‘Land of censorship & home of the fake’: Alternative voices on Facebook and Twitter’s crackdown
Alternative voices online are incensed after Facebook and Twitter closed down hundreds of political media pages ahead of November's crucial midterm elections. Facebook says they broke its spam rules, they say it’s censorship.
Some 800 pages spanning the political spectrum, from left-leaning organizations like The Anti Media, to flag-waving opinion sites like Right Wing News and Nation in Distress, were shut down. Other pages banned include those belonging to police brutality watchdog groups Filming Cops and Policing the Police. Even RT America’s Rachel Blevins found her own page banned for posts that were allegedly “misleading users.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter’s coordinated ‘deplatforming’ of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. “Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed,” he wrote. “That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history.”
Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content - something they didn't actually want to do - are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed. That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history: https://t.co/IZHF8GVkgC— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 12, 2018
Infowars’ own Paul Joseph Watson weighed in, arguing, “If you don’t support free speech for even your most ardent adversaries, you don’t support free speech.”
Unlike most leftists who laughed & celebrated when Infowars was purged by Big Tech, I vehemently oppose the censorship and deletion of left-wing pages by Facebook and Twitter.If you don't support free speech for even your most ardent adversaries, you don't support free speech.— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) October 12, 2018
“Facebook, land of the censorship and home of the fake, strikes again!” wrote Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff.
“No more Free Thought for you!” quipped journalist Max Blumenthal, as both Facebook and Twitter shut down the Free Thought Project’s pages, while anti-war journalist Caitlin Johnstone described the shutdown as the “latest escalation of corporate censorship used as state censorship in the west.”
Facebook: No more Free Thought for you! https://t.co/6dT87ZIaTP— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 12, 2018
Antiwar critics of establishment politics @AntiMedia and @TFTPROJECT just had their pages with millions of followers deleted by Facebook, along with hundreds of other alternative media outlets. Latest escalation of corporate censorship used as state censorship in the west. pic.twitter.com/Fdk9Yd13jI— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 11, 2018
Facebook claims that the accounts were shut down for “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” and, disturbingly, the company said in a blog post that it is working hard to root out pages, groups and accounts “created to stir up political debate.”
In America, Conservatives were the first to complain about unfair treatment by left-leaning Silicon Valley tech giants. However, leftist sites have increasingly become targets in what Blumenthal calls “a wider war on dissident narratives in online media.” In identifying enemies in this “war,” Facebook has partnered up with the Digital Forensics Lab, an offshoot of NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council. The DFL has promised to be Facebook’s "eyes and ears" in the fight against disinformation (read: alternative viewpoints).
With the Atlantic Council funded by a plethora of private donors, state institutions, and arms manufacturers, it is little wonder that some commenters on Twitter saw the group’s fingerprints all over the latest round of bans.
As Facebook deletes over 800 activist pages remember why it partnered up with the Atlantic Council: an attempt to ensure the grip of dominant imperialist powers, militaries, multinationals & banks who feel threatened by anti-establishment narratives. https://t.co/LVcIovRONZ— Mnar A. Muhawesh (@MnarMuh) October 11, 2018
The entity that is making censorship decisions for Facebook, as publicly announced, is the Atlantic Council, a partly US government-funded entity. At what point will the extremely tight ties between these companies and the US government end the "they are private" argument?— Daniel McAdams (@DanielLMcAdams) October 12, 2018
The military/intelligence agency-funded “think tanks” like the Atlantic Council who define for Facebook/Twitter etc what “fake news” accounts to purge are a very real form of state censorship.“It’s not a free speech issue if corporations censor it” is exactly the con being played— Jaded Mandarin (@Hollywood_Dave) October 12, 2018
Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Lab doing a bangup job as Facebook's censor https://t.co/Qb9Tvj7mxk— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) October 4, 2018
For now, Facebook and Twitter have been free to censor with impunity. This places alternative journalists and news outlets at the companies’ mercy: no viable competitors to Facebook and Twitter exist, save for twitter-clone Gab.ai, which has been slammed by mainstream media as a breeding ground for far-right extremism.
Citizen journalist Lee Stranahan called for a stockholder lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that repeated terms-of-service changes are killing the company’s business. However, until that happens, users will have to accept censorship as just another one of these terms.
One possible way to fight the Facebook censorship issue would be to organize a stockholder lawsuit, since by randomly changing their TOS and banning sites they are killing their business. This is the language they understand.— 𝙻𝚎𝚎 𝚂𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚑𝚊𝚗 (@stranahan) October 12, 2018
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