Google censorship, against leftists rather than US Republicans

This 4 August 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Google New Search Protocol Buries Left, Anti-War and Progressive Websites reports Google is picking winners and losers. The winners are corporate owned media. The losers: EVERYONE ELSE!

New data compiled by the World Socialist Web Site, with the assistance of other Internet-based news outlets and search technology experts, proves that a massive loss of readership observed by socialist, anti-war and progressive web sites over the past three months has been caused by a cumulative 45 percent decrease in traffic from Google searches.

The drop followed the implementation of changes in Google’s search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content”.

Google Search data don’t lie. SHARE THIS VIDEO.

A sampling of websites targeted by Google:

* fell by 67 percent
* fell by 63 percent
* fell by 62 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 42 percent
* fell by 37 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 30 percent
* fell by 25 percent
* fell by 21 percent
* fell by 19 percent

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Democrats downplay Google censorship at congressional hearing

13 December 2018

Google CEO Sundar Pichai denied allegations that the company was engaged in political censorship Monday at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

Throughout the hearing, Republicans repeatedly claimed that the company was censoring search results to the detriment of right-wing viewpoints, while Democrats either denied the company’s censorship or justified it.

The fundamental reality—completely ignored at the hearing—is that the real targets of censorship by Silicon Valley, working with the US intelligence agencies and with the consent of both political parties, are left-wing, anti-war and socialist political organizations.

In April 2017, Google announced that it would implement changes to its search algorithm to promote “authoritative” news sources to the detriment of what it called “alternative” viewpoints. This action led to a massive decline in search rankings and traffic to left-wing, anti-war and progressive websites.

The campaign to implement this censorship regime was spearheaded by the Democratic Party, which, based on claims of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election, sought to pressure the technology giants to block and suppress left-wing opposition, which it branded as “extremist viewpoints.”

The narrative of both parties is strikingly at odds with reality. Compared to April 2017, the far-right had its search traffic increase by 25 percent. By contrast, search results for the World Socialist Web Site are down by 76 percent over the same period, and other left-wing sites remain down by 50 percent or more.

At the hearing, Pichai made one of Google’s most explicit denials to date that it was carrying out political censorship.

“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way”, Pichai declared. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions”, he said.

He added, “It’s not possible for any employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results.”

In fact, the changes implemented in 2017 by the company were intended to empower “search evaluators” to impact Google search results. These individuals, whose input was added to Google’s more impartial PageRank algorithm, were told to respond negatively to pages displaying “alternative” viewpoints unless users explicitly specified they were looking for such views.

While some political organizations aligned with the Democratic Party were affected by Google’s actions, they either ignored or supported the censorship regime. The far right, meanwhile, made opposition to censorship a rallying cry.

US President Donald Trump, setting the tone for substantial sections of the Republican Party, has prominently accused Google of censoring search results. Republican members of Congress repeatedly held hearings accusing the company of suppressing right-wing and conservative political views.

“Google has long faced criticism for manipulating search results to censor conservatives”, Representative Lamar Smith declared at Monday’s hearing.

The Democrats, for their part, used Pichai’s testimony to alternately deny and justify the company’s censorship. In his remarks, ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who will become chairman in January, declared that “no credible evidence supports this right-wing conspiracy theory.” In effect, Nadler and the other Democrats used the Republicans’ accusations about Google’s ‘liberal’ bias as a straw man, arguing, by extension, that all claims that Google is manipulating search results are a “conspiracy theory.”

Nadler then proceeded to justify Google’s censorship, which he had just denied. “Even if Google were deliberately discriminating against conservative viewpoints, just as Fox News and Sinclair broadcasting and conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh discriminate against liberal points of view, that would be its right as a private company to do so, and not to be questioned by government.”

This, too, is a straw man. In carrying out their censorship of left-wing views, Google and the other technology giants are acting at the instigation of the US intelligence agencies and leading political figures, serving as the state’s accomplice in violating the Constitution.

Responding to the Republicans’ claims, the Washington Post wrote in an editorial, “Members of the conservative majority on the House Judiciary Committee spent much of their time hammering Mr. Pichai with baseless accusations that Google rigs its search results to censor conservative content. Black-box algorithms will inevitably prioritize some content over other content, and to the extent companies can be transparent about how their systems work, they should be. But a single-minded and mindless focus on a nonexistent left-wing conspiracy within Google has had the paradoxical effect of discouraging companies from properly policing their platforms, as they hesitate to remove content that should be removed for fear of unfounded criticism.”

In other words, the Post is concerned that the Republican’s grandstanding about what they allege to be a bias against right-wing viewpoints might undermine the plans by the US intelligence agencies to intensify their censorship of left-wing opposition.

As working class-opposition throughout Europe and around the world continues to mount, the American political establishment is ramping up demands for censorship. Responding to the Yellow Vest demonstrations against social inequality in France, the New York Times wrote an editorial warning that “the power of social media to quickly mobilize mass anger, without any mechanism for dialogue or restraint, is a danger to which a liberal democracy cannot succumb.”

The clear implication is that a growing international upsurge of the working class will be met with even further repression and censorship.


Yellow Vest protests, pretext for Internet censorship

This satiric 27 August 2018 video says about itself:

The European Union has made an ad about its Internet Censorship Bill (aka Article 13) and it’s surprisingly honest and informative.

👉Tell your MEPs to vote NO to Article 13 in September: here.

By Andre Damon:

French protests spark media demands for Facebook censorship

5 December 2018

Over the past three weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have participated in “yellow vest” demonstrations in France against social inequality and austerity, demanding the fall of the hated government of the banker-president Emmanuel Macron.

All over the world, the editorial pages of major newspapers have responded to the protests with hostility. As with every popular uprising, the elites and their hangers-on slander the outpouring of popular opposition as “riots”, “mob rule” and “disorder.”

To this reactionary class snobbery has been added a new argument: that the internet, and in particular social media, should be shut down, censored or “regulated” to prevent working people from organizing protests against their social conditions.

Of course, this argument predates the “yellow vest” protests. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 US election, sections of the US media aligned with the Democratic Party, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, began to demand that Google, Facebook and Twitter censor oppositional viewpoints in the name of fighting “fake news” and “Russian propaganda”.

These efforts led the technology giants to implement a draconian regime of internet censorship, with Facebook deleting left-wing and anti-war pages and Google slashing traffic to oppositional sites.

The measures demanded by the major newspapers, the Democrats and the intelligence agencies had nothing to do with stopping “fake” news or “foreign propaganda”, but were intended to silence mass opposition to capitalism. The real target of internet censorship is the billions of workers all over the world who use the internet to voice their grievances and to organize opposition.

Up to this point, the arguments for censorship stopped short of direct demands that popular protests be silenced. But with the upsurge of popular opposition gripping France, the proponents of censorship have felt empowered to vent their spleen at what they believe to be the unwashed masses who dare to use Facebook to express their views.

On December 3, Frederic Filloux, the former editor of Libération, one of the most popular newspapers in Paris, penned a screed on Medium denouncing Facebook for allowing demonstrators to express themselves.

Facebook is “playing a critical role in one of the worst cases of civil unrest ever seen in France”, Filloux wrote. France’s “inexpensive and reliable” cellular infrastructure has led to “countless selfies, videos, and live blogging, which fueled anger and fantasy.” He added, “Facebook provided an incredibly efficient logistical support for hundreds of demonstrations large and small across the country.”

The free and open self-expression provided by Facebook and other social media platforms is “toxic”, he declared. “As the absolute amplifier and radicalizer of the popular anger, Facebook has demonstrated its toxicity to the democratic process.”

Filloux called for ways to “contain Facebook’s ability to spread the dangerous cocktail of hatred, fake news, and logistical help tools that fuel the fire.”

The obvious implication of Filloux’s statements is that Facebook should either be banned or even more aggressively censored. To this end, he asks, “Should Facebook be banned altogether?”

If Filloux does not directly call for such a course of action, it is entirely on tactical grounds: because Facebook would be replaced by “services completely beyond the control of the Western government[s].”

Filloux’s argument has been picked up approvingly in the American press. “There’s nothing democratic about the emergence of Facebook group administrators as spokespeople for what passes for a popular movement”, writes Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg.

He adds, “It’s time to cast away any remaining illusions that social networks can play a positive role in promoting democracy and freedom.”

Bershidsky concludes, “A free society can’t ban Facebook, or even completely regulate away its hate-enhancing function; but it should be aware of the risk Facebook and similar platforms pose to democratic institutions.”

He writes with barely-disguised envy about open dictatorships: “The threat to authoritarian regimes is less: they have learned to manipulate opinion on the platforms with propaganda.”

Anyone reading his column would walk away with the impression that the author prefers the authoritarian course to the “mob rule” on the streets of Paris.

But perhaps the most naked expression of this reactionary argument was presented by Casey Newton, the Silicon Valley editor at the Verge, who argued that French workers’ anger about social inequality is not due to the exponential growth of wealth disparities, but the fact that people post about it on Facebook.

He writes, “Think about how the Yellow Vests came about. A political decision was made, and discussed on Facebook. A small group began discussing it in groups. Algorithms and viral sharing mechanics promoted the group posts most likely to get engagement into the News Feed. Over the next few months, the majority of France that uses Facebook saw a darker, angrier reflection of their country in the News Feed than perhaps actually existed. In time, perception became reality. And now Arc de Triomphe is under attack.”

This is the argument made by every dictatorship. The present social order is “the best of all possible worlds”, and if the people don’t agree, it’s because they’re being led astray by demagogues who must be silenced by censoring the press. In the 21st century, these dictatorial arguments take the form of the demands not of shutting down newspapers, but of censoring and blocking social media and oppositional news sites.

As workers all over the world enter into struggle, they must take up the fight to defend the free, open and uncensored internet. The World Socialist Web Site is leading this struggle and calls on all workers and young people seeking to oppose internet censorship to join this fight.

Facebook censors Sri Lankan left

This 13 September 2018 video from the USA is called Facebook Is Now Censoring Progressives, It’s Official.

By Andre Damon:

Washington’s censorship regime goes global

Facebook deletes WSWS post on Sri Lanka

14 November 2018

On Monday, Facebook removed a post on Sri Lanka by the World Socialist Web Site’s official Tamil-language Facebook page. The alleged reason was violation of unspecified restrictions in Facebook’s “community standards,” which is no explanation at all.

The Tamil language, spoken by 74 million people, is the language of the ethnic Tamil minority in Sri Lanka and South India, as well as a large global diaspora.

The move is the latest in the crackdown on left-wing, anti-war and socialist organizations by US-based technology monopolies including Google, Facebook and Twitter. As these companies integrate themselves ever more closely into the American state apparatus, they are increasingly weaponized to promote US imperialist aims all over the world. At the center of this drive is the suppression of socialist political viewpoints.

This is not the first time that the World Socialist Web Site’s Tamil-language Facebook page has been targeted by Facebook. On two separate occasions, Facebook removed the “share” option from public meetings promoted by the page.

The World Socialist Web Site has been a central target of internet censorship more broadly, with its search traffic falling by more than 75 percent after Google announced a change to its search algorithm aimed at limiting “alternative viewpoints”.

Amid a deepening political crisis in Sri Lanka, the United States is seeking to exclude Chinese influence in the island country, located off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. The country of 21 million sits astride the world’s most heavily trafficked west-bound trade route and boasts a busier port than any in the United States.

On October 26, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena removed Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister and replaced him with former president Mahinda Rajapakse. Washington has made clear that the appointment of Rajapakse is unacceptable, due to his “excessively close ties to China”, as the New York Times put it.

The modern history of Sri Lanka has been dominated by the use of communal politics by all factions of the ruling class to stoke divisions between the country’s Sinhalese majority and its Tamil minority. Anti-Tamil discrimination by successive Colombo governments fueled tensions that broke out in a bloody civil war that raged between 1983 and 2009, costing more than 100,000 lives.

While every capitalist political party in Sri Lanka has sought to base itself on one or another ethnic faction, the Sri Lankan Trotskyist movement has carried out a decades-long political fight to unite Sinhalese and Tamil workers on the basis of a common socialist program.

This struggle has won the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka widespread support, and the World Socialist Web Site has a higher per-capita readership in Sri Lanka than anywhere else in the world.

The WSWS has warned that since the brutal suppression of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009, the Tamil nationalist parties have lined up ever more directly with the interests of US imperialism in the country. The article censored by Facebook explains that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has opposed the appointment of Rajapakse to curry favor with its American allies. It states:

“The TNA’s decision to support Wickremesinghe has nothing to do with defending democracy. Rather, the organisation is pursuing the same pro-imperialist course that saw it support the US-sponsored regime-change operation that brought Sirisena and Wickremesinghe to power in 2015. That operation was aimed at installing a pro-US government in Colombo in line with Washington’s war preparations against China.”

The article pointed to the growing strike movement “among workers of all ethnicities in Sri Lanka”, including protests by thousands of Tamil-speaking plantation workers in the days preceding the sacking of Wickremesinghe. It argued that “the only way forward is on the basis of the struggle being waged by the [Socialist Equality Party] to unify the working class of all nationalities on a socialist and revolutionary perspective.”

While Facebook has given no explanation for the removal of the article, its motivations are self-evident. The company is not only increasingly integrated into, but more and more staffed by, current and former officials of the US intelligence agencies. These state agencies see the growing audience for international socialism as an obstacle to their efforts to exploit ethnic divisions in developing countries to further the geopolitical aims of US imperialism.

There can be no doubt that last month’s speaking tour in Sri Lanka by WSWS Editorial Board Chairman David North, which was given prime time coverage by leading media outlets in the country and was closely followed by workers, has provoked consternation in Washington.

Facebook’s action comes amid a growing demand in the Western press that the social media giant step up political censorship in developing countries, with Sri Lanka singled out in particular.

A leading role in this campaign has been played by the New York Times, which has published a series of articles claiming, absurdly, that freedom of expression on the internet is responsible for communal violence in developing countries, including Sri Lanka.

The Times complained in an April 21 front-page article that amid “Facebook’s rapid expansion in the developing world,” the company “pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest—a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions.”

In an article focused almost exclusively on Sri Lanka, the reference to “countries with weak institutions” is a euphemism for former colonies. The Times is implying that unless Facebook censors speech in such countries, their populations, apparently unable to control themselves, will massacre each other out of communal hatred.

The Times, speaking for the “Quiet Americans” of the US intelligence agencies, claims that the people of developing countries must be gagged and told what to think by American corporations to keep them from committing criminal acts. Such arguments border on open racism: a 21st century invocation of the “white man’s burden.” The only justifiable response to this neo-colonialist garbage is contempt for the hacks who churn it out.

When Sri Lanka’s Sirisena government last March temporarily shut down Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, the Times lauded the move as necessary to “stem mob violence directed at its Muslim minority.” This is yet another lie, echoing the Sri Lankan government’s self-serving justifications for censorship.

The aim of Sirisena’s shutdown of Facebook was not to prevent ethnic violence, but to cover it up. The Sri Lankan regime wanted to shut down social media in areas affected by violence largely to hush up reports of complicity in the incidents by the police and armed forces of the US-backed regime.

The well-known collusion of the army and police with fascistic rioters was a central point made in the Socialist Equality Party’s March 10 statement, “Oppose Sinhala racist violence against Muslim community in Sri Lanka.” That statement observed:

“Senior government minister Sarath Amunugama was forced to admit on Wednesday that mobs were transported from other areas and that there was evidence of the involvement of retired and active security personnel. Social media posts showed videos and photos of police special task force (STF) officers watching mobs carrying out attacks on shops and houses.”

The only perspective capable of opposing communalism and uniting workers of every nationality is that of socialist internationalism. But this is precisely the perspective that Facebook, Google and the other technology giants are intent on suppressing, because it cuts across the efforts of US imperialism to exploit communal divisions to further entrench Washington’s global dominance.

These efforts at state censorship must be opposed! The World Socialist Web Site calls on its readers to take up the struggle against internet censorship in the United States, in Sri Lanka and all over the world!

Media, censorship and wars

Dr. David Hughes speaking in Lincoln, England on fake news, censorship and war

From the World Socialist Web Site in Britain:

10 November 2018

An important conference, held in Lincoln November 4 as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science, heard detailed reports on the relationship between media censorship and war.

Organised by Dr. David Hughes, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Lincoln, it was titled “Scrutinising the Media: Fake News, Censorship, and War.” An audience comprising students and concerned members of the public listened attentively and posed questions.

Hughes delivered three half-hour sessions, each followed by a 15-minute Q&A. “War and the media” provided examples of the ways in which the media has historically been used to condition public opinion in favour of war. Beginning with the Committee on Public Information in the United States (1917-1919, also known as the Creel Commission) and World War I, it worked forward to today and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) coverage, or non-coverage, of the Saudi-led intervention into Yemen.

Media suppression of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and US carpet bombing of Cambodia was cited, as was the use of a PR firm to train the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US to fake an emotional testimony about Iraqi soldiers removing babies from their incubators to legitimise the 1991 Gulf War.

The New York Times “Butcher of the Balkans” rhetoric in 1992—directed against Slobodan Milosevic—was juxtaposed to the 2016 decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to exonerate the former president of Serbia of war crimes.

Questions about the BBC were raised, such as why did it overwhelmingly reflect the government line on Iraq when the pretext for war was later shown to be based on lies? Why did it crop out Iranian President Ahmadinejad and depict a 2009 photo of Iranians taking to the streets as followers of Mir Hossein Mousavi (the opponent of Ahmadinejad)? Why did BBC Breakfast News in 2011 claim to show live “scenes of jubilation and celebration” from Tripoli [in Libya] when the broadcast featured archive footage from India?

The second session covered “Syria, the Media, and Propaganda”. Footage of alleged victims of a chemical weapons attack was shown from the 2013 BBC Panorama documentary, “Saving Syria’s Children”. It is widely alleged to have been faked, whereas real examples of chemical warfare by the US abound. The mainstream media’s willingness to cite unreliable sources was highlighted, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (supposedly a clothes shop owner in Coventry), Bellingcat (set up by a lone blogger in Leicester), Bana al-Abed (an 8-year-old girl with a suspect Twitter account and barely able to speak English on an infamous CNN interview), and the White Helmets (with demonstrable links to Islamist terrorist organisations).

The academic Working Group on Syria, Media, and Propaganda was discussed, including its conclusions that the UK government’s Novichok claims could not be substantiated and that Prime Minister Theresa May had “misled the House of Commons” over the alleged chlorine attack in Douma in August 2018, with a “managed massacre” being the more likely explanation. Media smear campaigns against dissenters were documented, including those by the Guardian against investigative journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, as well as those by the Times, Huffington Post … against the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda.

The implications of “fake terror” was also considered. Footage clearly demonstrating a false flag terrorist attack in Mosul in 2016 was shown, posing the question that if that particular attack can be shown to have been demonstrably staged what other attacks could this apply to?

Socialist Equality Party assistant national secretary Julie Hyland was invited to present the third session on “Censorship of the World Socialist Web Site and the Julian Assange Case.”

Hyland began by explaining that the conference could not have come at a more appropriate and urgent time. Only one week before, the fascist ex-army captain Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election and has begun assembling the most right-wing government since the end of the 20-year military dictatorship that came to power in a US-backed coup in 1964. In virtually every country, especially in Europe, there is the deliberate encouragement of right-wing reaction and the turn to authoritarianism.

This is behind the efforts to censor socialist, left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites in a joint offensive by governments and the giant social media monopolies, Hyland said. Under conditions of massive social inequality and popular hostility to war, they are trying to silence opposition on the spurious basis of “fake news” and “inauthentic behavior.”

Hyland detailed that the WSWS was a main target for this offensive and reviewed how it had uncovered and exposed the censorship measures deployed by Google that have now been taken up by Facebook, Twitter and others. The WSWS was taking the lead in opposing this assault on free speech and basic democratic rights with its call for an international coalition to fight Internet censorship, she said.

Central to this campaign was the defence of Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder has been held captive in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than six years because he exposed the war crimes and machinations of the US and its allies.

Hyland explained how, in Australia, the Socialist Equality Party was demanding the Australian government instruct the British authorities to release Assange and guarantee him safe passage, which won support from principled journalists such as John Pilger and broad sections of workers and youth. It is vital that the defence of Assange is stepped up, under conditions in which his health and safety were now in grave danger—with Hyland citing the latest moves by Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno towards his eviction.

In the final session, “Fake News, Censorship, and War”, Hughes began by citing Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, which enshrines the right to free speech. This was contrasted to the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act”, passed in the US in December 2016, which laid the pretext for curbing freedom of speech in the name of combating “foreign state and non-state propaganda.”

The artificially manufactured anti-Russia hysteria in the US and the UK was noted, as was the way in which this has been used to legitimise censorship of anti-war viewpoints. The “social media purge of 2018” was detailed, with extensive evidence presented of online censorship by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia.

Those who spoke from the floor or asked questions indicated their opposition to the clampdown on free speech and censorship. Several noted how the mainstream media had become even more untrustworthy, responding to the open exchange possibilities of social media by doubling down on its own fake news and support for censorship. One audience member cited the laborious efforts he had gone to in order to lodge an official complaint about BBC bias, only to receive a pro-forma acknowledgement but no reply to the concerns raised.

Others noted that academia had generally failed to respond seriously to the attack on free speech. Those who were educated to apparently “know better” were going along with pro-war propaganda.

Joe, a student, commenting afterwards described the presentations as “eye opening. To anyone who doesn’t know much I think it was shocking. It’s a take on everyday life that affects everyone… It’s wrong in all levels that what you say or think can be controlled in such a way. I guess online can be controlled more.”

Describing Assange as a “brave man,” he said the WikiLeaks founder “should be seen more as an inspiration than a demonised traitor which the establishment, media and public have pegged him as. I think it’s disgraceful and criminal that he’s been cornered in the Ecuadorian embassy all these years, and that he was forced to run there in the first place. He is living proof that at least some element of our so called liberal democratic society of rights and freedoms is in some way broken or flawed, and that the intelligence agencies/government/establishment/media/‘the system’ do not care about rights and freedoms.”

A new argument has been introduced into the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post: that the American media, by reporting true information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, was promoting “Russian propaganda.” Over the past two years, major US technology companies, under the pretext of fighting “Russian meddling” in American politics, have created a regime of internet censorship, in which left-wing, anti-war, and socialist viewpoints are routinely deleted or secretly restricted. Now, the leading architects of this censorship regime are demanding its expansion to the mainstream newspapers not targeted by Silicon Valley’s crackdown: here.

More Internet censorship yet in the USA

This 2016 video from Britain says about itself:

Governments can censor access to the web, but how do they restrict access? Sheharbano Khattak, Research Assistant at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory takes us through the methods.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

Facebook and Twitter intensify censorship in 2018 elections

8 November 2018

Stepping up its online censorship less than a day before polls opened for the 2018 mid-term elections, Facebook announced on Monday the shutdown of 115 social media accounts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms. Nathanial Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook wrote in a newsroom blog post that US law enforcement had “contacted us about online activity that they recently discovered and which they believe may be linked to foreign entities.”

The 30 Facebook and 85 Instagram accounts were blocked, according to Gleicher, because they “may be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior” and some of the accounts “appear to be in the French or Russian languages.” Acknowledging the threadbare character of the assertions, Gleicher also wrote that Facebook had not even completed an investigation before shutting down the accounts. He added, “Once we know more—including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities—we will update this post.” …

As was the case in August, the latest Facebook censorship moves are specifically directed against left-wing and oppositional content on Facebook that is critical of government policies in the US and UK. Under the cover of unprovable claims of inauthentic behavior—an Orwellian phrase that purports to identify people and organizations who misrepresent themselves on social media—Facebook has dropped any reference to “fake news” and is engaging in outright censorship of free speech.

In a Facebook Newsroom post, Gleicher wrote that the shuttered accounts, groups and pages “posted about politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the President, and immigration.” Exposing the preposterous and unsubstantiated claims of Iranian influence, Gleicher added, “It’s still early days and while we have found no ties to the Iranian government, we can’t say for sure who is responsible.”

Gleicher shared examples of several posts taken down by Facebook. Among them was a meme of Donald Trump that stated a well-known fact: “The Worst and Most Hated President in American History!” Another contained a widely reported quote by British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn from December 2015 regarding Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban: “The idea that somehow or other you can deal with all the problems in the world by banning a particular religious group from entering the USA is offensive and absurd.”

As further justification for shutting down the 30 pages, 33 accounts and three groups on Facebook as well as 16 accounts on Instagram, Gleicher incredibly pointed to $100 in social media advertising and seven events which 110 people expressed interest in attending. He added, “We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred.”

The pre-election censorship moves are the result of a collaboration between members of Facebook’s election “war room”, US and UK government officials and law enforcement, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab and other unnamed technology companies. Facebook now has more than 20,000 people on its staff working on “safety and security” issues and has also engaged a frantic implementation of artificial intelligence technologies aimed at scanning and moderating the social media activity of its nearly two billion users.

Internet censorship, a threat

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

Facebook Purge of Alternative Media Is ‘Just the Beginning,’ Boasts DC Neocon Operative (1/2)

As Facebook and Twitter are purging alternative media outlets, a neoconservative operative at a US government-funded think tank says more censorship is on its way. Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague discuss how scaremongering over Russia and China is being exploited to silence dissent on social media.

This 26 October 2018 sequel video from the USA says about itself:

US Government-Funded Groups Push to Censor Social Media, Using Russia and China as Bogeymen (2/2).