The Gatekeepers

 

When they silenced Alex Jones, I was certain that that wouldn’t be the end of the online censorship.

And, now the other shoe has dropped with Facebook’s and Twitter’s recent purging of alternative sites and accounts that challenge conventional wisdom. Popular pages like The AntiMedia (2.1 million fans), The Free Thought Project (3.1 million fans), Press for Truth (350K fans),  Police the Police (1.9 million fans), Cop Block (1.7 million fans), and Punk Rock Libertarians (125K fans) are just a few of the ones which were taken off the internet.

This censorship is significant because social media is a massive source of information and influence today.

From the actions of Twitter and Facebook, it’s apparent that this purge was coordinated. The entity that is making censorship decisions for Facebook is the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by NATO, weapons manufacturers, Middle-Eastern oil-state monarchies, billionaires and different branches of the US military. In short, it has been described as being nothing less than NATO’s unofficial propaganda wing.

The Atlantic Council recently published a very interesting 21-page document discussing a US military conference detailing, in present tense, how Silicon Valley tech giants are being used to nullify the threat that the new media landscape poses to the US power establishment.

“The central theme of the report is “sovereignty,” or the state’s ability to impose its will upon the population. This “sovereignty faces greater challenges now than it ever has in the past, due to the confluence between growing political opposition to the state and the internet’s ability to quickly spread political dissent. Technology has democratized the ability for sub-state groups and individuals to broadcast a narrative with limited resources and virtually unlimited scope. In the past, the general public had limited sources of information, which were managed by professional gatekeepers.”

Since this is America, where we’re subsumed by neoliberalism, the solution involves privatization. Enter the social media companies. The best mechanism for suppressing oppositional viewpoints and promoting pro-government narratives is to farm-it-out to the technology corporations, including Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter, which can determine the content that people view.

To make sense of this new burst of censorship it’s important to recall some recent history. In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy and up to then largely unknown organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations and alternative blogs it claimed were part of a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign. Indeed, Russia-gate, has been an essential part of this demonization of un-official news, where the empire gatekeepers are absent.

The clear implication of all this is that the censorship will not end with Google’s manipulation of its search platform or the removal of accounts by Facebook and Twitter. We must fear that their ultimate aim is the total banning of oppositional news web sites.

On Tuesday, Google admitted in an internal document that it and other technology companies had “gradually shifted away from unmediated free speech and towards censorship and moderation.” The document stated that an aim of the censorship was to “increase revenues” under conditions of growing government and commercial pressure. The document acknowledged that such actions constitute a break with the “American tradition that prioritizes free speech for democracy.”

Our dystopian social media environment is now coming into view. Commercial speech is totally cool. You can also share all the pictures of cute cats and children dressed in their scary Halloween costumes you want. But political speech will now have to be approved by the corporate gatekeepers.

We’re headed towards what George Orwell’s totalitarian 1984 would have looked like if Oceania had been privatized. In our brave new world, it’s corporations who will deploy the Thought Police to persecute independent thinking.

 

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