While the focus might be on shadowy Russian forces subverting the internet, two more familiar companies are very noticeably clamping down on free speech.
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
– Noam Chomsky, The Common Good
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 Russia Today 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% 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.
It’s obvious what these creeps are pushing for. The fewer Internet users there are, the more people have to rely on easily-controlled mainstream media outlets.
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 all happening amid the outrage over FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s aggressive shove 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 a more cable package-like Internet service model. The fewer Internet users there are, the more people have to rely on easily-controlled mainstream media outlets.
It’s so obvious what these creeps are pushing for. They’re more obvious about what they’re after than a guy at a bar who keeps flirting with a woman and buying her drinks.
On television the political perspectives you see being debated range from MSNBC to Fox News, which for the most part are only superficially distinguishable. They both rally behind the same wars, work to normalise the same neoliberal Walmart economy, and sell viewers the illusion that there’s real political diversity happening within the American one-party Dempublican system. They sustain the illusion of a free market of ideas the way the crooked jewelers in John Steinbeck’s The Pearl conspired to create the illusion of marketplace competition. People watch them argue about how many scoops of ice cream the president got the way WWE spectators watch two actors bodyslamming one another onto a padded canvass.
The Russia nonsense they’re labouring to keep everyone focused on is riddled with more and more gaping plot holes, and the illusion is getting harder and harder to maintain.
This is the artificially narrow spectrum of debate the oligarchs are trying to force upon the Internet today. 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 in America and the two-party system is a sham, they want you debating the preauthorised MSNBC vs Fox News talking points they fed you the day before.
They do this because they’re scared, and they’re scared because they completely lost control of the narrative last year. WikiLeaks, alternative media and social media mixed together into a recipe that shoved the entire conversation about America’s rigged political system into the mainstream and made the term “deep state” a household phrase, along with the establishment propagandists, are still to this day falling all over themselves to regain full control of the narrative. The kabuki theatre they’ve been lulling America to sleep with has never had more lights on it, and now they’re all pushing and pulling in all different awkward and often contradictory ways to shut them off.
But what was seen cannot be unseen. The Russia nonsense they’re labouring to keep everyone focused on is riddled with more and more gaping plot holes, and the illusion is getting harder and harder to maintain. Keep shining bright lights on those plot holes, please, and speak your truth more boldly than ever. They’re trying to shut down all the exit doors before we can escape from oligarchic tyranny, and we are running out of time.