by Darius Shahtahmasebi, The Anti Media:
After Donald Trump surprised even the most pessimistic of us by winning the U.S. presidential elections in 2016, the powers-that-be quickly sought to find a scapegoat to blame for their dismal failures. Supposedly, it wasn’t the corporate media’s fault, the DNC’s fault or the current neoliberal power structure’s fault for ramming down an unpopular candidate down our throat who was completely out of touch with reality; it was Russia’s fault.
The anti-Russian narrative has had dire consequences far beyond that than the common person will realize. Russia was able to swing the election in favor of Trump; but in the absence of any hard evidence that this was the case, the medium with which Russia supposedly achieved this victory has brought an attack on some very notable entities.
Facebook, Google, and the alternative media companies that rely on these social media giants to share their content faced renewed scrutiny after Donald Trump’s election victory. However, the truth about this ploy and where we are headed is far more sinister than anything George Orwell could have ever predicted.
In response to claims that “fake news” had an effect on the U.S. elections, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in early November 2016 that the idea that fake news circulating on Facebook could have possibly influenced the election was “pretty crazy.” According to Zuckerberg, “fake news” made up a very small amount of total content and that Facebook’s algorithm at the time delivered content to nearly 2 billion monthly users, reflecting what was“meaningful and interesting to them.”
“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience,” Zuckerberg said. “We really believe in people. You don’t generally go wrong when you trust that people understand what they care about, and you build systems that reflect that.”
Zuckerberg even defended the likes of hate-speech circulated in the age of Trump, permitting this content because it is all part of “mainstream political discourse.”
“We’ve studied this a lot, and I really care about it,” Zuckerberg also said. “All the research that we have suggests that this isn’t really a problem. We’ve had a really hard time getting that out.”
Zuckerberg also intimated that the company’s biggest responsibility to the country as a democracy is to “give people a voice,” whether they’re voters or candidates.
Barely a week after these pleasing remarks, Barack Obama hit back with an epic attack on Facebook.
“If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems,” he said during a press conference in Germany.
It should be noted that none of this discourse was present when the administration of George W. Bush sold the American and international public lies about Iraq’s non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs); or Barack Obama’s debunked claims that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were committing mass rape and murder on his own people. These lies were only able to take root through the conformity of the corporate media. Who is in the business of spreading fake news here?
Approximately two days later, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is now developing tools to fight “fake news” – even after quite clearly stating he didn’t believe it to even be an issue. Even if it was a major issue – is Facebook-enforced censorship really the answer? What the fuck happened to proper schooling and education?
And what happened in that one-week period to force Mr. Zuckerberg to do a complete 360 degree turn? According to the Washington Post, in that time, Barack Obama personally pulled aside Zuckerberg in a private room on the side-lines of a meeting of world leaders in Peru to make a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of “fake news” more seriously.
Whatever Obama told Zuckerberg – it worked. Ever since, Zuckerberg has slowly been chipping away at “fake news” sites even when he previously believed that they were not even a particular issue. Following the infamous PropOrNot report barely a week later, which effectively labelled every single site that criticizes U.S. foreign policy as a Russian agent, alternative media has faced a slow and inevitable decline.
In September last year, acclaimed writer Chris Hedges of Truthdig wrote:
“In the name of combating Russia-inspired ‘fake news,’ Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN in April imposed algorithms or filters, overseen by ‘evaluators,’ that hunt for key words such as ‘U.S. military,’ ‘inequality’ and ‘socialism,’ along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker. Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 ‘evaluators’ to determine the ‘quality’ and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.”
At first, it was corporate gate-keepers like the Guardian who were begging for donations in the age of Trump, as they had lost all credibility in keeping up with the needs and interests of the people. Now, we are all asking for donations, as Facebook’s algorithms are cutting off close to 100 percent of our Facebook audiences.
Consider that here at the Mind Unleashed we have over 8 million followers on Facebook; and at the Anti-Media we have over 2 million followers – it doesn’t take a genius to calculate that this is a significant loss of revenue we are currently experiencing, with Facebook’s new algorithms almost cutting our content out of user’s home pages completely.
Seriously, who asked for this? Barack Obama – that’s who. I don’t remember any Facebook user ever asking Facebook to change its algorithms to cut news out of their Home Feed and to only display photos of cats and vegan diets. Surely, a balance of ideas would be the best way to maintain a healthy mind. (Removing oneself from Facebook altogether would also achieve a healthy mind, but that’s a topic for a separate article).
This has nothing to do with combating “fake news.” I have written over 400 articles online, and close to 100 percent of my sources are from mainstream outlets like Reuters, the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, the Washington Post, and others. Why should we be censored for referencing the very news outlets that people like Obama want us to trust in the first place?
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