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Facebook’s ‘Fake News’ Crusade is a Fraud: Now Partners in Propaganda with U.S. Government

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

They tell us we’re facing a ‘crisis of democracy’ and that it’s all to do with plague of fake news. There is a crisis, but it’s not ‘fake news’ – it’s a crisis of authoritarianism. If left unchecked, it will introduce some disturbing implications for western democracies, but also for humanity in general, because when Silicon Valley firms impose their rigid regimes of censorship, it’s not only content for the American market which is being ‘disappeared’ – it’s being wiped globally.

This is a level of control and corruption which the world has never experienced before. Corporate technocrats and their automated algorithms are making arbitrary decisions which dictate which pieces of communication or user accounts are allowed to exist, and which of ones cannot. Invisible technocrats curating your news feeds, and deleting accounts on a whim, or worse – deleting them at the direction of governments. This is Kafka going global.

The Establishment’s ‘fake news’ crisis has now entered its third year, and there seems to be no sign that they are letting up their Orwellian contrivance. Instead, they are doubling down and doing so by fast-tracking an aggressive policy of information suppression and censorship, as well as actively targeting independent journalists and content producers across the internet. Make no mistake: they want to rewind the clock back to a time when they enjoyed total command and control over media, all the while practicing the dark arts propaganda and media manipulation with near impunity. How did we get here? How to fight back against this hostile takeover our information space?

It’s become abundantly clear that Silicon Valley firms are colluding with Big Government in order to regulate content and speech which they deem to be outside of the Establishment’s narrow band of acceptability. While there is an extreme left-wing bias in Silicon Valley, this may not necessarily be their main focus going forward with their government partnerships for mass censorship. The main target may be speech which opposes the bloated military industry and its compliment: the constant stream of mainstream media war propaganda. In essence, knocking out any anti-war dissent online appears to be a top priority for this crooked corporate cartel and their government enablers.

With the #Russiagate conspiracy theory now sufficiently nailed into in place, the US government can now openly lean on Facebook and Twitter to ‘do more’ to solve this and other wicked problems, all in order to “protect our vulnerable citizens from outside interference and the scourge of misinformation and disinformation on social media” (we’re still waiting for guidelines defining misinformation and disinformation). This is not limited to anti-Russian propaganda – this also includes attacking and shutting down legitimate online media outlets from countries like Venezuela, Iran, Syria, and any other country deemed to be unfit by the US State Department. In other words, what the CIA used to do covertly is now being done overtly by the US government through its new corporate glove puppets in Palo Alto and San Francisco.

Through this manufactured crisis of ‘fake news,’ self-serving officials in government and Silicon Valley have awarded themselves the license to begin implementing an aggressive program of censorship, which included throttling the visibility content on platforms whose world view or political leanings did not agree with Facebook’s prescribed narrow band of political acceptability.

This issue has now reached a critical stage, whereby the collusion is being done openly, all in the name of saving Americans from the clutches of the Kremlin, or whoever the US Establishment’s enemy de jour is. If you really believe there are ‘reds under the bed’ then by all means: go ahead, surrender your rights and remaining free agency over to this mob of faceless bureaucrats. However, if you do not – then now is the time to get active on this issue.

The confluence of corporations and government is fascism in its most basic form. Realize that this open conspiracy being waged by Silicon Valley and Big Government is predicated on the lie that Russia handed the Presidency to Donald Trump in 2016. That never happened, and any Establishment figures who are still pushing that lie are likely to also be egging-on the Silicon Valley to censor online content being broadcast by overseas targets of US regime change efforts. Here is one such agent of influence:

The corruption and collusion between US corporations and government has never been more visible than it is now. For those who reject this technocracy and value freedom of expression and speech, it’s time to push back and speak up about it, or risk losing any semblance of free expression and assembly online, and offline too.

FAIR.org reports…

Media giant Facebook recently announced (Reuters, 9/19/18) it would combat “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations founded and funded by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The social media platform was already working closely with the NATO-sponsored Atlantic Council think tank (FAIR.org, 5/21/18).

In a previous FAIR article (8/22/18), I noted that the “fake news” issue was being used as a pretext to attack the left and progressive news sites. Changes to Facebook’s algorithm have reduced traffic significantly for progressive outlets like Common Dreams (5/3/18), while the pages of Venezuelan government–backed TeleSur English and the independent Venezuelanalysis were shut down without warning, and only reinstated after a public outcry.

The Washington, DC–based NDI and IRI are staffed with senior Democratic and Republican politicians; the NDI is chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while the late Sen. John McCain was the longtime IRI chair. Both groups were created in 1983 as arms of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Cold War enterprise backed by then–CIA director William Casey (Jacobin, 3/7/18). That these two US government creations, along with a NATO offshoot like the Atlantic Council, are used by Facebook to distinguish real from fake news is effectively state censorship.

Facebook’s collaboration with the NED organizations is particularly troubling, as both have aggressively pursued regime change against leftist governments overseas. The NDI undermined the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in the 1980s, and continues to do so to this day, while the IRI claimed a key role in the 2002 coup against leftist President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, announcing that it had,

[S]erved as a bridge between the nation’s political parties and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic future…. We stand ready to continue our partnership with the courageous Venezuelan people.

The Reuters report (9/19/18) mentioned that Facebook was anxious to better curate what Brazilians saw on their feeds in the run-up to their presidential elections, which pits far-right Jair Bolsonaro against leftist Fernando Haddad. The US government has a long history of undermining democracy in Brazil, from supporting a coup in 1964 against the progressive Goulart administration to continually spying on leftist President Dilma Rousseff (BBC, 7/4/15) in the run-up to the parliamentary coup against her in 2016 (CounterSpin, 6/2/17).

SEE ALSO: Conclusive Evidence: Facebook Subcontracts Censorship Measures to FireEye Intelligence/Hedge Fund Operatives and Atlantic Council

Soon after it partnered with the Atlantic Council [NATO and defense industry-backed ‘think tank’], Facebook moved to delete accounts and pages connected with Iranian broadcasting channels (CNBC, 8/23/18), while The Intercept (12/30/17) reported that in 2017 the social media platform met with Israeli government officials to discuss which Palestinian voices it should censor. Ninety-five percent of Israeli government requests for deletion were granted. Thus the US government and its allies are effectively using the platform to silence dissenting opinion, both at home and on the world stage, controlling what Facebook‘s 2 billion users see and do not see.

Progressives should be deeply skeptical that these moves have anything to do with their stated objective of promoting democracy. Bloomberg Business Week (9/29/17) reported that the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party went to Facebook headquarters for discussions with US companies about how it could use the platform for recruitment and micro-targeting in the 2017 elections. AfD tripled its previous vote share, becoming the third-largest party in Germany, the far right’s best showing since World War II.

Public trust in government is at 18 percent—an all-time low (Pew, 12/14/17). There is similar mistrust of Facebook, with only 20 percent of Americans agreeing social media sites do a good job separating fact from fiction. And yet, worldwide, Facebook is a crucial news source. Fifty-two percent of Brazilians, 61 percent of Mexicans, and 51 percent of Italians and Turks use the platform for news; 39 percent of the US gets their news from the site.

This means that, despite the fact that even its own public mistrusts it, the US government has effectively become the arbiter of what the world sees and hears, with the ability to marginalize or simply delete news from organizations or countries that do not share its opinions. This power could be used at sensitive times, like elections. This is not an idle threat. The US created an entire fake social network for Cubans that aimed to stir unrest and overthrow the Cuban government, according to the Guardian (4/3/14).

That a single corporation has such a monopoly over the flow of worldwide news is already problematic, but the increasing meshing of corporate and US government control over the means of communication is particularly worrying. All those who believe in free and open exchange of information should oppose Facebook becoming a tool of US foreign policy.

Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq.





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