Top Social Media Websites Caught Censoring Controversial Content

George Washington's picture

Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list. For example, Facebook deletes accounts created by Palestinian resistance groups.

Digg was caught censoring stories which were controversial or too critical of the government. See this and this.

Now, even social media site Reddit – which helped launch the anti-Sopa Internet blackout and publicize GoDaddy’s slimy Sopa support – is doing the same thing.

As just one example, posts from this website are being censored by Reddit. Specifically, a friend of this site who has submitted stories to Reddit has received the following messages of rejection from a Reddit moderator named davidreiss666:

from davidreiss666 via /r/worldnews/

WashingtonBlog is not something we consider a good source for r/Worldnews.


from davidreiss666 via /r/worldnews/

Please submit that story from an alternate domain. Thank you.


And another moderator named Maxion:

from Maxion via /r/worldnews/

I am sorry but this submission is not appropriate for this subreddit.


There are certainly also more open-minded moderators at Reddit. But a couple of censors can squash discussion on entire topics.




Why are they censoring?

Well, censorship is rampant in America … and social media has grown so big that it has become a target as well.

In addition, as I pointed out last year [for ease of reading, we'll skip indentation]:

Wired reported on Friday:

The Pentagon is looking to build a tool to sniff out social media propaganda campaigns and spit some counter-spin right back at it.


On Thursday, Defense Department extreme technology arm Darpa unveiled its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program. It’s an attempt to get better at both detecting and conducting propaganda campaigns on social media. SMISC has two goals. First, the program needs to help the military better understand what’s going on in social media in real time — particularly in areas where troops are deployed. Second, Darpa wants SMISC to help the military play the social media propaganda game itself.


This is more than just checking the trending topics on Twitter. The Defense Department wants to deeply grok social media dynamics. So SMISC algorithms will be aimed at discovering and tracking the “formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes)” on social media, according to Darpa’s announcement.




SMISC needs to be able to seek out “persuasion campaign structures and influence operations” developing across the social sphere. SMISC is supposed to quickly flag rumors and emerging themes on social media, figure out who’s behind it and what. Moreover, Darpa wants SMISC to be able to actually figure out whether this is a random product of the hivemind or a propaganda operation by an adversary nation or group.


Of course, SMISC won’t be content to just to hang back and monitor social media trends in strategic locations. It’s about building a better spin machine for Uncle Sam, too. Once SMISC’s latches on to an influence operation being launched, it’s supposed to help out in “countermessaging.”




SMISC is yet another example of how the military is becoming very interested in what’s going on in the social media sphere.

Indeed, as I wrote in February:

I noted in 2009, in an article entitled “Does The Government Manipulate Social Media?”:

The U.S. government long ago announced its intention to “fight the net”.

As revealed by an official Pentagon report signed by Rumsfeld called “Information Operations Roadmap”:

The roadmap [contains an] acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military’s psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.


“Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience,” it reads.


“Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” it goes on.




“Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will ‘fight the net’ as it would an enemy weapons system”.

Indeed, the Pentagon publicly announced years ago that it was considering using “black propaganda” – in other words, knowing lies.


CENTCOM announced in 2008 that a team of employees would be “[engaging] bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information.”


The Air Force is now also engaging bloggers. Indeed, an Air Force spokesman said:

“We obviously have many more concerns regarding cyberspace than a typical Social Media user,” Capt. Faggard says. “I am concerned with how insurgents or potential enemies can use Social Media to their advantage. It’s our role to provide a clear and accurate, completely truthful and transparent picture for any audience.”

In other words, the government is targeting “social media”, including popular user-ranked news sites.


In addition, when you look at what the Israeli lobby has done with Megaphone software to automatically vote stories questioning Israel down and to send pro-Israel letters to politicians and media (see this, this and this), you can start to see how the U.S. military – an even larger and better-funded organization – could substantially influence voting on social news sites with very little effort.


Moreover,the military has outsourced many projects to private contractors. For example, in Iraq, much of the fighting has been outsourced to Blackwater. And governmental intelligence functions have largely been outsourced to private companies.


It is therefore not impossible that the government is hiring cheap labor to downvote stories on the social media sites which question the government, and to post pro-government comments.

(other governments and large companies “astroturf” online as well. See this, this and this.)


I pointed out the same month:

Government propagandists, their hired private contractors and useful idiots are creating “downvote bots” or scripts to bury stories which question the government.




One free, simple scripting program to create automatic downvotes of certain topics or news posters is called “Greasemonkey”, which is commonly used on large social news sites such as Reddit.


For example, there are some 2,480 hits … for the google search greasemonkey downvote. This is some 2,480 times that Reddit users are publicly admitting to using greasemonkey (see also this).


Propaganda agents obviously aren’t going to publicly brag about what they are doing, and you can bet that their use of downvote bots is much greater. Moreover, they probably have more sophisticated software than Greasemonkey.

Today, Raw Story reports that the Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people:

Internet users would be well advised to ask another question entirely: Are my “friends” even real people?


In the continuing saga of data security firm HBGary, a new caveat has come to light: not only did they plot to help destroy secrets outlet WikiLeaks and discredit progressive bloggers, they also crafted detailed proposals for software that manages online “personas,” allowing a single human to assume the identities of as many fake people as they’d like.


The revelation was among those contained in the company’s emails, which were dumped onto bittorrent networks after hackers with cyber protest group “Anonymous” broke into their systems.


In another document unearthed by “Anonymous,” one of HBGary’s employees also mentioned gaming geolocation services to make it appear as though selected fake persons were at actual events.


“There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas,” it said.


Government involvement


Eerie as that may be, more perplexing, however, is a federal contract from the 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, located south of Tampa, Florida, that solicits providers of “persona management software.”


While there are certainly legitimate applications for such software, such as managing multiple “official” social media accounts from a single input, the more nefarious potential is clear.


Unfortunately, the Air Force’s contract description doesn’t help dispel their suspicions either. As the text explains, the software would require licenses for 50 users with 10 personas each, for a total of 500. These personas would have to be “replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent.”


It continues, noting the need for secure virtual private networks that randomize the operator’s Internet protocol (IP) address, making it impossible to detect that it’s a single person orchestrating all these posts. Another entry calls for static IP address management for each persona, making it appear as though each fake person was consistently accessing from the same computer each time.


The contract also sought methods to anonymously establish virtual private servers with private hosting firms in specific geographic locations. This would allow that server’s “geosite” to be integrated with their social media profiles, effectively gaming geolocation services.


The Air Force added that the “place of performance” for the contract would be at MacDill Air Force Base, along with Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad. The contract was offered on June 22, 2010.


It was not clear exactly what the Air Force was doing with this software, or even if it had been procured.


Manufacturing consent


Though many questions remain about how the military would apply such technology, the reasonable fear should be perfectly clear. “Persona management software” can be used to manipulate public opinion on key information, such as news reports. An unlimited number of virtual “people” could be marshaled by only a few real individuals, empowering them to create the illusion of consensus.




That’s precisely what got DailyKos blogger Happy Rockefeller in a snit: the potential for military-run armies of fake people manipulating and, in some cases, even manufacturing the appearance of public opinion.


“I don’t know about you, but it matters to me what fellow progressives think,” the blogger wrote. “I consider all views. And if there appears to be a consensus that some reporter isn’t credible, for example, or some candidate for congress in another state can’t be trusted, I won’t base my entire judgment on it, but it carries some weight.


“That’s me. I believe there are many people though who will base their judgment on rumors and mob attacks. And for those people, a fake mob can be really effective.”




“Team Themis” [tasked by the Chamber of Commerce to come up with strategies for responding to progressive bloggers and others] also included a proposal to use malware hacks against progressive organizations, and the submission of fake documents in an effort to discredit established groups.


HBGary was also behind a plot by Bank of America to destroy WikiLeaks’ technology platform, other emails revealed. The company was humiliated by members of “Anonymous” after CEO Aaron Barr bragged that he’d “infiltrated” the group.

And see this, this, this, this.

Postscript: Gaming social media is only one propaganda technique employed by the government:

  • The New York Times discusses in a matter-of-fact way the use of mainstream writers by the CIA to spread messages
  • A 4-part BBC documentary called the “Century of the Self” shows that an American – Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays – created the modern field of manipulation of public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his techniques
  • The Independent discusses allegations of American propaganda
  • And one of the premier writers on journalism says the U.S. has used widespread propaganda

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CompassionateFascist's picture

See how obvious this Hasbara Troll is? Not subtle, and EZ to deal with.

AndTheRest's picture

The lines are kinda blurred when various spook agencies have employees permanently stationed at Google, Facebook, etc.

GeezerGeek's picture

Strike out the part about freedom of expression.


Once upon a time it was "a man's home is his castle", but no longer. We're allowed to "own" property as long as it suits those who rule us. Illusions of liberty, private property, freedom of conscience, etc. are fading, replaced by the harsh reality of being a slave.

tony bonn's picture

it's never wrong to repeat old news like this....

william colby famously bragged how the cia has control of every significant news outlet in america....and since his murder, cia control has become a stranglehold....

washington post was and is an admitted mouthpiece for the cia....

the cia is an independent state and is out to conquer the world with the bush crime syndicate leading the way.....but remember that the cia works for the plutocrats - the rockefeller-mic-yale-cia cabal.....which is one reason why no news reporting of the republican presidential nomination includes ron paul....

newt gingrich - a total cunt - was brought in to drown out ron paul.....gingrich has no intention of running for president in a general election....and god help us if he does...

benb's picture

The elections are so blatently rigged. The corporate controlled media 'stars' are all subversives. We've been sold out.

Seer's picture

NPR = National Pentagon Radio

digalert's picture

Ask Alex Jones about censorship, blocking and banishment. We're in an INFOWAR and we are winning.

whstlblwr's picture

Right now the big government propaganda campaign is gasoline prices increase from escalating tension in middle east. Divert attention from central banks.

Alert, Alert, divert attention from central bank.

the grateful unemployed's picture

they have to protect the asset bubble, which moves as one market, which includes HOUSING. should a brick or two fall out of the wall, say oil at $50, the rest of the deflationary chaos ensues. (modern economic domino theory) besides Obamas mentor used his friends at GS to help manage gas prices in the 2006 midterms and while YES he lowered gas prices, most of the voters saw through the sham. Obama knows that even if he brought gasoline down to $2 he couldn't buy one vote with the political capital he earned. now that everyone depends on uncle for their check, (some people have a desk where they have to sit, others just get the check in the mail) he has bought all the votes he is going to buy. so yes the central bankers have to keep money flowing, or the chinese peasants who work for a dollar a day will get angry and vote for some real communists. (if they could vote)

GeezerGeek's picture

Haven't you heard? Nancy Pelosi says it's those evil speculators again! Obama says it's not his fault!

Blame George Bush.

whstlblwr's picture

Yes, for her to come out to blame speculators means they would rather keep the oil high, than deflate stock bubble. Pelosi chooses printing not people.

Seer's picture

OK, now all of a sudden the big corporations and the politicians AREN'T working together?  I'm confused...

MobBarley's picture

Understand this: The internets was developnated for fun, for free, for entertainmentation

purposes and definately not as some large scale conflict intelligence gathering and propaganda

outlet device for the United States Military Industrial Governmentation Implementation Complex



AndTheRest's picture

Good points, despite the imbecilic luddite Baby Boomers on Zero Hedge that will disagree with you.  Many view the internet as a weapon of Western cultural imperialism.  And the various internet based revolutions, throughout the Middle East, seem to confirm this view.  The internet, properly managed, is the most effective propaganda tool in human history.


Question everything.  Including Zero Hedge.


The Chinese military sees Western culture, particularly American culture, as an assault on China, saying "the West uses a system of values (democracy, freedom, human rights, etc.) in a long-term attack on socialist countries...


The Chinese therefore consider control of information to be paramount, since they do not trust their population to "correctly" interpret American messaging (hence the "Great Firewall of China"). In this sense, China may consider the US as the aggressor in an ongoing cyberwar.


China needs to "express to the world its principled stance of maintaining an 'Internet border' and protecting its 'Internet sovereignty,' unite all advanced forces to dive into the raging torrent of the age of peaceful use of the Internet, and return to the Internet world a healthy, orderly environment," the article said.

As you can see, the Chinese think an information war is already being waged. The US started it, and the US continues it (in the Chinese view) as demonstrated by turbulence in the Middle East.

mkhs's picture

Really?  I always heard it was developed as a diffuse network to make a highly redundant command and control network for mil communication.

GeezerGeek's picture

Sorry, but the internet grew out of (mostly) government needs/initiatives. Think DARPA and ARPANET. Educational organizations were the initial beneficiaries, allowing them to share resources. Please be informed before making nonsensical statements. See



Dickweed Wang's picture

I thought Al Gore invented the internet??

Pinky's picture

did you forget  the not or the wink? internet was a darpa thing, they let us use it.anyone who doesnt like it can buildt his own. everyone else quit whining,

Alea Iactaest's picture

What's your point? That a spoon was never intended to be a shank? Improvise, use the tools at hand. If people want to put their lives on the internets then others are going to want to *read* it. Only natural.

proLiberty's picture

This article is obviously propaganda.


chunga's picture

I got banned from reddit two weeks ago.

My submissions are (were) primarily to the "economy" category and consisted of lawsuits I pull from PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) that are less than flattering to banks.

Yesterday, I was banned from a hotmail account I have had since before Microsoft bought it. The stated reason: SPAM. 90 minutes to straighten it out.

Spam? I sell nothing and solicit nothing; yet I'm constantly bombarded by the same spammers informing me I am heir to a Nigerian fortune, my credit card data is lost, and of course male enhancements.

Akismet is another one that sucks. George, by now I'm sure you are no longer surprised at your traffic log. I'm not either.

The Zero Hedge traffic log would probably make for a good novel.

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Peer to Peer technology threatens their psyop strategy, thus the govt's unceasing attack of anything P2P.

They can't control the message if the technology doesnt provide an intermediary server.  Perhaps we can give some thought to finding and using P2P tech to replace the "destination" website forum.



MobBarley's picture

Niggah pullease.

The giant NSA packet sniffer installations located at

Mae-East and Mae-west, and lots of smaller junctures

along the way do plenty fine to monitor your internets

usage without you worrying about anyone monitoring

your peer to peer private conversations that you

know about.  Since your 2048 bit RSA PGP public

key is only used to encrypt the 56 bit random DES

key cracked in .0023 ms actually used to encrypt

your 'message', you can rest assured that your privacy really

is pretty good.



Tunga's picture

Whadda want for fitty bucs a mnth?


El Gordo's picture

Maybe, just maybe, they are doing us a favor by not allowing our comments to be posted and thus triggering the whooping sounds of black helicoptors overhead.  Save us from our government, please.

Carl LaFong's picture

These sites censor because they all have political agendas; they are intolerant of certain opposing viewpoints; they are fascists who believe in free speech only so far as it agrees with their positions; and because they can....American constitutional values as expressed in the Bill of Rights no longer exist as Americans no longer have rights, but only priveleges and licenses granted by their masters in state and federal government.  Have a nice day.'s picture

fuck, what does Constitution have to do with private domain? Why do most people who ever bring up Constitution are so fucking ignorant? Is that a retardation disease you all contract from other dimwits? Wash your tin foil hats before swapping.

engineertheeconomy's picture

WallStreetClass you're a moron. If you don't like our constitution, go somewhere else.


AnAnonymous's picture

So obvious.

US citizens never supported the exercize of freedom of speech.

US citizens support the exercize of censorship.

The article is pathetic. Trying to propell that fact as the lastest discovery.

US citizenism is built on such a bubble of nothing US citizens are compelled to control speech.

If US citizens fill the agora, maybe, maybe, people wont be able to tell how US citizenism is.

CompassionateFascist's picture

Must pinch-hit. Dog-munching Chinese citizenist citizens practicing Chink citizenship don't know what Free Speech is as they've never had any and are incapable of it in any case. No go back to your chow mein: dogbits+rice+snot.  

blunderdog's picture

Nah, man, it's property rights.  No one owes you any assistance with pushing your agenda--if you're using other people's property, they're justified in enforcing any rules of decorum they prefer.

Don't worry, though--there's always the commons.

AndTheRest's picture

Wrong.  They censor because they all have government employees sitting in their offices telling them what to censor (most of you won't believe this).  And daring to defy the all powerful federal government is tantamount to suicide...literally more than figuratively these days.

vato poco's picture

...or, IOW, they have adapted the remarkably successful strategy employed by the DNC: dissent does not matter if it is not allowed to exist. The nexr *real* test will be when they mprph on a large scale to the tatctic made famous by another National Socialist Party: The Big Lie. We see piddly little amateurish versions of this every day, (especially if the topic is the jerkoff in the Black House) but wait till they start giving it their full attention. Like, with slogans. Like, 24/7. You ain't seen nothing yet.

OTOH, social media sites are the internet equivalent of listening to some damn fool running his mouth in a bar. ("I was a SEAL!")("Have any hot bitches seen the keys to my Beemer?") Listening to them, or worse, taking their bullshit seriously is almost always a waste of time and brain function. ("I know a guy who can...") Caveat Emptor.

Benjamin Glutton's picture

I get censored 2 or three times a week in real time on all Yahoo Finance message boards.


Any post mentioning Israel receives inordinate scrutiny but I find that by substituting XXXXXX for Israel, or any other type of reference of the like, usually the post will be allowed. The strange thing is that others are able to post with no interference.

CompassionateFascist's picture

"YKW" works well as an alternative for "the Jews".

Pseudo Anonym's picture

I find that by substituting XXXXXX for Israel, or any other type of reference of the like,

thank you. similar experience. i thought i was the only one.  i started using shtadlan and hofjuden as an indirect reference to the usual suspects.  so far so good...

shutdown's picture



Exactly. I write comments on sfgate now and then. 100% of my remarks about Israel's ill treatment toward Palestinians or their endless clammoring for more wars are promptly deleted. Comments suggesting Iran should be attacked, for example, remain.

Peace is out, war is in, especially if Israel is backing the war. 

quasimodo's picture

"sfgate".....right there I lost any sympathy for your plight. Try a real rag


Azannoth's picture

I have that too the 1st 2-3 posts go un-noticed but than you get on some Black-List and it's hard to even post regular content

Benjamin Glutton's picture

I think you are right about the's ridiculous to be forced to modify a Reuters or BBC story with XXXXXX or to know in advance that I must refer indirectly to Israel.

Element's picture

What's social media? ... is that the TV replacement? ... or some dumbed-down version of the internet?

Nothing To See Here's picture

Wikipedia is way ahead on "community-enforced" censorship. Those social media websites are merely catching up. Nothing new under the sun here.

Element's picture

I have been engaged in several sites that do not censor, and what I like about these sites is that you can learn about anything very quickly and in some depth.  People will just tell you stuff that you aren't going to learn elsewhere, or by another means.  Is that social media?  Nah, it's connections, connections in your brain, it's what brains like to do.  Learning is like a euphoric state when you are learning openly and quickly.

But as soon as a regime of 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable' is imposed, it quickly kills this, and the censored site divides and turns into useless shallow mush.  

I've seen it occur, several times.

What zero hedge likewise illustrates is that our preferred mental state is not anarchic at all. It's instead one that craves orderly learning and discussion, understanding of complexity, planning, taking effective actions that have merit, and an open sense of human responsibility or at least a recognition for, and of what occurs in the world. And a deep disgust for lies and corruption is universal, yet we know we ourselves are prone to it's effects as our private and public circumstances change--as they always do.

People do not want a sham of 'responsibility' and 'accountability', as imposed by some kill-able politician and their legislation.  That is often the source of anarchic predilections and responses.  

Instead, people want to bring this responsibility and accountability with them, from inside, as a natural emergent facet of what we are.

And that tells me we're not basically bad.

We are at least as much basically good, as bad.  I work with people who are 'good' almost all of the time, and 'bad' occasionally.  I also work with people who are real shit-heads often, and occasionally great to talk with and be around.  

We exist on a spectrum of inner development, and we can see this.

Development can be accommodated and speed along by a lack of censorship, inner and outer, but it is always up to us to TRY.

If we don't personally make an effort, mentally, with our heart, we are lost, and will destroy ourselves.

If you make no personal effort nor a deliberate choice to make an effort to develop, you certainly won't, will indeed you'll get a very destructive result.

People are so wilful today, insisting that personal and inner discipline does not matter, but it really does, or we destroy ourselves in our own Hell, and that is what sincere major religious teachings are always alerting us to watch out for.

That personal degeneracy is the source of 'evil' in our world.

'Social media' is just another way to avoid this Truth about us for a bit longer.

midtowng's picture

I don't know why the US government would spend money for propaganda purposes. They already have the MSM doing for them for free.