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Social media giants crack down on RT under Senate pressure

RT | January 26, 2018

Facebook, Google and Twitter are taking action against RT in response to pressure from the Senate Intelligence Committee, but have found very little to indicate ‘Russian meddling’ in the 2016 elections, new documents show.

Google Search, for example, has labels “describing RT’s relationship with the Russian Government” and the company is “working on disclosures to provide similar transparency on YouTube,” according to a letter sent to the committee by Google’s VP and general counsel Kent Walker.

Twitter has “off-boarded” RT and Sputnik “and will no longer allow those companies to purchase ad campaigns and promote Tweets on our platform,”said the letter from the company’s acting general counsel Sean Edgett.

The letters were provided following the October 31, 2017 hearing at which the senators grilled social media executives on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election via their products and services.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was interested to know whether any of the companies accepted advertising from RT or Sputnik. Unlike Twitter, Facebook and Google continue to carry ads from both outlets. Google’s Walker wrote that such ads remain subject to “strict ads policies and community guidelines,” and that “to date, we’ve seen no evidence that they are violating these policies.”

Walker added that Google took RT out of its Preferred Lineup on YouTube. In November, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, told an international forum that he planned to “de-rank” RT and Sputnik in displayed search results.

Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch wrote that RT and Sputnik can “use our advertising tools as long as they comply with Facebook’s policies, including complying with applicable law.”

Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) asked whether any of the companies provide any data to the Russian government. Twitter said it had received requests for data, but did not comply with any of them. Facebook said it had received 28 requests for data between  2013 and 2017, but that it “did not provide any data in response.”

Google said it had “not complied with every request” but declined to provide any specifics, referring the senators to its Transparency Report. RT’s analysis of that data shows that Google received 237 requests in the first half of 2016 and provided responses in 7 percent of cases. Another 234 requests came in the second half of the year, with a 15 percent response rate. There were 318 requests in 2017 with a 10 percent response rate.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) was very interested to hear what the social media companies are doing with the revenue supposedly earned from “Russian” advertising. Edgett’s letter confirmed Twitter’s commitment to donate the $1.9 million that RT had spent globally on ads to “academic research into elections and civic engagement.” He did not specify the organizations that would benefit from this funding.

Although Stretch said that revenue from ads running on pages managed by the Internet Research Agency (IRA, usually described in the Western press as the “St. Petersburg troll farm”) was “immaterial,” he revealed that Facebook has contributed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to the Defending Digital Democracy Project, an outfit based at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government “that works to secure democracies around the world from external influence.”

Furthermore, the investments Facebook has made to “address election integrity and other security issues” have been so significant that “we have informed investors that we expect that the amount that we will spend will impact our profitability,” Stretch added.

Google said the total amount of revenue from “Russian” ads amounted to $4,700, while the company has contributed $750,000 to the the Defending Digital Democracy Project.

The outfit is run by Eric Rosenbach, former assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration. According to the Belfer Center at Harvard University, Rosenbach recruited Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager Robby Mook and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager Matt Rhoades to co-chair the project.

Among the project’s advisers is Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, the law firm that has represented Clinton and the DNC, and was revealed to have paid for the notorious “Steele Dossier.” Another member of the project’s senior advisory group is Dmitri Alperovitch, CEO of Crowdstrike, the private company hired by the DNC which originated the accusation that Russia hacked into the party’s emails. Alperovitch is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with anti-Russian reports and partially funded by the US military, NATO, and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Read more:

Twitter, Google & Facebook grilled by Senate, try hard to find ‘Russian influence’

Censoring #PodestaEmails, defining Russians, DNC advisers: Twitter & Google’s 2016 election tricks

January 27, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Facebook pretending to care about democracy now is the height of hypocrisy

By Danielle Ryan | RT | January 24, 2018

Facebook has admitted that sometimes, it might actually be bad for democracy. Facebook is right about that. However, I’m not sure that the social media platform really understands why this is the case.

The admission comes in a series of official blog posts by Facebook insiders about what effect social media can have on democracy. “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can‘t,” wrote Samidh Chakrabarti, a Facebook product manager. He continued: “… we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.”

First off, it’s important to understand the political and media context in which Facebook has felt forced to make these comments. That context is alleged ‘Russian interference’ in the 2016 election through the promotion of political ads designed to take advantage of social division. Facebook is responding to a not small cohort of Americans who genuinely believe that Russian Facebook ads are destroying democracy. The second thing to understand is that while Facebook’s admission may sound like noble self-reflection, the truth is that what Facebook says and what it means are two very different things.

There is a temptation among some to believe that the social media giant is a neutral actor that cares about fairness and democracy and that it is doing its very best to ensure it has a positive effect on democracy. This could not be further from the truth.

If Facebook’s recent history is anything to go by, the California-based company is not actually a big fan of democracy at all. Even before Facebook decided to become selectively outraged about the ubiquitousness of propaganda and ‘fake news’ on its platform, it was already engaging in political censorship. Take this 2016 story in which Facebook employees admit to suppressing conservative news on the platform, for example. Not only that, but employees were told to artificially “inject” Facebook-approved stories into the trending news module when they weren’t popular enough to make it there organically. The employees were also told not to include news about Facebook itself into the trending category.

“Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation,” Michael Nunez wrote for Gizmodo. With that kind of ability and willingness to manipulate, Facebook itself possesses huge potential to affect political outcomes, far more than some Russian ads.

Facebook has said it believes that simply adding the ability to click an “I voted” sticker can increase actual voter turnout significantly through a combination of simply seeing the sticker and feeling the peer pressure to vote if your friends have done so. This is supposed to be one of the good things Facebook has done for democracy, but there are so many ways that Facebook could use this kind of thing to surreptitiously promote its own political agenda.

What if Facebook were to artificially push certain news stories in specific locations – say, where an election was taking place – and then add the “I voted” button for users in that area. Or alternatively chose not to add that button for certain races where a lower turnout might be deemed a good thing.

What Facebook means when it says it is worried about how its platform is being used is that it’s not entirely comfortable with the fact that it can’t fully control the political narrative. Even Facebook believes it has created a monster. It would like to control what our impressionable minds might see and read – lest we fall victim to unapproved opinions or ideologies. But Facebook also knows that such control is not entirely possible – and therein lies their true crisis.

Even the steps Facebook has taken to address alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election are questionable. In his blog post, Chakrabarti writes that the platform has “made it easier to report false news” and has “taken steps in partnership with third-party fact checkers to rank these stories lower” in the news feed. Once the fact-checkers identify a story as fake, Facebook can reduce impressions of that story by 80%, he says. But who are these third-party fact checkers? Facebook doesn’t tell us.

“We’re also working to make it harder for bad actors to profit from false news,” he writes. But again, we don’t get a definition of bad actor, either. One assumes Russia is the bad actor referred to – but if Facebook was truly concerned about government propaganda and its effect on election outcomes, the crackdown would surely not be limited to one government. Are some governments bad actors and other governments good actors? Is some propaganda good and some bad? Are some sock-puppet accounts acceptable and others not? Can we get a breakdown?

Facebook has also been kind enough to help users figure out whether they were unfortunate enough to have come into contact with any Russian-linked posts. It’s part of their “action plan against foreign interference”. Again, we might benefit from a definition here of “foreign interference.” Facebook is an international platform, thus the potential exists for elections to be ‘interfered’ with through Facebook all over the world, not just in the United States. Does Facebook’s fight against foreign interference incorporate all those efforts equally? This kind of information would be really helpful, if Facebook would be kind enough to provide it.

Facebook is not alone in its mission to rid the world of nasty Russian propaganda. Twitter is at it, too. Last week, the company sent out emails to users warning them that they may have come into contact with Russian propaganda on the microblogging platform. Curiously, no similar warnings have been sent to users who came into contact with American propaganda online – despite the fact that we’ve known for years that the US government has been using sock-puppet accounts to spread its own propaganda and misinformation online.

Google has also dipped its toes in the water. Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., said recently that Google was trying to create special algorithms and “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible on the search engine.

Media coverage of Facebook’s comments was fairly uniform. Most outlets have been treating the blog posts as a ‘see, we told you!’ moment, focusing entirely on the Russia angle but ignoring the many other ways in which Facebook has itself attempted to corrupt the free flow of information and manipulated its users. The reporting is almost sympathetic: Poor innocent Facebook is coming to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen online.

The Washington Post called Facebook blog posts the “most critical self-assessment yet.” Another piece in the Post opines on Facebook’s “year of reckoning.” Reuters reported that the sharing of “misleading headlines” became a “global issue” after accusations that Russia had used Facebook to interfere in the 2016 election. The implication is almost that misleading headlines are some kind of new phenomenon and Facebook is out there on the frontlines of the battle.

Facebook wants you to stay mad about Russian ads. It wants you to believe that its democracy-loving executives are truly sorry and doing all they can to make the platform as good for democracy as possible. What they don’t want is for us to examine their own practices too closely. But that’s exactly what we should be doing – instead of congratulating them on their disingenuous foray into self-reflection.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Facebook, Google, Twitter Announce ‘Counterspeech’ Psyop to Keep Public Docile

By Jake Andersen | ANTIMEDIA | January 18, 2018

If you’re a radical or search for “extremist” content online, the biggest social networks and internet companies on Earth will soon be converting you into a docile moderate, or at least, they will try.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been screening and filtering extremist content for years, but on Wednesday, the gatekeepers of the internet confirmed to Congress that they are accelerating their efforts and will target users who may be exposed to extremist/terrorist content, redirecting them instead to “positive and moderate” posts.

Representatives for the three companies testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to outline specific ways they are trying to combat extremism online. Facebook, Google, and Twitter aren’t just tinkering with their algorithms to restrict certain kinds of violent content and messaging. They’re also using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to manufacture what they call “counterspeech,” which has a hauntingly Orwellian ring to it. Essentially, their goal is to catch burgeoning extremists, or people being radicalized online, and re-engineer them via targeted propagandistic advertisements.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, stated:

“We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence. That’s why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts.”

Meanwhile, Google’s YouTube has deployed something called the “Redirect Method,” developed by Google’s Jigsaw research group. With this protocol, YouTube taps search history metrics to identify users who may be interested in extremist content and then uses targeted advertising to counter “hateful” content with “positive” content. YouTube has also invested in a program called “Creators for Change,” a group of users that makes videos opposed to hate speech and violence. Additionally, the video platform has tweaked their algorithm to reduce the reach of borderline content.

In his testimony, Juniper Downs, YouTube’s head of public policy, said, “Our advances in machine learning let us now take down nearly 70% of violent extremism content within 8 hours of upload and nearly half of it in 2 hours.”

On the official YouTube blog, the company discussed how they plan to disrupt the “radicalization funnel” and change minds. The four steps include:

  • “Expanding the new YouTube product functionality to a wider set of search queries in other languages beyond English.
  • Using machine learning to dynamically update the search query terms.
  • Working with expert NGOs on developing new video content designed to counter violent extremist messaging at different parts of the radicalization funnel.
  • Collaborating with Jigsaw to expand the ‘Redirect Method’ in Europe.”

Starting at the end of last year, the company had already begun altering its algorithm so that 30% of its videos were demonetized. The company had explained that it wanted YouTube to be a safer place for brands to advertise, but the move has angered many content producers who generate income with their video channels.

The effort to use machine learning and AI as part of a social engineering funnel is probably not new, but we’ve never seen it openly wielded on a vast scale by a government-influenced corporate consortium. To say the least, it is unsettling for many. One user commented underneath the post, “So if you have an opinion that’s not there [sic] agenda You are a terrorist. Free speech is dead on YouTube.”

For its part, Twitter’s representative told Congress that since 2015 the company had taken part in over 100 training events focused on how to reduce the impact of extremist content on the platform.

In a post called “Introducing Hard Questions” on its blog, Facebook discussed rethinking the “meaning of free expression.” The post posed a number of hypothetical questions, including:

  • How aggressively should social media companies monitor and remove controversial posts and images from their platforms? Who gets to decide what’s controversial, especially in a global community with a multitude of cultural norms?
  • Who gets to define what’s false news — and what’s simply controversial political speech?”

The three tech giants have been under intense scrutiny from lawmakers who feel the platforms have been used to sow division online and even recruit homegrown terrorists. While the idea of using an algorithm to fight extremism online is not new, a unified front of Facebook, Google, and Twitter has never collectively produced original online propaganda, the specifics and scope of which remain vague despite the companies’ attempts at transparency.

Only recently, in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was the use of propaganda on the American people by the government formally legalized. Then-President Barack Obama continued strengthening government propaganda at the end of his administration with the dystopic Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act of 2017, which created a kind of Ministry of Truth for the creation of so-called “fact-based narratives.”

It appears that while the government continues to strengthen its potential to conduct psychological operations (psyops), it is also joining forces with internet gatekeepers that can use their algorithms to shape billions of minds online. While one may applaud the ostensible goal of curbing terrorist recruitment, the use of psyops for social engineering and manufacturing consent could extend far beyond the original intent.

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter and Facebook and Russia: Consider the numbers

left i on the news | January 20, 2018

Remember how we were initially told that “Russia” (in quotes, because we have no idea who actually placed these ads, whether they had any relationship to the Russian government, or whether they were Russian at all) placed 3000 ads on Facebook? Only to learn later that 56% of them were placed after the election, 25% of them were never shown to anyone, 50% had ad budgets less than $3, and 99% of them had ad budgets less than $1000? Leaving approximately 14 ads seen during the election which had a budget exceeding $1000. And by the way virtually none of these ads mentioned Trump or Clinton at all; most dealt with issues like Black Lives Matter or gun rights. How that had an influence on the election is never quite specified. We’re told this is because Russia is trying to encourage “divisiveness” in America. As if we aren’t doing quite well on that score all by ourselves, with a little assist from FOX and MSNBC, and why that would effect that election anyway isn’t clear. Oh and most of those ads were geographically targeted, and some of the ones that were were targeted to non-“swing states”.

And then we were told by FB that those “Russian ads” reached “up to” 126 million Americans. There were 198 million Facebook users in 2016. According to Politico, 128 million people across the US generated 8.8 billion likes, posts, comments and shares related to the election. Which means that the ads reached 98.4% of all people who were posting or seeing posts about the election! Really? Bear in mind that are only 144 million Americans in the 18-65 age range, which is the default age range when you place an ad on FB (it can be changed of course). Which means that, according to FB, “Russian ads” reached a whopping 87.5% of all FB users aged 18-65. Again, really? Did you see any? I know I didn’t.

Now along comes Twitter with its own math challenges. They tell us they found 50,000 (!) accounts “linked to Russia”, which were followed, liked, or retweeted by at least 677,775 Americans, all of whom have received dire warnings from Twitter that their thinking may have been swayed by these tweets. 3,814 accounts were operated by alleged “Russian state operatives” connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a company allegedly “linked to” the Russian government (how has never exactly been specified). Twitter said these IRA accounts posted 175,993 tweets during the election period, and 8.4% of these were election-related.

Wait, what? This was the big attempt to influence our election, but 91.6% of the output of these alleged “trolls” couldn’t even be classified as “election-related” according to what were undoubtedly extremely loose criteria. So that’s not 176K tweets, but 15K tweets. Is that a lot? Well, to begin with that’s over an 18 month period, so we’re talking about fewer than 1K tweets per month, or fewer than 30 per day. What’s Twitter’s volume? According to them, more than 1 billion tweets about the election were sent out. 15K election-related tweets amounts to 0.0015% of that amount. Not 1%. Not a tenth of a percent. Not a hundredth of a percent One and a half thousandths of one percent.

And what about the daily rate of all tweets? There are 500 million tweets sent out every day. 21% of Twitter users are American, and I’m going to guess (because I can’t find the statistic) that they send out more than their share of tweets, so lets round up to 25% and say that Americans send out 125 million tweets/day (obviously people from other countries were also tweeting about the election, but we’re going to disregard that). So if these Russian trolls were sending out 325 tweets a day on all subjects (not just the election), that amounts to 0.00026% of the tweets on any given day. 2 and a half ten-thousandths of a percent of all tweets being sent out. Have you stopped laughing yet?

None of this, by the way, goes to the effectiveness of these FB ads or Tweets. If you’re following a rabidly pro-Trump account, chances are you’re either a rabidly pro-Trump person yourself, or perhaps the opposite just monitoring the opposition. How many neutral people whose minds were susceptible to be changed follow such accounts? There has yet to be any measurement, or for that matter even anecdotal accounts, of such things happening. “Well, I was going to vote for Hillary, but then I saw this Russian troll account tweet that Hillary lost the debate to Trump, so I changed my mind.” Really?

And now FB is going to let users rank news sources for trustworthiness. I can’t think of a worse idea. Trump supporters will rank FOX as credible and everything else as “Fake News”. The 99.5% of the population who have never even watched RT or listened to Sputnik will rank them as “untrustworthy”, because they’ve been told repeatedly that’s what they are, leaving the 0.5% of us who do to recognize they’re both as, or more credible, than any U.S. corporate media (and carry viewpoints we can’t get on the latter). Actually I can think of a worse idea, and that would be to let FB itself do the ranking. We’ve already seen what happens when Google does that, as progressive and left-wing sites, once easy to find when searching Google or Google News, have been harder or even impossible to find.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US military seeks to control your Facebook

US Army seeks new intel tool able to understand social media posts in languages including Russian, Arabic and French, and which can post answers on its own

By Seraphim Hanisch Seraphim Hanisch | The Duran | January 11, 2018

For years the conspiracy theorists have claimed that Facebook is a CIA front operation, and that it serves as a way to track everyone in the USA. In the most recent years, especially from the time of the 2016 Presidential elections to now, Facebook, Twitter, Google and other platforms which allow social media have been charged with being biased and “against” the posting and activities of people who dissent with the way the government and powers-that-be want you to think.

Today we find some rather clear evidence that the US Army wants to truly have access to private citizen accounts in social media, and they want to have the tools to observe AND post things in the same idiom and style, apparently, as though it were you making the posts. We appear to be somewhere beyond the tinfoil hat stage now.

So, who is hacking whom now?

Here we show excerpts from the request made by INSCOM (The United States Army Intelligence and Security Command). First, we look at the purpose of INSCOM:

INSCOM has an Administrative Control (ADCON) relationship with 1st Information Operations Command. INSCOM G7 executes materiel and materiel-centric responsibilities as a Capability Developer and as the Army proponent for design and development of select operational level and expeditionary intelligence, cyber, and electronic warfare systems. 1st Information Operations Command (Land) provides IO and Cyberspace Operations support to the Army and other Military Forces through deployable support teams, reachback planning and analysis, specialized training, and a World Class Cyber OPFOR in order to support freedom of action in the Information Environment and to deny the same to our adversaries.

Then we look at what they are asking for. The bold typeface is my own addition for emphasis.

Additional Info: This RFI requests a vendor service and not hardware/firmware/software, and therefore should not require an Authority to Operate (ATO) or a Certificate of Networthiness (CoN). 1st IO Command has identified areas for which we are requesting White Papers from Industry on mature COTS solutions with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of at least 7, relevant to the following Focus Areas and requirements:

0001: Content Translation of PAI

A. Capability to translate foreign language content (message text, voice, images, etc.) from the social media environment into English. Required languages are Arabic, French, Pashtu, Farsi, Urdu, Russian, and Korean.

B. Identify specific audiences through reading and understanding of colloquial phrasing, spelling variations, social media brevity codes, and emojis.

1. Automated capability for machine learning of foreign language content with accuracy comparable to Google and Microsoft Bing Translate. Must be able to incrementally improve over time.

2. Recognize language dialect to ensure effectual communication.

0002: Automated Sentiment Analysis (SA)

A. Capability to derive sentiment from all social media content.

1. At minimum, distinguish negative, neutral, and positive sentiment based on collective, contextual understanding of the specific audience.

a) Capability to determine anger, pleasure, sadness, and excitement.

2. Capability to recognize local colloquial and/or slang terms and phrases, spelling variations, social media brevity codes, capitalization, and emojis will be included.

3. Automated machine learning of SA must be able to incrementally improve over time.

a) Software should allow for heuristic updates to improve overall capability; e.g., manually suggest updates based on personal knowledge and experience.

B. Capability to suggest whether specific audiences could be influenced based on derived sentiment.

0003: Content Generation Based off of PAI

A. Capability to translate English into Arabic, French, Pashtu, Farsi, Urdu, Russian, and Korean.

B. Automated capability to generate/create at least three, and up to 10, unique statements derived from one (1) original social media statement, while retaining the meaning and tone of the original.

1. Customize language in a dialect consistent with a specific audience including spelling variations, cultural variations, colloquial phrasing, and social media brevity codes and emojis.

0004: Assessment

1. Capability to continually inform MOE with/through sentiment analysis, content generation, and new target audience content.

2. Capability for end user to extract empirical data and visualize metrics of service, including number of content samples translated, number of content samples generated, number of content samples downloaded, number of conversations influenced by generated content, etc.

0005: Data Protection and Management

Data protection will meet all standing DoD regulatory and security protocols.

This is a formidable request for a quite powerful eavesdropping AND propaganda disseminating application. It is also not the first time the military has sought or deployed such an application. The Guardian reported that the US Military had software in use six years ago that was able to create propaganda videos that used fake online personas. Now it appears that the military wants to piggyback – or hijack – REAL people’s accounts to do a similar purpose.

Is this helpful?  Is this the proper way to conduct this kind of warfare? The military establishment appears to think so. However, this author has concerns about the privacy rights of American citizens, including the right to disagree, vehemently with the policies and directions taken by the government.  We are a representative republic, and that means the government is supposed to work FOR us, not “take care of us.”

This last, of course, is a problem we Americans have gotten ourselves into by ceding personal responsibility to think for ourselves, and to gradually come to think of Uncle Sam as, really, some kind of uncle that takes care of us. But that was never the intention of the founders of this land, and truly, we have only ourselves and our laziness to blame for the military thinking that they can exercise this kind of power against any one of us.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

#Winning: Facebook “Fake News” Flag Makes People MORE Likely to Click

corbettreport | January 9, 2018

Fakebook has had to ditch its fake news flag after finding that people don’t just blindly listen to them when they declare something to be fake! Imagine that! Happy new year everyone!

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=25625

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 1 Comment

Expect Even Less Freedom of Internet in 2018

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 04.01.2018

Users of social media have been increasingly reporting that their accounts have been either censored, blocked or suspended during the past year. Initially, some believed that the incidents might be technical in nature, with overloaded servers struggling to keep up with the large and growing number of accounts, but it eventually emerged that the interference was deliberate and was focused on individuals and groups that were involved in political or social activities considered to be controversial.

At the end of last year a number of Russian accounts on Facebook and elsewhere were suspended over the allegations that social media had been used to spread so-called false news that had possibly materially affected the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Even though it proved impossible to demonstrate that the relatively innocuous Russian efforts had any impact in comparison to the huge investment in advertising and propaganda engaged in by the two major parties, social media quickly responded to the negative publicity.

Now it has been learned that major social media and internet service providers have, throughout the past year, been meeting secretly with the United States and Israeli governments to remove content as well as ban account holders from their sites. The United States and Israel have no legal right to tell private companies what to do but it is clearly understood that the two governments can make things very difficult for those service providers that do not fall in line. Israel has threatened to limit access to sites like Facebook or to ban it altogether while the U.S. Justice Department can use terrorist legislation, even if implausible, to force compliance. Washington recently forced Facebook to cancel the account of the Chechen Republic’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin loyalist that the White House has recently “sanctioned.”

Israel is not surprisingly most active in patrolling the Internet as it is keen to keep out any material sympathetic to the Palestinian cause or critical of Israeli treatment of Arabs. Its security services scan the stories being surfaced and go to the service providers to ask that material be deleted or blocked based on the questionable proposition that it constitutes “incitement” to violence. Facebook reportedly cooperates 95% of the time to delete material or shut down accounts. Palestinian groups, which use social networking on the internet to communicate, have been especially hard hit, with ten leading administrators’ accounts being removed in 2017. Israeli accounts including material threatening to kill Arabs are not censored.

Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are all also under pressure to cooperate with pro-Israel private groups in the United States, to include the powerful Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL seeks “to engineer new solutions to stop cyberhate” by blocking “hate language,” which includes any criticism of Israel that might even implausibly be construed as anti-Semitism. Expanding restrictions on what is being defined as “hate speech” will undoubtedly become common in social media and more generally all across the internet in 2018.

The internet, widely seen as a highway where everyone could communicate and share ideas freely, is actually a toll road that is increasingly managed by a group of very large corporations that, when acting in unison, control what is seen and not seen. Search engines already are set up to prioritize information from paid “sponsors,” which come up prominently but often have nothing to do with what material is most relevant. And the role of intrusive governments in dictating to Facebook and other sites who will be heard and who will be silenced should also be troubling, as it means that information that would benefit the public might never be seen, particularly if it is embarrassing to powerful interests. And speaking of powerful interests, groups like the ADL with partisan agendas will undoubtedly be able to dictate norms of behavior to the service providers, leading to still more loss of content and relevancy for those who are looking for information.

All things considered, the year 2018 will be a rough one for those who are struggling to maintain the internet as a source of relatively free information. Governments and interest groups have seen the threat posed by such liberty and are reacting to it. They will do their best to bring it under control.

January 4, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook ‘Routinely’ Blocking Accounts at US, Israel’s Requests – Giraldi

Sputnik – January 2, 2018

Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms choose to comply with the requests of Washington and Tel Aviv to delete undesired accounts because they fear US and Israeli influential political elites, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, has told Sputnik, adding that the practice, which he described as “illegal,” has become routine.

Glenn Greenwald’s article is completely accurate, Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer at the CIA, told Sputnik, commenting on the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist’s recent op-ed which shed light on Facebook’s controversial practice of blocking accounts of individuals at the request of the US and Israeli governments.

“The blocking of accounts of people who are on lists maintained by the US government has become routine,” Giraldi said. “It is also illegal as the account holders have broken no laws and are in compliance with the rules set up by the sites themselves.”

Greenwald raised the alarm over the supposed state censorship exercised by the social networking service against Palestinian activists and Russian officials.

Citing Al Jazeera and The New York Times, the investigative journalist emphasized the alleged mutual consent reached by the Israeli government and Facebook which resulted in the closure of numerous accounts and pages of Palestinian individuals and media outlets deemed as “inciting violence.”

“That means that Israeli officials have virtually unfettered control over a key communications forum of Palestinians,” Greenwald concluded, suggesting that at the same time “calls by Israelis for the killing of Palestinians are commonplace on Facebook, and largely remain undisturbed.”

According to the journalist, Facebook’s decision to close the account of Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen Republic, Russia, is similarly “disturbing and dangerous.” Greenwald highlighted that while the social media service claims that “Mr. Kadyrov’s [Facebook and Instagram] accounts were deactivated because he had just been added to a United States sanctions list and that the company was legally obligated to act,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro remains active on both platforms despite the fact he is on the same sanctions list.

“Does anyone trust the Trump administration — or any other government — to compel social media platforms to delete and block anyone it wants to be silenced?” Greenwald asked rhetorically.

The CIA veteran says that there is nothing new in what the investigative journalist is describing: “Those of us in the activist community have long been observing how some articles have been blocked or made to disappear.”

“Israel and Jewish groups in the United States have led discussions with Facebook, Google and other sites to restrict what they choose to describe as hate speech. They have been successful, obtaining the agreement of those companies to set up standards that will in effect limit any criticisms of Israel and permit criticism of the Palestinians and other Arabs,” Giraldi explained.

He noted that “the companies can, in fact, do what they want as they are private entities. However, “if the public begins to understand that they are cooperating with governments to censor their product it will hurt their bottom lines as advertisers will go elsewhere,” he pointed out.

Commenting on what is behind the Silicon Valley giant’s apparent pliability to Washington and Tel Aviv, the ex-CIA officer opined that “the companies for the most part go along with Israel and the US government because they are fearful that the US government will intervene to regulate the system.”

“In the case of Israel, they fear lawsuits from Israel’s many and powerful friends in the United States,” Giraldi suggested.

Regardless of Donald Trump’s assuming office, the United States government has been doing much of the same since the time of the Obama administration, the former intelligence official underscored.

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook is giving the US government more and more data

By Hanna Kozlowska | Quartz | December 19, 2017

Every year, Facebook gets tens of thousands of requests for data from governments worldwide, including search warrants, subpoenas, or calls to restrict certain kinds of content. According to a new report released by the company on Dec. 18, these requests are increasing.

In the US, the requests rose by 26% from the last six months of 2016 to the first six months of 2017, while globally, requests increased by about 21%. Since 2013, when the company first started providing data on government requests, the US number has been steadily rising—it has roughly tripled in a period of four years.

Facebook has also been more forthcoming. In the first six months of 2013, it granted the government—which includes the police—79% of requests (“some data was produced” in these cases, the company says); in the first six months of 2017, that share rose to 85%.

“We continue to carefully scrutinize each request we receive for account data — whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere — to make sure it is legally sufficient,” Chris Sonderby, the company’s general counsel, wrote in a post. “If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary.”

Facebook also says that 57% of the requests they got from US law enforcement included a non-disclosure order that bans the company from telling the user that their data was requested. This type of secret request was up by a whopping 50% from the last six months of 2016, but it’s unclear why. Quartz reached out to Facebook for comment.

More than 1,800 requests were so-called “emergency disclosures,” which are granted to law enforcement on a case-by-case basis, and are a subject of some controversy. They include, for instance, requests to suspend someone’s account, as was the case with Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old mother who was shot and killed by police in 2016, after she reportedly threatened officers with a weapon. She was broadcasting her confrontation on Facebook, and police asked the company to shut down her account, saying that other users were egging her on.

As Quartz reported, law enforcement says it is the best judge of such situations and would like to have greater control over access to digital evidence than they do now. Privacy activists would rather leave some discretion to the companies—but would also like to see more transparency in Facebook’s policies.

December 23, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Australia to probe Facebook & Google

RT | December 4, 2017

Australia’s competition regulator has begun an inquiry into whether the influence of the US tech giants Facebook and Google has harmed the media sector. The probe is part of the country’s broader media reforms.

“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators, and advertisers,” said Rod Sims, the Chairman of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

He added that the inquiry would study how Facebook and Google operated to “fully understand their influence in Australia.”

The government has reportedly ordered the investigation due to concerns about the future of the media sector following years of falling profits, newsroom job cuts and the rise of fake news.

The inquiry will have the power to demand information from Google, Facebook and other firms, as well as hold hearings.

Since 2000, European regulators have investigated tech giants Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon over a range of antitrust issues. Google is currently facing more than a €1 billion fine from the EU for abusing search practices. The penalty could become the largest in the history of monopoly abuse cases.

In another case, the EU is investigating whether Google unfairly banned competitors from websites that used its search bar and advertisements. It is also examining how the firm pays and limits mobile phone providers who use its Android software and Play app store.

In September, Spain’s data protection watchdog fined Facebook, saying the social network breached laws designed to protect people’s information and confidentiality. It said the company collected personal data from its users in Spain without obtaining their ‘unequivocal consent’ and without informing them how such information would be used.

The social media giant has also been slapped with a €150,000 fine by the French data protection watchdog for the way the company targeted advertising and tracked users. The penalty was part of a wider probe carried out in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany into some of the corporation’s practices.

December 4, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Google’s Censorship of Sputnik and RT ‘Very Dangerous’ – Psychologist

Sputnik – 21.11.2017

Google is “deciding what people see,” which is “very dangerous” since they are legally a tech company and do not adhere to any type of editorial standards our guidelines, research psychologist Robert Epstein told Sputnik following Google’s announcement that it was working to make Sputnik and RT articles less visible on its search engine.

“It’s not clear Google should be able to exercise editorial control” by deranking Sputnik articles since Google “isn’t accountable to editorial standards,” he said.

“Companies like Google and Facebook play both sides: they pretend to be objective but exercise enormous editorial control” and “censorship” over what mass audiences see, Epstein told Sputnik News.

​Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California, pioneered research in the “search engine manipulation effect.” The research showed that biased search results presented by Google could influence how undecided voters choose presidential candidates.

“What we’re talking about here is a means of mind control on a massive scale that there is no precedent for in human history,” he said at the time. Research participants spent a much larger percentage of web browsing time visiting search results that were higher up. According to Epstein, biased Google results could have provided an extra 2.6 million votes in support of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race.

His research found that Google’s “autocomplete” function would frequently suggest “little marco” and “lying ted,” two of US President Donald Trump’s preferred pet names during the election, but rarely, if ever, prompted users to search for “crooked hillary” or “corrupt kaine.”

Speaking with Science Magazine last October, Epstein explained, “Google pretends to be the public library, but it isn’t. Public libraries don’t… track people [and] they don’t sell the history of your book borrowing to other companies. They simply help you find stuff. That’s what we need. We need to take Google’s search engine and make it public.”

On Saturday, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, told a session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada “We are working on detecting and de-ranking those kinds of sites — it’s basically RT and Sputnik. We are we trying to engineer the systems to prevent [the content from being delivered to wide audiences]. But we don’t want to ban the sites — that’s not how we operate.”

​”Good to have Google on record as defying all logic and reason: facts aren’t allowed if they come from RT, ‘because Russia’ — even if we have Google on Congressional record saying they’ve found no manipulation of their platform or policy violations by RT,” Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Sputnik and RT, said in response to the news.

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Trump groups fund ‘trust indicators’ to combat ‘fake news’ on social media

RT | November 17, 2017

Under pressure to stop the spread of false information, Facebook, Google and Twitter have turned to the Trust Project to inform users of the credibility of news sources. But the supposed nonpartisan effort is funded by deep-pocketed anti-Trump forces.

On Thursday, Facebook, Google and Twitter announced their participation in the initial phase of implementing the Trust Project’s “trust indicators,” notes attached to news posts to let the reader know if the post is an advertisement or to provide background information on the author or sources, including a publisher’s ethics policy and funding arrangements.

The Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Economist, Vox.com, and the Globe and Mail, and other outlets are among the select few currently permitted to use the indicators. Search engines and social media feeds are being improved to gravitate toward, not just what their users want to see, but also sources deemed respectable, and that’s what the indicators seek to influence.

The Trust Project is based at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, but is funded by craigslist.com founder and philanthropist Craig Newmark, as well as Google, the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Markkula Foundation.

Newmark, also a founder of the Trust Project, has poured millions of dollars into various vehicles aimed at restoring trust in the media. Earlier this year, he donated $1 million to ProPublica, saying, “As a news consumer, I won’t pay for news I can’t trust.”

The Trust Project, however, is not simply another way for Newmark to support news outlets with his own money. He has been looking to take stronger steps to boost the journalism he likes best since his favored candidate Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race to Donald Trump last year.

The 2016 election result stunned almost everyone, with many wondering if Americans had made a fully-informed choice. The influence of the internet had increased considerably since 2012 and 2008, just as trust in mass media declined to an all-time low. Gallup found that less than one-third of Americans held a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in mainstream news. Meanwhile, people’s enchantment with social media has seen both solid alternative reporting and “fake news” disseminated widely.

For Newmark, the added element of alleged Russian meddling made the issue of trust in media all the more urgent to address. In recent weeks, during and following testimony by Facebook, Google and Twitter representatives to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Newmark tweeted that it was “a huge deal” that the committee kept referring to the matter of “fake news” in terms of war.

Last week, Newmark tweeted a 1970 quote by Canadian media theorist, professor and philosopher Marshall McLuhan: “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.”

Funding for the Trust Project also comes from the Democracy Fund, whose founder, Pierre Omidyar, also founded the online auction site eBay. Omidyar has contributed $1 million to the Clinton Foundation for HIV/AIDS treatment, but also donated $100,000 to the NeverTrump political action committee in April 2016.

Fact-checking news sources is not new to Omidyar. His Omidyar Network also funds projects of the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalism that owns the Tampa Bay Times, the home of Politifact, which has been criticized for having a left-leaning bias. Omidyar once went as far as comparing Trump to “the personal and political styles of early Adolf Hitler” in a tweet.

Joe Goldman, president of the purportedly bipartisan Democracy Fund, retweeted a video of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) during the November 1 Senate hearings with social media representatives on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The video showed the ranking committee member admonishing the tech companies for “not getting it.”

“We’re talking about the beginning of cyberwarfare,” Feinstein said. “We’re talking about a major foreign power with the sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country.”

“You’ve created these platforms, and now they are being misused,” she added, “and you have to be the ones to do something, or we will.”

Read more:

Google & Soros-backed ‘fact-checkers’ join forces to control news search results

Twitter, Google & Facebook grilled by Senate, try hard to find ‘Russian influence’

‘Zero collusion’: Trump says Russia probe a disgrace, many ads ‘bad’ for him

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments