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Washington’s Blog: Facebook Censors Prominent Political Critics

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censorship on Social Networking Facebook Censors Prominent Political Critics

Update: Facebook Yields to Pressure: Reactivates Political Critics’ Accounts

 

We’ve previously documented that the largest social media websites censor government criticism.

For example, Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list.   For instance, Facebook deletes accounts created by any Palestinian resistance groups.

Today, Facebook deactivated the Facebook accounts of some of the leading American political critics.

For example, former diplomat and U.C. Berkeley Professor Emeritus Peter Dale Scott told us that his Facebook account was suddenly deactivated today without any justification.

So did Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

And Michael Rivero, owner of the popular website What Really Happened.

Infowars – one of the world’s most popular alternative media sites – confirms that accounts for the following political commentators have been shut down:

  • Kurt Nimmo, writer for Infowars.com and formerly Counterpunch
  • Aaron Dykes of Infowars
  • Jason from Infowars
  • Infowar Artist

Indeed, Facebook told an Infowars reporter last year not to post anything political:

Be careful making about making political statements on facebook … facebook is about building relationships not a platform for your political viewpoint. Don’t antagonize your base. Be careful and congnizat (sic) of what you are preaching.

And Infowars also confirms that the Facebook account for Natural News – one of the most popular alternative health sites – has been shut down.

Reports are that the Facebook accounts of a number of other political critics were suspended or deactivated today as well, including:

  • Robert M. Bowman, former director of the “Star Wars” defense program under President Ronald Reagan
  • Anthony J. Hilder, popular radio host
  • William Lewis
  • Wacboston
  • Michael Murphy
  • Mike Skuthan
  • Packy Savvenas
  • Sean Wright and Katherine Albrect

We will update this post as we receive additional information.

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68 comments

    1. Bev

      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/11/comments-and-submissions.html

      When Washingtons blog again changed comment systems, past comments disappeared. Washingtons blog initiated the above post to ask readers if they had experienced comments disappearing to which the answer was yes. Why the need for the question, unless Washingtons blog was seeing comments that others could not? Who was editing out the comments? Suggestions offered to retrieve old comments must not have worked.

      However, old comments gone missing, still show up in google, but not in posted article. How is that happening? For example when googling real journalist Len Hart’s article:

      AA Exposes Bush’s ‘Big Lie’: Flight 11 DID NOT FLY on 911! by Len Hart

      among the highest google posts are two articles by washingtonsblog in which Len Hart’s article was posted in the comment section.

      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/09/new-york-times-white-house-didnt-stop-911-because-it-thought-bin-laden-was-merely-pretending-to-be-planning-an-attack-to-distract-the-administration-from-saddam-hussein.html

      New York Times: White House Didn’t Stop 9/11 Because It Thought “Bin Laden Was Merely Pretending To Be Planning An Attack To Distract The Administration From Saddam Hussein”

      Posted on September 11, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog

      and

      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/09/sleeping-with-the-devil-how-u-s-and-saudi-backing-of-al-qaeda-led-to-911.html

      Sleeping With the Devil: How U.S. and Saudi Backing of Al Qaeda Led to 9/11

      Posted on September 5, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog

      And when I tried to repost to same articles in their new comment section, the comment disappeared again. So some censorship by someone is occuring there too.

      1. George Washington Post author

        Bev, we at Washington’s Blog have done everything we know how to reinstate any comments that were lost when we switched over to Disqus. If anyone knows how to restore lost comments, please let us know!

      2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        Bev,
        Google has a caching system where they keep sometimes out-dated pages. I used to be on Twitter and deleted my whole account (there were bots and a copy of my Twitter at Jollygreengiant or something like that). Google still finds some of my old Twitter tweets, but as requested, my account is gone.
        Does anyone believe in “astroturfing”? I think I do …

  1. psychohistorian

    I am an aging techie that never saw any use in my life for social media and so they can’t bump me off what I never joined.

    That said I am not surprised…..you have to protect those young impressionable types from the wrong sort of exposure and not give them tools to take you down like in other countries.

    The iron fist of the rich in control of our world is coming out of the velvet glove.

    Maybe they can keep the economy in 2013 from taking another step down in our 2nd Depression but the Repression continues apace.

    1. psychohistorian

      Two more thoughts.

      Will the ACLU or anyone challenge the 1st amendment issues here?

      When are they going to start disappearing some or all of us?

      1. LifelongLib

        Facebook could argue that (like a newspaper) it doesn’t have to post (i.e. publish) opinions it disagrees with. As Beppo says below, it’s a corporation, not the government.

      2. William C

        It is not directly related to this matter, but I was similarly troubled to hear that John Stewart (the main man at HACAN – Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) was denied entry to the US recently when he had flown over to give advice to some US citizens how peacefully to oppose the expansion of airports. He has had some success here in the UK. Reportedly he was denied entry by US border control and put on a plane back to the UK after a few hours delay.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          On the day after Christmas my wife had her hair done by the same woman who has served her for about twenty years. The hair dresser, whom I’ll refer to as “C”, and a partner started their own business about 8 years ago and it was successful from the get-go. We all live and work in the same middle class suburb west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. As my wife sat down in the chair, C asked her if she wanted to hear a horror story.

          C and her husband and son live on a two acre spread on a busy feeder road, and last Sunday near midnight they were closing up after watching a movie on their DVD player when they heard some racket outside. C opened the front door to see what was going on and found half a dozen police officers in SWAT gear, including a K-9 unit, and the one with the bullhorn ordered her and her husband to come out with their hands up. At first she thought it was a prank but quickly realized otherwise. They went outside and were immediately cuffed and told to kneel down in the snow. They asked what this was about and were told nothing, and the officers proceeded to enter and search the house. There son awakened and was terrified, as were their dog and the two friend’s dogs that they were taking care of while their owner was away. Finally, after what C said was a half hour or so, they were uncuffed and told that someone had called 911 saying that as they’d driven by they’d seen a man with a gun threatening a woman in the front yard. But at no time did they ask C if she was OK or had been threatened. I have no idea if C or her husband asked if they had a search warrant or were even asked if the house could be searched in lieu of a warrant. When they asked about the phone call they were told that the 911 operator didn’t get the phone number. This sounds fatuous, considering that 911 operations, TTBOMK, see through blocked caller IDs. Although we are not personal friends with them, Mary Jo has never heard anything from C that might signal an abusive relationship. The only thing C knew of that took place outside was when heir son had taken the garbage out shortly before he’d gone to bed fifteen minutes or so before the nightmare began..

          As I said to my wife when she related C’s story to me, this is what people in the inner cities have been putting up with for decades. Now it’s coming to the burbs.

          1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

            That’s very strange. Over here in Canada, I would expect that to happen only when there was a highly dangerous imminent and persistent threat. Where’s the “proportional force”? The search warrant? Weird …

        2. Lidia

          “opposing the expansion of airports”

          This is quite interesting. I didn’t know there was any organized oppostion to airport expansion, other than local.

          I know that in my childhood hometown, it’s full steam ahead for an airport expansion despite the fact that passenger numbers there have been plummeting down, down, down the last ten years running. The enormous area slated for the new runways is a blighted mess.

          Is this sort of thing happening elsewhere, and does it have to do with domestic drones, I wonder?

          I know the supposedly-cash strapped Italian gov. is backing a DOUBLING of the size of Fiumicino, the airport serving Rome, but that could be because, magically and presciently, the Benetton family just happens to own the land that “needs” to be purchased, hence garden-variety corruption (although on a grand scale).

        3. nonclassical

          …Malcolm X was denied access to Paris, France, just prior to his assassination, to meet with African leaders to bring plight of poor before U.N.

          Shortly after, Ghana’s President Nkrumah was overthrown by CIA…having led modern economic development-Africa..

    2. Kurt

      No social media, eh? So thats why I’vr never heard of you or read what you have to say. Pretty neat trick.

      TIL even old people have hipsters.

  2. Beppo

    This is what happens when we let a corporation enclose the commons of “interacting with friends and acquaintances.” What’s a girl to do

    1. Yonatan

      Unfortunately Mr Zuckerberg has made his pile – say $20 billion at peak, so even if FB value reduces to 10% or 1%, he’s still loaded. The brokers on the IPO got their cut. I just hope my pension fund managers didn’t think it a good idea to invest in this POS.

  3. Middle Seaman

    Most if not all the sites and people allegedly censored by Facebook are not well known. Calling them prominent is a major stretch. Facebook is a private company not a government agency, it has no obligation to accept anyone. It would be nice if it wouldn’t censor. Still endless amount political criticism is on Facebook for everyone to see.

    I am a little uncomfortable with this post. At the very least it hides more than it reveals.

    1. Lidia

      Huh. So, it’s better to censor little-known voices than prominent ones, you seem to be saying.

      No niggling wonder how the prominent voices may have gotten prominent?

  4. Brick

    There are possibly multiple ways of looking at this, but for me the most concerning aspect is the lack of transparency.

    You could argue that by trying to keep facebook clear of political content that facebook is trying to divert political pressure for more intrusive monitoring. For instance if you read the small print in your network service providers contract you most likely find that there are a whole host of activities for which you can be fined (including swearing, using language likely to cause offence etc) whether verbally over the phone, through video or text format over the internet. Facebook could be asked to monitor and report incidents. So one argument could be that Facebook is trying to prevent overt censorship by pushing some users to other avenues.

    It could also be that like a lot of news outlets facebook is receiving requests by external parties that certain aspects of the news are not in the publics interest to know. Here I would expect facebook to be transparent and publish all requests so that we can see who is complaining.

    Most likely its a form of corporate branding in that facebook wants to be seen as family friendly and is making a right hash of trying to limit content. Once you start putting structures and limits on communication, that is pretty much the end of a product like facebook in my opinion. Either communication will go underground (Think pirate service providers operating from offshore ships) or somebody like google will do it better.

    Perhaps the wider question is why news in the US always seems to be somewhat trivialised and sanitized. Its almost as if major news outlets have become irrelevant to the real news issues being discussed on the street. I guess thats why Al Jazeera have introduced The stream for the US.

    1. Bill

      Who owns ALL the major news outlets in the USA . Large US corporations with a corparate agenda , anti middle class, keep the mushrooms in the dark propaganda message . News here is a waste of time watching , unless you are good at between the lines , or decoding D.C. double speak .

      Face book is fast being supported as a personal “info” tool on US citizens. FB may be a junk stock , but the US Gov’t will not let it fail.

      Now back to the Farm Bill non passage and 6$ a gallon milk .

  5. Aussie F

    Here in the ‘United Kingdom’ it’s even worse. Not only are Facebook pages and Twitter accounts selectively shut down, but anyone foolish enough to use these sites to communicate in a way the corporate sector or govt doesn’t like simply ends up in jail. The situation has even embarassed the Crown Prosecution service, who have felt themselves forced to request that judges exercise restraint.

  6. roots

    How come this doesn’t surprise me?

    As someone who vaguely members the 1950′s, this kind of repression has a familiar ring to it. But instead of going after commies, the effort now is to marginalise anyone who sticks their head up above the mindless chatter that commonly takes place on facebook. What are we coming to?

  7. mad as hell.

    I’ve seen my sister reprimanded on her job for a face book posting. She went on a vacation when on sick leave.

    I’ve seen an accused rapist set free because of a face book posting. She claimed the rapist was actually a nice guy and had her picture taken with him after the alleged event.

    You wanna get on a soap box and proclaim your glorious life.
    Remember two things. There are millions of potential listeners and the soap box is owned by a publicly traded company.

  8. WI Quarterback

    Such hypocracy from Facebook by saying “facebook is about building relationships not a platform for your political viewpoint”. Well Facebook, please tell me how much money was spent in advertising and talking-head travel reimbursements to hype Facebook’s ‘contribution’ in the Arab Spring?

    In my opinion, Facebook has devolved to be just a large-scale expiriment in the weaponization of public opinion. It is no longer about “building relationships”, but rather harnessing the energy of aggregate sentiment and directing it ON or OFF the direction that the Facebook knob-turners desire. The external premise for Facebook may be altruistic, but the corporate handlers are as mendacious and despicable as they come.

  9. Fíréan

    Richard Gage’s Facebook page(s)have been reported ” to be up” by a person posting on the main ae911truth F*ceB**K page, as at time of posting this here.

    http://www.facebook.com/ae911truth

    I do not have a F*c*Bo^k account, nor have anything to do with the company nor their services, and block their intrusive tracking cookies (which come via other unrelated website pages)using Ghostrey etc.. I am just reporting what is publicly viewable.

  10. psychohistorian

    I am sure you will all be happy to know that the pope is getting active in social media and sent out his first tweet recently.

    Ah, the truth according to faith. That is what we need more of I’m sure.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      How can you leave out the head of the Anglican Church in 3-D ? The British Crown, first on TV, first in 3-D, first in the hearts of the of the twitterati!!

  11. ScottA

    I am looking forward to the time when we can look back at the “Facebook” era, like we look back at the AOL era.

    http://stoweboyd.com/post/10300344884/facebook-is-the-new-yahoo-no-facebook-is-the-new-aol

    Facebook is such a f*cked-up way of using the internet.

    There are several new software packages which are FREE and UNCENSORABLE coming up, eg BuddyCloud and Friendica.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_software_and_protocols_for_distributed_social_networking

    F*ck Faceberg.

  12. ScottA

    Friendica (formerly known as Friendika) is open source software that implements a distributed social network. Before it became Friendika, the project started initially as Mistpark, developed by Mike Macgirvin, a software developer formerly employed by Symantec Corporation, America Online (AOL), Sun Microsystems, Netscape Communications, and Stanford University who had worked on the original Netscape Navigator project, among others. Friendica has an emphasis on extensive privacy settings and easy server installation. It aims to federate with as many other social networks as possible.

    There is no corporation behind Friendica. Friendica sites are run by private individuals, and the developers are volunteers. The project is run informally, using the platform itself to communicate and share information.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendica

    This shit ain’t rocket science. Facebook does two things which people love:

    1) It lets them MAKE THEIR OWN WEB PAGE easily

    2) It lets them LINK TO OTHER PEOPLE’S WEB PAGES easily.

    This is why it has grown so explosively – because people wanted a way to quickly make their own web pages and link their web page to other people’s web pages.

    But it is totally wrong to do this using proprietary software through a single corporation with censorship power.

    The way to do it is for a bunch of web-savvy people to set up something like Friendica on their servers.

    I hope Facebook continues to alienate people by abusing their privacy and censoring the most interesting stuff.

    This will only hasten Faceberg’s demise.

    The post-Facebook era IS coming. Just like the post-AOL era came. (Remember AOL? What a friggin joke that looks like now.)

  13. ScottA

    Faced with competition from this open web, AOL lost…running a closed service with custom content and interfaces was no match for the wild frontier of the web. Maybe if they’d done some things differently, they would have fared better, but they still would have lost. In competitive markets, open and messy trumps closed and controlled in the long run. Everything you can do on Facebook with ease is possible using a loose coalition of blogging software, IM clients, email, Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader, etc. Sure, it’s not as automatic or easy, but anyone can participate and the number of things to see and do on the web outnumbers the number of things you can see and do on Facebook by several orders of magnitude (and always will).

    http://www.kottke.org/07/07/facebook-vs-aol-redux

    1. Lambert Strether

      Got a link on that query? I’m seeing the page, but not a query. Shoving Facebook onto same scrapheap of history as AOL is righteous, but the information [in posts] here has to be right, otherwise, why not just read Izvestia?

      UPDATE Adding… Are we sure that all FB users can see all FB pages?

      1. Ray Duray

        Hi Lambert,

        Re: “Got a link on that query?”

        Well, I can see my inquiry to Peter as the top item in the column titled “Recent Posts by Others on Peter Dale Scott”

        If it does not show on your computer then we have an issue about ‘who gets to see what reality’ on Facebook.

        For now, I’m letting this controversy develop some more legs before going into it further.

        ***
        Re: “UPDATE Adding… Are we sure that all FB users can see all FB pages?”

        I don’t have an answer to this question. I have been hostile to Facebook and avoiding it like a plague for a very long time. I do not trust Mark Zuckerberg to be looking out for our best interests at all. I’m largely in agreement with Julian Assange’s assessment that Facebook is the best gift the NSA has ever gotten from the private sector.

        ***
        The Onion chimes in on this spy operation:

        http://www.theonion.com/video/cias-facebook-program-dramatically-cut-agencys-cos%2C19753/

        1. Lambert Strether

          “Nous tenons à remercier très chaleureusement le journaliste d’investigation et auteur Michel Collon, qui vient de reprendre le dernier article de Peter Dale Scott sur son excellent site (Investig’action)”?

          1. Ray Duray

            Oui, oui. Je comprende.

            When I doused my cookies and looked at the page as anonymous, I see what you posted as the last item.

            When I sign in with my Facebook account, I can see my post.

            I don’t have anything further to add at present. Tempest. Teapot. Time to move on. :)

  14. Eric Patton

    If you’re pro-capitalism, then you should stop crying about how Zuckerberg runs his business. If you’re anti-capitalism, then you should ignore Zuckerberg, and focus instead on your anti-capitalist vision and how to implement it.

    The left loves to whine about shit it can’t control, instead of focusing on what it can control. The only thing the left is good at is running small-to-medium-sized businesses. In that, the left is getting exactly the results that it wants.

  15. Lambert Strether

    I have to say that the thesis of this post doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. For example, it seems clear that the State Department was so insistent that the Egyptian government restore Internet service during the Arab Spring exactly so that they could monitor FaceBook and twitter.

    I mean, let’s pretend I’m the owner of a very large social media platform that hasn’t found a good way to monetize “the social graph” with the exception of a very lucrative contract with a very large intelligence agency that’s very interested in “connecting the dots,” as the phrase is. Why would I want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? And why would would my client, the very large intelligence agency, want me to? I would think they’d want activists to think of FaceBook as a public utility, and use it as much as possible.

  16. c s

    Who said of social media, “if you go on a site and can’t tell what the product is, the product is you”?

    Kinda like the quip about poker games and fish.

  17. JEHR

    I had a facebook page for a short period of time. It filled up with “friends” and I left never to go back.

  18. dirtbagger

    There is a noticeable pattern of the allowable political criticism in all Media outlets. It is okay to criticize an individual official of being corrupt. However, when one begins to criticize the whole system as rotten and corrupt, the censors begin to appear. Those who attempt to enlighten the public on issues such as the imbedded censorship that exists due to media consolidation, revolving doors between regulators and the regulated, and unsavory banking practices, will soon be out of a job.

  19. h s

    according to @timcast on twitter, he and the other journalists/activists listed here were made administrators of a facebook group, without their approval, and their personal accounts were deactivated after that group posted pornographic material. It looks like a hole in facebook security/privacy that was exploited by someone seeking to attack these individuals rather than direct censorship by facebook itself.

    1. Elise Mattu

      That is good information. Thanks for posting it.

      Very important right now, that people check their computers for the Maljava trojan horse, which may possibly be what allows this to happen. It allows a person to follow your keystrokes on your keyboard, and that way a person can gain your userids, passwords et al, to various accounts. Including your email, banking system, and your FB and other social media accounts.

  20. Elise Mattu

    I relate to whatyou are saying. Peopel I have friended on FB have compalined that the new “pay as your makeposts” policy disappears their comments. It is all “Truth for Sale” and of course, why wouldn’t it be? Such is life in an oligarchy…

    Meanwhile, my spouse is telling me that Kurt Vonnegut was a Nine Eleven skeptic. Apparently the manuscript that he was working on regarding this subject disappeared from his other papers, after his death.

    Also, as one of the many friends of Andy Stephenson, voting activist, I attempted to write a paragraph or two on his page at Wikileaks. (He couldn’t make corrections to the page, due to his untimely death.) But I was told that since this was the first article I had ever worked on at Wikileaks, that they would knock my comments off the board. Meanwhile, all the scummy RW critics of Andy could post their scummy fabricated remarks. When I complained, the decision was made that Andy Stephenson didn’t deserve a Wikileaks article at all, and the whole discussion on his life was wiped clean!

    Now we hear that Phillip Roth couldn’t make Wikileaks comments correcting articles about his books – while literatry critics could determine the motives for his writings, the meanings of his writings, etc. He was told that he did not have the expertise on the subject matter!

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