The Plutocrats Are Pursuing Internet Censorship
by Caitlin Johnstone [excerpts]
Facebook has just announced that it is creating a resource which shows users which Russian propaganda outlets they have liked or followed, in response to consumers’ newly manufactured demand to be protected from ideas and information that might make them less patriotic. It is unclear how “Russian propaganda” will be defined and how inaccurate classification will be avoided.
Over the weekend, Google’s Eric Schmidt announced that the search engine giant will be working to hide articles by RT and Sputnik from users to protect them from “misinformation”. He announced this as a positive step while also bizarrely claiming that he is “strongly not in favour of censorship.”
Due to a shift in Google’s “evaluation methods”, traffic to left-leaning and anti-establishment websites has plummeted, with sites like WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News, Truthout, and WSWS losing up to 70 percent of the views they were getting prior to the changes.
Two days ago someone posted an image of a Youtube notification saying his account had received a strike simply for putting a talk between Sam Harris and Douglas Murray on a playlist they were listening to, just the latest in an increasingly severe series of bans and infractions being leveled on accounts whose interests vary from the CNN mainstream.
Twitter for its part recently banned a popular parody account which spoofed the ridiculous establishment loyalist Peter Daou, removed the verification badges of some alt-right and far-right figures while banning others altogether, and still refuses to verify Julian Assange’s account despite being fully aware that it’s his. In December Twitter will begin banning users with ties to violent groups. We will find out which groups this applies to in practice over time.
In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, officials spoke openly on the Senate floor about the need to “prevent the fomenting of discord” on Facebook, Twitter, Google and Youtube, arguing that “Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words.”
This is happening amid outrage over FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s move toward dismantling net neutrality, which threatens to choke off smaller websites or even price a significant percentage of the population off the internet altogether when they’re unable to afford internet service that’s more like a cable-TV-package model.
On TV, the political perspectives you see debated range from MSNBC to FOX News, which for the most part are only superficially distinguishable. They rally behind the same wars, work to normalize the same economy, and sell viewers the illusion that there’s real political diversity happening within the US one-party Demopublican system. They sustain the illusion of a “free market of ideas”.
This is the artificially narrow spectrum of debate the oligarchs are trying to force upon the internet. If you’re able to get online at all in the new system they’re pushing toward, they don’t want you arguing about whether democracy exists at all or if the two-party system is a sham, they want you debating the pre-authorized MSNBC vs FOX News talking points they fed you the day before.[One step is to notify the FCC of your support for so-called net neutrality by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll be filing a document into an official FCC proceeding, so all information submitted, including names and addresses, will be publicly available. Also be aware the process has been corrupted by over a million bogus messages supporting the FCC’s position allowing ISPs to meter and charge differential rates for different sites or speeds.–Ed.]