Facebook Erases Hundreds of Alternative Media Pages in Mass Purge

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This Real News Network segment discusses Facebook’s new practice of erasing popular alternative media pages that had millions of likes and suspending anti-war and anti-police brutality accounts, in coordination with Twitter. Journalist Max Blumenthal says this is part of a larger political crackdown; EFF’s David Greene says the implications are dangerous.

BEN NORTON: It’s The Real News Network, I’m Ben Norton.

Facebook has erased numerous alternative media pages that had millions of likes as the corporate social media giant cracks down on numerous pages and accounts. Twitter also apparently coordinated with Facebook and suspended some of the same accounts behind these alternative media pages. In just one day, Facebook removed 559 pages and 251 accounts in one fell swoop. Among the pages targeted in this mass purge were popular websites such as Anti-Media and The Free Thought Project, which had roughly three million likes.

Pages that monitored police brutality were also purged, including the page Cop Block and also Police the Police. Several antiwar pages were taken down as well, along with libertarian pages and left wing pages like Reasonable People Unite. Many of the personal Facebook accounts used by people who were admins for those pages were also removed. Facebook announced this purge in a blog post on its website on October 11. Facebook ambiguously accused the pages and accounts of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and claimed the reason they were removed was based on behavior, not their content, supposedly.

Facebook implied the pages were posting clickbait and were ad farms and claimed the people behind the pages were creating numerous fake accounts in order to spread their material across Facebook. But for many of the pages, this is not true. For example, Facebook removed the antiwar page, The Naked Empire, which I know this is not true because this website has actually interviewed me and other journalists. The Naked Empire posted interviews with antiwar journalists and posted them online. It did not engage in any clickbait or ad farms. And the personal Facebook account of this page was also removed.

I know this also because the person behind this account personally reached out to me as someone who had been featured on her page and said that Facebook removed her page with interviews with me and others and her personal account. So, joining us to discuss this most recent crackdown by Facebook in which it removed hundreds of accounts of pages, are two guests. Max Blumenthal is one guest. He is the editor of The Grayzone Project. He’s also an award-winning journalist and the author of several books. And we’re also joined by David Greene. David Greene is the Senior Staff Attorney and Civil Liberties Director at Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF. Thanks for joining us, guys.

DAVID GREENE: Thanks.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Good to be here.

BEN NORTON: All right, Max. Let’s start with you. Facebook has done this multiple times now. We’ve seen numerous pages that have been removed. We’ve also seen the scare of so-called fake news. And what’s troubling about this is that some of the partners Facebook has in its crackdown on so-called fake news, vetting pages like these that have been removed, one of the partners is The Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is essentially a kind of unofficial NATO, it’s is funded by the United States government and the European Union along with NATO. Among the other fact-checkers that have partnered with Facebook to screen so-called fake news is The Weekly Standard. The Weekly Standard is a neo-conservative website that itself published false information in the lead-up to the Iraq war, which it strongly supported.

So, given this most recent crackdown on alternative media websites and given the fact that Facebook has partnered with neo-conservative websites and also have actually published fake news in the past in the case of the Iraq war, you as a journalist, can you respond to what you feel about the situation and what you think it really could mean for journalists like you, who are not necessarily in the mainstream and who are challenging some of these mainstream narratives?

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. We’ve talked about this before on previous interviews, Ben, and we talked about VenezuelAnalysis being momentarily removed. There just seemed to be this arbitrary criteria and sites that were targeted tended to be the kind of sites that were challenging the Washington Consensus on foreign policy particularly. You mentioned the Atlantic Council. They are funded by NATO as well as Saudi Arabia, a bunch of Gulf States, arms manufacturers. They exist in Washington to really reinforce the consensus around permanent war.

And they have an internal operation called the Digital Forensics Lab, which was hired or kind of partnered in with Facebook in order to regulate material online as part of Facebook’s Election Watch. I don’t know what any of this has to do with the Election Watch, but the takedown of some 800 sites clearly was timed around the midterms. And what probably happened, what we can deduce from what’s happened since Donald Trump was elected, was there was a hysteria about Hillary Clinton’s loss. She personally blamed fake news and what she called Russian active measures for her defeat. There’s been a campaign to prove that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to subvert the election and to basically win by illegitimate means.

And Facebook executives, along with other Silicon Valley social media executives, have been dragged before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of the Russia investigation and basically been forced to prostrate themselves before the Senate. So, Facebook has sort of been forced to take on the Atlantic Council. And to supposedly clean up its platform, the criteria for taking down sites is obviously arbitrary, but it’s all based around this idea of justifying it as Russian propaganda.

Now, if we go back to the weeks and months after Donald Trump was elected, the Washington Post ran a very suspicious story by Craig Timberg, who’s been kind of following the Russian meddling beat. And it was promoting a very shady website called PropOrNot. PropOrNot had introduced a McCarthyite blacklist of alternative sites that it accused of being Kremlin influence operations, including a site that I’ve written for, that I think you’ve contributed to, Ben, called Truthdig, which is run by Bob Scheer, one of the most reputable journalists in America. It’s a progressive website.

It also included Anti-Media, The Free Thought Project and some of the other anti-police brutality sites. So, there is a clear overlap between this shady, anonymous McCarthyite blacklist that was pumped out from the Washington Post, promoted on Twitter by Obama and Hillary Clinton insiders, and the takedown of these alternative sites by Facebook. We still don’t know who is behind that PropOrNot list, but the signs all point to a real attempt to suppress dissident media. And I know one of the people whose own personal Facebook pages, Rachel Blevins, she’s a former contributor to The Free Thought project, which is a libertarian site that has done a lot of anti-police brutality work.

Rachel Blevins is a real person. She has never spammed anyone. She hasn’t engaged in anything Facebook has accused any of these sites of, and she has lost 70,000 followers that she worked really hard for several years to amass. So, this is really the equivalent of taking a bone saw to alternative media, and we don’t know who’s going to get hit next. But it’s really disturbing, I think, for everyone I know who relies on these platforms to promote their alternative, independent sites.

BEN NORTON: David Greene, let’s go to you. You, as the Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have talked a lot about the attack on civil liberties, on media freedom in this country. And in the past several years, we’ve actually seen an increasing crackdown under the Obama administration. We saw the record imprisonment of whistleblowers. And then, under Donald Trump, we’ve seen the president himself call the media the enemy of the people, incite against journalists and even incite violence.

Facebook claims that these pages were not taken down because what they were posting, but rather because of their behavior, claiming that all of these pages and accounts were engaged in some kind of clickbait, ad farm to raise money instead of actually informing people. Many of the people behind these accounts, including someone who was actually interviewed by the Washington Post when he reported on this, said otherwise, said that they’re actually just trying to challenge mainstream narratives and voice their own political expression. Can you respond to what you think about this mass purge of personal accounts and pages on Facebook?

DAVID GREENE: Yeah and let me first say that I’m not an expert on this specific purge, but we do follow both Facebook and other platforms’ content moderation policies and their problems very closely. And I can say with great confidence that this is not an isolated problem, that this is a problem that’s inherent in their policies. I mean, we see it all over the world. We see dissident groups all over the world being removed from platforms. And usually, that’s done with pressure from a foreign government or from some other powerful force. I don’t know what the decision-making process here is by Facebook or any other platform. What we see is that they have set up systems for people to complain about content and for content to be removed. And those systems seem to be very easily gamed, again, by powerful forces, to target their detractors.

We’ve seen this in Morocco, we’ve seen this all over the Mideast, in parts of Europe as well. It’s very common in other parts of the world. So, what we have done in response to this is to really call on the platforms to adopt some set of standards by which they’re going to remove content and some standards that are consistent with international human rights standards. And very basically, these are things like transparency and due process, having people’s things not removed until they have an opportunity to respond to any challenges to them, just being very clear about what your standards are, why you remove people. Just really sort of basic structural reforms like that.

BEN NORTON: And David, several of the pages that were targeted were pages that monitored police brutality, such as Cop Block, pages that encourage citizen journalism to film the police. I’m wondering if you could talk, maybe it’s not just Facebook, but you could talk in general about how the crackdown on police transparency groups is part of this larger crackdown on alternative media.

DAVID GREENE: I mean, it’s really a great example of a group where there’s a powerful body on the other side and somewhat where I think the platforms feel a great amount of pressure to respond to. Because many times, they’re getting very legitimate complaints from law enforcement about illegal activity on the sites. And many times, and again, I don’t know if this is the case with any particular platform, but it’s fairly common for sites to have good relationships with law enforcement in order to respond to illegal activity happening on the site. And so, you see how that could very easily bleed over into other practices. And so, I’m not surprised.

One of the other things we see is that, as we have discussed, sort of the rush to try and respond to propaganda or false media reports has really led to some bad practices, at least bad from the human rights perspective, because sort of efforts that are being made to try and identify sort of reliable or established media sites are really going to lean heavily in favor of mainstream media, well-funded media, and lead against independent media people or non-mainstream organizations either that aren’t well-known outside of their specific subject matter, and also many who, because of what they do, need to report synonymously or anonymously. And that type of sort of anonymous reporting tends to be downgraded by metrics that try to identify reliability of media sites.

BEN NORTON: We’re going to take a brief pause in our discussion here and continue in part two. I’m joined by David Greene of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Max Blumenthal, an award winning journalist and the editor of The Grayzone project. We’re talking about social media crackdown on alternative media outlets and political expression and looking at Facebook’s mass purge of hundreds of accounts.

Join us here at The Real News Network for part two.

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57 comments

  1. bwilli123

    I think the (for want of a better description) “Alt Left” websites should band together in some sort of Association (or Free Speech Union) to promote standards that would guard against censorship on the above grounds. They are otherwise going to be picked off one-by-one as the battle lines are drawn.
    Naked Capitalism because of its authority and prestige, and actual demonstrated foresight on this issue is the ideal candidate to lead discussion on this.
    It would also be worthwhile for such a Union to forge links with similar groups on the Right because this is not as much a Left versus Right issue, as it is the MSM and their Corporate Masters versus a Democratic Society.

    Reply
    1. Benjamin Wolf

      What is Freedom? — ye can tell
      That which slavery is, too well — For its very name has grown
      To an echo of your own.

      `’Tis to work and have such pay
      As just keeps life from day to day
      In your limbs, as in a cell
      For the tyrants’ use to dwell,

      So that ye for them are made Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade, With or without your own will bent
      To their defence and nourishment.

      `’Tis to see your children weak
      With their mothers pine and peak, When the winter winds are bleak,
      They are dying whilst I speak.

      `’Tis to hunger for such diet
      As the rich man in his riot
      Casts to the fat dogs that lie
      Surfeiting beneath his eye;

      `’Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
      Take from Toil a thousandfold
      More than e’er its substance could In the tyrannies of old.

      `Paper coin — that forgery
      Of the title-deeds, which ye
      Hold to something of the worth
      Of the inheritance of Earth.

      `’Tis to be a slave in soul
      And to hold no strong control
      Over your own wills, but be
      All that others make of ye.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Hard to see how that would help. The problem here is that Facebook–even more than Google–has no meaningful competition and therefore can do what it wants since there is little government regulation of the internet itself (a good thing). It could be that web users have themselves to blame by letting Facebook become a giant, private, parallel internet.

      Perhaps some legal expert here could weigh in on the antitrust grounds for going after Facebook. But drawing attention to bad behavior by people like Zuckerberg certainly can’t hurt. If they see their business threatened they may draw back.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        It could be that web users have themselves to blame by letting Facebook become a giant, private, parallel internet.

        Indeed. It reminds me of an old South Park episode where everyone was mad at WalMart, decided to all start shopping at a different smaller company, which in turn grew bigger until it became WalMart in everything but name.

        The good news is that AOL was once a giant parallel internet which at one time was the largest company by market cap on the face of the planet IIRC. 6 months later noone was using it and it was a husk of its former self. But of course, just like in the South Park analogy, rather than realizing that being in a walled off internet wasn’t the way to go, people just chose a new wall in FB. Something similar is likely to happen even if people tire of FB en masse.

        Like many here who are veterans of another orange website, I used to fight against censorship until realizing it wasn’t worth the trouble. It’s a big internet and there were plenty of other places where people like me could speak their minds, like here for example. So who really cares if a bunch of neoliberal [family blog]ers don’t like what I have to say , I can always go somewhere else and say it. This website also has a policy of what speech is allowed and what isn’t, but I find it’s much more fair than any other place I’ve seen. I’ve been a daily reader here for years without ever having any social media account or even a cell phone, however I realize that my experience is probably different than most in that regard.

        So all that being said, the alliance of FB and Google with the government to decide what’s allowable and what isn’t is a whole different can of worms. If AOL was engaging in surveillance and censorship in coordination with the government, they were doing it on a much smaller scale than what we’re seeing today. Uncle Sugar also has the ability to prop up a platform that’s willing to cooperate with it, and disappear one that doesn’t.

        I would be a lot less worried about these developments if I were still confident that like AOL, MySpace, etc, FB would someday see a sharp decline too when they next new thing came along. But the government might find that FB is too surveillerific to be allowed to fail, and they definitely seem to be headed in that direction.

        For those interested, Lee Camp had a good take on this story this week too.

        Reply
      2. danpaco

        Perhaps the threat of an anti-trust crackdown on big tech is all the leverage needed to silence dissenting views. Play ball or be broken up!

        Reply
    3. Summer

      The call should be to “purge Facebook and Twitter before they purge you.”
      People still have the ability to create their own websites and chats. This puts more of the weight on the ATTs, Comcasts, etc to be the point of censorship, which is less efficient and more likely to interrupt people who aren’t involved in any politics.
      Right now, with so few affected, so much can be officially denied.

      Reply
    4. Lambert Strether

      > Naked Capitalism because of its authority and prestige, and actual demonstrated foresight on this issue is the ideal candidate to lead discussion on this.

      Well, we have a lot of work on our desks already. And, speaking for myself here, our experience in the propornot episode doesn’t make me confident that “banding together” like this is going to be easy.

      FWIW, my sense is that the place to put energy is alternative platforms. I don’t think Mastodon is cooked yet, and federation has its own issues, but Mastodon or possible TBL’s new project could be places to go. Certainly preferable to ginormous monopolies playing footsie with the intelligence community and law enforcement.

      Reply
  2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

    Thanks for supplying the link. I’ve amended the post to include the link to part two. I didn’t see that second part was yet available when I prepared this segment for posting.

    Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear before this contraption, and if you sent a letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine, they had all the rights to publish it, not publish it, abridge a portion and publish it, and do whatever they damn well felt like.

    What was that thing about depending upon somebody else’s platform, again?

    Reply
  4. WheresOurTeddy

    Beware anyone who would withhold your access to information, for in his heart he imagines himself to be your master.

    Reply
  5. Summer

    I would say the answer is just create alternative Facebooks, but then the “pipeline” into people homes would be made the cutoff point. All coordinated while the establishment expresses faux concern for net neutrality.
    The revolution will not be televised or hosted on any site.

    And, this is one of the October surprises.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Unlike Facebook ISPs do have competition and are likely to lose business if they start blocking websites. They are also a lot more subject to government regulation and legal challenges on constitutional grounds.

      Of course if the constitutional free speech guarantees are out the window then our goose is truly cooked.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        Exactly. I posted another comment a few minutes later that said people could still put up alternative sites and apps and force the problematic censorship onto ISPs, where it’s alot trickier and noticeable by people who do not pay as much attention to politics.
        Everybody ran onto Facebook and Twitter and became easier pickings…

        Reply
      2. doug

        Neither FB nor ISP’s are subject to regulation like a utility, like old timey landlines, etc.
        There is no ‘free speech’ anything on their books.
        Concentration of ISP’s guarantee they can block sites with impunity.

        Reply
      3. JW

        ISPs have competition? Where?

        Comcast rules my town. Mobile has competition but there’s a certain amount of lock-in for the life of the phone in the US where you are either ATT/TMobile or Verizon/Sprint.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Well they have competition in my small/medium size town. And prepaid mobile now supports smartphones as well as tethering. Plus there’s an increasing presence of public wifi in stores and libraries although many of these private networks already have some sort of filtering and “terms of service.”

          But even if no competition ISPs via cable or public airwaves are most definitely subject to government regulation if the government chooses to regulate. And I don’t believe these ISPs want to get into the censorship business. They don’t make money by turning customers or their choice in websites away.

          You could say that about Google and Facebook as well where the business model has always been maximum eyes to screens. They seem to be under some sort of behind the scenes pressure leading to these recent moves.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            In NYC we have only 2 providers, Spectrum and Verizon. And there are those of us who don’t use smartphones to reduce our exposure to Big Brother.

            ISPs want to start metering for content, so what you say about limiting choice of sites makes no sense. They want to make you pay top dollar to get everything.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              Heck, there’re large chunks of the country using expensive satellite for any (poor) internet connections, forget anything like high speed, which is another reason why businesses and people are having problems.

              And in the Bay Area, home of the computer revolution, I am stuck between Comcast (how can we be evil today?) and AT&T (have you see our latest fees and hidden add-ons?) for my internet connection.

              Reply
              1. How is it legal

                Ditto (in my Silicon Valley area), if one wants Broadband or DSL – smaller ISPs are blocked from the competition – it’s at a not at all reasonable price to many; via only AT&T, or Comcast.

                Thanks for not addressing that: Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Ro Khanna, etcetera. No one should be told to travel to a library computer, when they can’t afford broadband or DSL, to get State and Federal Information, which used to be provided via a phone call and the US Post Office, particularly when they are ill.

                I never thought I’d end up with so much contempt for so-called, Democratic Public Servants.

                Reply
                1. Lambert Strether

                  Broadband is also a huge rural issue. Of course, liberal Democrats don’t want to appeal to rural voters — not even to pick up some states in the Electoral College! — so that’s that.

                  Reply
      4. Howard Beale IV

        ISP competition only exists if you live in a major metropolitan area – and trying to use mobile data as an ISP ? Get real.

        Reply
        1. JW

          My town is in a major metro and it’s still only Comcast. Verizon keeps advertising Fios but only a strange patchwork of places have it, and Verizon DSL is not competitor to cable.

          Also, the issue isn’t so much censorship as throttling, which is the whole net neutrality discussion. In some countries without net neutrality, Facebook has bought preferential acces for its own platforms so they load faster at peak usage times.

          So you have your independent website but most of your neighbors are on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or a Google or Amazon-owned service like YouTube or Prime or Kindle. So you’re preaching to the choir that is not on those services.

          Reply
  6. timbers

    So when is Naked Capitalism going to be blocked by FakeBook and Twitter? It could be a badge of honor if it were.

    Besides everyone knows America is a beacon of freedom and peace on a Planet that surrounds us with nations that want to start wars with us and are un-free, because they hate us for our freedom.

    We are the one indispensable nation. We are exceptional. Both parties know and say that.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I used to post NC story links on my Faceborg feed. Never had any problems with them being deleted by the Borg censors. And people seemed to appreciate the info from NC.

      Been away from the Borg since early March. Still don’t miss it.

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m reminded of Caitilin Johnson’s situation from a few months back. NC is too high profile or at least there would be a reaction. The smaller purveyors of local or more geographically linked stories are the most at risk.

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith

      The “blocking” on FB is taking down FB pages. We don’t have one on FB so that can’t happen.

      On Twitter, 90% of what we do is autotweet our stories. Sometimes I retweet other people. So we aren’t active enough on Twitter (in terms of getting into dustups) to attract much notice from the monitors.

      Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    As Facebook and Twitter banded together to take out these accounts, you would expect there to be some sort of co-ordination center with governmental input. The government would nominate the list of targets while the two companies would map out the accounts so that they were isolated after being cut off. Twitter would have been the obvious fallback line of communications which explains their part in this attack. The mapping of the accounts would have helped plan to take out important individuals accounts that people would have also used to communicate with followers. Considering there was such a high number of Police-watch accounts also taken out, perhaps there was strong police input via one of those fusion centers.
    Sounds like a doctrine is being formed on how to censor at the very least the United States. In a military attack, taking out the communications is a priority target and this is being replicated here. And Facebook is up to its neck in it all. I think that Zuckerburg was forced to give up partial control of Facebook during those Senatorial hearings recently and politically had to take directions from such deep state organs as the Weekly Standard, the Atlantic Council and other bad actors. It was either that or expect Federal investigations into Facebook and its taxes for example. I doubt that Zukerberg would care as he is still making his billions. Maybe they offered him a title to make him feel good about himself such as the Supreme Head for Intelligence Targeting of Facebook.
    It’s all getting a bit blatant and they are not even trying to hide the fact that America has censorship now. And this is not the end of it – not by a long shot. I would say that the first phase is taking out those sites that are anti-war & anti-elite and the like. The second phase will be the targeting of actual individuals for the same beliefs. Getting Facebook and Twitter is just an easy way to do it as they are so popular – for now. In the end, going to those sites may be reduced to a Disney-like experience where you will never see anything bad or troubling. And it will be the Happiest Site On Earth.

    Reply
    1. How is it legal

      I think that Zuckerburg was forced to give up partial control of Facebook during those Senatorial hearings recently and politically had to take directions from such deep state organs

      I’m sorry, but as I recollect, there was a not insignificant revolving door between Facebook and DC, since at least after the IPO. It amazes me how Zuckerberg is proclaimed both a genius and utterly ignorant as to being an active arm of the government.

      Reply
  8. jefemt

    Why any Business or individual patronizes facebook or amazon is beyond me.

    I’m super-virtuous- never have bougt anything through amazon- can’t say I haven’t visited facebook-based commerce sites- but I do shake my head every time I see a business using the facebook platform.
    Vote with your pocketbook and time- Elon and Jeff can’t get on that spaceship to oblivion soon enough!

    Reply
  9. Summer

    If people understood to the bone there isn’t one corporation you could not live without, this situation woukd be easily overcome.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      I have. People seemed friendly enough but I found it hard to use. And the payoff for using was not immediately evident. (I survive by ingesting huge amounts of krill. If part of the ocean is wonderful in every respect but krill, I just can’t go there.) Now, it may be that at some point a portal for lefties will be created, so I can get some idea of where to look for information, but last I saw there was no such thing.

      Reply
  10. bernie

    Rather then allow THE WEEKLY STANDARD or ATLANTIC COUNCIL make determination as to what is censored —— perhaps the friggin Congress can just begin investigation into nationalizing Facebook…..?

    Reply
  11. Eureka Springs

    Isn’t it amazing how easily threatened the powers that be – Atlantic Council, NATO, facebook can be. Seriously. The manufacturers of false info, false war, false enemies, false advertising, false likes, false democracy, somehow manage to stay in control. And shouldn’t there be some sort of first amendment grounds for a lawsuit if the federal government is funding the suppression of free speech via Atlantic Council?

    Facebook can’t go the way of myspace soon enough.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      If there’s any threat to facebook, it’s from congress. And that’s an outside risk at best. So I see it the other way around, that facebook is currying favor with congress by doing this. Which greases the skids in eliminating regulatory oversight in other areas.

      Reply
    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      This quote springs to mind

      “Methinks thou protest too much.”

      IOW its working. The rich fs always have the upper hand in the beginning. See Bannon and his World Corporate Order. They know activists are gaining real traction.

      Reply
  12. Schmoe

    And during the alleged staged filming of a fake chemical attack on Idlib by Assad, Youtube took down the Syrian government’s Youtube channel and left open Al Qaeda in Syria’s Youtube channel (to which I do not subscribe, but this was so widely reported that I don’t doubt the veracity). Interesting to see anti-war web-sites taken down by social media corporations, but Al Qaeda’s communications left untouched. And the fake footage never came out since Syria did not bomb Idlib around or after that time frame.

    Reply
  13. Jean

    The issue is not whether the articles are credible:
    Getting your news from Fakebook or Twitter is part of the dumbing down of America.

    Reply
  14. Big Tap

    How difficult would it be to replace Facebook and Twitter? There is nothing special about them as sites that can’t be duplicated. The deletions of sites for violating ‘terms of service’ need to be challenged more vigorously. People need to demand specifically the reason for their elimination and not accept the generic excuses given. It may do little but at least it’s on the record that you’re challenging their decision. If more and more people and sites of all political persuasions are deleted from social media that is the starting base for the replacement sites to build from. Things only will get worse. Governments like censorship and the U.S. has private media companies that don’t need to respect the First Amendment doing the dirty work on their behalf.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > How difficult would it be to replace Facebook and Twitter? There is nothing special about them as sites that can’t be duplicated.

      Network effects.

      To which the response is to point to AOL, the idea being that all platforms have a life-cycle ending in decay and death. For example, The Youth have already moved on from Facebook to Instagram, owned by Facebook. “My Mom’s on WuWu”:

      But did America On Line have billions of subscribers and global reach? No. So I’m guessing it will take longer to die. Also, IIRC, AOL wasn’t run by a crook. Facebook is.

      Reply
  15. drumlin woodchuckles

    I support the concept I have seen several commenters offering upthread. Someone or someones with digital skills and knowledge should create their own parallel separate Social Media platforms and outlets.

    Facebooger, Guggle and Twatter will censor and purge so many people and groups that those people and groups would be enough to support an embryonic Social Rebel Media. All that has to happen is for all of The Banned and all of the wannebe creators of Social Rebel Media to somehow get in touch with eachother and begin growing their infant outlets in the teeth of Establishment opposition and persecution.

    Perhaps digitally knowledgeable people could also at the same time reach out to Mr. Tim Berners Lee who is supposedly trying to create new highjack-proof protocols for a new highjack-proof web . . . to see if his efforts and their efforts could be somehow harmonized.

    Perhaps such a better social media outlet could call itself Rebel Media. Perhaps it could grow a useful search engine and offer something called Rebel Search. Perhaps it could be Rebel Search and Social.

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . Lambert Strether reports that he looked at that Mastodon and found it to be not useful for his purposes.

        But perhaps other people might find it useful for their purposes.

        Still and all . . . it would be an interesting experiment for the Banned and Rejected and Silenced pages and people to see if they could create a subscription-based Search and Social business . . . which could allow for easy use without being spied on and without being censored or blocked.

        Reply
  16. Raulb

    Incredible that such blatant acts of censorship and suppression go unnoticed. Where is our free press, ngos, academics, think tanks excitable in unison about censorship and dissent in other regions with 24/7 frothing in the mouth for days on end?

    I guess dissent is ok as long as it’s not ‘radical’, free press is ok as long as its ‘our press’, censorship is ok if it is ‘fermenting discontent’.

    At this rate any further discourse about enlightenment, democracy and free speech is going to be seen as opportunistic propaganda and met with mockery and derision.

    Reply
  17. How is it legal

    I wish the question had been asked of David Greene – of the Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF] – in the above interview: why in the world does the Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF] have a Facebook Page (which they’ve had for quite sometime), despite countless, validated Facebook Privacy violations?

    Further, why the ACLU? Almost all of the Fourth Estate? seemingly all State & Federal Healthcare Agencies (e.g. Medicare), and almost all Local, State, and Federal Politicians, including Donald J. Trump?

    All, despite over a decade, from day one of its inception (and then there was that ugly, 2012 IPO, which succeeded, despite its sordid backdrop), of ugly, violating, monetizing, discriminating against, and censuring (even, most sickeningly, against those of us who’ve never used, or trusted it) behavior by Facebook.

    Facebook (along with other Tech Oligarchies) most certainly appears to be a de facto, fascist arm of the Government, the Fourth Estate, and major Non Profit™ organizations such as the ACLU and EFF; all of which solicit citizens to join Facebook to comment about their PRIVATE lives.

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  18. Ook

    This isn’t a new trend. During the election, in the suggestions that would come up as you typed “Hillary” in your Google search, “emails” would never come up the way they would on Bing, for example.
    The trend is, however, accelerating, and nobody even pretends anymore.

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