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Google’s Plan for Censored Search Engine in China Is Condemned as ‘Alarming Capitulation’ On Human Rights

“Google should heed the concerns raised by human rights groups and its own employees and refrain from offering censored search services in China,” the human rights groups wrote. (Photo: Marketing Land)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer | Common Dreams

As Google works to crush an internal staff revolt over its reported plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, a coalition of 14 of the world’s most prominent human rights groups sent an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday calling the tech giant’s project “an alarming capitulation” on human rights and demanding that it cancel any effort to provide censored services.

“The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities’ repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China,” wrote the coalition, which includes Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Reporters Without Borders.

While Google executives have not publicly acknowledged the censored search engine project—code-named “Dragonfly”—employees were reportedly outraged when Pichai revealed the highly secretive plans during a staff meeting earlier this month.

“Google should heed the concerns raised by human rights groups and its own employees and refrain from offering censored search services in China,” the coalition added.

Citing Google’s 2010 decision to withdraw from China due to the country’s free speech restrictions, the groups argued that the Chinese government has only “strengthened its controls over the internet and intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression” since then.

Because of China’s continued repression of free speech, the human rights groups called on Google to:

  • Reaffirm the company’s 2010 commitment not to provide censored search engine services in China;
  • Disclose its position on censorship in China and what steps, if any, Google is taking to safeguard against human rights violations linked to Project Dragonfly and its other Chinese mobile app offerings;
  • Guarantee protections for whistleblowers and other employees speaking out where they see the company is failing its commitments to human rights.

“Google has a responsibility to respect human rights that exists independently of a state’s ability or willingness to fulfill its own human rights obligations,” the groups conclude. “As it stands, Google risks becoming complicit in the Chinese government’s repression of freedom of speech and other human rights in China.”

According to The Intercept‘s Ryan Gallagher—who first reported on Google’s plans earlier this month, citing leaked documents and company whistleblowers—the censored search engine would automatically blacklist any content that the Chinese government deems “sensitive,” such as information about peaceful protest, human rights, and democracy.

Google executives have kept Project Dragonfly under strict secrecy since the its inception last spring—revealing the details to just a few hundred employees—but the company faced an internal “uproar” after The Intercept‘s initial reporting “triggered a wave of disquiet that spread through the internet giant’s offices across the world.”

“Company managers responded by swiftly trying to shut down employees’ access to any documents that contained information about the China censorship project, according to Google insiders who witnessed the backlash,” The Intercept reported.

In their letter on Monday, the human rights groups denounced Google’s reported retaliation against employees over the leaked documents and called on the tech giant to “publicly commit to protect whistleblowers in the company and to take  immediate steps to address the concerns employees have raised about Project Dragonfly.”

“The Chinese government runs one of the world’s most repressive internet censorship and surveillance regimes,” Anna Bacciarelli, technology and human rights researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “It is simply not acceptable for Google’s senior executives to keep quiet when the company is reported to be considering actively participating in the violations of the rights to freedom of expression and privacy for millions of people in China.”


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Facebook User Engagement Dives As Social Media Alternatives Boom

By Joseph Jankowski | Activist Post

As Facebook continues to grapple with the revelations of private user data being leaked to Cambridge Analytica, and taking part in the suspicious deplatforming of Alex Jones, the social media giant has taken a double-digit hit on key metrics.

According to Wednesday night data from website ranking service Alexa, Facebook is down 10% on Daily Time on Site.

Daily Time on Site is a measurement of the daily amount of time each visitor has spent on the platform.

Zuckerberg’s brainchild is also up 13% on Bounce Rate, meaning more people have been visiting the page only once, without exploring the site further.

Alexa engagement metrics are updated daily based on the trailing 3 months.

The metrics reveal that Facebook is down almost 10% on Daily Pageviews per Visitor, an indication that users may be lacking interest in what they see and experience on the site.

The amount of people landing on the website from a search engine is also down more than 7%.

As Facebook slumps, alternative social media platforms are booming.

Minds, an open source social media site running on blockchain tech, is up 3,334 slots in its global daily rank as of Wednesday evening.

According to Alexa, a website’s global rank is calculated with a combination of average daily visitors to this site and pageviews on the site over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1.

Minds is down more than 11% on Bounce, up 24% on Daily Pageviews per Visitor and up 10% on Daily Time on Site.

Gab.ai, the sworn alternative to Twitter and Facebook, is also up in global ranking, with Alexa showing a positive move of 225 slots.

Gab.ai is also up 5% on Daily Pageviews per Visitor and 2% on Daily Time on Site.

Facebook’s double-digit downs are happening at a time when the President himself is beginning to be vocal about social media censorship.

“We are also standing up to social media censorship, that’s the new thing, that’s the new thing,” Trump said at his rally Tuesday in West Virginia. “You know, I’d rather have fake news like CNN, I’d rather have fake news, it’s true, than have anybody including liberals, socialists, anything, than have anybody stopped and censored.”


Joseph Jankowski is a contributor to PlanetFreeWill.com. His works have been published by globally recognizable news sites like Infowars.comZeroHedge.com, GlobalResearch.ca, and ActivistPost.com.

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That Facebook Will Turn to Censoring the Left Isn’t a Worry—It’s a Reality

People first? Well… not exactly. (Photo: rojean/flicker/cc)

On August 6, a number of giant online media companies, including FacebookYouTubeAppleSpotify and Pinterest, took the seemingly coordinated decision to remove all content from Alex Jones and his media outlet Infowars from their platforms.

Jones, perhaps the internet’s most notorious far-right conspiracy theorist, has claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, the Democratic Party is running a child sex ring inside a DC pizzeria and that the Las Vegas shooting was perpetrated by Antifa. Despite or perhaps because of such claims, his website Infowars has built up an enormous following: 3 million Americans, almost 1 percent of the population, visited the site in July 2018, according to Alexa.

The reaction from the media to the decision to ban Jones and Infowars was largely celebratory. On the Late Show (8/7/18), Stephen Colbert joked that it looked like “Infowars just lost their war on info.” The Daily Beast (8/9/18) urged readers to “shed absolutely no tears for Alex Jones,” while Salon (8/9/18) and CNN (8/9/18) put pressure on Twitter to follow suit, with the former asking, “Why is Alex Jones still allowed on Twitter?”

Some worried about a slippery slope of corporate censorship. Writing in Rolling Stone  8/2/18), Matt Taibbi warned: “The endgame here couldn’t be clearer. This is how authoritarian marriages begin, and people should be very worried.”

Yet this appeared to be a minority opinion. Media critic and news presenter David Doel shared his message to progressives via Twitter (8/6/18):

Lefties defending Alex Jones right now: I hear you, on the surface it appears to set bad precedent to give massive corporations control over who’s silenced. But if you aren’t performing hate speech, libel or slander on a regular basis, then I don’t know what you’re worried about.

Unfortunately, Facebook immediately used this new precedent to switch its sights on the left, temporarily shutting down the Occupy London page and deleting the anti-fascist No Unite the Right account (Tech Crunch8/1/18). Furthermore, on August 9, the independent, reader-supported news website Venezuelanalysis had its page suspended without warning.

The site does not feign neutrality, offering news and views about Venezuela from a strongly left-wing perspective. But it’s not uncritical of the Venezuelan government, either, and provides a crucial English-language resource for academics and interested parties on all sides wishing to understand events inside Venezuela from a leftist perspective, something almost completely absent in corporate media, which has been actively undermining elections (FAIR.org, 5/23/18) and openly calling for military intervention or a coup in the country (FAIR.org5/16/18).

My latest book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting, detailed the complete lack of diversity, and the strict adherence to an anti-Chavista editorial line, across corporate media. Venezuelanalysispraised by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and John Pilger, offers an alternative perspective.

The abrupt nature of its de-platforming is a worrying development for alternative media. Following an appeal and a public outcry on social media, Venezuelanalysis was reinstated on Facebook. However, the social media site offered no explanation for what happened.

Facebook recently announced it had partnered with the Atlantic Council in an effort to combat “fake news” on its platform (FAIR.org5/21/18). An offshoot of NATO, the Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of neo-conservative hawks, including Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger and James Baker; CIA directors like Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Michael Hayden; retired generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus; as well as senior tech executives.

Forty-five percent of Americans get their news from Facebook. When an organization like the Atlantic Council decides what news we see and do not see, that is tantamount to state censorship.

Venezuelanalysis (12/13/17) exposed that the Council was working closely with the Venezuelan opposition, donating over $1 million to it, part of a wide-ranging effort at regime change against multiple progressive governments in the region (Brasilwire12/28/17). That Facebook censored a news site responsible for investigating its partner is a worrying development in journalism.

Venezuelanalysis’ statement (8/9/18) on its removal noted that “Facebook appears to be targeting independent or left-wing sites in the wake of Russiagate.” As I previously argued (FAIR.org7/27/18), the utility of the Russian “fake news” scandal is that it allows corporate media to tighten their grip over the means of communication. Under the guise of combating fake news, media organizations like Google, Bing, Facebook and YouTube have changed their algorithms. The effect has been to hammer progressive media outlets. AlterNet’s Google traffic fell by 63 percent, Media Matters by 42 percent, TruthOut by 25 percent and The Intercept by 19 percent (WSWS8/2/17). Sites like these that challenge corporate perspectives are being starved of traffic and advertising revenue.

On August 13, the situation escalated as Facebookciting a clause in its terms of service barring “hateful, threatening or obscene” media,  deplatformed TeleSUR English, an English-language Latin American news network. TeleSUR is funded by a number of Latin American states, including Venezuela, and offers news and opinion from a progressive viewpoint. It was set up precisely to provide an alternative to Western corporate-dominated media. In its statement on its censorship, TeleSUR English (8/13/18) noted, “This is an alarming development in light of the recent shutting down of pages that don’t fit a mainstream narrative.”

That Facebook’s stated concern about stopping the spread of hate speech is genuine is challenged by the fact that the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party went to Facebook headquarters in Berlin in 2017 to discuss how it could use the platform for recruitment and for micro-targeting in the German elections, as Bloomberg Businessweek (9/29/17) reported. Through Facebook and with the help of American companies, AfD nearly tripled its previous vote share, becoming the third-largest party in Germany, the far right’s best showing since World War II.

The Russian fake news scandal has provided enormous media monopolies an avenue to try to reassert control over the means of communication. This latest action by Facebook is part of a worrying trend towards greater censorship of media. It is unlikely it will end here. Progressives should not necessarily shed tears for Jones, but they should be aware that their media is next in line, and that Jones’ deplatforming sets a dangerous precedent that is already being used against them.

Following an appeal and a public outcry on social media, both Venezuelanalysis and TeleSUR English were reinstated on Facebook, with the latter being told being told its suspension was due to “instability” and “suspicious activity,” though it had earlier gotten a message accusing it of “violating our Terms of Use.” As Venezuelanalysis(8/9/18) noted, “the whole thing is extremely mysterious, to say the least.”


© 2018 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)




Social Score: Facebook Now Rating Trustworthiness of Users

By Joseph Jankowski

Facebook is now rating the trustworthiness of its users as a part of the effort to tackle “fake news.”

The new trustworthiness score, which was first reported in the Washington Post, will work on a scale of zero to 1 and is one of thousands of new behavioral tools Facebook uses to monitor its users with.

From the WaPo:

Facebook developed its reputation assessments as part of its effort against fake news, Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in charge of fighting misinformation, said in an interview. The company, like others in tech, has long relied on its users to report problematic content — but as Facebook has given people more options, some users began falsely reporting items as untrue, a new twist on information warfare for which it had to account.

It’s “not uncommon for people to tell us something is false simply because they disagree with the premise of a story or they’re intentionally trying to target a particular publisher,” Lyons said.

Users’ trustworthiness score between zero and 1 isn’t meant to be an absolute indicator of a person’s credibility, Lyons said, nor is there is a single unified reputation score that users are assigned. Rather, the score is one measurement among thousands of new behavioral clues that Facebook now takes into account as it seeks to understand risk. Facebook is also monitoring which users have a propensity to flag content published by others as problematic and which publishers are considered trustworthy by users.

According to Lyons, one of the signals that will be used in the companies rating decision will be how interactions with articles are handled:

For example, if someone previously gave us feedback that an article was false and the article was confirmed false by a fact-checker, then we might weight that person’s future false news feedback more than someone who indiscriminately provides false news feedback on lots of articles, including ones that end up being rated as true.

This previously unreported rating system has been in development over the past year.

As the Washington Post notes, Facebook is likely wary to discuss the trustworthiness rating process in detail, in part because doing so might invite further gaming.

At a time when Facebook is subjectively enforcing policies which are wiping right-leaning journalists and commentators off their platform, the move to hand out a social reputation score will likely be perceived as a partisan weapon.

It wasn’t long ago that former Facebook employees revealed the company was rigging its trending news section to prevent conservative media outlets from ever reaching top ranks.

While Facebook has yet to make blatantly announcement of where its bias stands (although actions speak louder than words), Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey may have shined a light on the overall silicon big-tech attitude when he admitted this week that the bias over at his company leaned left.

The move to rank users’ trustworthiness follows a decision the Facebook made at the beginning of the year to use a similar scoring system for news organizations. All in the name of combating “fake news.”

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a January post. “Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.”

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Joseph Jankowski is a contributor to PlanetFreeWill.com. His works have been published by globally recognizable news sites like Infowars.comZeroHedge.com, GlobalResearch.ca, and ActivistPost.com.

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Image credit: Anthony Freda Art




Facebook’s Anti-Fake News Campaign Backfires As People Start Trolling It For Censorship Of Free Speech

By Mike Sygula | Truth Theory

You might have seen the recent ad campaign from Facebook where they try to promote how they combat “fake news” and remove “fake accounts”. We all know that there has been a lot of misinformation and hoaxes being shared on the platform. However, their actions now seem to go way beyond removing misinformation and it seems like they are removing any content or accounts that they don’t like.

Only this year dozens of pages have been removed by Facebook, some sharing controversial information, some perhaps sharing hoaxes. The truth is that it is very hard to know what is true and what is not if you question the official story, which often is false anyway but approved by the majority.

For example, 9/11 conspiracy theories might be considered fake news by Facebook or Youtube, but it does not mean that claims coming from people who promote those stories aren’t unjustified. There are enormous inconsistencies in the official 9/11 story and many experts, including over 3000  architects and engineers, do not buy into the official story. Even some members of the 9/11 commision themselves have raised their concerns about the official story, some resigned from the board of the commission as a result. The fact that the third tower collapsed in almost free fall speed (Building 7), and it was not hit by any plane, is still a mystery to many experts.

The current “cracking down” on “fake news” coming from giants like Facebook or Youtube, is nothing more than blatant censorship of views that are challenging the official narrative. Only recently Infowars and all profiles of Alex Jones have been removed from Youtube, Facebook, and a few other platforms without showing any evidence for any violations.

The current trend is quite disturbing, but fortunately, a lot of users of the social media giant are aware of their censorship and started raising their concerns all over Facebook. The most active comments under one of their ad videos where Facebook tries to “promote how they combat fake news” are all about their recent censorship:

About the Author

I am Mike Sygula, author of this article and founder of Truth Theory, I just launched my brand new Ebook titled: “Growth Hacking Tips And Rituals For Optimal Living” CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY




‘Deeply Disturbing’: For Second Time This Year, Facebook Suspends Left-Leaning teleSUR English Without Explanation

CLN Editor Note: Facebook’s censorship is much, much bigger than just teleSUR English and Infowars. Here’s a month-old list on Reddit of 84 alternative media pages (including CLN!!!) that have been removed by Facebook without warning, without explanation, and with NO possibility for appeal (there’s very likely a bunch more by now) :

Warning!!! Facebook Has Gone Full Purge!!! They’re Deleting Alternative Media Pages En Masse!!!

I believe that Facebook’s censorship will eventually lead to their downfall. Check out this very pertinent, 4-minute video with Ben Swann (Reality Check) for reasons why I believe that.

Could Facebook’s Purge of Dissenting Voices Lead To Its Demise?



For the second time this year, Facebook removed TeleSUR English’s page without an explanation beyond claiming the media network had violated the platform’s terms of service. (Photo: TeleSUREnglish/Twitter)

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer | Common Dreams

For the second time this year, Facebook has suspended teleSUR English’s page, claiming the left-leaning Latin American news network violated the social media platform’s terms of service without any further explanation—a move that provoked outrage and concern among journalists, free speech advocates, and Big Tech critics.

In a short article posted on teleSUR’s website on Monday, the regional news network—which is based in Venezuela but also has received funding from Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua—explained:

teleSUR English’s page has been removed from Facebook for the second time this year without any specific reason being provided. It should be noted that the first time this occurred back in January 2018, Facebook did NOT provide any explanation in spite of our best efforts to understand their rationale. This is an alarming development in light of the recent shutting down of pages that don’t fit a mainstream narrative.

According to the outlet, “the only communication” teleSUR has received from Facebook was the following message:

Your Page “teleSUR English” has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in the permanent loss of your account.

The network has turned to Twitter to raise awareness about Facebook’s move, tweeting with the hashtag #BringBackteleSUREnglish:

Max Blumenthal, editor of The Grayzone Project, called Facebook’s decision “deeply disturbing.” He also noted that the platform recently banned Venezuelanalysis.com, which like teleSUR offers a leftist perspective on Latin America, and raised alarm about Facebook’s work with the Digital Forensic Research Lab, a project of the Atlantic Council, a NATO-backed, D.C.-based think tank:

After Facebook banned Venezuelanalysis.com, Blumenthal shared his concerns on Aaron Maté’s podcast for The Real News:

Venezuelanalysis.com, for its part on Tuesday, offered solidarity to teleSUR againt Facebook’s “repressive actions,”  tweeting:

Comedian and activist Lee Camp, who hosts a comedy news show on RT America—a Russian government-funded, D.C.-based television news network that has been harshly ridiculed (pdf) by the U.S. intelligence community—praised teleSUR as “one of the best online resources for debunking Western propaganda about Venezuela.”

Sameera Khan, a correspondent for RT America, praised teleSUR’s coverage of the Pakistani elections, and also raised alarm about Facebook’s partnership with the Atlantic Council:

Glenn Greenwald connected the incident to the broader issue of urging social media companies to censor users, pointing to The Intercept‘s reporting on other instances of platforms silencing leftist voices:

Facebook’s decision to suspend teleSUR comes after Facebook, Apple, Google-owned YouTube, and Spotify banned right-wing radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. While the bans on Jones were welcomed by many, free speech advocates such as the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged caution, pointing to the other voices that have been—or could be in the future—silenced by increasingly powerful social media and online platforms.

“We should be extremely careful before rushing to embrace an Internet that is moderated by a few private companies by default, one where the platforms that control so much public discourse routinely remove posts and deactivate accounts because of objections to the content,” EFF senior staff attorney David Greene wrote for The Washington Post Monday.

“The power that these platforms have over the online public sphere should worry all of us, no matter whether we agree or disagree with a given content decision,” Greene added. “We must demand that they apply their rules consistently and provide clear, accessible avenues for meaningful appeal.”


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What Will Happen Next After Alex Jones InfoWars Ban – Luke Rudkowski (WeAreChange)

In this video, Luke Rudkowski of WeAreChange gives you the latest breaking news on what will happen next after the Alex Jones Infowars social media ban. Luke goes over the response from The Young Turks, Jimmy dore, vox and a lot more to highlight the argument that a private company could do what they want. Luke also discusses calls to censor Candace Owens Joe Rogan and others.




Could Facebook’s Purge of Dissenting Voices Lead To Its Demise?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaMFu3jmUJ8

Source: Ben Swann

Alex Jones banned, the Mind Unleashed disappears, and hundreds of other alt-news fan pages (including ConsciousLifeNews) removed… Is Facebook’s continued purge of dissenting voices on its platform going to lead to the demise of the company? Ben Swann gives it a Reality Check.




Will Unapproved Opinions Be Censored Off the Internet?

By Stefan Gleason

“False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.” – Joseph de Maistre

You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t value alternative points of view. After all, you could easily click your mouse right now to CNBC, CNN, or The New York Times for conventional news and opinion.

The fact that you have the slightest ability to bypass big media’s biased filters makes them and their ideological allies furious.

Some members of Congress who clearly don’t like the spirit of the First Amendment are working with Internet gatekeepers at Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple (now a trillion-dollar corporation) to try to prevent you from accessing information they haven’t approved.

Silicon Valley executives recently appeared before Congress, where several representatives called for big tech to implement more aggressive restrictions on “hate speech” and “conspiracy theories.”

Shortly thereafter one of their main targets, alternative media personality Alex Jones, had his Facebook account suspended, multiple videos removed from YouTube, and podcasts deleted from streaming services.

Has Jones made some controversial claims over the years? Sure.

But he has also hosted top-notch experts on his program who are willing to speak inconvenient truths about our monetary system, about market manipulation, about the globalist agenda.

Among his guests have been Gerald Celente and Jim Rickards (both of whom have appeared multiple times on the Money Metals podcast), former Congressman Ron Paul, and even Donald Trump (early in his presidential run).

It’s pretty safe to say that Donald Trump would never have become GOP Nominee Trump – let alone President Trump – without the sizeable backing he got on alternative media and social media platforms.

Now many of his supporters are being de-platformed and shadow banned by social media CEOs who were in the bag for Hillary Clinton.

This is only a preview of what’s to come in the event that big tech and big media titans help install a new Congressional majority this fall… and perhaps a new President in 2020. Our once free and open Internet could become as centrally controlled and censored as it is in Communist China.

Yes, we still have the First Amendment. But members of Congress have discovered a convenient end run around it. They can just outsource whatever they want censored to the tiny handful of corporations that control 98% of the Internet.

It’s already happening. Radical Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) last month fired off a letter to Amazon. He demanded the giant online retailer remove items from independent sellers that are perfectly legal to sell but that he personally finds offensive. Among the offending items was a historically accurate Georgia state flag, flown from 1956-2001.

History is now “hate speech.” It won’t be long before the perpetually offended demand that Google searches for “Krugerrands” – first minted during South African apartheid – return links to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Any analysis that questions the official version of a politically sensitive issue is a “conspiracy theory” – no sharing on Facebook without a trigger warning placed by Team Zuckerberg.

Any suggestion that precious metals markets are manipulated by central banks and governmentscould be deemed too edgy for social media (the whistleblowers at the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee have been deemed too edgy for CNBC).

The so-called “mainstream” media has been relentlessly pushing its own conspiracy theories about unproven Russia-Putin-Trump connections. Relentlessly pushing fake news stories about Trump-inspired “hate crimes” against minority groups that later turn out to be crude hoaxes.

Big media relentlessly spews its own hate speech, as exemplified by recent New York Times editorial board hire Sarah Jeong. She has a long Twitter history of vile anti-cop, anti-male, and anti-white rants, including this gem from 2014: “Dumbass f**king white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants.”

Imagine what the Internet would be like if only New York Times-approved opinions were allowed to be posted. If you prefer a free and open Internet, then be sure to support independent content creators and platforms.

Stefan Gleason is President of Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of the University of Florida, Gleason is a seasoned business leader, investor, political strategist, and grassroots activist. Gleason has frequently appeared on national television networks such as CNN, FoxNews, and CNBC, and his writings have appeared in hundreds of publications such as the Wall Street Journal, TheStreet.com, Seeking Alpha, Detroit News, Washington Times, and National Review.




In Bid for ‘Dystopian’ Surveillance Power, Facebook Asking Big Banks for Customer Data

Facebook has reportedly asked major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to hand over their customers’ sensitive financial data. (Image credit: Brian Solis on Flickr)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer | Common Dreams

Apparently not satisfied with access to its users’ call history, text messaging data, and online conversations, Facebook has reportedly asked major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to hand over their customers’ sensitive financial data as part of the social media giant’s ongoing attempt to become “a platform where people buy and sell goods and services.”

And according to the Wall Street Journal—which first reported on Facebook’s plans on Monday—the social media behemoth isn’t the only tech company that wants access to Americans’ financial data. Google and Amazon have also “asked banks to share data if they join with them, in order to provide basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa,” the Journal pointed out, citing anonymous sources familiar with the companies’ ambitions.

Over the past year, Facebook has reached out to some of America’s largest banks to request “detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users,” the Journal notes. “Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger.”

In response to the Journal‘s reporting, critics of corporate power used the word “dystopian” to describe the push by Facebook, Google, and Amazon for ever-greater access to users’ personal information in a bid to boost profits.

Among the “features” Facebook is reportedly looking to create if it successfully obtains financial data is a tool that would  “show its users their checking-account balances,” the Journal reported. “It has also pitched fraud alerts.”

While Facebook insisted in response to the Journal‘s story that it doesn’t want to useany of this data for advertising purposes or share it with third parties, many pointed out that there is no reason to trust Facebook’s expressed commitment to user privacy, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other abuses.

https://twitter.com/Timcast/status/1026508575638802434?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Highlighting the fact that “Facebook has been a cesspool of privacy issues for quite a while,” technology writer Curtis Silver argued in a piece for Forbes on Monday that it’s time to “quit Facebook before it inevitably accesses your banking data.”

“There has been no evidence up to this point that Facebook is anything other than what it is. What is it? A data content farm for paying customers,” Silver writes. “How much more of your personal existence are you willing to give up to continue to be a sieve of your data for a multi-billion dollar corporation?”


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The End Of Independent Media And The Fake News Psyop

By WeAreChange

In this video, Luke Rudkowski of WeAreChange is joined by Derrick Broze to discuss YouTube and its financial support of mainstream news while suppressing alternative outlets. Facebook has moved in a very similar direction as well, removing the fan pages of over 80 alternative news sites – including ConsciousLifeNews.com. See the list of deleted Facebook pages HERE.

So what do we do about it? How can we stop the end of independent media?




YouTube Will Now Decide FOR YOU What Is And What Isn’t AUTHORITATIVE NEWS!

Source: Dan Dicks / Press For Truth | Activist Post

The days of “YouTube” are over and the time of “ThemTube” is upon us. On Monday July 9th on the official YouTube Blog the company announced their plan to promote and fund “authoritative” news. The mainstream media outlets are not getting the views they used to on cable television but what they do have access to is analytics and ratings and they can see that the majority of news consumers are flooding to YouTube because they no longer trust the mainstream outlets and rightly so! In this video Dan Dicks of Press For Truth goes over the latest YouTube announcement that they plan to fund news agencies while promoting outlets they determine to be “authoritative”.

 




New Copyright Law Could Make Current and Future Internet Memes Illegal to Share

By John Vibes | The Free Thought Project

Posting memes, remixes, and other similar content could soon be banned from the Web in the European Union, according to critics who are speaking out against a recently proposed copyright law.

The law, known as the “Copyright Directive,” will be voted on later this month by the European Parliament, and lawmakers suggest that this will protect content creators in the Internet age. However, one of the primary reasons why the internet age has brought us so much innovation and novelty is because of the fact that such a large aggregate of people are able to share their ideas and build upon the ideas of others to create something uniquely special.

Article 13 of the proposed bill calls on platform providers such as Google, Facebook, and Web hosts to “take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rights-holders for the use of their works.”

This type of policy would create a slippery slope that could very quickly lead to a situation where platforms are required to add a filter for the content that is shared through them, which will restrict the ability for creators to do something as simple as creating a meme or a remix of a song.

When the law was first suggested, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 56 other civil society organizations sent an open letter to European lawmakers, warning of the possible implications of this law.

The letter reads:

Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services. Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business. …

Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users’ content, which contradicts the “no general obligation to monitor” rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended (C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

Last week, Jim Killock, executive director of the UK’s Open Rights Group, told the BBC that

Article 13 will create a ‘Robo-copyright’ regime, where machines zap anything they identify as breaking copyright rules, despite legal bans on laws that require ‘general monitoring’ of users to protect their privacy. Unfortunately, while machines can spot duplicate uploads of Beyonce songs, they can’t spot parodies, understand memes that use copyright images, or make any kind of cultural judgment about what creative people are doing. We see this all too often on YouTube already.

Add to that, the EU wants to apply the Robocop approach to extremism, hate speech, and anything else they think can get away with, once they put it in place for copyright. This would be disastrous,” Killock added.

Intellectual property is often sold as a legal measure to protect artists from scammers who may attempt to replicate their brand, but more often than not these types of legal avenues are taken advantage of by opportunists and exploited by publishers to the detriment of truly creative people. In the past, it was nearly impossible to implement such control over the Internet, but now with complicated algorithms and the compliance of Silicon Valley tech companies, freedom on the Internet is under constant threat.

John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page.John just won a 3-year-long battle with cancer, and will be working to help others through his experience, if you wish to contribute to his treatments consider subscribing to his podcast to support . This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.



Undercover Blogger Risked All To Document ISIS

The blogger known as Mosul Eye kept his identity a secret as he documented Islamic State rule.
Image via Associated Press

 

By Lori Hinnant and Maggie Michael | Associated Press

The historian carried secrets too heavy for one man to bear.

He packed his bag with his most treasured possessions before going to bed: the 1 terabyte hard drive with his evidence against the Islamic State group, an orange notebook half-filled with notes on Ottoman history, and, a keepsake, the first book from Amazon delivered to Mosul.

He passed the night in despair, imagining all the ways he could die, and the moment he would leave his mother and his city.

He had spent nearly his entire life in this home, with his five brothers and five sisters. He woke his mother in her bedroom on the ground floor.

“I am leaving,” he said. “Where?” she asked. “I am leaving,” was all he could say. He couldn’t endanger her by telling her anything more. In truth, since the IS had invaded his city, he’d lived a life about which she was totally unaware.

He felt her eyes on the back of his neck, and headed to the waiting Chevrolet. He didn’t look back.

For nearly two years, he’d wandered the streets of occupied Mosul, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. He grew out his hair and his beard and wore the shortened trousers required by IS. He forced himself to witness the beheadings and deaths by stoning, so he could hear the killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes.

He wasn’t a spy. He was an undercover historian and blogger . As IS turned the Iraqi city he loved into a fundamentalist bastion, he decided he would show the world how the extremists had distorted its true nature, how they were trying to rewrite the past and forge a brutal Sunni-only future for a city that had once welcomed many faiths.

He knew that if he was caught he too would be killed.

“I am writing this for the history , because I know this will end. People will return, life will go back to normal,” is how he explained the blog that was his conduit to the citizens of Mosul and the world beyond. “After many years, there will be people who will study what happened. The city deserves to have something written to defend the city and tell the truth, because they say that when the war begins, the first victim is the truth.”

He called himself Mosul Eye . He made a promise to himself in those first few days: Trust no one, document everything.

Neither family, friends nor the Islamic State group could identify him. His readership grew by the thousands every month.

And now, he was running for his life.

But it would mean passing through one Islamic State checkpoint after another, on the odds that the extremists wouldn’t stop him, wouldn’t find the hard drive that contained evidence of IS atrocities, the names of its collaborators and fighters, and all the evidence that its bearer was the man they’d been trying to silence since they first swept in.

The weight of months and years of anonymity were crushing him.

He missed his name.

___

From the beginning, Mosul Eye wrote simultaneously as a witness and a historian. Born in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war in 1986, he had come of age during a second war, when Saddam Hussein fell and the Americans took over. At 17, he remembers going to a meeting of extremists at the mosque and hearing them talk about fighting the crusaders. “I should be honest, I didn’t understand.”

As for the Americans, whose language he already spoke haltingly, he couldn’t fathom why they would come all the way from the United States to Mosul. He thought studying history would give him the answers.

The men in black came from the north, cutting across his neighborhood in brand new trucks, the best all-terrain Toyotas money could buy. He had seen jihadis before in Mosul and at first figured these men would fade away like the rest. But in the midst of pitched fighting, the extremists found the time to run down about 70 assassination targets and kill them all, hanging enormous banners announcing their arrival in June 2014.

By then a newly minted teacher, the historian attended a staff meeting at Mosul University, where the conquerors explained the Islamic State education system, how all classes would be based upon the strictest interpretation of the Quran. To a man who had been accused of secularism during his master’s thesis defense just the year before, it felt like the end of his career.

In those first few days, he wrote observations about IS, also known by the acronym ISIS, on his personal Facebook page — until a friend warned that he risked being killed. With the smell of battle still in the air, he wandered the streets, puzzling over its transformation into a city at war. He returned to find his family weeping. The smell of smoke and gunfire permeated the home.

On June 18, 2014, a week after the city fell, Mosul Eye was born .

“My job as a historian requires an unbiased approach which I am going to adhere to and keep my personal opinion to myself,” he wrote. “I will only communicate the facts I see.”

By day, he chatted with Islamic State fighters and vendors, and observed. Always observed. By night, he wrote in his native Arabic and fluent English on a WordPress blog and later on Facebook and Twitter.

The city turned dark, and Mosul Eye became one of the outside world’s main sources of news about the Islamic State fighters, their atrocities and their transformation of the city into a grotesque shadow of itself. The things IS wanted kept secret went to the heart of its brutal rule.

“They were organized as a killing machine. They are thirsty (for) blood and money and women.”

He attended Friday sermons with feigned enthusiasm. He collected and posted propaganda leaflets, including one on July 27, 2014, that claimed the Islamic State leader was a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter. Back home, writing on his blog in his other, secret identity, he decried the leaflet as a blatant attempt “to distort history” to justify the fanatics’ actions.

He drank glass after glass of tea at the hospital, talking to people who worked there. Much of the information he collected went up online. Other details he kept in his computer, for fear they would give away his identity. Someday, he told himself, he would write Mosul’s history using these documents.

The most sensitive information initially came from two old friends: one a doctor and the other a high school dropout who embraced the Islamic State’s extreme interpretation of religion. He was a taxi driver who like many others in Mosul had been detained by a Shiite militia in 2008 and still burned with resentment. He swiftly joined an intelligence unit in Mosul, becoming “one of the monsters of ISIS” — and couldn’t resist bragging about his insider knowledge.

Once he corroborated the details and masked the sources, Mosul Eye put it out for the world to see. He sometimes included photos of the fighters and commanders, complete with biographies pieced together over days of surreptitious gathering of bits and pieces of information during the course of his normal life — that of an out-of-work scholar living at home with his family.

“I used the two characters, the two personalities to serve each other,” he said. He would chat up market vendors and bored checkpoint guards for new leads.

He took on other identities as well on Facebook. Although the names were clearly fake, the characters started to take on a life of their own. One was named Mouris Milton whom he came to believe was an even better version of himself — funny, knowledgeable. Another was Ibn al-Athir al-Mawsilli, a coldly logical historian.

International media picked up on Mosul Eye from the first days, starting with an online question-and-answer with a German newspaper. The anonymous writer gave periodic written interviews in English over the years. Sometimes, journalists quoted his blog and called it an interview. In October 2016, he spoke by phone with the New Yorker for a profile but still kept his identity masked.

Intelligence agencies made contact as well and he rebuffed them each time.

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U.S. To Host 2026 World Cup, With Neighbors

Image via CBS News

By CBS News

MOSCOW — North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament. The event will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

The vote by football federations was public, in contrast to secrecy surrounding the ballot by FIFA’s elected board members for the 2018 and 2022 hosts, Russia and Qatar, in 2010.

The U.S. proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the finals, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten fixtures each. North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over risky Moroccan proposals for the first 48-team tournament.

An optimistic promise of delivering $14 billion in revenue helped sway voters, along with the lack of major construction work required on the 16 planned stadiums, all of which already exist.

By contrast, Morocco appeared too hazardous as a potential host when all 14 venues had to be built or renovated as part of a $16 billion investment in new infrastructure. The vote leaves Morocco reeling from a fifth failure in a World Cup hosting vote, with the continent’s sole tournament coming in 2010 in South Africa. While Morocco’s combined tickets and hospitality revenue would be $1.07 billion, according to FIFA analysis, North America would generate $2 billion additional income.

Canada will host men’s World Cup matches for the first time, while Mexico gets its first taste of the event since staging the entire event in 1986.

The 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium outside New York is proposed for the final. It’s just miles from where federal prosecutors spearheaded an ongoing investigation into FIFA corruption. More than 40 soccer officials and businesses indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

“FIFA was clinically dead as an organization,” Infantino said, reflecting on his election in 2016. “Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and passion and with a vision for its future.”

The North American victory suggests football officials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a country whose government has demonstrated its willingness to jail corrupt sports leaders through undercover investigations. The North America bid also had to overcome concerns about the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

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