Coronavirus information censored on the internet

This video says about itself:

Japan Coronavirus Update 3/21/2020: Imported Cases, Censorship, Government Ineptitude, Olympics

Today I discuss a new case in my particular area and it’s significance to my assertion that cases are being imported and underreported. The handling of this by the authorities expose government ineptitude even at this point. The censorship is blatant now. The USA swimming team for the Olympics want the games to be cancelled. I found a disinfection site and it doesn’t fit the narrative Japan is pushing.

By Kevin Reed:

Why is the World Socialist Web Site banned from the subreddit r/coronavirus?

3 April 2020

On Thursday, March 19, users attempting to share the latest World Socialist Web Site articles on the subreddit r/coronavirus were notified that the domain had been banned and labeled as an unreliable source by moderators. The message said, “ may not be reliable. Your post has been automatically removed. If possible, please resubmit with a link to a reliable source, such as a reliable news organization or an [sic] recognized institution.”

The label also says, “I am a bot, and this action has been taken automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.” Efforts by the WSWS to contact the r/coronavirus moderators have gone unanswered.

Significantly, the notices banning the WSWS began appearing less than 24-hours after Reddit users shared our article “Mounting anger as workers demand protection from unsafe conditions” which subsequently received thousands of upvotes and hundreds of comments. Although no new WSWS article links can be posted and this article is labeled as “removed by moderators of r/coronavirus” for “off-topic political discussion”, it has been “locked” and remains available to readers. It has more than 21,000 upvotes and 2,500 comments from workers.

Message noting that a popular posting of a WSWS article had been removed by the moderators of r/coronavirus

Given that references to “reliable” and “recognized” sources are well-known euphemisms for the corporate media and our article had already received a widespread response on r/coronavirus, the banning of the WSWS by subreddit moderators is unmistakably an act of political censorship designed to block our analysis of the unfolding crisis from reaching the public.

The following timeline of events leading up to the WSWS domain ban confirms this assessment:

  • On March 11, the White House hosted a video conference call chaired by US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios which included the participation of major technology companies and “other administration officials”. Although the reported details of the tech conference call are limited, it is clear that a major topic of discussion was shutting down so-called “misinformation” and the implementation of a censorship regime aimed controlling online and social media information about the coronavirus.
  • On March 16, a group of eight major tech platforms—most of whom were in attendance at the White House call—published a joint industry statement which says, “We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts. We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
  • Reddit was one of the signers of the joint industry statement and posted it on the Reddit Twitter account at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16 with the following comment, “Together with @Facebook, @Google, @LinkedIn, @Microsoft, @Twitter and @YouTube, we are committed to keeping our communities informed.”

By signing the joint industry statement—although there is so far no evidence that Reddit participated directly in the White House tech conference—the social news aggregation site that identifies itself as “The Front Page of the Internet” is demonstrating its collaboration with online censorship of content about the coronavirus that does not conform to the narrative developed by the US political establishment and faithfully repeated by the corporate media.

Reddit—which was founded by college roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005—is owned today by Condé Nast, a subsidiary of the Advance Publications conglomerate which is owned by the Newhouse family publishing and news empire that dates back to the early twentieth century. Condé Nast acquired Reddit from its founders and others, including Aaron Swartz, in 2006 for an estimated $10 to $20 million.

Beginning in 2014, a series of private and institutional investors injected hundreds of millions of dollars into Reddit and transformed it into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. With just 500 employees and an estimated valuation of $3 billion, Reddit is one of the most valuable assets in Silicon Valley.

The presence of the billionaire Peter Thiel—cofounder of Pay Pal and right-wing technology advisor to the Trump administration—on the list of private investors in Reddit is an indication of the types of figures who are playing a role in the organization and directing its collaboration with the White House censorship initiative.

Due to the way that Reddit is organized—with subreddit moderators given autonomy in making decisions about the activity of users, posts and shared links—there is no way to know for certain what role, if any, is being played by the management or owners of the company in preventing WSWS content from being posted on r/coronavirus.

Frequently, subreddit moderators are Reddit users who sign up and volunteer for the role and are then granted significant authority over the activity of users within the community and the content that is posted there. The Reddit structure allows for different levels of moderators with various degrees of permission. The top level has “Full Permissions” including the ability to remove posts and ban users among many other rights.

Like all Reddit users, subreddit moderators enjoy a degree of anonymity and their identity is often concealed behind obscure usernames. Despite this feature of the platform, it is possible to develop a picture of individual moderators based on the subreddits that they moderate as well as their own posting activity on Reddit.

In the case of the subreddit r/coronavirus, there are 67 moderators. The top ten moderators listed on the subreddit all have the top level “Full Permissions.” As an example, one of the r/coronavirus moderators with Full Permission named “justcool393” is also a moderator of 206 other subreddits. Among these are sexually-explicit subreddits, including one called r/porn_cringe and one specifically political subreddit called r/radicalcentrism.

Significantly, on another subreddit called r/subredditcancer, the moderator “justcool393” was asked why Reddit had abandoned its commitment to freedom of speech, to which the moderator replied, “It’s a multi-faceted answer that requires a lot of history and has a lot to do with the complexities of reddit’s situation. Firstly and foremostly, it’s a company that needs to make a profit. Is not exactly that shocking of a revelation but it’s probably the biggest reason.”

With such people having the authority to make the decision to label the World Socialist Web Site as an “unreliable source,” our characterization of the banning of our domain from the subreddit r/coronavirus as political censorship is entirely justified.

Therefore, the World Socialist Web Site is demanding the r/coronavirus moderators provide an explanation: Why are our reports and analysis of the global pandemic coronavirus being labelled “unreliable”? We further demand that all links from the domain be restored, and users be permitted to share them on the subreddit immediately.

The WSWS has been published daily for twenty years by the International Committee of the Fourth International and is recognized internationally as a major source of authoritative Marxist journalism and analysis. We are quoted in numerous books and dozens of academic papers. Some of the leading historians of American history have been interviewed on and published statements on the WSWS.

Meanwhile, links from the WSWS have been posted on Reddit for years and our content is whitelisted on r/politics.

The WSWS is currently playing a decisive role in telling the public the truth about one of the greatest global disasters to ever confront mankind. Since January we have published nearly 300 articles on the COVID-19 pandemic by writers based in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. Throughout this coverage, we have sought to educate the public about the details and dangers posed by the pandemic.

Earlier than other news sources, the WSWS recognized the significance of the emergence of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China and its global implications:

  • On January 24, we pointed to the growing danger in an article entitled, “Major Chinese city on lockdown as novel coronavirus spreads internationally.”
  • On January 25, we raised the question, “One must ask, how prepared would the United States be should an epidemic similar to that presently developing in China affect it?”
  • On January 28, we wrote, “It must be noted that while the situation in China is dire, the so-called first-world countries are no more prepared to deal with an outbreak on the scale currently occurring in Wuhan.”
  • On January 29, we raised the impact on the world economy and stated, “The underlying fragility of global share markets, which have been boosted to record levels by the injection of trillions of dollars from the world’s central banks over the past decade and more, was underscored by the sharp falls on Monday and Tuesday in response to the coronavirus crisis.”

As these warnings made by the WSWS were being fully vindicated, the political establishment on every continent was seeking to conceal the implications of the unfolding crisis from the public.

Our reports throughout the month of February—including “Coronavirus to have deep impact on global economy” on February 8, “The coronavirus pandemic: A global disaster” on February 11 and “The coronavirus pandemic and the need for global socialized medicine”—focused on the expanding international crisis, its impact on the working class in countries around the world and on the global capitalist economy.

The WSWS analysis proceeded in direct opposition to the incompetent statements and actions of political figures around the world—including US President Donald Trump—about how the crisis was “under control” and public risk was “extremely low.”

On February 28, the WSWS published a statement from the International Committee of the Fourth International “For a globally coordinated emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic” which stated, “The working class must demand that governments make available the resources required to contain the spread of the disease, treat and care for those who are infected, and secure the livelihoods of the hundreds of millions of people who will be affected by the economic fallout.”

Throughout the month of March, our articles and statements continuously urged independent action by the working class in the face of the criminal negligence of the ruling class. These included, “Capitalism’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic” on March 4, “What must be done to fight the coronavirus pandemic” on March 6, “The response of the working class to the coronavirus pandemic” on March 11 and “Capitalism is at war with society” on March 13.

It was during the second week of March—as workers around the world began to take action in defense of their own health and safety—that the state, media and tech corporations came together in an effort to control of the flow of online and social media information about the coronavirus crisis.

Given these facts, it is clear that the banning of WSWS content from r/coronavirus is political censorship which only serves those, like US President Trump, who seek to downplay the disease and disorient the public about the meaning of the unfolding crisis.

We demand immediate action by moderators to restore access to our coronavirus pandemic reports, articles and analyses on the subreddit r/coronavirus and the removal of the label on our content as coming from an “unreliable source”.

United States censorship of Women’s March photos

This 19 January 2020 video from the USA is called National Archives apologize for blurring images critical of Trump.

In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, a photo was blurred, in which Trotsky stood next to Lenin. Because Trotsky was a rival to Stalin.

‘Such a thing could only happen in the dictatorial Soviet Union’, some people may say. ‘Never ever in the USA, the paradise of democracy’.

Have a look …

By Tom Boggioni / Raw Story in the USA, January 19, 2020:

Presidential historian slams National Archives for ‘idiotic’ decision to blur Women’s March photos that were critical of ‘vengeful Trump

Appearing on CNN on Sunday morning, noted presidential historian Douglas Brinkley harshly criticized the decision by the National Archives to blur photos of posters that were critical of Donald Trump, saying it was a betrayal of their mission.

Speaking with host Martin Savidge, the normally staid Brinkley was blunt in his assessment of the decision — despite an apology from a spokesperson for the Archives — calling the very fact that it even happened “idiotic”.

“I could not believe the National Archives did such a thing,” Brinkley began. “It’s such a venerable institution and we all trust it. It’s the depository of our national heirlooms and leavings and here it is doctoring photos to make Donald Trump look good. I mean to the idea you take the women’s march of 2017 which was largely anti-Trump march and start changing signs like one sign said ‘God hates Trump’, they just blurred out the word Trump so the protester sign says ‘God hates’. That was replicated many times, it’s an idiotic idea to have altered that photograph. I am pleased a retraction has come our way.”

“Do you think this was mandated say by someone or do you think this was an agency that sort of self-censored?” the CNN host asked.

“I think it’s the agency or someone within the agency that self-censored,” Brinkley replied. “But we are in the age of Donald Trump, if you work in the government are you fearful of a vengeful Trump, it may be very well they want to please him.”

At all costs, we can’t have a photograph on our display that says something negative about him,” he added sarcastically. “We have to remember this is a president we are dealing with on his inauguration lied about his crowd size and blew up the Interior Department because they weren’t showing a photo that he wanted. This idea of air-brushing anything negative about Donald Trump out of our current government institutions is starting to happen more and more. It’s all the reason why we have to say knock it off, ever louder.”

Governments censor the Internet

This 27 December 2019 video says about itself:

Indian government reacts to protests with restrictions and internet ban | DW News

Authorities in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, are bracing for more foment after Friday prayers — a response to more planned protests over a new citizenship law that excludes Muslim people. Authorities shut down mobile internet and text messaging services in Muslim-majority areas, and thousands of paramilitary and police were deployed. With the death toll having risen to at least 16 people, more have been killed during the protests in the state Uttar Pradesh than any other.

Mass protests continue throughout the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government’s anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as part of nationwide protests: here.

By Andre Damon:

Desperate to stem protests, dozens of governments shut down internet access in 2019

27 December 2019

Amid a global upsurge of political protests and strikes, governments all over the world are shutting down the internet in desperate bids to stem the tide of popular opposition.

According to preliminary data from Access Now, 2019 likely saw more deliberate internet shutdowns than any other previous year. More than a quarter of the world’s countries have shut down the internet over in past four years.

At least 29 countries carried out deliberate internet shutdowns in 2019, including India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Sudan, Indonesia and Iraq.

Since the 2011 uprising in Tunisia, dubbed a “WikiLeaks revolution” after the organization released information on the corruption of the country’s ruling class, governments have increasingly seen the internet as a threat, used by masses of people to organize strikes, protests and demonstrations. In recent months, workers and young people have used social media to organize mass demonstrations in Chile, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti, Egypt and Algeria.

Last week, police authorities in India shut down internet access in sections of New Delhi in response to a wave of popular protests against the Modi government’s Hindu supremacist citizenship law.

The Modi government has responded to the demonstrations, which have mobilized broad sections of the population across ethnic and sectarian lines, with a crackdown that has taken the lives of dozens of people and the imposition of effective martial law in broad sections of the country.

India has shut down the internet more than 104 times this year, up from six times in 2014. The most notorious of these actions is the ongoing internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir, which has now lasted 135 days, the longest ever in any country officially called a “democracy.”

The ongoing internet shutdown in the Kashmir Valley now affects over seven million people, making the most routine aspects of life—from communicating with distant family to applying for a job—next to impossible.

The Kashmir shutdown was aimed at quelling opposition to the illegal abrogation of the semi-autonomous status of India’s lone Muslim-majority state. This constitutional coup has been enforced by the deployment of tens of thousands of additional security forces and the detention without charge of thousands.

In its latest annual report, Access Now pointed out that governments routinely lie about their motives in carrying out internet shutdowns. “[W]hen governments shut down the internet citing ‘public safety’, it is often evident to observers that, in reality, authorities may fear protests and cut off access to the internet to limit people’s ability to organize and express themselves, whether online or off.”

It adds, “When authorities cite ‘fake news’, rumors, or hate speech”, they are in fact most often seeking to curtail protests and control elections. “Using these threats as scapegoats, it appears that governments are leveraging shutdowns to shape the political narrative and control the flow of information.”

While outright internet shutoffs have remained rare in the major capitalist powers, many of the same false arguments—like protecting “public safety” and suppressing “fake news”—have been used to establish an apparatus of mass censorship by major corporations acting on behalf of state intelligence agencies.

In 2017, Google announced a series of changes to its search algorithm, internally dubbed “Project Owl”, that drastically reduced search traffic to left-wing, antiwar and progressive websites, in the guise of fighting “fake news”.

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal this year confirmed the allegations made by the World Socialist Web Site that Google operated internal blacklists of websites that it sought to keep users from accessing in search results. Facebook and Twitter followed Google’s actions, removing left-wing political accounts and pages with millions of followers on the grounds that they were “inauthentic”.

The Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission has moved ahead with the gutting of net neutrality, giving private corporations a legal cover to censor and tamper with political speech at will.

Last year, Germany passed the so-called NetzDG law, which threatens to fine internet companies that fail to remove “illegal content”, turning, as Human Rights Watch wrote, “private companies into overzealous censors.”

The Spanish government is pushing through a law that allows the state to shut down at will digital communications, internet infrastructure and apps without a court order. The law follows a similar measure passed in France last year, spelling out massive fines for disseminating “any allegation or implying of a fact without providing verifiable information.”

The efforts to curtail the distribution of critical political viewpoints go beyond even these draconian censorship measures.

The British government has, at the direction of the Trump administration and with the full support of the Democratic Party, detained and isolated WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, under conditions that UN human rights expert Nils Melzer has called tantamount to torture.

The US has also imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning without charge. Both of these courageous individuals are being persecuted for nothing other than telling the truth about criminal wrongdoing by the US government.

All these measures represent the vindictive actions of vastly unpopular capitalist governments that feel besieged by a global upsurge of political opposition. This year, this latent opposition has erupted in a series of mass demonstrations, which the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) think tank dubbed an “Age of Leaderless Revolution.”

CSIS analyst Samuel Brannen wrote: “This awakening has been amplified by the digital information age with more than half of the planet—4 billion people—now connected to the internet. Facebook alone counts 2.4 billion active users. And among the most popular topics for users is politics…. And the ways in which people can connect locally and globally and draw comparisons and inspiration from events elsewhere is unmatched. The ability for individuals to connect, to inspire and coordinate millions onto the streets is without precedent.”

Capitalist governments all over the world see this communications revolution, which holds immeasurable promise for human society, as an existential threat. One recent survey observed, “There is now a geopolitical operating premise that the ills of the internet are potentially more consequential than its benefits.”

While the cliques of corrupt capitalist oligarchs that dominate society all over the world, from Washington to New Delhi to Madrid, recoil in fear at the growing interconnectedness of society, the freedom of speech, including internet communication, is vital to workers and young people seeking to express their grievances and organize politically.

As workers and young people enter into social struggle all over the world, they must take up the defense of the freedom of expression and the freedom of political prisoners like Assange and Manning as inseparable from the fight to defend their social rights, abolish inequality, and overthrow the capitalist system.

Australian mural criticizing governmental bushfire policies censored

Australian anti-government mural

This EPA photo shows an Australian mural criticizing the right-wing government‘s lack of anti-bushfire policies; as it was until early this morning.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Mural of holiday-reveling Australian Prime Minister painted over

A critical mural about Australian Prime Minister Morrison in a Hawaiian shirt has already disappeared. Artist Scott Marsh made the work three days ago, after much criticism had been made in Australia of Morrison’s decision to go on a Hawaiian vacation while his country suffers from forest fires.

Morrison was depicted on the mural with a cocktail glass, flower wreath and Father Christmas hat, in front of a background of fire. “Merry crisis”, he told spectators.

So the work didn’t last long. Artist Marsh posted this video this morning on Instagram.

Marsh was disappointed to an Australian news agency that his work has disappeared. He speaks of “a shame” and says that many people really appreciated the mural. “But there is always the risk that someone will take offense and paint over it.” …

Especially on social media, the prime minister had received a lot of criticism. At the time of his vacation, the situation in southeastern Australia became more acute; two fire service volunteers were also killed.

Money for the fire brigade

Marsh says that his critical mural has been good for something: shirts and posters of the work have so far raised around 15,000 Australian dollars (9500 euros). That money is intended for the fire brigade in the affected areas.

YouTube censors critical news, promotes Rupert Murdoch

This 14 December 2019 video from the USA is called YouTube ADMITS To Suppressing Independent News, Pushing [corporate] CNN & [Rupert Murdoch‘s] Fox News.

YouTube is owned by the censoring Google corporation.

Twitter censors criticism of British Conservatives

This 28 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Facebook & Google Play the Censor: Are our Civil Liberties Endangered?

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi joins us to examine the dangerous juncture our freedom finds itself in when Facebook, Twitter, and Google work with the government and its intelligence services to control what we see and hear.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Twitter accused of censoring anti-Tory posts

TWITTER has been accused of political censorship for suspending a man’s account after he used it to criticise the Tories over their treatment of his dying brother.

Noel Stevenson made a video appealing directly to then Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) secretary Amber Rudd to stop forcing people with debilitating terminal illnesses to undergo work assessments.

The video was made in support of his brother Ron Stevenson, who was told by the DWP to attend a work assessment despite being paralysed with motor neurone disease.

Noel’s video appeal received widespread publicity and his [Conservative] MP Nicholas Soames wrote to tell him he had met Ms Rudd and that she was going to change the policy.

However, Noel said: “Ron died in August but the policy hasn’t changed.”

After his brother’s death and with the general election approaching, he used Twitter to tell his brother’s story and show a video of his brother’s appeal to Ms Rudd.

Noel said: “Ron hated Boris Johnson and hated the Tories. So with the video I was giving him a voice from the grave.

“It went bananas. It attracted 12,000 likes and was retweeted 7,500 times.

“Only two people out of all the kind and supportive well-wishers — many expressing outrage against this Tory government — were negative and insulting. I challenged them both.

“One of them continued to be insulting and I returned his insults with interest, my language appropriately choice. He was out of order and I told him so.

“Then the man complained to Twitter and they suspended me for a week because of the comment.”

When he protested about the suspension, Twitter told him: “Our support team has determined that a violation (of Twitter rules) did take place and therefore we will not overturn our decision.”

Noel said he believed Twitter was “using unprecedented action to stop anti-Tory protest.

“OK, I was rude to him, but you have to take it in context. Ron was a special man to many, not just to me. This is a deliberate attempt to gag anti-Tory anti-Johnson protest.”

Twitter had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

BLACK BRITS CONSIDERING LEAVING UK IF TORIES WIN ELECTION Boris Johnson’s record on racism has left some Black Brits so afraid for their safety that they are considering leaving the U.K. should the Conservatives claim victory in Thursday’s election. Racist comments written or signed off by the prime minister include an article published in The Spectator while he was editor that claimed Black people have lower IQs. [HuffPost]

Google internet censorship update

This 26 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Google is accused of tracking users’ locations regardless of the privacy settings they have configured on their iPhone and Android phones.

Google’s Project Nightingale: The largest transfer to date of private medical data to the tech giant: here.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Wall Street Journal investigation confirms Google operates censorship blacklist

18 November 2019

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal has confirmed many of the central allegations made by the World Socialist Web Site in 2017 regarding Google’s censorship of the internet.

In an extensive article published Friday, the Journal concludes that, contrary to Google’s repeated assertions, the company maintains blacklists of individual websites and intervenes directly to manipulate individual search results.

On July 27, 2017, the World Socialist Web Site reported that changes to Google’s search algorithm, internally dubbed “Project Owl”, had drastically reduced search traffic to left-wing, antiwar and progressive websites.

The WSWS based its assertions on Google’s public declarations that it was seeking to “surface more authoritative content” and demote “alternative viewpoint[s]”, as well as detailed data from the WSWS’s analytics systems and data provided by other websites and publicly available web and search traffic estimators.

Based on these data points, the WSWS concluded that Google was operating a blacklist of opposition news outlets, the primary impact of which was to restrict access to left-wing and antiwar websites.

The WSWS was a central target of this initiative. As we explained: “Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so.”

On August 25, 2017, David North, the chairperson of the WSWS International Editorial Board, published an open letter to Google asserting:

Censorship on this scale is political blacklisting. The obvious intent of Google’s censorship algorithm is to block news that your company does not want reported and to suppress opinions with which you do not agree. Political blacklisting is not a legitimate exercise of whatever may be Google’s prerogatives as a commercial enterprise. It is a gross abuse of monopolistic power. What you are doing is an attack on freedom of speech.

These assertions have been dramatically confirmed by the Wall Street Journal investigation. Its report concludes:

Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results. These moves are separate from those that block sites as required by US or foreign law, such as those featuring child abuse or with copyright infringement, and from changes designed to demote spam sites, which attempt to game the system to appear higher in results.

The report went on to substantiate its claim that the company’s actions were in contradiction to its public statements:

Google has said in congressional testimony it doesn’t use blacklists. Asked in a 2018 hearing whether Google had ever blacklisted a “company, group, individual or outlet … for political reasons”, Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of public policy, responded: “No, ma’am, we don’t use blacklists/whitelists to influence our search results,” according to the transcript.

But the newspaper’s investigation concluded that Google takes “what the company calls ‘manual actions’ against specific websites,” adding, “The company could also blacklist a website, or remove it altogether.”

The Journal report argues that Ben Gomes, “one of Google’s early search executives”, was an early advocate of direct, manual intervention into search terms. It was Gomes who announced what would later be known as “Project Owl” in an April 25, 2017 blog post under the title, “Our latest quality improvements for Search.”

In that blog post, Google claimed that its efforts to promote “authoritative” news sources were an extension of its attempts to combat efforts to “’game’ our systems in order to appear higher in search results.” But the investigation by the Wall Street Journal reveals this to be a total fraud.

“There’s this idea that the search algorithm is all neutral and goes out and combs the web and comes back and shows what it found, and that’s total BS,” the newspaper cites an unnamed former executive as saying. “Google deals with special cases all the time.”

The report documents how the company maintains its blacklists:

Engineers known as “maintainers” are authorized to make and approve changes to blacklists. It takes at least two people to do this; one person makes the change, while a second approves it, according to the person familiar with the matter.

The Journal reviewed a draft policy document from August 2018 that outlines how Google employees should implement an “anti-misinformation” blacklist aimed at blocking certain publishers from appearing in Google News and other search products.

Its report continues:

Google’s culture of publicly resisting demands to change results has diminished, current and former employees said. A few years ago, the company dismantled a global team focused on free-speech issues that, among other things, publicized the company’s legal battles to fight changes to search results, in part because Google had lost several of those battles in court, according to a person familiar with the change… “Free expression was no longer a winner,” the person said.

The investigation by the Wall Street Journal raises serious questions about the coverage of Google’s censorship in the New York Times. After publishing a report on September 27, 2017 on the front page of its business section concerning the WSWS’s open letter opposing Google’s censorship, including an interview with David North, the Times went on to attempt to discredit accusations that Google was carrying out political censorship.

In a follow-up article, Daisuke Wakabayashi, who conducted the interview with North, sought to whitewash Google’s censorship regime, echoing the company’s self-serving denials without any serious examination of the facts. Wakabayashi wrote: “Google said political ideology was not a factor in any aspect of its search results. Google said that whether a user is conservative or liberal is not part of the information collected by the company, and that it didn’t categorize web pages by political leanings.”

This, too, was a fraud. Google’s decision about which sites were “authoritative” was clearly political in nature.

In 2018, Google set up a “news initiative” to “Clean Up False News”, as the New York Times reported. Among its partners are the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, all of which circulated false statements by the Bush administration regarding so-called “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, among countless other lies.

Google’s statements about promoting “authoritative” news outlets is code for promoting news outlets that support US foreign policy and the lies that underpin it, because, as the Journal writes, “search is a zero-sum game: A change that helps lift one result inevitably pushes down another.”

Aside from the initial report in the New York Times and a report by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, the vast majority of corporate news outlets simply ignored the WSWS’s reporting.

But notably, before he was gagged and arrested, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange penned a letter to an online event organized by the WSWS warning about the dangers of internet censorship. It stated:

While the internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena 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… I commend WSWS for drawing attention to this phenomenon.

In the three years since Google announced its efforts to bury “alternative viewpoint[s],” the censorship drive by major technology corporations has only intensified. In multiple mass deletions, Facebook and Twitter have removed left-wing accounts and pages with millions of followers.

Last month, Twitter announced that it would ban all political advertisements on its platform, while Facebook, despite the declarations by Mark Zuckerberg that it will not carry out political censorship, announced that it would remove any posts that include the name of the alleged CIA “whistleblower” in the Trump impeachment inquiry.

The motivation for the relentless efforts at political censorship promoted by all factions of the political establishment is their fear of the growth of working-class opposition all over the world, which is bound up with the growing audience for socialism.

Netflix helps Saudi autocracy’s censorship

This 9 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Netflix BOWS To Saudi Arabia Pressure

Netflix bows to Saudi Arabia pressure canceling an episode of ‘Patriot Act’. John Iadarola and Ryan Grim break it down on The Damage Report.

Saudi Arabia’s Children Are Learning From Anti-Semitic Textbooks … According to a State Department-funded study, assorted religious schools have adopted Saudi state textbooks in a variety of countries around the world. These texts were even adopted at one point in territory controlled by ISIS. … we found that the kingdom’s 2018-2019 curriculum still encouraged hatred or violence against Jews, Christians, Shi’ite Muslims, women, gay men: here.

Australian media protest against government censorship

Australian newspapers' blackened front pages, in protest against government censorship, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Australian newspapers black out their front pages against censorship

The biggest Australian newspapers today have their front pages painted black, as a joint statement against government censorship and interference. “When government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?” was written under the black lines.

The campaign was prompted by raids earlier this year against a journalist of the media company News Corp. and at the headquarters of the public broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). A search was made for leaked government documents.

The journalist had written a story about Australia’s intention to give secret services more powers. The raid on ABC came after a scoop about misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

A former lawyer who worked for the army has been charged in the latter case. He is said to have leaked the information to ABC. Several journalists may also be prosecuted.

Decrease in press freedom

According to Australian media, the freedom of the press has decreased after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Since then, more than 70 anti-terror laws and measures have been adopted in the country, which politicians abuse according to media.

Eg, the government refuses to share in which care homes abuse is taking place, where the elderly are neglected and how much agricultural land has been sold to foreign corporations.

Prime Minister Morrison said today in response to the campaign that he could give no guarantees that the journalists will go free.

This 20 October 2019 video from Australia says about itself:

Media unites to rally for press freedom: Taking the campaign to front pages and airwaves | ABC News

The nation’s media companies have redacted their front pages to highlight the constraints on media organisations under strict national security legislation.

National mastheads, including The Australian and the Financial Review, ran special covers on Monday morning arguing the media is subject to a regime of intense government secrecy and the threat of criminal charges for journalists doing their job.

The nation’s broadcasters began running campaigns on air during their Sunday prime time line-ups, depicting redacted Freedom of Information requests and arguing the media cannot fulfil its duty in keeping the public informed if its work is being hampered.

The Right To Know coalition, of which the ABC is a member, is behind the campaign, calling for the decriminalisation of public interest journalism, and greater protection for the media and whistleblowers.

It follows the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raiding the Canberra home of News Corp political journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Sydney headquarters earlier this year.

Read more here.

The threat is a clear application by the government of the “Assange precedent.” The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London last April, and the unveiling in May of 17 US Espionage Act charges against him over lawful publishing activities, has opened the floodgates for an assault on journalists and media freedom around the world: here.