Nothing could have more perfectly exemplified the establishment’s use of Orwellian Newspeak than Facebook’s latest move to censor independent thought under the pretense of caring about the emotional wellbeing of the masses. The media giant has been documented live-streaming murders, suicides, rapes, and abuse. Despite this, The New York Post reported that Facebook officially stated they were ‘unable to stop live-streaming suicides.’ But, trust them, they care about your mental health, and that’s why they don’t want you to read certain news stories.
A recent press report on the matter stated: “Facebook said it’s changing the formula that determines users’ news feeds by decreasing business and media posts and focusing more on personal connections.” However, in reality, the changes seem to have been used to specifically target anti-establishment news sources.
Though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enthused regarding the changes, the company’s shareholders appeared less impressed with the news. According to CNBC, Facebook shares fell by four percent at market the morning after Zuckerberg’s announcement of the new policy. Stocks fell during the first day by following the announcement by 6.1% which was reported to have amounted to a $3.3 billion loss.
Despite this, Zuckerberg appeared totally unfazed by the stock price drop, and openly admitted that the changes would lead to an overall decline in user engagement.
The Guardian’s coverage of the news not only chided Zuckerberg for not having made the move earlier, while also directly identifying the core of the real impetus behind the changes, which had nothing to do with bringing you closer to your family. The Guardian’s writing on the issue reveals that the real reason for the changes is in order to actively censor what the legacy press outlet deems to be “fake news” that “interfered” in the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election.
Such ‘misinformation,’ The Guardian may as well have admonished, is dangerous and liable to transform users into drooling zombies with no control over their actions whatsoever. The Guardian’s coverage of the matter encouraged censorship of independent media under the banner of “fake news,” or in other words, anything other than government-approved-propaganda. It also appeared to be a beautiful teaching moment on the value of projection.
As reported by legacy media, Facebook has come under fire in recent months for allegedly allowing Russians to attempt to influence the 2016 Presidential election through Facebook ads. Disobedient Media has previously addressed the multiple reasons that this line of argument is patently ridiculous, and provides yet another pretext to clamp down on non-corporate media sources.
Although this author and many other independent journalists have been subjected to various methods and degrees of censorship over the last year, Zuckerberg’s Facebook overhaul has gone far beyond what many in the anti-establishment press could have anticipated.
In addition to the issues regarding the coverage of the changes as it stands, a number of non-corporate media outlets, including Disobedient Media, have experienced drastic changes in reach on Facebook’s platform, with Caitlin Johnstone addressing the matter recently on Twitter.
Johnstone also spoke with Disobedient Media, relating to us that: “Medium has a statistics feature which lets you see where your views are coming from. Around a week or so ago the Facebook numbers suddenly plummeted from thousands per article, often tens of thousands, to a few hundred per article. Facebook also has a feature which lets you see the “reach” for your FB page, and those numbers were slashed to somewhere between a third and a quarter of where they used to sit. Just looking at the numbers it appears that both my page and individual independent shares of my articles are getting less visibility all of a sudden.”
MintPressNews also wrote regarding Facebook’s crackdown, specifically in relation to Latin American news outlet teleSUR English. They wrote: “Facebook periodically “tweaks” its algorithm in ways that severely reduce the prominence of alternative media content on newsfeeds, forcing admins to pay for “sponsored posts” in order to reach audiences.”
This is not the first time anti-establishment voices have faced severe and arbitrary censorship on large platforms. Disobedient Media previously reported on Google and Youtube censorship across the political spectrum, specifically in terms of an anti-trust suit brought against Google by social media company, Gab.ai. At that time, a tremendous number of Youtube content providers and anti-establishment websites were hit with strangled traffic content or the demonetization of thousands of videos deemed to be ‘inappropriate’ for some unknown reason.
Additionally, Disobedient Media reported in November last year that Twitter admitted to having censored 48% of tweets using the #DNCLeak hashtag, and 25% of tweets using the #PodestaEmails hashtag.
As MintPressNews wisely observed, citing the sentiments of John Pilger in regards to the corruption of corporate media: “CNN and NBC and the rest of the networks have been the voices of power and have been the source of distorted news for such a long time. They are not circling the wagons because the wagons are on the wrong side. These people in the mainstream have been an extension of the power that has corrupted so much of our body politic. They have been the sources of so many myths.”
Redacted Tonight’s Lee Camp also discussed the latest crackdown, saying that his Facebook page ‘Lee Camp Comedian’ has been severely limited, and censored, with previous subscribers being removed without their knowledge. He alluded to similar tactics being used on Youtube and Google, as Disobedient Media previously reported.
Though challenges created by escalating censorship are frighteningly real, the age of independent media is not at an end. As Suzie Dawson noted, an increasing number of anti-establishment voices are diversifying the platforms on which they post content. Essentially, one hopes that as even Facebook admits it will push users away through the implementation of their latest draconian policies, the news which is most dangerous to the plutocratic class will not be silenced. Instead of being cut down, we will spread to every platform that exists out of the establishment’s reach, embodied by the archetypal Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Diversifying the platforms where anti-establishment journalists share content has become the new method by which non-corporate journalists have responded to the tightening chokehold of censorship. Suzie Dawson, Caitlin Johnstone, Lee Camp, HA Goodman and myself are just a few examples of the independent sources of news flocking to the platform, often specifically in response to the recent Facebook crackdown imposed under the guise of enhancing mental health.
In his inaugural Steemit post, Lee Camp wrote that a primary instigation for joining the platform was indeed the latest Facebook censorship. He wrote: “Finally reached my breaking point with Facebook – Well, in fact, I’ve been exploring other platforms for awhile now. But I recently did a video on the extreme censorship anti-establishment voices like myself have been receiving on Facebook, and they responding by pulling it down and telling people it looked like spam. (So I guess they proved my point.)”
The title of Caitlin Johnstone’s first post on Steemit also featured Facebook’s newest wave of censorship, relating: “Facebook Is Throttling My Articles, So It’s Time To Diversify Platforms. Hi Steemit!” Like Camp and Johnstone, I have experienced Facebook’s temporary block in response to posting Disobedient Media’s content.
Steemit is not the only platform seeing a large number of anti-establishment pundits joining their ranks, with others including Minds.com. The key message to take away from these developments is that free-thinking individuals suppressed by social media giants are reacting by posting their content on multiple new platforms which will hopefully, as Suzie Dawson wrote, encourage Facebook and its ilk to go the way of the dinosaurs.
As I discussed recently with the fantastic Graham Elwood, there are ways that individual readers of quality anti-establishment media can support writers, pundits and the like and fight censorship. If one has easy access to cash, then donating a single dollar to your favorite independent media outlets or pundits can make an enormous difference to their viability. If that is not possible, supporters can still make a seismic impact and fight corporate censorship by actively sharing articles, videos and content across a variety of social media platforms. As I told Elwood in a recent interview, a retweet while on the bus to work may not feel like much, but it is a massive fist shoved into the face of the establishment every single time it happens. We do have power in this situation, all we have to do is see it, and seize it.