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An In-Depth Look Behind the Scenes Of SouthFront Censorship

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This article is part of a series on disgusting US-led imperialism

The Saker Blog



[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he situation surrounding the censorship of Southfront on Facebook has turned into a display of the stereotypical Big-tech super villain. Facebook has published a report justifying its actions, which is an egregious, textbook example of fake news. The report contains only disjointed accusations under the cover of meaningless words, and without a single example being presented. Special attention should be paid to the fact that in the full 29-page report, there are no mentions of SouthFront itself, besides the baseless accusations at its outset.

Furthermore, in order to label SouthFront as allegedly official Russian propaganda, Facebook first identifies another media site with a similar name, and then proceeds to emphasize the similarity of the brands. The name of this organization is “News Front”, which indeed shares the word “Front” in its name, yet the similarities end there. News Front is an official Russian organization that is located in Crimea and publicly pursues an acute pro-Russian patriotic informational agenda for a Russian speaking audience.

In the case of News Front, to assert that the site is engaged in pushing fake news or disinformation is also nonsense. There are no hidden “trolls” infecting the weak minds of the citizens of Russia or other countries of the post-Soviet space through devious attempts to manipulate and mold their innermost perception. This is a regular Russian patriotic media site with a declared pro-Russian bias. Having a declared and obvious bias is not a crime in a democratic world.

As for the wider, global, non-Russian-speaking audience, News Front has a minimal presence. So why it was necessary to censor this Russian organization? The answer is now obvious, as described above.

The comparison of the audience of southfront.org and news-front.info by Alexa:

Click to see the full-size image

The comparison of the audience of southfront.org and news-front.info by SimilarWeb:

Click to see the full-size image


The catalyst that led to these actions concern mass complaints made by propaganda units created and funded by NATO, the EU and other Euro-Atlantic organizations. A majority of these propaganda units, like Euvsdisinfo, StopFake, or the Atlantic Council, have offices and representatives in Ukraine and Baltic states. They operate with the designated goal of utilizing both formal and informal tools to undermine the work of independent and non-mainstream media. To achieve their goals, the pro-NATO propagandists often exploit the so-called ‘Russian threat’ concept; however, this merely provides a cover for their aggressive actions to silence and discredit opposing opinions and sources of information they deem to be counter to their own interests.

The reason behind their activity is simple – they must justify their existence in reports to their sponsors. They are constantly and fiercely working to engineer ‘successful actions’ regardless of their validity. In order to continue securing funding to expose and defeat an imaginary enemy, they must create imaginary victories, irrespective of reality.

At the same time, the quality of the analysis and approaches of these propaganda units are of a surprisingly low quality. Their main ‘innovation’ is in bombarding the likes of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other global media platforms with thousands of complaints. In more simple terms, a glorified spam operation. The structure of these complaints is simple. They irately claim that some media organization or a media activist violates the policy of the social platform; for example: by spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, or by simply asserting that the offending party is creating fake news (in general without any explanation). Such complains may include one or several links to posts that allegedly violate the policies of the social platforms as evidence of wrongdoing. However, even this does not happen in most of the cases, or the evidence turns out to be nothing more than a link to a substantiated post that includes either opinion or factual information.

We, the international team of authors and experts working under the brand SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, has evidenced this and regularly faces such hostile actions from pro-NATO propaganda organizations. Moreover, we have the impression that many employees of large social platforms have grown tired of the shameless actions of some of these pro-NATO propagandists.

From its very creation, SouthFront has stated that we provide the opportunity to express a multitude of opinions and views covering international issues on our platform. We make sure that these points of view do not go beyond rationality or violate any national or international laws. Southfront and our authors can make a multitude of assumptions, but when we make claims they are always based on facts and substantiated by identified sources. We specifically do not use the term ‘reliable sources’, since in this modern world of information warfare and media noise and obfuscation, each combatant has their own understanding of the world ‘reliable’. More often than not, the term ‘reliable sources’ is the first clue that no such sources exist.

Let’s take a closer look at accusations against SouthFront put forward by Euvsdisinfo, a propaganda unit of the EU East Stratcom Task Force. Since the start of 2020, SouthFront has released about 3,000 articles. Pro-NATO propagandists found a grand total of 3 (0.001% of the total) that they can use to back up their claim that SouthFront supposedly promotes some disinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

EXAMPLE 1:

EUvsdisinfo’s propaganda piece


The real title of the article is “COVID-19 – THE FIGHT FOR A CURE: ONE GIGANTIC WESTERN PHARMA RIP-OFF” (source)

 


This article is written by Peter Koenig and submitted via Global Research. Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization in many parts of the world, including in Palestine, in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greenville Post; Defend Democracy Press, TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of “Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed”, a fictional work based on historical fact and over 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (Global Research). Global Research itself is run by a group of authors that have advanced academic degrees from respected academic institutions and teach in universities of the United State and Canada.

So, what kind of ‘fake news’ or ‘disinformation’ did Mr. Koenig push in the article? The article provides a critical look at and addresses the concerns regarding the goals of the global pharmaceutical industry, otherwise known as Big Pharma, in the larger context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are these global corporations not commercial entities that seek to gain larger revenues and increased profits? Yes, clearly so. So, what is wrong with this logic? Furthermore, Mr. Koenig wrote his article based on official statistics and sources.

For example:

“The vaccine that might eventually be applied to COVID-19, may most likely no longer be valid for the next coronavirus outbreak – which, also according to Mr. Redfield, CDC, will most probably occur. A later virus may most certainly have mutated. It’s quite similar to the common flu virus. In fact, the annually reoccurring common flu virus contains a proportion of 10% to 15% (sometimes more) of coronaviruses.”

This is an obvious scientific fact – a specific vaccine acts against a particular strain of virus. Complex vaccines act against several strains, but the accumulated modern scientific knowledge has yet to invent a vaccine that can act against all the possible strains. The converse statement is a falsehood and is aimed at misleading the public.

A biased critic may label as conspiracy the author’s point of view towards the aggressive advertising of vaccines or the need for electronic IDs; however, this very same point of view has been voiced by various politicians or representatives of big business. Even the term ‘New World Order’ which appears twice in the subject text, was itself widely used by the mainstream political establishment, and even presidents of the United States like George H. W. Bush.

However, this did not stop paid propagandists from labeling the article the work of a conspiracy theorist and thus labelling it as disinformation. One could claim that the author asserted a notion of conspiracy, but there was zero disinformation, as the author’s hypothesis was based on scientist fact and common knowledge.

EXAMPLE 2:

EUvsdisinfo’s propaganda piece

The real title of the article is “WESTERN MEDIA TALKS UP BIG PHARMA’S SEARCH FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE WHILE IGNORING USE OF HIGH DOES VITAMIN C TO SAVE LIVES IN CHINA” (source)

This article is written by a well-known international author, Dr. Leon Tressell. The main assertion of the article is that high dose vitamin C therapy apparently helps to deal with acute respiratory disease and viral pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2. The article clearly shows that the methods of treating the symptoms caused by SARS-CoV-2 share some commonality with the actions taken to treat the symptoms of respiratory disease and viral pneumonia caused by other viruses. There is no correlation between the effectiveness of a particular drug or method of treatment and its monetary cost. This fact is also universally recognized in the scientific community.

Mr. Tressell writes:

  • Clinical trials using high dose vitamin C therapy in China ignored by Western media
  • New York hospitals now using vitamin C therapy to treat coronavirus patients

Are these false statements? No. These points are demonstrably true.

Indeed, the author states that the “mainstream media, and the scientific and political establishments are completely under the spell of big pharma”; however, in the same article he explains this point of view in detail. This remark is based on his personal point of view (protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution) as well as those of scientists quoted in the text. For example:

Dr. Andrew W. Saul, Editor in chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service

Dr. Richard Cheng, an American-Chinese doctor currently based in Shanghai

Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health facilities on Long Island

Thus, there is no reason to say that Tressell distributes fake news. In the worst case, the author writes about a valid hypothesis and only once does he make a personal judgment regarding the motives and aims of big pharma. Is this false news or disinformation? Of course it is not. Is some conspiracy theory present here? If one claims “yes”, then that person will have to accept that most of the political establishment of the United States, which also uses the terms the New World Order and Big Pharma are also conspiracy theorists. Surely one statement of the article’s author pales in comparison to the thousands of statements of politicians and top businessmen espousing similar views. How popular does a dissenting view have to become before it is no longer considered a conspiracy theory?

EXAMPLE 3:

EUvsdisinfo’s propaganda piece

The real title of the article is “WHILE THE WORLD IS IN DISARRAY, COVID-19 IS BREAKING UP RUSSIA” (source)

The article was likely used by the Euvsdisinfo authors either out of a lack of humor, ignorance, or sheer stupidity. This article is a critical review of the political and administrative situation in Russia amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the first part of April 2020. The article provides a critical look at the actions of the Russian government (in particular the Moscow authorities) and points out that, while the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant public health challenge, the threat of the pandemic may be estimated inaccurately, resulting in the government making poor decisions in dealing with it. The developments in Russia in the second half of 2020 confirmed this analysis. Meanwhile, the article itself regularly refers to scientific and state sources of data and criticizes political and administrative actions of the Russian government. It also looks critically at actions of Moscow mayor Sergey Sobaynin, which at the time went contrary to the Russian legislative system.

Euvsdisinfo labeled the article as conspiracy theory and disinformation. This decision raises some eyebrows. Does NATO really support the actions of the Moscow authorities? If this is the case, perhaps President Putin should consider taking a closer look at the mayor of the Russian capital. Another explanation is that nobody in Euvsdisinfo actually read the article. The aforementioned article regularly refers to publicly available facts and quotes numerous substantiated sources, while providing a critical point of view of the author towards the administrative and political situation in Russia.

The aforementioned articles are all that pro-NATO propaganda organizations have been able to highlight to accuse SouthFront of spreading disinformation. Three articles out of approximately 3,000 published since the start of the year. The attention of such propagandists to SouthFront comes amid the termination of our YouTube channels. These arbitrary and unjustified actions lead us to believe that there is almost no objectivity in the modern world. So, if somebody wants to claim that white is black, he will continue to do so as long as it serves the interests of his sponsors. Nonetheless, in the case of YouTube, the situation is even more surprising. SouthFront released no videos that could be labeled as ‘COVID-19 disinformation’ even theoretically. There were only 3 video infographics on the topic on our YouTube channel. They presented facts and data and did not even feature narration. SouthFront’s YouTube channel had zero active strikes to over 1,900 uploaded videos up until the point of termination.

In this situation, it will be especially interesting to witness how YouTube will react to the developing scandal.

WE CRITICALLY NEED YOUR INFORMATIONAL ASSISTANCE

Please, help us by sharing this message with the global audience. Also, please inform your family, friends, and your social circles about southfront.org as an independent platform covering crucial developments in the Middle East and around the world.

As always, but especially during this uncertain and economically challenging time, your donations are especially important in keeping SouthFront alive.

source: https://southfront.org/an-in-depth-look-behind-the-scenes-of-southfront-censorship/


Comments Sampler

  1. “Facebook first identifies another media site with a similar name, and then proceeds to emphasize the similarity of the brands. The name of this organization is “News Front”, which indeed shares the word “Front” in its name,”

    Yes, and did you know that the Federal Reserve is part of Fed Ex?

  2. « So legal wise nothing can be done against those hosts?? »

    Indeed, this is my understanding; nothing can be done by law, because Facebook is a private corporation. This is the “beauty” of the new forms of censorship; because these massive social platforms are private corporations, normal laws on censorship do not apply to them.

    To me, this looks like a loophole, taking advantage of the fact that the law struggles to catch up with modern reality. Considering that a huge part of the population receives its information from these interactive platforms, it would make sense to develop laws that level the field.

    Dear writer of Article,

    I hereby declare my support for Southfront in this trying times.I condemn in the strongest terms those who are behind the immoral act of banning independent thought from the social platform.

    In Covid19, the “corporate interest/big pharma’ has unwittingly dropped it’s mask/clothes in front of ordinary people (the 99%). What the 99% saw collectively is that their survival is at stake.This presents great opportunities,for instance, in USA, the, Bernie Sanders campaign proposals for changes to the health system of that country, are now acceptable to both sides (left&right). In Britain, Boris Johnson seems to have changed his attitude toward the NHS after being rescued by the dedicated professionals of that institution.

    A luta continua’

    Of course, at some US commmenting sites they – the US – believe they were the sole hero’s of both world wars.
    Many believe they were fighting the ruskies and defeated them twice.
    I think 5- maybe 10years and the disinformation on ww2 will be complete.
    After all Putin was not invited to the 75commemoration of D-day… but Merkel was…. 

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Read it in your language • Lealo en su idioma • Lisez-le dans votre langue • Lies es in Deiner Sprache • Прочитайте это на вашем языке • 用你的语言阅读


[google-translator]

Keep truth and free speech alive by supporting this site.
Donate using the button below, or by scanning our QR code.






 


A WORD BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
THE DEEP STATE IS CLOSING IN

The big social media —Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—are trying to silence us.
Sign up with TGP so we can always reach you with our vital information. Don’t let the darkness win.


[/su_spoiler]

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff we publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for our website, which will get you an email notification for everything we publish.






NOTE

^1000Careerist lackeys serving the elites control the American press.

Ever pushing for war and inequality, covering up the oligarchy's crimes...

They are in reality shameless disinformers.

No wonder the world is in such terrible disarray.


Creative Commons License
THIS WORK IS LICENSED UNDER A Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS



The War on Dissent

Please make sure these dispatches reach as many readers as possible. Share with kin, friends and workmates and ask them to do likewise.


C J Hopkins
CONSENT FACTORY


Facebook's "Counterspeech" page logo. The pretty, "ideologically pasteurised" and anodyne mask of a viciously dangerous monster. (1)

[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ust when you thought the corporatocracy couldn’t possibly get more creepily Orwellian, the Twitter Corporation starts sending out emails advising that they “have reason to believe” we have “followed, retweeted,” or “liked the content of” an account “connected to a propaganda effort by a Russia government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.” While it’s not as dramatic as the Thought Police watching you on your telescreen, or posters reminding you “Big Brother Is Watching,” the effect is more or less the same.

And if that’s not creepily Orwellian enough for you, Facebook has launched a Ministry of Counterspeech, manned by “a dedicated counterterrorism team” of “former intelligence and law-enforcement officials,” to “disrupt ideologies underlying extremism” (see Chris Hedges’ recent essay for details). The Google Corporation is systematically disappearing, deranking, and maliciously misrepresenting non-corporate news and opinion sources, and the “thought criminals” who contribute to them. Meanwhile, the corporate media continue to pump out Russia paranoia propaganda like this Maddow segment on MSNBC about “the remarkable number of Russian financiers who’ll be rubbing elbows with the Trump team in Davos.”

These are just the latest salvos in the corporate establishment’s War on Dissent, an expanded version of the War on Terror, which they’ve been relentlessly waging for over a year now. As you may have noticed, the ruling classes have been using virtually every propaganda organ at their disposal to whip up mass hysteria over a host of extremely dubious threats to “the future of democracy” and “democratic values,” Russia being foremost among them, followed closely by white supremacy, then a laundry list of other “threats,” from Julian Assange to Bernie Bros to other, lesser “sowers of division.”

This propaganda campaign is part and parcel of the roll-out of a new “official narrative.” If it wasn’t so completely depressing, I would say it is awe-inspiring to watch. This full-spectrum type of mass indoctrination, or “reality adjustment,” doesn’t happen that often. It used to only happen on the national level, typically during times of war, when the ruling classes of nation states needed to temporarily unite their populaces and demonize their enemy. It is happening now on a global level, for the second time in the 21st Century.

The first time it happened on a global level was 2001-2002, when the War on Terror narrative was launched to supplant the defunct Cold War narrative that had functioned since the end of World War II. The End of History/New World Order narrative, which had served as a kind of ideological stop-gap from 1990 to 2001, never really sold that well. It was far too vague, and there was no clear enemy. The global capitalist ruling classes (which now reigned unopposed over the entire planet) needed a new official narrative to unite, not just a nation, or region, but everyone within the new global market. This narrative needed a convincing enemy that would function on a global level. “Terrorism” is that enemy.

In the official War on Terror narrative, the term “terrorism” does not refer to any type of actual terrorism (although of course such terrorism does occur) as much as to “terrorism” as a general concept, an essentially meaningless pejorative concept, one which can be expanded to include almost anything and anyone the ruling classes need it to … which is what is taking place at the moment. It is being expanded, rather dramatically, to include virtually any type of dissent from global capitalist ideology. In order to understand what’s happening, we need to understand how terms like “terrorism” and “extremism” function ideologically, not just as terms to dehumanize “bad guys” but to designate a type of ur-antagonist, one that conforms to the official narrative. So let’s take a few minutes and try to do that.

The key to understanding both the original War on Terror official narrative and the expanded variation we are being sold currently is the fact that terrorism is an insurgent tactic employed by weaker militant forces against a ruling government or occupation force. This makes it the perfect bogeyman (in essence, the only bogeyman) for our brave new global capitalist world, where global capitalism takes the place of that “ruling government or occupation force.”

I’ve written a number of essays about this, so I won’t reiterate all that here. The short version is, we no longer live in a world where nation-against-nation conflict is driving the course of political events. We live in a world where global capitalism is driving the course of political events. The economies of virtually every nation on the planet are hopelessly interdependent. Capitalist ideology pervades all cultures, despite their superficial differences. It is a globally hegemonic system, so it has no external enemies. None. The only threats it faces are internal. Its “enemies” are, by definition, insurgent … in other words, “extremist” or “terrorist.”

This even holds true for the Russia paranoia the ruling classes are pumping out currently … it’s all just part of the “reality adjustment,” and the launch of the new official narrative, not a prelude to war with Russia. The USA is not going to war with Russia. The notion is beyond ridiculous. Have you noticed, despite all their warlike verbiage, that no one has put forth a single scenario in which war between Russia and the West makes sense? That’s because it doesn’t make sense. Not for Russia, the USA, or anyone else. This is why “the Russian threat” is being marketed as an “attack on democratic values” and “an attempt to sow division,” and so on. Because the war the corporatocracy is waging is not a war against Russia, the nation. The war they are fighting is a counter-insurgency, an ideological counter-insurgency. “Russia” has just been added to the list of “terrorists” and “extremists” who “hate us for our freedom.”

Thus, our new official narrative is actually just a minor variation on the original War on Terror narrative we’ve been indoctrinated with since 2001. A minor yet essential variation. From 2001 to 2016, the constant “terrorist threat” we were facing was limited to Islamic terrorism, which made sense as long as the corporatocracy was focused on restructuring the Middle East. White supremacist terrorism was not part of the narrative, nor was any other form of terrorism, as that would have just confused the audience.

That changed, dramatically, in 2016.

The Brexit referendum and the election of Trump alerted the global capitalist ruling classes to the existence of another dangerous insurgency that had nothing to do with the Greater Middle East. While they were off merrily destabilizing, restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving, resentment of global capitalism had grown into a widespread neo-nationalist backlash against globalization, the loss of sovereignty, fiscal austerity, and the soulless, smiley-face, corporate culture being implemented throughout the West and beyond. That this backlash is reactionary in nature does not change the fact that it is an insurgency … just as Islamic fundamentalism is. Both insurgencies are doomed attempts to revert to despotic social systems (nationalist in one case, religious in the other) and so reverse the forward march of global capitalism. The global capitalist ruling classes are not about to let that happen.

The corporatocracy wasted no time in dealing with this new insurgency. They demonized and hamstrung Trump, as they’ll continue to do until he’s well out of office. But Trump was never the significant threat. The significant threat is the people who elected him, and who voted for Brexit, and the AfD, and Sanders, and Mélenchon, and Corbyn, and who just stayed home on election day and refused to vote for Hillary Clinton. The threat is the attitude of these people. The insubordinate attitude of these people. The childish attitude of these people (who naively thought they could challenge the most powerful empire in the annals of human history … one that controls, not just the most fearsome military force that has ever existed, but the means to control “reality” itself).

The corporatocracy is going to change that attitude, or it is going to make it disappear. It is in the process of doing this now, using every ideological weapon in its arsenal. The news media. Publishing. Hollywood. The Internet. Intelligence agencies. Congressional inquiries. Protests. Marches. Twitter’s “advisory emails.” Google’s manipulation of its search results. Facebook’s “counterspeech” initiative. Russiagate. Shitholegate. Pornstargate. The ruling class is sending us a message. The message is, “you’re either with us or against us.” The message is, “we will tolerate no dissent, except for officially sanctioned dissent.” The message is, “try to fuck with us, and we will marginalize you, and demonize you, and demonetize you, and disappear you.”

The message is, “we control reality, so reality is whatever the fuck we say it is, regardless of whether it is based in fact or just some totally made-up story we got The Washington Post to publish and then had the corporate media repeat, over and over, for fourteen months.” If that doesn’t qualify as full-blown Orwellian, I’m not sure what, exactly, would.

I wish I had some rallying cry to end this depressing assessment with, but I have no interest in being one of these Twitter-based guerrilla leaders who tell you we can beat the corporatocracy by tweeting and donating to them on Patreon, and then going about our lives as “normal.” It’s probably going to take a little more than that, and the obvious truth is, the odds are against us. That said, I plan to make as much noise about The War on Dissent as humanly possible, until they marginalize me out of existence … or the corporate-mediated simulation that so many of us take for existence these days.

What do you say, want to join me?

—CJ Hopkins
(First published in CounterPunch, January 26, 2018.)


Appendix
1. The "Counterspeech" project to neutralise antiwar/anti-corporate dissent can be found in these pages. As usual, in true Orwellian fashion, everything they claim to be for is the exact opposite. Just examine who's behind these disinformation/censorship efforts, let's call them "censorship in freedom", since this is a uniquely Anglo-American way of doing things.
https://dangerousspeech.org/counterspeech/
https://counterspeech.fb.com/en/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CJ Hopkins is an American playwright, novelist, and political satirist. Among his works are the plays Horse Country, screwmachine/eyecandy and The Extremists. He resides in Berlin.



Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

Read it in your language • Lealo en su idioma • Lisez-le dans votre langue • Lies es in Deiner Sprache • Прочитайте это на вашем языке • 用你的语言阅读

[google-translator]

black-horizontal

Keep truth and free speech alive by supporting this site.
Donate using the button below, or by scanning our QR code.





And before you leave

THE DEEP STATE IS CLOSING IN

The big social media —Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—are trying to silence us.
Sign up with TGP so we can always reach you with our vital information. Don’t let the darkness win.





PayPal blocks donations to the Grayzone that mention Iran

Please make sure these dispatches reach as many readers as possible. Share with kin, friends and workmates and ask them to do likewise.


Ben Norton
THE GRAYZONE

Editor's Note: As longstanding victims of the (so far) petty tyranny exerted by social media companies and other organs of the "deep state", we are familiar with these types of attack. Now we see that the capitalist repression against all forms of genuine dissent is slowly extending to other sites unwilling to "bend the knee" and fall in with the ludicrous mainstream imperial message. Clearly, in any impartial court, these underhanded and capricious attacks could be fought and reversed, but the judicial system in the US, where big money prevails, now rarely allows for that kind of vindication.  Furthermore, in an extreme capitalist regime like America, where all "private property" is sacred, the chances of winning such challenges remain costly and remote. Meantime, little of this has been reported on the mainstream media, as the exhausting task of disseminating lies for the benefit of the plutocracy soaks up all their time. —PG

Small donations to The Grayzone were delayed and reversed by PayPal because they mentioned the word “Iran” in messages praising our coverage of the US conflict. At the same time, Facebook censored a factual Grayzone video reporting on Hezbollah, Iran and Trump.

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ollowing the US government’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, PayPal has delayed and blocked small donations to The Grayzone that mentioned this website’s news coverage of Iran.

At the same time, social media giant Facebook has censored a Grayzone video reporting on the US government’s escalation against Iran and its ally Hezbollah.

In 2010, PayPal froze donations to WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing journalism organization whose publisher Julian Assange is currently being imprisoned and tortured. The online banking company also permanently suspended WikiLeaks’ account.

Now independent journalism websites like The Grayzone are suffering from blockages imposed by PayPal that appear directly linked to Washington’s aggressive actions in the Middle East.

On January 3, a reader tried to make a donation of $10 to The Grayzone through PayPal. The small donor, a US citizen who lives in California, wrote the following message to accompany the donation: “Thanks for all your excellent work and especially the Gray Zone’s coverage of the murder of Soleimani and war with Iran. You fellows are so insightful and brilliant.”

The Grayzone promptly received an email from the tech company stating that the donation was “pending.” The message noted, “To comply with government regulations, PayPal is required to review certain transactions.”

The next day, the small donor notified The Grayzone that she had gotten an email from the PayPal Compliance Department demanding that they “provide the following information”:

• “An explanation of the reference to ‘Iran.’

• The purpose of this payment, including a complete and detailed explanation of what is intended to be paid for.

• A sales receipt or other documentation pertaining to this transaction.

• Full name, address, and current location of the Beneficiary of the payment.”

Then, on January 6, PayPal notified The Grayzone that the donation “has been reversed.”

 

“I was so impressed with your coverage of the U.S. murder of Soleimani that I made a $10 donation to you via PayPal and made laudatory remarks about your coverage of Iran in the comments section,” the small donor wrote to The Grayzone. “Today, I got the following message from PayPal wanting me to go to their site and explain why I made a reference to Iran.”

The supporter added, “Really? Am I now subject to surveillance because I used the word ‘Iran’? Why do you continue to use PayPal which long ago proved itself to be yet another corporate totalitarian?”

The donor said they decided to close their PayPal account, adding, “I do not owe PayPal an explanation of why I used the word ‘Iran.'”

The incident was strange. But it was not the only time The Grayzone faced difficulties when receiving donations.

Second frozen PayPal donation in two days

On January 5, The Grayzone received another message from a reader. This supporter said they had tried to give $25 to the news website, but the tech company froze their donation as well.

The company sent both the donor and The Grayzone a message reading, “To comply with government regulations, PayPal is required to review certain transactions. The payment you sent is currently being reviewed and we will complete this process within 72 hours.”

The donor commented, “I have never before had paypal delay a payment or donation. So this seems to be targeted at you guys. The ACLU should be looking into this. Good luck!”

The Grayzone asked the supporter if they used the word “Iran” in the message accompanying their small donation. They replied that they had.

“I was praising the very informed, very rational two-hour videocast you guys broadcast,” the donor said, referring to a Grayzone discussion of US policy on Iran and President Trump’s murder of top general Qassem Soleimani.

Facebook censors The Grayzone video reporting on Iran and Hezbollah

While PayPal has been blocking small donations to The Grayzone that mention its Iran coverage, another Big Tech corporation is censoring the news website’s reporting on Iran and Hezbollah.

On January 9, this reporter received a notice on Facebook that the company had censored a factual, journalistic video that featured public speeches given by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei and Lebanese Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, showing how they had called for protecting civilians, while US President Donald Trump warned that he would attack cultural sites inside Iran.

The video did not contain commentary or opinion. It simply presented video of world leaders speaking. But without any explanation. Facebook asserted that our video violated its “Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organizations.”

Big Tech corporations and US sanctions

The Grayzone contacted both PayPal and Facebook with requests for comment. The companies have not replied, as of publication.

It appears that PayPal automates the process of reviewing donations to make sure that they conform with US government sanctions, highlighting particular keywords like “Iran.” Apparently, the company’s dragnet is so wide it is now cracking down on independent journalists who report on Middle East affairs and rely on donations to sustain their work.

The Grayzone faced similar difficulties this August in Venezuela, which is enduring a US government economic blockade that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

When a The Grayzone reporter tried to pay a Venezuelan national using the money transfer app Zelle, they received an email from their bank’s sanctions compliance department requesting more information about the transaction — even though it was a payment to a private Venezuelan civilian who had no relationship at all to the government.

These tightening, seemingly arbitrary restrictions by large tech corporations show how aggressive US government sanctions on foreign nations are stifling speech and threatening independent journalism at home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.



Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

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Facebook and YouTube remove posts naming CIA impeachment whistleblower

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Kevin Reed


11 November 2019

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ultiple media sources reported on Friday that the social media platforms Facebook and YouTube were removing posts that identified by name the CIA whistleblower behind the Congressional impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

In an email statement, Facebook said, “Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant or activist’,” adding, “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.”

CNN also reported that YouTube issued a statement saying that it was using a combination of artificial intelligence software and human monitors to find and delete videos with the name of the “Ukrainegate” whistleblower. “The removals, the spokesperson added, would affect the titles and descriptions of videos as well as the video’s actual content,” the CNN report said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr shakes hands with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (Andre Damon/World Socialist Web Site)



The World Socialist Web Site has independently confirmed that Facebook is deleting posts containing the name of alleged CIA whistleblower Eric Ciaramella.

Facebook’s claim that any content posted on its platform naming Ciaramella constitutes “outing” the whistleblower is absurd. The alleged identity of the career CIA analyst who filed a complaint regarding the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been known since October 30 when the pro-Republican Real Clear Politics website published his name.

When his name was published by Real Clear Politics, the whistleblower’s attorneys—in typical CIA fashion—said they could “neither confirm nor deny” that Ciaramella was their client.

Ciaramella is a plausible candidate for being whistleblower, given his background as a registered Democrat and CIA analyst with expertise in Ukraine and Russia. He worked under both Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Trump National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. In mid-2017 he was sent back to the CIA amid accusations that he was leaking anti-Trump information to the media.

While Ciaramella’s name has been widely circulated by Republican political figures, right-wing news sites and former CIA analyst and Trump aide Fred Fleitz said, “everyone knows who he is,” the Democrats and their allies in the media at the New York Times, Washington Post and major television networks have not made his name public.

Even an article in the New York Times on Friday that reported on Facebook’s censoring of posts by the right-wing website Breitbart did not include Ciaramella’s name. By taking the step of scrubbing posts mentioning allegations that are widely shared and reported, Facebook and YouTube are now joining with these corporate media organizations and blocking the public from having access to important information.

The latest heavy-handed social media censorship—so obviously being carried out in the service of the Democratic Party impeachment inquiry and the CIA—actually helps the Trump administration, the Republican Party and the extreme right-wing political forces defending the White House, allowing them to adopt the false posture of advocating free flow of information, even as Trump continues to demonize the media as the “enemies of the people.”

The mass scrubbing of all social media content by Facebook and YouTube that mentions the name Eric Ciaramella is part of the broader censorship efforts by the technology monopolies, in collaboration with the intelligence state, and sets the stage for even more draconian attacks on freedom of expression.

This must be seen within the context of the drive by a substantial section of the ruling establishment for the social media platforms to “step up to the plate” and, as Hillary Clinton said last week, take down “false, deceptive or deliberately misleading content” or “pay a price.” Leading figures within the Democratic Party, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, have been campaigning for social media censorship that will block what they call “untruthful statements.”

As explained on the World Socialist Web Site, the increasing calls for censorship on social media are part of a protracted campaign by the US intelligence apparatus, under conditions of a growing movement of the working class and young people and increasing interest and support for socialism, to suppress left-wing, antiwar and progressive political viewpoints.

Furthermore, the WSWS has pointed out that what is determined as “fake” or “real” is not to be decided by the government or giant tech monopolies: “All the dishonesty of the campaign for internet censorship is contained in the failure to answer, much less consider, one central question: Who is to determine what is true and what is false?”

The publication of the name of the CIA analyst who submitted his complaint memo to the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in August is not a crime. In fact, his identity is of substantial consequence, given that his complaint became the starting point of an effort to remove a sitting president through impeachment.

 



Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author is a member of the writing team at wsws.org, a socialist publication.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

Read it in your language • Lealo en su idioma • Lisez-le dans votre langue • Lies es in Deiner Sprache • Прочитайте это на вашем языке • 用你的语言阅读

[google-translator]

black-horizontal

Keep truth and free speech alive by supporting this site.
Donate using the button below, or by scanning our QR code.





And before you leave

THE DEEP STATE IS CLOSING IN

The big social media —Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—are trying to silence us.
Sign up with TGP so we can always reach you with our vital information. Don’t let the darkness win.





How to (Safely & Effectively) Delete Twitter Account

Please make sure these dispatches reach as many readers as possible. Share with kin, friends and workmates and ask them to do likewise.


This essay is part of a series on cultural, scientific and esoteric matters.

Jared Clarke
vpnandgo.com


 
 

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jared Clarke is a privacy advocate and tech writer.  As a consultant in matters of privacy, he maintains a site dedicated to exploring these topics, https://vpnandgo.com/.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License