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‘Russian bots’ outcry: Is Twitter cracking down on people who ‘challenge the status quo’?

RT | February 22, 2018

It seems that ‘the bots’ (especially the ‘Russian bots’) narrative is being used as a kind of defensive mechanism, journalist and human rights activist Mike Raddie told RT amid reports of a massive account purge on Twitter.

A crackdown on bot spam or dissent?

“The whole meme of the bots, especially the ‘Russian bots,’ is actually being used as a kind of defensive mechanism,” said Mike Raddie. “Whenever people criticize the corporate media in the West – we’ve done it with the Guardian – they come back and say, ‘oh, you’re part of a Russian bot army,’ or a typical question is, ‘what’s the weather like in St. Petersburg? Is it snowing in Moscow yet?’ So it’s a very useful meme for corporate journalists to deflect any kind of criticism, especially over hot topics such as Syria, Ukraine – things like this.”

A number of Twitter accounts are said to have been flagged over the past few days, in what many have speculated is part of the company’s efforts to clamp down on the much-touted army of Russian-controlled automated accounts, or “bots.” However, Twitter has yet to elaborate on the reported mass purge, which allegedly also targeted users with right-wing views – raising concerns of political censorship on the popular social media platform. The hashtag #TwitterLockOut began trending on the site shortly after the suspensions.

“If Twitter has begun this campaign of eliminating or blocking people that have different ideas than the company wants to portray or the message that they want to get out, I think it’s very harming to democracy and freedom of speech,” Christian Mancera, a lawyer and 2018 congressional candidate, told RT. “We have to keep every single channel of communication open, and just because a person has a conservative view doesn’t make that person an enemy, or make that person politically incorrect. So I hope that Twitter comes forward and clarifies.”

Although his own outlet’s Twitter account recently received a 12-hour suspension, allegedly for “criticizing a multi-billionaire,” Raddie suggested that most users who get hit with the ban hammer are likely victims of the company’s “crude algorithm,” and not singled out by an actual Twitter employee. However, he said the company’s recent behavior suggests that when Twitter “sees challenges, serious challenges, to the status quo, they’re likely to limit activity or even block accounts or delete accounts.”

Hunting for ‘Russian links’

Dragged in front of the US Senate last year as part of efforts to expose “Russian influence” in the 2016 presidential elections, Twitter initially revealed that it had identified 201 “Russia-linked” accounts operating on its platform. After Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) expressed disappointment in the anticlimactic findings, Twitter raised its figure to 36,746.

As part of its autumn crackdown, Twitter banned an account owned by an African-American political activist from Atlanta – allegedly for her “links” to Russia. “This whole suppression of voices in using this Russian scare tactic is just way too far,” Charlie Peach, who has absolutely no ties to Russia, told RT back in October.

“In my lifetime I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t remember the McCarthyism era, obviously, because I’m not that old, but my parents talked to me about it and things that were occurring at the time,” Peach told RT. “It ensures that the 1 percent continues to have a narrative and that anyone who opposes that are no longer allowed to speak. You look at CNN, MSNBC ‒ they gave us the Iraq War. This is what they do. The main media houses that run everything are the ones that continue to push the propaganda and make sure we’re shut down.”

In January, the US Senate Intelligence Committee published answers provided by Twitter, Facebook and Google in response to questions concerning Russia’s alleged use of social media to meddle with American democracy. In its written response, Twitter disclosed that it had identified nine accounts as being “potentially linked to Russia that promoted election-related, English-language content.” Of these nine nefarious accounts “potentially linked” to Russia, “the most significant use of advertising was by @RT_com and @RT_America. Those two accounts collectively ran 44 different ad campaigns, accounting for nearly all of the relevant advertising we reviewed,” according to Twitter. Conspicuously absent from Twitter’s written statement was the fact that the American tech giant traveled to Moscow to pitch a proposal for RT to spend huge sums on advertising for the US presidential election – an offer which RT declined.

‘Shadow ban’ controversy

More recently, in January, conservative journalism watchdog Project Veritas released undercover footage of current and former Twitter staff who appear to admit to silencing conservative voices using “shadow bans” – which block a user or their content from reaching a wider audience without their knowledge.

“We’re giving away an awful lot to these companies, but when they come out and publicly say they want to be the public forum for free speech, yet they’re censoring free speech and they are slanting what free speech can or cannot be heard, then there’s a problem,” Project Veritas executive director Russell Verney told RT.

Read more:

Buzz kill: Tech giants struggle to find ‘Russian meddling’ in written answers to US Senate

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

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, 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

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

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,, 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 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

Twitter no longer believes in “speaking truth to power” – updated rules

RT | November 6, 2017

Twitter no longer believes in “speaking truth to power,” according to its latest rules update in the midst of US lawmakers’ frantic hunt for “Russian meddling” in social media.

The microblogging site’s rules, under the section “Abusive Behavior,” currently state: “We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up.” On November 2, it read “We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power.”

Incidentally, on November 1, Twitter, along with Google and Facebook, was grilled by US lawmakers in an ongoing witch-hunt for “Russian influence” that may have led to interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In its testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week, Twitter revealed it has used a vast array of tenuous criteria to define accounts as “Russia-linked,” and also admitted it had censored the hashtags #PodestaEmails and #DNCLeaks tweets during the 2016 US presidential election campaign in an effort to limit public exposure to leaked documents describing the Democratic National Committee’s efforts to boost Clinton as the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate during the primaries.

Twitter Associate General Counsel Sean Edgett claimed many of those tweets were “automated” and hidden by anti-spam systems. He also admitted that less than 4 percent of them came from potential “Russian-linked” accounts.

Last week, Twitter also announced it was banning all ads from RT and Sputnik, citing the same allegations of meddling in the 2016 US election. That, despite the company previously trying to engage RT in a special US election advertising package, which RT declined.

The changes to Twitter’s rules were apparently made as part of a November 3 attempt to “clarify” them.

In a statement, the company said that it wanted to make it clear that “context is crucial when evaluating abusive behavior and determining appropriate enforcement actions.”

A separate update will be issued on November 14 with more details on how the company reviews and enforces policies, according to Twitter.

RT has reached out to Twitter for comment on the change to the wording of its policy.

Read more:

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

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook, Google could help US ‘retaliate’ against Russia, other nations – Senator McConnell

RT | November 5, 2017

Days after tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google were grilled on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested using the companies to attack other nations.

On Tuesday, senior executives from the trio of major tech firms went before the US Congress to discuss an alleged ‘disinformation’ campaign supposedly designed to influence the election.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has since suggested that social media and other internet services could provide the US with an opportunity to “retaliate” against adversaries such as Russia.

Speaking to MSNBC, McConnell expressed his disappointment that key figures like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had not provided answers at Tuesday’s hearing.

He then mooted the idea of weaponizing their services. Big tech could be used, he said, to “retaliate” against Russia, whose government has repeatedly denied any allegations of attempts to influence US voters.

“What we ought to do with regard to the Russians is retaliate. Seriously retaliate against the Russians and these tech firms could be helpful in giving us a way to do that,” McConnell told MSNBC host Hugh Hewitt.

McConnell added that he wasn’t sure if it’s a good idea for a special committee to assess the relationship between US security agencies and tech companies. He said the challenge facing US authorities is balancing security with First Amendment rights, which he believes should not extend to “foreigners.”

“It certainly would help if the CEOs were willing to testify [at Congress]. But I think the big, big subject with a lot of national security implications… [is] trying to figure out how to balance national security versus the First Amendment.”

November 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter: Speaking Russian, Having Russian IP Makes You a Kremlin Shill

Sputnik – 02.11.2017

During testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a representative of Twitter admitted that his company discovered alleged Russian election interference on their platform by flagging every account with Russian text, email, phone, IP address and so on as a potential agent of the Kremlin.

It sounds like we’re making this up, but we aren’t. This statement came from the mouth of Twitter’s Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett as he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We’re looking at things like, whether they registered in Russia, do they have a Russian phone number, are they on a Russian mobile carrier, do they have a Russian email address, are they coming in from a Russian IP, have they ever… logged in at any time from Russia?” Edgett testified.

In other words, Russian shills include anyone who bought a phone in Russia, lives in Russia, used Twitter in Russia, does business in Russia or with Russians. You’re probably a Russian shill just for reading this article, according to Twitter.

Perhaps the most telling comment was in Edgett’s written testimony that was submitted to the Senate. It read that accounts with “Russian language or Cyrillic characters [that appear] in the account information or name” were also flagged as “Russia-linked.” (Emphasis ours.)

Although this should probably go without saying, speaking Russian does not make you Russian — and being Russian does not make you a servant of Vladimir Putin. Virtually every former Soviet Socialist Republic has a large percentage of Russian speakers among their population.

It isn’t just the former Soviet Union. There are 3 million speakers in Germany (a holdover from East Germany) and about 1 million in Israel (a result of the diaspora of Russian Jews after the Soviet Union collapsed.) Some 850,000 Americans have Russian as their primary household language. If any of them thought to type something Russian on Twitter, they are now Kremlin shills. Oops.

But wait, there’s more. Cyrillic is the alphabet used in the Russian language — as well as the national languages of countries such as Ukraine (a US ally) Bulgaria and Montenegro (NATO members alongside the US). It is the alphabet of the languages of dozens of ethnic groups in Central Asia, as well as the Dungan and Uyghur peoples of China.

It’s also the alphabet of the language of the Yupik people — the vast majority of whom live in reservations in Alaska, US of A. Truly, the network of Kremlin interference is frightening, that an entire ethnic group of American Indians have become their election-jacking puppets. There are, of course, already allegations that Russians somehow infiltrated or co-opted the Standing Rock Sioux protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline last year.

Twitter also admitted to censoring (or “taking action… to fight automation and spam on our platform,” in their parlance) hashtags that related to the WikiLeaks release of the private emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in October as well as emails from the Democratic National Committee in July. Twenty-five percent of all tweets tagged #PodestaEmails were automatically hidden, and 48 percent of tweets tagged #DNCLeak met the same fate.

Again, this is not a Pepe Silvia-esque conspiracy theory. These are statements taken directly from sworn testimony from Twitter’s official representative.

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Facespook! Social media giant becomes arm of US intel

By Finian Cunningham | RT | October 18, 2017

Facebook, the world’s top social media platform, is reportedly seeking to hire hundreds of employees with US national security clearance licenses.

Purportedly with the aim of weeding out “fake news” and “foreign meddling” in elections.

If that plan, reported by Bloomberg, sounds sinister, that’s because it is. For what it means is that people who share the same worldview as US intelligence agencies, the agencies who formulate classified information, will have a direct bearing on what millions of consumers on Facebook are permitted to access.

It’s as close to outright US government censorship on the internet as one can dare to imagine, and this on a nominally independent global communication network. Your fun-loving place “where friends meet.”

Welcome to Facespook!

As Bloomberg reports: “Workers with such [national security] clearances can access information classified by the US government. Facebook plans to use these people – and their ability to receive government information about potential threats – in the company’s attempt to search more proactively for questionable social media campaigns ahead of elections.”

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment, but the report sounds credible, especially given the context of anti-Russia hysteria.

Over the past year, since the election of Donald Trump as US president, the political discourse has been dominated by “Russia-gate” – the notion that somehow Kremlin-controlled hackers and news media meddled in the election. The media angst in the US is comparable to the Red Scare paranoia of the 1950s during the Cold War.

Facebook and other US internet companies have been hauled in front of Congressional committees to declare what they know about alleged “Russian influence campaigns.” Chief executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, are due to be questioned again next month by the same panels.

Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old CEO of Facebook, initially rebuffed claims his company had unwittingly assisted Russian interference in the last US election in November. But after months of non-stop allegations by politicians and prominent news media outlets vilifying Russia, Zuckerberg and the other social media giants are buckling.

Led, perhaps unwittingly, by US intelligence fingering of Russian meddling, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are now saying they have discovered postings and advertisements “linked to the Russian government.” Notably, the sources impugning the “offending ads” are the intelligence agencies and members of Congress who are hawkish on the Russia-gate narrative.

One glaring weakness in this narrative is that the alleged “Russian ads” involved a spend of $100,000 on Facebook. Twitter identified $274,000 worth of “Russian-linked ads.” Some of the information being promoted appears to be entirely innocuous, such as pet-lovers sharing cute photos of puppies.

It is far from clear how these ads are connected to Russian state agencies allegedly attempting to subvert the US elections. Moscow has dismissed the allegations.

Much of it is assumed and taken on face value from claims made by American intelligence and their political and media associates. But what is clear – albeit overlooked in much US media coverage – is the sheer implausibility that the Russian government intended to warp the US presidential election with a few hundred thousand dollars.

Facebook alone earns billions of dollars from advertising. The alleged Russian ads represent a drop in the bucket. The expenditure and presumed impact on public opinion is also negligible compared to the billions of dollars American corporations donated to the election campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Facebook are among the top 50 biggest US corporate donors in lobbying the Federal government and Congress. Last year, the top 50 corporations reportedly spent over $700 million, of which Alphabet and Facebook contributed $15 million and $8.7 million, respectively. This expenditure is explicitly intended to influence policy and legislation. So, what’s that about Russia allegedly swaying the presidential election with a fraction of the financial muscle?

Despite the irrational focus on Russian meddling, internet companies like Facebook have become willing participants in the official efforts to clamp down on this illusory “enemy of democracy.”

What’s more is the complete oversight on how the US media environment is increasingly dominated and controlled by vested powerful corporate interests.

While the mainstream media and politicians fret over alleged Russian influence on American citizens, there is an absurd absence in the public debate about the disproportionate power of just six US media conglomerates dominating all major American news services.

Social media and internet companies are vying with the traditional news channels. In a recent article, New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote about the “Frightful Five” – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet (Google). He writes: “The Five elicit worries of total social control.”

The influence these US-owned media giants exert cuts across all cultural sectors, from the news received, to books, film and other entertainment. In effect, these companies are molding citizens into the consumers that they want to maximize their profits.

Facebook’s reported plans to employ US government-validated people who can use their intelligence contacts and prejudices to control what millions of ordinary people will read, watch or listen to is another manifestation of the larger drift into a corporate matrix.

Under the preposterous guise of “protecting” from “fake news” and “foreign meddling in elections,” Facebook is turning into a government censor.

This disturbing trend has accelerated over the last year. Far from Russia or some other foreign impostor tampering with freedom of information and free speech – supposed bedrocks of democracy – it is increasingly American companies that are the very real and formidable constraint.

Robert Bridge, a fellow Op-Edge contributor, said Facebook appears to be deliberately blocking links disseminating particular news stories carried by the channel.

Bridge concurs with the experience of many other ordinary people around the world who also have noticed how US internet companies have substantially curbed the search freedom previously enjoyed on the internet.

“It’s really incredible how Google and YouTube have earnestly started manipulating their algorithms and censoring news, ” says Bridge. “I was researching a story recently, and it was so difficult to pull up any relevant information that was not critical of Putin or Russia.”

A similar finding was reported by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), which carried out a study on how search traffic to that site and other left-wing, anti-war online journals has plummeted by over 50 percent since Google announced new search engines to curtail “fake news” back in April.

Facebook and the other big US internet companies are instead directing users to what they call “authoritative” news organizations, which by and large are corporate-controlled entities aligned with government interests. Ironically, these news outlets have peddled some of the biggest fake news stories, such as the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which launched a decade-long US war killing over a million Iraqis.

“Russia-gate” is another fabricated narrative which is being used to crush critical alternative sources.

The infernal paradox is that genuinely alternative, critical news sources are now at risk of being censored by internet companies working in league with nefarious US government intelligence.

Read more:

Welcome to 1984: Big Brother Google now watching your every political move

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter, pressured by Jewish group, cleansing internet of anti-Netanyahu material

My letter to Twitter legal department

By Kevin Barrett | Veterans Today | April 13, 2017

Twitter has asked me to remove the above tweet, due to a complaint from the leading French Jewish group, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF). Below is a copy of my email correspondence with the Twitter Legal Department.

Dear Twitter,

I most certainly am not going to remove this content. It consists of a brilliant, incisive work of art by David Dees, who is widely viewed as one of the two or three most important (and most-viewed) political artists working today. I am copying him on this email.

The art work in question is a passionate protest against the brutal abuse of the human rights of Palestinians by the war criminal leader of Israel, Netanyahu. Many thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians have been slaughtered in repeated assaults on Gaza by the Netanyahu regime, which routinely drops white phosphorus on civilian targets, bombs ambulances, schools, hospitals, refugee shelters and UN humanitarian installations, and refers to these regular massacres of thousands of innocents as routine “mowing the lawn.”

These and other atrocities are committed in order to ethnically cleanse Palestine and purify it as a “Jewish State.” So Dees’ use of the Israeli flag with the Star of David, and the images of rabbis, is entirely appropriate in context, as is the use of the US flag symbolizing US complicity in these crimes. (I am copying Naturei Karta International, a group of anti-Zionist Jews led by my colleague Rabbi Weiss, and will happily take down the content if the Rabbi thinks it is bigoted or inappropriate.) Calling out Jewish-Zionist and American oppressors does not amount to bigotry against Zionist Jews or Americans. Both of these two human groups are powerful in relation to other groups, and both are using their power to horrifically oppress the relatively powerless people of Palestine.

There is no bigotry in siding with the powerless against the powerful. The concept of bigotry is only meaningful in relation to prejudices against relatively powerless, oppressed groups, not powerful oppressing ones. If you start censoring people for “prejudice against the powerful” where will it end? Will we be prohibited from mocking, deriding, deploring, and otherwise verbally and artistically attacking rich people, politicians, CEOs, dictators, ruling classes, celebrities, bullies, and other powerful and privileged individuals and groups?

I will be happy to discuss these issues with representatives from Twitter and/or CRIF, am available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. US Central, and eagerly await your call. I speak fluent French and would love to speak with a CRIF representative en français.


Dr. Kevin Barrett

(phone number redacted)

On Apr 13, 2017, at 5:26 PM, Twitter Legal <> wrote:

Dear Twitter user,We are writing to inform you that Twitter has received correspondence from the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), regarding your Twitter account, @truthjihad, specifically:

One of our core values is to defend and respect the user’s voice. Accordingly, it is our standard policy to notify users upon receipt of a request to remove content from their account.  

We are notifying you of this request about your account so that you may decide whether or how you will respond. Please let us know (by replying directly to this email) whether you will remove the reported content. Please note that we may be obligated to take action regarding the content identified in the request in the future.

For more information on our Country Withheld Content policy please see this page:

If you believe we have contacted you in error, please reply to this email and let us know.

Twitter is not able to provide legal advice. You may wish to consult legal counsel about this matter. For more general information on legal requests, please refer to the following Help Center article:



Reported Username: @truthjihad
Reporter Username: @Le_CRIF
Reporter Email: [Redacted]
Reported URL:

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘State-imposed thought police’: German politicians, activists slam bill on hate speech & fake news

RT | April 5, 2017

The German government has approved a new bill on combating hate speech and fake news, under which social networks could face hefty fines if they fail to remove offensive content promptly. Critics denounced the bill as a violation of free speech.

The bill, introduced by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, is aimed at forcing social network giants such as Facebook or Twitter to take more responsibility for the content posted by users and to make it compliant with German law.

“We do not accept the fact that companies in Germany do not adhere to the law. Therefore in future, if it doesn’t get better, we will impose high fines on these companies,” Maas told German broadcaster ARD’s ‘Morgenmagazin’ show.

“Social-network providers are responsible when their platforms are misused to propagate hate crimes and fake news,” he wrote in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

Earlier, Maas had already warned that online companies that fail to delete content tagged as offensive by some users within the timeframe set in the new bill would face fines of up to €50 million (US$53 million).

Executives of social media groups also risk individual fines of up to €5 million ($5.3 million) in case of non-compliance.

The proposed legislation says that “openly offensive” content should be deleted by social networks within 24 hours after being reported by users, while content whose nature is not clearly offensive should be examined and removed within a week if its illegality is confirmed.

The legislation also stresses that the authorities should take a “cautious approach” towards fining online giants, and only in cases when they regularly fail to remove explicitly offensive content. Social networks should not be punished if the violations of the new regulations take place only in some “specific individual cases,” it states.

The list of offensive materials includes various forms of hate speech and online incitement of hatred as well as fake news, libel, and defamation, along with child pornography and terrorism-related activities.

However, the task of identifying, examining and removing such content is in fact handed over to social network administrators and the users themselves.

At the same time, the bill obliges social networks to provide users with “an easily recognizable, directly reachable, and constantly available” complaint process for “prosecutable content.”

The legislation also obliges online giants to provide reports to the German authorities concerning how many complaints they receive from users, how many offensive posts they remove and how quickly they do it.

The reports, which should be provided every three months, must also include data on how many employees are tasked with dealing with offensive content in each social network company.

Earlier, Maas admitted that an attempt to make social networks remove offensive content on a voluntary basis “has failed,” as he explained the necessity for the new measures, German media report.

According to a survey conducted by the Justice Ministry, Facebook deleted about 46 percent of offensive and illegal content between July and August 2016, while between February and January 2017 this figure dropped to 39 percent. Twitter reportedly removed only 1 percent of content deemed illegal in recent months. YouTube, however, deleted as much as 90 percent of such material over the same period, as reported by Deutsche Welle.

‘Freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins’

The bill provoked a wave of criticism from opposition politicians, media companies and various network activists.

Renate Kuenast, the Green Party’s legal expert, criticized the legislation by saying that it would effectively limit the freedom of expression.

“My fear, and that of many others, is that in the end the version [Maas] is now presenting will limit freedom of opinion because it will simply become delete, delete, delete,” she said, as cited by Deutsche Welle.

She also said that the hefty fines envisaged in the bill would work as “almost an invitation to not only delete real insults, but everything for safety’s sake.”

Her words were partly echoed by Google representatives, who warned that the proposed legislation could lead to “overblocking.”

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki called the proposed fines “a heavy burden for the [social network] platforms,” adding that “the platforms could remove content that should not be removed” out of fear of being fined, Der Spiegel reports.

The German Publishers Association (VDZ) went further and denounced the justice minister’s proposal as an attempt to create a “state-imposed private thought police.”

Even some NGOs, such as the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, which campaigns against right-wing parties, racism and anti-Semitism, said that the new bill is “in fact a limitation of the freedom of expression.”

In the comments on his new proposal, Maas acknowledged that freedom of expression “has huge significance in our democracy,” adding at the same time that “freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins” and stressing that the new bill would be only the beginning.

According to the German media, the parliament plans to pass the new bill before the summer break. Some critics explain such a “rush” by the government’s desire to make it a law before the elections in September.

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment