Twitter Says It Bans State-Media Ads, But Gets Paid to Spread US Government Messaging

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by Ben Norton, Consortium News:

Twitter says it bans ads from state-affiliated media but the U.S. government’s Voice of America’s VOA Farsi pays Twitter corporation huge sums to spread disinformation against Iran & other foreign adversaries, reports Ben Norton.

Twitter has demonstrated a clear, consistent bias in favor of the U.S. government and its geopolitical interests. The social media giant has also repeatedly lied about its policies on state-backed media outlets.

Twitter unveiled a new feature on August 6 that labels government-affiliated media on the platform. Users immediately pointed out the social network’s double standards: Chinese and Russian state-backed media have been designated, but not state-backed media outlets funded by Western governments.

Twitter Support claimed it decided to start labeling government-affiliated accounts from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the U.S., UK, France, Russia, and China. Oddly, state-funded media outlets from the first three NATO countries have not been labeled.

The lies flow from there. When it announced this new policy, Twitter Support claimed, “For clarity: we don’t let state-affiliated media accounts advertise on Twitter.”

This is categorically false.

Twitter hosts a web page called the “Ads Transparency Center,” where it publicly discloses all of the paid advertisements, known as “sponsored tweets,” that the website puts into users’ feeds.

A search in the Ads Transparency Center for the official, verified Twitter account of the U.S. government’s Voice of America, and specifically its Persian-language arm VOA Farsi, shows that the state-affiliated media outlet had paid Twitter to publish dozens of ads just in the first week of August.

VOA Persian Twitter ads
Sponsored tweets from VOA Persian in the first week of August 2020

That means that a U.S. state-affiliated media outlet published more than 60 individual ads on Twitter in a mere seven days – the same week when Twitter reaffirmed its ban on ads from state-affiliated media outlets.

Many of these ads quoted speeches from President Donald Trump and Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Others spread fears about coronavirus in Iran, and called for removing the Iranian government.

VOA Persian Twitter ads Trump Pompeo
Sponsored tweets from VOA Persian featuring anti-Iran propaganda from Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo

Voice of America (VOA) is a U.S. government propaganda outlet. This is indisputable. Even the History Channel, in an article on the launching of Voice of America in 1947, acknowledged that the “VOA effort was an important part of America’s propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.”

And of the state propaganda organs funded by the U.S. government, VOA Persian is the most extreme. It is a weapon of information warfare aimed directly at the Iranian government.

The former senior managing editor of VOA Persian described the outlet as “a mouthpiece of Trump — only Trump and nothing but Trump.” The former executive editor added that the U.S. government-funded network just publishes “blatant propaganda,” with “no objectivity or factuality.”

Twitter, however, apparently sees no problem with allowing this Washington propaganda organ to spit out constant disinformation – and the company profits handsomely from its anti-Iran ads.

U.S. Agency for Global Media & CIA’s Global Network

Western government-backed information warriors reacted to Twitter’s double standard on the labeling of state-affiliated media outlets with glee, insisting that Voice of America was somehow “independent” of the U.S. government which oversees and bankrolls it.

In reality, Voice of America falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). This is a rebranding of the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

USAGM states very clearly on its website that its first goal is to “Be consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.” In other words, USAGM is a soft-power arm of the U.S. government, along with all of its constituent platforms, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia.

USAGM adds that some of its top broadcasting principles are, “Clear and effective presentation of the policies, including editorials, broadcast by the Voice of America, which present the views of the United States Government and responsible discussion and opinion on those policies,” as well as, “The capability to provide a surge capacity to support United States foreign policy objectives during crises abroad.”

Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia were created as CIA fronts to spread disinformation targeting the Soviet Union and communist China, in hopes of destabilizing and ultimately overthrowing their governments.

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