Facebook anti-leftist political censorship


This 11 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Facebook Taps Militarist Think Tank Atlantic Council to Police its Content (Pt 1/2)

From Alex Jones to alleged Russian trolls, major internet companies are increasingly policing content on their platforms. Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone Project says the partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council highlights “the merger of the national security state and Silicon Valley.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

Russiagate Frenzy Targets Leftist Sites (Pt 2/2)

11 August 2018

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties. After falsely accusing an anti-white supremacist rally event page of being a fake, Facebook shut down the page of VenezuelaAnalysis.com for several hours without explanation. We speak to VA founder and TRNN host Greg Wilpert, as well as the Grayzone Project’s Max Blumenthal.

Venezuelanalysis: Official Statement on Facebook’s Removal of Our Page. VA’s Facebook page was arbitrarily removed by the social media tech-giant on Thursday morning: here.

This 7 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Veteran Candidate’s Facebook Ad BLOCKED

TYT’s Cenk Uygur spoke with Justice Democrat Dorothy Gasque, running for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

A comment on this video says:

Wow, an antiwar candidate. So then our foreign policy would chance from threatening the world with our large military to co-operation, hum! HOW REFRESHING.

Stop Internet censorship


This video from Washington D.C. in the USA says about itself:

Metro will not offer separate trains for the Unite the Right rally

6 August 2018

On Monday, Metro confirmed in a statement that they will not offer separate trains for the so-called “White Civil Rights” rally — called “Unite the Right” — planned for the coming weekend in D.C.

The Metro management decided that after strong protest by Metro workers against privileged transport for these white supremacists … only accessible for those showing their swastikas, Ku Klux Klan hoods, or Confederate flags?

Protesters against United States Aryan Nations nazis, photo by Maggie Winters

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Fight back against internet censorship!

9 August 2018

In July 2017, the World Socialist Web Site published an exposure of the fact that changes to Google’s search algorithms had massively slashed traffic to left-wing, anti-war and socialist publications. Over the course of dozens of articles, we established that Google, together with the other technology monopolies, was engaged in a campaign of censorship of oppositional viewpoints, in close collaboration with the US intelligence apparatus.

In the ensuing year, every claim made by the WSWS, initially denied by the technology giants, has been established as fact. Google, Facebook and Twitter have all acknowledged that they have promoted “trusted” news outlets, while restricting the distribution of “alternative” sources of information. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that it is promoting publications like the New York Times and the [Rupert Murdoch-owned] Wall Street Journal, while demoting and blocking “sites that have intense followings” but are supposedly “not widely trusted beyond their core audiences.”

Under conditions of growing social and political opposition, censorship is taking ever more overt forms. Just last week, Facebook announced that it had shut down the official event page for a left-wing counter protest to “Unite the Right 2”, a neo-fascist demonstration scheduled in Washington on August 12, the anniversary of last year’s Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

The Washington police plan to escort the fascists to the scene of this weekend’s rally and “protect” them from anti-fascist demonstrators. And the Washington, D.C. transportation authorities had been pushing a plan to provide separate Metro cars for fascist demonstrators, which it abandoned only in the face of mass opposition by transit workers.

United States anti-fascist demonstrators, photo by Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC-BY)

Even as the extreme right receives state support and promotion, the major technology companies have begun censoring far-right organizations as a cover for their aim of shutting down left-wing opposition to capitalism, war and inequality.

This week, Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify all removed or blocked the content of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, censoring his podcasts, videos and livestreams. The companies justified their actions by claiming Jones had violated their policies against “hate speech” and “harassment.”

Long experience has shown that political censorship by the state and corporations does not harm the fascistic right but strengthens it by burnishing its absurd claims to oppose the state and political establishment. Jones’ censorship by the technology giants has received widespread coverage in all major newspapers and TV networks, which have largely ignored the censorship of left-wing news outlets. The extreme right, moreover, enjoys support at the highest levels of the military, the police and the state.

The censorship of the far right creates a political precedent for censoring left-wing political movements—the main target. It justifies the false moral equivalency between fascism and left-wing opposition to capitalism, claiming that both represent forms of political “extremism.” Such reactionary amalgams are being used throughout Europe and in Australia to implement far-reaching attacks on democratic rights.

The World Socialist Web Site, which has been a central target of the censorship campaign, has led the fight against the attack on free speech. In a letter to Google published nearly one year ago, the WSWS demanded that Google “stop blacklisting the WSWS and renounce the censorship of all the left-wing, socialist, anti-war and progressive websites.” It added, “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.”

In January, we issued an open letter calling for “socialist, anti-war, left-wing and progressive websites, organizations and activists” to join “an international coalition to fight Internet censorship.”

This appeal received the support of numerous principled journalists, including WikiLeaksJulian Assange, John Pilger and Chris Hedges, along with thousands of workers and young people. The campaign to censor the Internet is intersecting with the attempt to drive Assange from his forced refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In June, the Socialist Equality Party in Australia organized a powerful demonstration in defense of Assange, demanding that the Australian government secure his safe return to Australia.

As the technology giants intensify their efforts to censor the Internet, the World Socialist Web Site is expanding and intensifying its campaign against internet censorship on the basis of the demands outlined in the open letter:

* Safeguarding the Internet as a platform for political organization and the free exchange of information, culture and diverse viewpoints, guided by the principle that access to the Internet is a right and must be free and equally available for all.

* Uncompromising insistence on the complete independence of the Internet from control by governments and private corporations.

* Unconditional defense of net neutrality and free, unfettered and equal access to the Internet.

* The banning and illegalization of government and corporate manipulation of search algorithms and procedures, including the use of human evaluators, that restrict and block public visibility of websites.

* Irreconcilable opposition to the use of the Internet and artificial intelligence technologies to carry out surveillance of web users.

* Demanding the end to the persecution of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden and the complete restoration of their personal freedom.

* Advocating the transformation of the corporate Internet monopolies into public utilities, under internationally coordinated democratic control, to provide the highest quality service, not private profit.

* The fight against Internet censorship and the defense of democratic rights cannot be conducted through appeals to capitalist governments and the parties and politicians who serve their interests, but only in uncompromising struggle against them. Moreover, this struggle is international in scope and totally opposed to every form and manifestation of national chauvinism, racism and imperialist militarism. Therefore, those who are truly committed to the defense of democratic rights must direct their efforts to the mobilization of the working class of all countries.

In the United States, which is at the center of campaign by the ruling classes of the world to censor the Internet, the Democrats have led the way in channeling the demands of the intelligence agencies for a crackdown on domestic opposition. The Democrats have focused their criticism of the Trump administration not on its fascistic attacks on immigrants, its warmongering, its abolition of net neutrality, or its tax cuts for the wealthy, but on the right-wing, neo-McCarthyite claim that Russia is “sowing divisions”. This campaign is being intensified in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Meanwhile, the array of pseudo-left organizations that operate in the orbit of the Democratic Party, and which represent privileged sections of the middle class, have ignored the censorship drive and covered up its far-reaching implications.

This demonstrates that the fight against Internet censorship must be rooted in the working class, the vast majority of the population. The defense of free speech online is essential for the working class as it enters into struggle to defend is social rights and oppose inequality, war and the capitalist system.

We call on all of our readers to take up the fight against internet censorship by contacting us today.

This November 2011 video from the USA is called State Department Veteran Peter Van Buren Defies US Censors to Recount Failed Iraq Reconstruction.

From The Contrary Perspective blog in the USA, 8 August 2018:

I Have Been Permanently Banned from Twitter

With a President who vociferously defends his use of Twitter to circumvent political norms, evade his ostensible “handlers”, and to stoke racial and xenophobic tensions, Twitter has become an important free-speech frontier. But Twitter is a private company and has chosen to silence accounts it deems abusive or dangerous.

Not Donald Trump’s support for armed white supremacists or encouragement of violence against adversaries, not Alex Jones for peddling politically-charged and dangerous conspiracies, but one of our contributors, Peter Van Buren for reasons they obscure. The US Government tried to silence Peter when he worked in the State Department, but he did not expect the same treatment from a social media “free” enterprise. – Ed.

Peter Van Buren

Some of you are aware I have been permanently banned from Twitter as @wemeantwell.

This followed exchanges with several mainstream journalists over their support for America’s wars and unwillingness to challenge the lies of government. After two days of silence, Twitter sent me an auto-response saying what I wrote “harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence someone else’s voice.”

I don’t think I did any of that, and I wish you didn’t have to accept my word on it. I wish instead you could read what I wrote and decide for yourself. But Twitter won’t allow that. Twitter says you cannot read and make up your own mind. They have in fact eliminated all the things I have ever written there over seven years, disappeared me down the Memory Hole. That’s what censorship does; it takes the power to decide what is right and wrong away from you and gives it to someone else.

Hate what I write, hate me, block me, don’t buy my books, but please don’t celebrate handing over those choices to some company.

I lost my career at the State Department because I spoke out as a whistleblower against the Iraq War. I’ve now been silenced, again, for speaking out, this time by a corporation. I am living in the America I always feared.

This post originally appeared on Peter’s We Meant Well blog.

From Jewish daily The Forward in the USA, 9 August 2018:

Nearly a year after the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the Anti-Defamation League launched an interactive map that details extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., the organization announced Thursday.

Hovering above the ADL H.E.A.T. (Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism) Map, which is black and features color-code dots over a white-outlined map of the U.S., is a statistic: There were 3,023 incidents of extremism or anti-Semitism in the country in 2017 and 2018. The dots represent extremist activities, such as extremist-related murders, terrorist plots and attacks, anti-Semitic incidents and white supremacist propaganda on and off campus.

‘Hitler Was Right’ Republican Wins Missouri Primary: here.

Facebook, other Internet censorship


This video from the USA says about itself:

US Activists Say Facebook Shut Down Their Pages

1 August 2018

Facebook on Tuesday announced its banning of eight pages, 17 profiles, and seven Instagram accounts.

It said it banned those with “inauthentic” political activity who “abused” the platform.

At least one of the pages deleted was run by a group of real Americans.

They said Facebook falsely accused them of “unwittingly” helping to plan a protest in Washington, DC.

“We are not bots. We are not influenced by any Russians. We are local organizers.” Andrew Batcher, a Shut It Down DC organizer.

The activists were planning a counter-protest to coincide with a planned neo-Nazi rally in Washington, DC.

“This was a shortsighted gambit to appease legislators, avoid regulatory action, and protect the wealth of Facebook shareholders.

Read more here.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Facebook censorship targets the left

3 August 2018

One year ago, workers and young people throughout the world were horrified by a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Nazis held torch-lit marches, chanting “Jews will not replace us”, gave the Nazi salute, flew flags with swastikas, and marched in Ku Klux Klan uniforms. One of the fascists rammed a car into a counter-demonstration, murdering one woman and injuring 35 others.

Earlier this year, the organizers of the August 12, 2017 Charlottesville rally, known as “Unite the Right”, announced a plan to hold another demonstration on its anniversary, this time in Washington D.C. In response, over a dozen left-wing organizations and dozens of prominent individuals, including whistleblower Chelsea Manning, called a counter-protest on the same day.

As part of a campaign to block what it called “divisive”, “violent,” and “extremist” activity, Facebook, working in conjunction with US intelligence agencies, announced Tuesday that it had blocked not the Nazi rally, but an event page for the demonstration protesting it.

Facebook justified its action by declaring that the counter-protest was set up by a group that showed signs of “inauthentic activity”, a claim that it backed up with neither details nor evidence.

The statements accompanying Facebook’s action make clear that the blocking of the counter-demonstration is a deliberate effort to repress and criminalize left-wing political views, setting a far-reaching and dangerous precedent.

Facebook’s blog post announcing the blocking of the event, together with 32 other accounts, cited an analysis by the Atlantic Council think-tank noting that all the accounts targeted by Facebook were left-wing, including accounts opposing police violence, attacks on immigrants, and the Trump administration’s promotion of fascist groups.

The Atlantic Council’s report said the pages shut down by Facebook targeted “the left of the political spectrum”, and “sought to promote divisions and set Americans against one another.”

The accounts promoted “protests against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax plan” and “protests against Trump’s Muslim ban.”

Both Facebook’s post and the Atlantic Council report are filled with Orwellian and authoritarian language. Who is Facebook to determine what constitutes “inauthentic activity”, a term so broad as to be capable of including anything? And who gave Facebook the right to shut down pages that “promote divisions,” as if such divisions do not already exist, with no need of being “promoted,” in a society characterized by historically unparalleled levels of social inequality?

These themes were continued in a hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday featuring testimony from “security” companies and think-tanks closely aligned with the US intelligence agencies.

Renee DiResta is Director of Research at New Knowledge, a consultancy firm that claims to protect the reputations of businesses from what it calls “suspicious communities”,

DiResta said “malign narratives” have “existed for a very long time”, but in “today’s influence operations” the “propaganda is shared by our friends, often in the form of highly effective, shareable, immediately graspable memes.”

“Disinformation, misinformation, and social media hoaxes have evolved from a nuisance into high-stakes information war”, she said.

With reference to “fake” ads run ahead of the 2016 election, she noted that the accounts promoted statements “targeting the left”. aiming “to paint Secretary Clinton in a negative light as compared to candidates Jill Stein or Senator Bernie Sanders.”

She noted that such “Influence operations” are increasingly appealing to “ideological true believers” and “non-state extremists.” In other words, they are directed at people fed up with the capitalist system and looking for a socialist or left-wing alternative—the implication being that such conceptions are “extremist” and must be criminalized.

Another participant in the hearing, Graphika CEO John W. Kelly, said that “automated accounts” on the “extremes” of the political spectrum “produce as many as 25 to 30 times the number of messages per day” as “genuine political accounts across the mainstream.”

A definite narrative is being created, resurrecting American anti-Communism’s long tradition of labeling “outside agitators” as the source of “social disturbances.” Any political viewpoint critical of capitalism is to be labelled an “inauthentic influence operation” promoted by “extremists”, and therefore liable for suppression by the state and the technology monopolies.

In so doing, the factions of the state aligned with the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies, who are locked in a bitter factional battle with Trump over issues related to foreign policy, find themselves in alliance with the White House against the emergence of left-wing political opposition. This has manifested itself, in this case, in an effort to target those protesting a fascist rally, and, by extension, the defense and legitimization of the fascists.

The moves to delegitimize and criminalize political opposition by all factions within the US political establishment must be understood in class terms. After decades of continuous upward redistribution of wealth, three people now control as much wealth as the bottom half of American society. Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has a net worth of $143 billion.

This financial oligarchy, together with a broader periphery within the top 10 percent of income earners who have also been enriched by the boom in share values, see themselves besieged by an angry and hostile working class that is increasingly turning to socialist politics.

Amidst stagnating or declining real wages, endless cuts to health care and pensions and a string of major contracts expiring over the next several months, the stage is set for an eruption of militant labor struggles unlike anything seen since the sit-down strikes of the 1930s.

Under these conditions, the ruling elite sees the criminalization and suppression of independent political opposition as a vital necessity in the defense and expansion of its social privileges. The creation of an apparatus of mass censorship by Facebook, Google, and Twitter is a vital weapon in the hands of the ruling elite in this life-and-death class struggle.

But the eruption of workers’ struggles that the oligarchy so fears also provides the only basis for defending fundamental democratic rights. In their coming struggles, workers will take up the demand for the free and open Internet and freedom of speech as part of a mass movement, in the United States and internationally, to overturn the capitalist system and establish a socialist society.

Washington anti-nazi poster

By Christoph Vandreier in Germany:

Technology giants use Germany’s Network Enforcement Law to delete tens of thousands of comments

By Christoph Vandreier

3 August 2018

Six months after Germany’s Network Enforcement Law (Netz DG) came into force, it has become clear that under the pretext of combatting “fake news” and “hate comments”. the legal framework for the all-out censorship of the Internet has been established, as the World Socialist Web Site warned from the outset.

Last Friday, the three main social network operators presented their transparency reports, in which they must document the deleting of comments in connection with the Network Enforcement Law every six months. The reports confirm that Google, Facebook, and company have seized on the law to launch a massive assault on freedom of speech and erect a comprehensive regime of censorship.

Within the framework of Netz DG, Google’s video platform YouTube deleted or blocked 58,297 comments alone in the first half of 2018. The deletions resulted from 214,827 complaints, meaning they had a success rate of 27 percent. The largest number of complaints, a total of 75,829, concerned “hate speech or political extremism”; 24,804 deletions were carried out in this area, equating to a success rate for the complaints of 33 percent. On the social network Google+, fully 46 percent of comments about which complaints were made were deleted.

The figures for Facebook are somewhat lower, but nonetheless remain high. Twenty-one percent of the comments about which complaints were raised were deleted. The total of 1,704 complaints and 362 deleted comments is lower because Facebook relies heavily on its own deletion mechanisms and makes it very difficult for users to submit a complaint under Netz DG. The company recently acknowledged that it deletes a total of 15,000 comments per month in Germany. On Twitter, the 11 percent deletion rate from 264,000 complaints was somewhat lower.

However, all of these figures are high when one considers that it is relatively straightforward to submit a complaint to the social media operators. It can be done online and is usually completed within a few clicks. The fact that complaints generated in this way are resulting in comments being deleted at a rate of up to 46 percent shows that the companies are deleting content on a mass scale.

Most of the complaints reviewed by the three major operators are not examined for unlawful conduct. For example, YouTube considered only 28 percent of the complaints that resulted in the deletion of a comment in connection with the criminal offences set out in Netz DG. The remainder were deleted because they violated the internal community guidelines at YouTube.

The extremely low level of complaints to the Ministry of Justice about the failure of social media operators to delete comments shows that far more were deleted than lawfully required. The Justice Department initially anticipated that at least 25,000 people would file complaints with the government due to the failure of companies to delete comments in spite of complaints. By July 23, only 585 such complaints had ultimately been submitted.

The so-called “overblocking”—the blocking en masse of non-criminal content—is not merely a byproduct of Netz DG, but its essential purpose. The law compels operators of an Internet platform with more than 2 million members to delete or block “clearly illegal content within 24 hours of receipt of the complaint.” Cases where the issue is less clear have a deadline of seven days. If a company fails to comply, they face a fine of up to €50 million.

To guard against these fines, the companies prefer to delete content if in doubt. This is because there is no punishment for deleting comments which do not violate the law. In this way, the Internet giants are not merely being transformed into judges of content, but also encouraged by the state to delete as much as possible.

A review of the cases thus far in which comments have been deleted or blocked confirms that what is involved here is not the struggle against “hate comments” or “fake news”, but the massive restriction of free speech. Although the transparency reports give no details about the content of the deleted comments, several prominent cases have come to light in recent months.

They show that it is chiefly anti-fascist comments and those critical of the fascist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) that have fallen victim to censorship. Early this year, a comment by Sophie Passmann was blocked by Twitter on the basis of Netz DG. The satirist had been making fun of right-wing nationalism, writing, “As long as the tradition of watching Dinner for One on New Year’s Eve continues, the refugees are welcome to come here and destroy our culture.” Twitter deemed this to be unlawful.

Around the same time, the satirical magazine Titanic was blocked after mocking the AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch [anti-Semitic granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s Finance Minister]. After Storch railed against “barbaric hordes of Muslim male rapists”, Titanic wrote, “Why do the German police actually use Arabic numbers? I won’t dial 110 if the barbaric hordes want to rape me!”

In February, YouTube censored an anti-AfD video after members of the far-right party complained about it. “For over two years, you’ve agitated against refugees on a daily basis from morning till night as if nothing else matters. This is just as pathetic as today’s politics”, stated the video in closing.

The censorship drive within the framework of Netz DG is part of a broader development. Due to growing opposition in the working class to its policies of anti-refugee xenophobia, war, and social attacks, the ruling elite is resorting ever more openly to censorship and repression. The major corporations are working hand-in-glove with the state apparatus to enforce this.

Since April 2017, Google, in close collaboration with the German government, has been censoring left-wing and progressive web sites, including the World Socialist Web Site in particular. Web sites are downgraded in search results by so-called “evaluators” if they do not conform to the desired opinion.

In May, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained to the European Parliament how closely his organisation collaborates with governments to eliminate oppositional content and to ensure that no undesirable content is spread during election campaigns. As is the case with Netz DG, these measures were portrayed as a struggle against “fake news”.

In the future, Facebook will work with “tens of thousands of independent fact checkers in every country and every language” and will use artificial intelligence to filter out “problematic content” and “false information”, he stated. “Our goal over the coming years is going to be developing the AI systems and hiring the staff necessary to be able to proactively review more of the content as it’s coming into the system,” added Zuckerberg. It is an “arms race”, but “significant progress” is being made, he said.

Facebook, banking and privacy: here.

UK Parliament “fake news” report demands sweeping internet censorship: here.

Facebook censors United States anti-nazis, opponents of Trump’s xenophobia


The United States No Unite the Right 2 – DC anti-nazi rally announcement removed by Facebook

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Facebook censors anti-fascist rally in Washington

2 August 2018

The social media giant Facebook carried out a major escalation in the campaign to censor the Internet Monday, deleting the official event page for an anti-fascist rally scheduled for August 12 in Washington, D.C. on the grounds that it was engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The event, entitled “No Unite the Right 2 – DC”, was scheduled as a counter-protest to a fascist demonstration called for August 12 by the organizers of last year’s Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a right-wing extremist murdered counter-protestor Heather Heyer.

The rally’s organizers include Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower imprisoned and tortured for six years by the Obama administration for revealing American war crimes. Manning told the New York Times the demonstration was “real and organic,” declaring “Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February.”

As Facebook censors this and so much else, meanwhile, eg, the Dutch Nederlandse Volks-Unie neonazis are free to spout their praise of Adolf Hitler, racism, sexism, marches promoting that, etc. on their Facebook page. So, according to Facebook, the NVU nazis are not ‘inauthentic’ at all and welcome; like Holocaust deniers from all countries are welcome at Facebook.

A number of activists and organizers in the Washington, DC area are disputing Facebook’s decision to remove a counter-protest event for a rally organized by Jason Kessler, the white nationalist figure who planned the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia: here.

While Facebook shuts down left-wing pages, groups and events with growing regularity, this latest action is particularly significant both because of its prominence—a major demonstration likely to draw large numbers of participants—and because Facebook has publicly boasted about it.

The closure of the event page was a centerpiece of a blog post published Tuesday by Facebook outlining its efforts to crack down on groups aiming to “sow division using social media” ahead of the 2018 election. In addition to shutting down the rally’s event page, Facebook announced that it had shut down 32 other pages, including those opposing police violence and defending immigrant rights.

The announcement was framed as a follow-up to the company’s announcement in September 2017 that “Russia-linked” Facebook pages bought some $100,000 in ads related to “divisive social issues”. In addition to serving as a pretext for major new censorship measures by Facebook, the 2017 announcement was connected to allegations by the Democratic Party that US President Trump “colluded” with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.

However, with the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign increasingly bogged down by the bitter factional battle in Washington, it appears that those sections of the state apparatus leading the drive to censor the Internet are hoping to decouple their efforts from allegations about Russian “meddling”.

Facebook and its outgoing Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos explicitly declined to attribute the claims to the Russian government. “Today we’re shutting down 32 Pages and accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior without saying that a specific group or country is responsible”, Stamos wrote in a post accompanying its announcement.

While the alleged “Russian” ads described by Facebook in 2017 included statements in support of both sides of the political spectrum, the latest batch of pages shut down were all left-wing, including those opposing police violence, attacks on immigrant rights, and the Trump administration’s right-wing policies.

On Monday, the day before Facebook announced that it had shut down the page, the company turned its latest blacklist over to the Atlantic Council, a prominent military think-tank. Its analysis makes clear that Facebook is deliberately targeting left-wing groups.

An event against Trump's separation of children from their parents, published by one of the groups taken down by Facebook

The Atlantic Council’s report said the pages shut down by Facebook targeted “the left of the political spectrum”, and that the pages were an attempt to “infiltrate left-wing American communities.” These pages “sought to promote divisions and set Americans against one another.”

Events created by “inauthentic” groups “did have a very real, organic, and engaged online community; however, the intent of the inauthentic activity appeared to be designed to catalyze the most incendiary impulses of political sentiment.“

These groups promoted “activism against fascism”. One of the groups, according to the Atlantic Council, “created an event in protest of the Trump administration’s policy of separating the children of undocumented migrants from their families.”

Another promoted event included “protests against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax plan, protests against Trump’s Muslim ban, and a ‘March against rapist cops.’”

At times, the Atlantic Council report adopts wholesale conceptions advanced by the fascist right, such as that left-wing protesters are the instigators of violence in clashes with fascists. In justifying the censorship of the Washington anti-fascist protest, the think-tank claimed its organizers “suggested a desire to provoke further confrontations and violence.”

In another instance, the report characterized Internet content “focusing on the plight of Native Americans and modern immigrants” as promoting “anti-white” viewpoints.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers praised Facebook’s action. Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared that the disclosure “is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation.” Warner, who has led the campaign for censorship, ignored the fact that Facebook provided no evidence

indeed, explicitly denied there was evidence

that Russia had anything to do with the pages.

Facebook’s latest action must be taken as an urgent warning. Two years after the start of the campaign to censor the Internet in the guise of fighting “fake news” spread by “Russian trolls”, the social media giants, working with the US intelligence agencies, are increasingly making clear that their real target is left-wing political sentiment among growing sections of workers and young people. In so doing, they are following the path blazed by Google, which last year announced plans to censor “alternative” news, leading to a drop in search traffic to left-wing sites of up to 80 percent.

With opposition growing among 260,000 UPS workers to a sellout contract being demanded by … their employer, a growing international strike movement among airline workers [see also here], and simmering anger among teachers and other sections of the working class in the US, the ruling class is concerned above all that workers will use the Internet not only to organize and coordinate their struggles, but to rally around a socialist perspective.

United States anti-nazi demonstrators

Facebook Deleted The “No Unite The Right 2” Event — But Organizers Insist They’re Not Trolls: here.

This [Haitian] asylum seeker is still waiting for his release from [United States] prison — three court decisions later.

Speaking of imperialism, The Guardian covers a report from Global Media which describes Facebook’s Free Basics program as “digital colonialism.” “Facebook is not introducing people to open internet where you can learn, create and build things. It’s building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content”, says Ellery Biddle, Global Voices’ advocacy director.

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg travels around the US to “learn about people’s challenges”, one of his employees, living out a a garage, suggests maybe Zuck pay attention to inequalities in his own backyard.

Israeli cartoonist sacked for ‘Orwellian’ Netanyahu cartoon


Avi Katz' Orwell-Netanyahu cartoon

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Cartoonist fired for pig image of Netanyahu

The Israeli cartoonist Avi Katz has been fired because of a drawing in which he depicts Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the Likud Party as pigs. At the top of the cartoon is George Orwell‘s famous phrase from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

The cartoon appeared in the weekly journal Jerusalem Report and is a reference to the decision of the Israeli parliament last week to legally establish that Israel is a Jewish nation state.

Among other things, it stipulates that Hebrew exclusively becomes the official language. From now on Arabic is a language with a special status. The Arab minority and other critics in Israel call the law discriminatory and racist. Arab Israelis thus feel relegated to second-class citizenship.

Katz made the drawing modeling it on a selfie by the Likud deputy Oren Chasan, who after the adoption of the law took pictures with Netanyahu and other Likud politicians.

Selfie by Likud politician Oren Chasan

Animal Farm was written during the Second World War and published in 1945. It describes a revolution on a farm, where people are chased away. The pigs seize power whereby life gradually becomes harder for the other animals.

Jerusalem Report Cartoonist, Fired Over Nation-State Caricature, Tells Us What Happened: here.

Facebook censors painter Rubens, not nazism


This 21 July 2018 satiric video from Flanders in Belgium about ancient art says about itself:

Social media [in this case, Facebook] doesn’t want you to see Rubens’ paintings

Flanders – the perfect destination to enjoy the Flemish Masters in all their glory – is denouncing artistic censorship on social media platforms in a playful manner. At the Rubens House, ‘nudity viewers’ with a Facebook account were blocked from viewing nudity by a group of “social media police agents”.

So, 17th century painter Rubens is not welcome  on Facebook. Like later artists, including French 19th century painter Gustave Courbet. Like Facebook bans one of the world’s earliest works of art, the 30,000-year-old ‘Venus of Willendorf‘ sculpture.

What and who, then, is welcome on Facebook? Facebook boss Zuckerberg has said: Holocaust denying nazis. The Dutch neofascist party Nederlandse Volks-Unie (NVU) is welcome to spout their praise for Adolf Hitler, hatred of Jews and hatred of Dutch Moroccans on their Facebook account.

On the other hand, Facebook censors news sources without Big Business or Big Government support; favouring instead corporate media like the Rupert Murdoch empire (where anti-Semitism and other forms of racism happen). Nevertheless, Facebook claims corporate news is not fake news.

No censorship of Holocaust denial. Instead, censorship of an iconic photo of Vietnamese children attacked by United States napalm bombs; censorship even if the conservative prime minister of Norway posts that photo on Facebook. Instead, censorship of information on the bloody invasion of Syria by the Turkish Erdogan regime. The Erdogan regime, which Facebook also helps by censoring a Turkish Dutch politician. Instead, censorship of information on the genocide of Rohingya, thus helping the regime in Myanmar. Instead of censoring shoah denial, Facebook censors Arizona, USA teachers on strike against bad education policies. Like Facebook also censors British striking workers.

Instead of opposing Holocaust denial, they censor feminism. Instead, they censor information on women’s reproductive rights. Instead, Facebook censors a burn injuries survivor.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Flemish museums angry about Facebook‘s nudity ban

Flemish museums are sick of Facebook‘s strict anti-nudity policy. The social media platform also removes painted nudity by, for example, Flemish masters. In an open letter to Facebook boss Zuckerberg, a large number of museum directors demand he should be more liberal.

The cultural institutions use Facebook a lot to advertise their activities. They do this by placing pictures of paintings. But they are thwarted regularly by censorship.

Loincloth

Recently, Facebook removed a picture of the Venus of Willendorf, an iconic fertility statue of nearly 30,000 years old. The Crucifixion by Peter Paul Rubens was also rejected because Jesus has no more than a loincloth on.

Rubens, Christ crucified

“Although we are secretly laughing, your cultural censorship makes our lives quite difficult”, write the museum directors to Zuckerberg. They point out that art brings people together, just like social media.

Video

The trade association Tourism Flanders adds a humorous video to the appeal to Zuckerberg. It shows how people are expelled by security agents from the Rubens House in Antwerp because they look at paintings with exposed body parts. Only people who do not have a Facebook account are allowed to look at them.

Facebook censors accounts against Charlottesville neonazis and against Trump’s anti-immigrant ICE: here.

Tech companies promised to stop helping neo-Nazis raise money. They haven’t.