Election for Trump?” Democracy Now!, February 23, 2018, https://www.democracynow.org/ 2018/2/23/masha_gessen_did_a_russian_troll.
40 Scott Shane and Sheera Frenkel, “Russian 2016 Influence Operation Targeted African-Americans on Social Media,” New York Times, December 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/us/politics/russia-2016-
41 Though we firmly believe this to be an uncontroversial claim given the evidence and analysis provided in this
chapter, we feel it would be fair to provide an article that notes the continuing need for vigilant skepticism of all governments, including Russia’s, even in light of the Russiagate non-scandal fizzling out: Paul Street, “The Double Russia Conspiracy Trap,” CounterPunch, April 27, 2018, https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/27/the-double- russia-conspiracy-trap/.
42 Lauria, “How Russia-gate Rationalized Censorship.”
43 Matt Taibbi, “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story is Shameful and Disgusting,” Rolling Stone, November 28,
2016, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/the-washington-post-blacklist-story-is-shameful-and- disgusting-115978; Pam Martens and Russ Martens, “Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites,” CounterPunch, December 2, 2016, https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/ timbergs-tale-washington-post-reporter-spreads-blacklist-of-independent-journalist-sites; Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald, “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist from a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group,” The Intercept, November 26, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully- promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group; Max Blumenthal, “Washington Post Promotes Shadowy Website that Accuses 200 Publications of Being Russian Propaganda Plants,” AlterNet, November 25, 2016, https://www.alternet.org/2016/11/washington-post-promotes-shadowy-website-accuses-200- publications-russian-propaganda-plants.
44 Taibbi, “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story”; Norton and Greenwald, “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist.”
45 Norton and Greenwald, “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist.” See also Nolan
Higdon and Mickey Huff, with student writers and researchers, “Post-Truth Dystopia: Fake News, Alternative Facts, and the Ongoing War on Reality—Junk Food News and News Abuse for 2016–17,” in Censored 2018: Press Freedoms in a “Post-Truth” World, eds. Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff with Project Censored (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2017), 107–138, 127.
46 Tom Mills, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service (London: Verso Books, 2016); David Edwards and David Cromwell, Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality (London: Pluto Press, 2018).
47 Norton and Greenwald, “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist.”
48 Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.”; Andre Damon, “Facebook and Google Outline Unprecedented Mass
Censorship at US Senate Hearing,” World Socialist Web Site, January 18, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/ 2018/01/18/cens-j18.html.
49 Clint Watts’s contributor profile can be found at the Foreign Policy Research Institute website, https:// www.fpri.org/contributor/clint-watts/ [accessed June 11, 2019].
50 Matt Taibbi, “Russiagate and the New Blacklist,” Common Dreams, March 6, 2018, https:// www.commondreams.org/views/2018/03/06/russiagate-and-new-blacklist.
51 Andre Damon, “Pages Purged by Facebook were on Blacklist Promoted by Washington Post,” World Socialist Web Site, October 13, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/10/13/cens-o13.html.
52 Andre Damon, “The ‘New Cold War,’ Censorship, and the Future of the Internet,” World Socialist Web Site,
October 17, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/10/17/pers-o17.html; Daisuke Wakabayashi, “As Google Fights Fake News, Voices on the Margins Raise Alarm,” New York Times, September 26, 2017, https:// www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/technology/google-search-bias-claims.html.
53 Ben Gomes, “Our Latest Quality Improvements for Search,” The Keyword blog (Google), April 25, 2017, https://
www.blog.google/products/search/our-latest-quality-improvements-search; David North, “An Open Letter to Google: Stop the Censorship of the Internet! Stop the Political Blacklisting of the World Socialist Web Site!” World Socialist Web Site, August 25, 2017, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/08/25/pers-a25.html.
54 Gomes, “Our Latest Quality Improvements for Search.” 55 Ibid.; North, “An Open Letter to Google.”
56 Gomes, “Our Latest Quality Improvements for Search.”
57 Damon, “Pages Purged by Facebook were on Blacklist”; Andre Damon and Niles Niemuth, “New Google
Algorithm Restricts Access to Left-Wing, Progressive Web Sites,” World Socialist Web Site, July 27, 2017, https:// www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/27/goog-j27.html; Andre Damon, “Google Escalates Blacklisting of Left-Wing Web Sites and Journalists,” World Socialist Web Site, October 20, 2017, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/ 2017/10/20/goog-o20.html; C.J. Hopkins, “Who’s Afraid of Corporate COINTELPRO?” CounterPunch, November 3, 2017, https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/03/whos-afraid-of-corporate-cointelpro; Chris Hedges, “The Silencing of Dissent,” Truthdig, September 17, 2017, https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-silencing-of-dissent; Editors, “Your Up-to-Date Guide to Avoiding Internet Censorship,” Monthly Review Online, August 26, 2017, https://mronline.org/2017/08/26/your-up-to-date-guide-to-avoiding-internet-censorship/.
58 Alan MacLeod, “That Facebook Will Turn to Censoring the Left Isn’t a Worry—It’s a Reality,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, August 22, 2018, https://fair.org/home/that-facebook-will-turn-to-censoring-the-left-isnt-a-
59 Kari Paul and Jim Waterson, “Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Other Far-Right Figures,” The
Guardian, May 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/02/facebook-ban-alex-jones-milo- yiannopoulos.
60 Allum Bokhari, “‘The Good Censor’: Leaked Google Briefing Admits Abandonment of Free Speech for ‘Safety
and Civility,’” Breitbart, October 9, 2018, https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/10/09/the-good-censor-leaked- google-briefing-admits-abandonment-of-free-speech-for-safety-and-civility; Allum Bokhari, “The Good Censor— Google Leak,” Scribd, undated [posted October 2018], https://www.scribd.com/document/390521673/The-Good- Censor-GOOGLE-LEAK [accessed May 12, 2019].
61 Bokhari, “The Good Censor—Google Leak.” 62 Ibid.
65 Alan MacLeod, “Facebook’s New Propaganda Partners,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, September 25, 2018,
https://fair.org/home/facebooks-new-propaganda-partners; David Archuleta Jr., “Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor,” CounterPunch, November 9, 2018, https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/09/facebook- allows-governments-to-decide-what-to-censor.
66 Carey Wedler, “How I Became a Casualty in the Facebook-Twitter Social Media Purges,” The Mind Unleashed,
April 8, 2019, https://themindunleashed.com/2019/04/facebook-twitter-social-media-purges.html; “Values: Elections Integrity,” Twitter, undated, https://about.twitter.com/en_us/values/elections-integrity.html#partnerships [accessed May 12, 2019].
67 Kevin Reed, “Facebook’s Partnership with the Atlantic Council,” World Socialist Web Site, September 8, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/09/08/atla-s08.html.
68 Funders of the Atlantic Council are listed on its website: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/support/supporters [accessed May 12, 2019].
69 The Atlantic Council’s website also lists its Board of Directors and Advisory Board, at https:// www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/board-of-directors and https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/international-advisory-
board [both accessed May 12, 2019].
70 Andre Damon, “The US Military’s Vision for State Censorship,” World Socialist Web Site, October 5, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/10/05/pers-o05.html.
72 MacLeod, “Facebook’s New Propaganda Partners”; Archuleta, “Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What
to Censor”; William Blum, “Trojan Horse: The National Endowment for Democracy,” WilliamBlum.org, undated, https://williamblum.org/chapters/rogue-state/trojan-horse-the-national-endowment-for-democracy [accessed May 12, 2019].
73 The National Endowment for Democracy’s website lists its Board of Directors, at https://www.ned.org/about/ board-of-directors [accessed May 12, 2019].
74 The International Republican Institute’s website lists its Board of Directors, at https://www.iri.org/who-we-are/ board-of-directors [accessed May 12, 2019].
75 Tim Murphy and Tasneem Raja, “Map: All the Countries John McCain Has Wanted to Attack,” Mother Jones, September 6, 2013, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/john-mccain-world-attack-map-syria.
76 Rahul Mahajan, “‘We Think the Price is Worth It,’” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, November 1, 2001, https://fair.org/extra/we-think-the-price-is-worth-it.
77 “Fact-Checking on Facebook: What Publishers Should Know,” Facebook, undated, https://www.facebook.com/ help/publisher/182222309230722 [accessed May 12, 2019].
78 Sam Levin, “Facebook Teams with Rightwing Daily Caller in Factchecking Program,” The Guardian, April 17,
2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/17/facebook-teams-with-rightwing-daily-caller-in- factchecking-program; Paola Rosa-Aquino, “The Koch Brothers are Funding Facebook’s Newest Fact-Checking Partner,” Grist, April 29, 2019, https://grist.org/article/the-koch-brothers-are-funding-facebooks-newest-fact-checking-partner.
79 Levin, “Facebook Teams with Rightwing Daily Caller”; Rosa-Aquino, “The Koch Brothers are Funding Facebook’s Newest.”
80 Amy Goodman, with Ian Millhiser and Dahlia Lithwick, “Facebook Censors a ThinkProgress Story on
Kavanaugh after a Conservative Site Calls It ‘Fake News,’” Democracy Now!, September 17, 2018, https:// www.democracynow.org/2018/9/17/facebook_censors_a_thinkprogress_story_on; Jake Johnson, “Facebook Condemned for Empowering Right-Wing Magazine to ‘Drive Liberal News Outlets into the Ground,’” Common Dreams, September 14, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/09/14/facebook-condemned-empowering-right-wing-magazine-drive- liberal-news-outlets-ground.
81 Goodman, with Millhiser and Lithwick, “Facebook Censors”; Johnson, “Facebook Condemned.” 82 Johnson, “Facebook Condemned.”
83 Jim Naureckas, “Advocate of Saddam/Al Qaeda Conspiracy Will Save Us from Fake News,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, March 28, 2017, https://fair.org/home/advocate-of-saddamal-qaeda-conspiracy-will-save-us-
84 Parry, “Russia-gate’s Litany of Corrections”; Robert Parry, “Russia-gate Breeds ‘Establishment McCarthyism,’” Consortium News, October 26, 2017, https://consortiumnews.com/2017/10/26/russia-gate-breeds-establishment-
85 Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook,” Wired, April 16, 2019,
https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-15-months-of-fresh-hell; Andre Damon, “Facebook: The Global Censor,” World Socialist Web Site, December 29, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/29/pers- d29.html.
86 Damon, “Facebook and Google Outline Unprecedented Mass Censorship.”
87 Andre Damon, “As Social Opposition Mounts, Silicon Valley and Washington Step Up Internet Censorship,” World Socialist Web Site, September 5, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/09/05/pers-s05.html.
88 Alexander Rubinstein, “Facebook’s Troll Hunter in Chief Nathaniel Gleicher Tied to Neocon Think Tank,” MintPress News, February 1, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/facebooks-troll-hunter-in-chief-nathaniel-
89 See Nathaniel Gleicher’s profile on the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) website, at https:// www.csis.org/people/nathaniel-j-gleicher [accessed June 11, 2019].
90 Whitney Webb, “More Gov’t Hooks in Social Media: Facebook Hires Patriot Act Co-Author While Trump
Jawbones Twitter CEO,” MintPress News, April 24, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/more-govt-hooks-in- social-media-facebook-hires-patriot-act-co-author-while-trump-jawbones-twitter-ceo/257795; Eoin Higgins, “Facebook’s Hire of Patriot Act Co-Author Raises Questions on Company’s Commitment to Privacy,” Common Dreams, April 24, 2019, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/04/24/facebooks-hire-patriot-act-co-author-raises-questions-companys- commitment-privacy.
91 Whitney Webb, “More Gov’t Hooks in Social Media.”
92 Thompson and Vogelstein, “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook.”
94 Joe Mount, “Facebook Hires Former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg,” World Socialist Web Site, November 16, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/16/cleg-n16.html.
95 Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague, “Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media ‘Just the Beginning,’ Says Top Neocon Insider,” The Grayzone, October 23, 2018, https://thegrayzone.com/2018/10/23/facebook-censorship-of-
96 Ibid.; “Foreign Policy Initiative,” Right Web, July 25, 2017, https://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/ foreign_policy_initiative/.
97 Blumenthal and Sprague, “Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media.”
100 Dan Cohen, “Senate Report on Russian Interference was Written by Disinformation Warriors behind Alabama
‘False Flag Operation,’” The Grayzone, December 25, 2018, https://thegrayzone.com/2018/12/25/senate-report-on- russian-interference-was-written-by-disinformation-warriors-behind-alabama-false-flag-operation; Andy Thompson, “Alleging ‘Russian Influence,’ Facebook Bans Left-Wing Pages,” World Socialist Web Site, February 20, 2019, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/20/cens-f20.html.
101 Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal, “How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding a Global Information War and Shaping the Media Landscape,” MintPress News, February 18, 2019, https://
www.mintpressnews.com/ebay-founder-pierre-omidyar-is-funding-a-global-media-information-war/255199. 102 Ibid.
103 Whitney Webb, “Omidyar’s Intercept Teams Up with War-Propaganda Firm Bellingcat,” MintPress News,
October 8, 2018, https://www.mintpressnews.com/omidyars-intercept-teams-up-with-war-propaganda-firm- bellingcat/250477/.
104 Manjunath Kiran, “Who Checks the Fact-Checkers? Facebook Leaves Verification to Groups Funded by Soros,
US Congress,” RT, April 27, 2019, updated April 29, 2019, https://www.rt.com/news/457713-facebook-fact- checkers-soros-funding; Rubinstein and Blumenthal, “How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding”
; Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal, “Pierre Omidyar’s Funding of Pro-Regime-Change Networks and Partnerships with CIA Cutouts,” MintPress News, February 20, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/pierre-omidyar-funding-of-pro-regime-change-networks-and-partnerships-with-cia- cutouts/255337.
105 See Laura Rosenberger’s profile on the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) website, at https:// securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/about-us/team [accessed June 11, 2019].
106 The ASD’s website lists its Advisory Council, at https://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/about-us/advisory- council.
107 Rubinstein and Blumenthal, “Pierre Omidyar’s Funding of Pro-Regime-Change Networks.”
108 Laura Rosenberger and J.M. Berger, “Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter,”
Alliance for Securing Democracy, August 2, 2017, https://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/hamilton-68-a-new-tool-to- track-russian-disinformation-on-twitter.
109 Adam Johnson, “Media Warn of ‘Russian Bots’—Despite Primary Source’s Disavowal,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, April 5, 2018, https://fair.org/home/media-warn-of-russian-bots-despite-primary-sources-disavowal;
Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.”
110 Rubinstein and Blumenthal, “How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding.”
112 Rubinstein, “Facebook’s Troll Hunter in Chief.” See Kevin Mandia’s profile on the FireEye website, at https:// www.fireeye.com/company/leadership.html, alongside the rest of FireEye’s Board of Directors [accessed May 12,
113 Kevin Reed, “What is FireEye?” World Socialist Web Site, August 29, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/ 2018/08/29/feye-a29.html.
115 See Christopher Porter’s profile on the FireEye website, at https://www.fireeye.com/content/fireeye-summit/
en_US/learn/speakers/christopher-porter.html [accessed May 12, 2019].
116 Nathaniel Gleicher, “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Explained,” Newsroom blog (Facebook), December 6, 2018, https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/12/inside-feed-coordinated-inauthentic-behavior/.
117 Jake Johnson, “Facebook Accused of ‘Full-Frontal Suppression of Dissent’ after Independent Media Swept Up in Mass Purge,” Common Dreams, October 12, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/12/facebook- accused-full-frontal-suppression-dissent-after-independent-media-swept-mass; Ben Norton, “Facebook Erases Hundreds of Alternative Media Pages in Mass Purge,” The Real News Network, October 18, 2018, https://therealnews.com/stories/facebook-erases-hundreds-of-alternative-media-pages-in-mass-purge-1-2; Glen Ford, “Facebook is Not Your Friend,” Black Agenda Report, October 18, 2018, https://blackagendareport.com/facebook- not-your-friend; Damon, “Pages Purged by Facebook”; Whitney Webb, “Facebook Purges US-Based Independent Media for Political Disinformation,” MintPress News, October 12, 2018, https://www.mintpressnews.com/facebook- purges-independent-us-media-for-political-disinformation/250659; Caitlin Johnstone, “Internet Censorship Just Took an Unprecedented Leap Forward, and Hardly Anyone Noticed,” Caitlin Johnstone blog, October 13, 2018, https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/10/13/internet-censorship-just-took-an-unprecedented-leap-forward-and-hardly- anyone-noticed.
118 Catalin Cimpanu, “Twitter Bans Distribution of Hacked Materials ahead of US Midterm Elections,” ZDNet, October 2, 2018, https://www.zdnet.com/article/twitter-bans-distribution-of-hacked-materials-ahead-of-us-midterm- elections.
119 Ben Norton, “Instagram Acts as Arm of US Govt, Bans Top Iranian Officials after IRGC ‘Terrorist’ Designation,” The Grayzone, April 18, 2019, https://thegrayzone.com/2019/04/18/instagram-us-bans-iranian- officials-irgc-terrorist.
120 Dado Ruvic, “WhatsApp Blocks Channel of Spanish Podemos Party Days before Election,” RT, April 24, 2019, updated April 25, 2019, https://www.rt.com/news/457465-whatsapp-blocked-podemos-spain-elections.
121 Alexander Rubinstein, “With US on the Warpath, Iran’s Press TV the Latest Target for Google’s Political Censorship,” MintPress News, April 22, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/with-us-on-the-warpath-irans-press- tv-the-latest-target-for-google-political-censorship/257682.
122 Joe Lauria, “Twitter Restricts Account of Julian Assange’s Mother,” Consortium News, March 19, 2019, https:// consortiumnews.com/2019/03/19/twitter-restricts-account-of-julian-assanges-mother.
123 See the tweet by the Venezuelan Consulate in Vancouver upon having its Twitter account restored: https://twitter.com/ConsuladoVenVan/status/1124007340766826497; and “‘Another Arm of the War Machine’: Twitter Users Angered over Blue Tick for Guaido Account,” RT, May 2, 2019, updated May 3, 2019, https:// www.rt.com/news/458183-venezuela-twitter-suspend-verified-guaido/.
124 Jessica Corbett, “‘Deeply Disturbing’: For Second Time This Year, Facebook Suspends Left-Leaning teleSUR
English without Explanation,” Common Dreams, August 14, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/news/ 2018/08/14/deeply-disturbing-second-time-year-facebook-suspends-left-leaning-telesur-english.
125 MacLeod, “That Facebook Will Turn to Censoring the Left.”
126 “Twitter Takes Down Hundreds of Accounts Linked to Venezuela Amid US Calls for Regime Change,” RT, February 1, 2019, updated February 2, 2019, https://www.rt.com/news/450320-twitter-venezuela-accounts-removed.
127 Thompson, “Alleging ‘Russian Influence.’”
128 Glenn Greenwald, “Facebook Says It is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments,” The Intercept, December 30, 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-deleting-accounts-at-the- direction-of-the-u-s-and-israeli-governments.
129 “Abby Martin Interview Critical of Israel is Blocked by YouTube in 28 Countries,” RT, April 6, 2018, https:// www.rt.com/usa/423341-abby-martin-israel-youtube-blocked/; Whitney Webb, “YouTube Moves to Censor
‘Controversial’ Content—Brings ADL On Board as Flagger,” MintPress News, August 7, 2017, https://www.mintpressnews.com/youtube-censor-controversial-content-adl-flagger/230530.
130 Jake Johnson, “With Blocked Ads Proving Her Point, Warren Says Facebook Shouldn’t Have Power to Decide What Is and Isn’t Allowed for ‘Robust Debate,’” Common Dreams, March 12, 2019, https:// www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/12/blocked-ads-proving-her-point-warren-says-facebook-shouldnt-have- power-decide-what.
131 Elias Marat, “Facebook Removes Page of Ecuador’s Former President on Same Day as Assange’s Arrest,” The Mind Unleashed, April 11, 2019, https://themindunleashed.com/2019/04/facebook-removes-rafael-correa-page.html.
132 Reed, “What is FireEye?”
133 Alex Hern, “Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify Ban Infowars’ Alex Jones,” The Guardian, August 6, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/06/apple-removes-podcasts-infowars-alex-jones.
134 Nolan Higdon and Ben Boyington, “Has Media Literacy been Hijacked?” Project Censored, March 19, 2019, https://www.projectcensored.org/has-media-literacy-been-hijacked.
135 NewsGuard’s website is at https://www.newsguardtech.com [accessed May 12, 2019].
136 Whitney Webb, “How a NeoCon-Backed ‘Fact Checker’ Plans to Wage War on Independent Media,” MintPress
News, January 9, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/newsguardneocon-backed-fact-checker-plans-to-wage-war- on-independent-media/253687/; Whitney Webb, “Newsguard Turns to EU to Push Controversial Ratings System on Tech Companies, Smears MintPress as ‘Secretly Supported’ by Russia,” MintPress News, January 30, 2019, https:// www.mintpressnews.com/newsguard-european-union/254453/.
137 Webb, “How a NeoCon-Backed ‘Fact Checker’ Plans to Wage War.” 138 Ibid.
139 NewsGuard’s website lists its Advisory Board, at https://www.newsguardtech.com/our-advisory-board [accessed June 11, 2019].
140 James Risen, “The Biggest Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror,” The Intercept, January 3, 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018/01/03/my-life-as-a-new-york-times-reporter-in-the-
141 See Michael Hayden’s profile on the Chertoff Group website, at https://www.chertoffgroup.com/team/michael- hayden [accessed June 11, 2019]. The Council on Foreign Relations website lists its members, at https://
www.cfr.org/membership/roster [accessed June 11, 2019].
142 Gregory T. Nojeim, “ACLU Says Bush Choice for Homeland Security Head Worrisome; Chertoff Played Key
Role in Formulating Controversial 9/11 Policies,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), January 11, 2005, https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-says-bush-choice-homeland-security-head-worrisome-chertoff-played-key-role- formulating.
143 The Atlantic Council website lists its Board of Directors, at https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/board-of- directors [accessed June 11, 2019].
144 Taibbi, “Russiagate and the New Blacklist.”
145 “Richard Stengel Named Distinguished Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab,”
Atlantic Council, February 14, 2018, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/news/press-releases/richard-stengel-named- distinguished-fellow-with-the-atlantic-council-s-digital-forensic-research-lab.
146 “‘Every Country Does It’: Ex-US Under Secretary of State Backs Propaganda Use,” RT, May 27, 2018, updated May 28, 2018, https://www.rt.com/news/427967-richard-stengel-propaganda-talk.
147 Webb, “How a NeoCon-Backed ‘Fact Checker’ Plans to Wage War.” 148 Ibid.
149 Mike Masnick, “WSJ Still Hasn’t Corrected Its Bogus Internet Revisionist Story, As Vint Cerf & Xerox Both
Claim the Story is Wrong,” Techdirt, July 26, 2012, https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120726/03471619840/wsj- still-hasnt-corrected-its-bogus-internet-revisionist-story-as-vint-cerf-xerox-both-claim-story-is-wrong.shtml.
150 Trevor Timm, “Wall Street Journal Columnist Repeatedly Gets His Facts Wrong about NSA Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, November 27, 2013, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/wall-street-journal-
151 Craig Murray, “How Wikileaks Keeps Its 100% Accuracy Record,” Craig Murray blog, January 12, 2017, https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/01/wikileaks-keeps-100-accuracy-record.
152 The quote found in-text is from the authors’ personal use of NewsGuard. A similarly worded screenshot of
NewsGuard’s warning about WikiLeaks can be found in the article “Guarding You from the News: NewsGuard Warns Against Reading WikiLeaks,” Sputnik News, January 15, 2019, https://sputniknews.com/analysis/ 201901151071476951-NewsGuard-Warns-Against-Reading-WikiLeaks (accessed May 12, 2019).
153 Webb, “How a NeoCon-Backed ‘Fact Checker’ Plans to Wage War.” 154 Ibid.
155 Elliott Gabriel, “Google and Corporate News Giants Forge New Alliance to Defeat Independent Journalism,”
MintPress News, March 23, 2018, https://www.mintpressnews.com/google-and-corporate-news-giants-forge- alliance-to-defeat-independent-journalism/239475; Philipp Schindler, “The Google News Initiative: Building a Stronger Future for News,” The Keyword blog (Google), March 20, 2018, https://www.blog.google/outreach-initiatives/google-news-initiative/announcing-google-news-initiative.
156 Schlindler, “The Google News Initiative.” 157 Ibid.
158 See the Report for America (RFA) website at https://www.reportforamerica.org [accessed May 12, 2019].
159 “Tyler Durden,” “Why is Google Hiring 1,000 Journalists to Flood Newsrooms around America?” Zero Hedge, September 18, 2017, https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-18/why-google-hiring-1000-journalists-flood-
newsrooms-around-america. 160 Ibid.
161 The RFA website lists its Advisory Board, at https://www.reportforamerica.org/advisoryboard [accessed June 11, 2019].
162 Elliott Gabriel, “Don’t Call It Fake News! Facebook to Fully Fund Streaming Mainstream News Shows,” MintPress News, June 8, 2018, https://www.mintpressnews.com/dont-call-it-fake-news-facebook-to-fully-fund-
streaming-mainstream-news-shows/243580. 163 Ibid.
164 Jake Johnson, “Confirming Progressive Fears, Facebook’s ‘Trustworthy’ News Project is Chock-Full of Fox News,” Common Dreams, July 12, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/07/12/confirming-
progressive-fears-facebooks-trustworthy-news-project-chock-full-fox-news. 165 Gabriel, “Don’t Call It Fake News!”
166 “Full transcript: “Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship””, World Socialist Website, January 25, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/25/webi-j25.html.
167 Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution
that will Begin the World Again, updated ed. (New York: Nation Books, 2011). See also Art Swift, “Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low,” Gallup, September 14, 2016, https://news.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx.
168 Elisa Shearer, “Social Media Outpaces Print Newspapers in the U.S. as a News Source,” Pew Research Center,
December 10, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/social-media-outpaces-print-newspapers-in- the-u-s-as-a-news-source/; Jeffrey Gottfried and Elisa Shearer, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016,” Pew Research Center: Journalism and Media, May 26, 2016, https://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use- across-social-media-platforms-2016/; “How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America’s First Digital Generation,” Media Insight Project, March 2015, http://www.mediainsight.org/PDFs/Millennials/ Millennials%20Report%20FINAL.pdf.
169 See the Gallup report on the poll: Zacc Ritter and Jeffrey M. Jones, “Media Seen as Key to Democracy but Not Supporting It Well,” Gallup, January 16, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/225470/media-seen-key-democracy-
170 Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, Michael Barthel, and Elisa Shearer, “Trust and Accuracy,” Pew Research Center: Journalism and Media, July 7, 2016, https://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/trust-and-accuracy.
171 Jonathan Easley, “Poll: Majority Says Mainstream Media Publishes Fake News,” The Hill, May 24, 2017, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/334897-poll-majority-says-mainstream-media-publishes-fake-news.
172 Noah Barkin, “Trust in US Institutions Plunges in Trump’s First Year,” Raw Story, January 22, 2018, https:// www.rawstory.com/2018/01/trust-in-us-institutions-plunges-in-trumps-first-year.
173 “Public Trust in Government: 1958–2019,” Pew Research Center: U.S. Politics & Policy, April 11, 2019, https:// www.people-press.org/2019/04/11/public-trust-in-government-1958-2019.
174 Stephen Miles, “Americans are Sick of Endless War,” The Nation, June 21, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/ article/americans-sick-endless-war/.
175 Whitney Webb, “NY Times Acknowledges Venezuela Opposition as Cause of Aid Fire, Echoing Initial Reports by Alternative Press,” MintPress News, March 11, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/ny-times-acknowledges-
176 Patrick Martin, “Strike Action in the US Hits a 32-Year High,” World Socialist Web Site, February 9, 2019, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/09/stri-f09.html.
177 “For an International Coalition to Fight Internet Censorship: An Open Letter from the International Editorial
Board of the World Socialist Web Site to Socialist, Anti-War, Left-Wing and Progressive Websites, Organizations and Activists,” World Socialist Web Site, January 23, 2018, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/23/pers- j23.html.
178 Michael Snyder, “The Department of Homeland Security Plans to Compile a List of All Bloggers, Journalists
and ‘Social Media Influencers,’” End of the American Dream blog, June 3, 2018, http:// endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-department-of-homeland-security-plans-to-compile-a-list-of-all-bloggers- journalists-and-social-media-influencers; Michelle Kaminsky, “Department of Homeland Security Compiling Database of Journalists and ‘Media Influencers,’” Forbes, April 6, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellefabio/2018/04/06/department-of-homeland-security-compiling-database-of- journalists-and-media-influencers.
179 Frank Newport, “Democrats More Positive about Socialism Than Capitalism,” Gallup, August 13, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/240725/democrats-positive-socialism-capitalism.aspx; Peter Moore, “One Third of Millennials View Socialism Favorably,” YouGov, May 11, 2015, https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles- reports/2015/05/11/one-third-millennials-like-socialism; Mohamed Younis, “Four in 10 Americans Embrace Some Form of Socialism,” Gallup, May 20, 2019, https://news.gallup.com/poll/257639/four-americans-embrace-form- socialism.aspx.
180 Blumenthal, “McCarthyism Inc.”; Lendman, “US Definition of a Russian Agent”; Taibbi, “Russiagate and the
New Blacklist”; Carol Matlack and Robert Williams, “France to Probe Possible Russian Influence on Yellow Vest Riots,” Bloomberg, December 7, 2018, updated December 9, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ 2018-12-08/pro-russia-social-media-takes-aim-at-macron-as-yellow-vests-rage.
181 Jake Johnson, “‘Dark Day for Internet Freedom’: EU Approves Rules to Create Online Censorship Machine,” Common Dreams, March 26, 2019, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/26/dark-day-internet-freedom-
182 “Unraveling the Justice Department’s Conspiracy Theory against Julian Assange,” Shadowproof, May 29, 2019, https://shadowproof.com/2019/05/29/unravel-justice-department-conspiracy-theory-julian-assange/; Janine Jackson, “Chelsea Manning Again Takes Fall for Defending Public’s Right to Know,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, April 1, 2019, https://fair.org/home/chelsea-manning-again-takes-fall-for-defending-publics-right-to-know/.
183 Peter Hart, “Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the Courtier Press,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, May 13, 2014, https://fair.org/home/edward-snowden-glenn-greenwald-and-the-courtier-press/.
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