Tag Archives: fake news

Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism, by Adrian Shahbaz

An authoritative survey of net freedom around the globe. By Adrian Shahbaz at freedomhouse.org:

Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracy

The internet is growing less free around the world, and democracy itself is withering under its influence.

Disinformation and propaganda disseminated online have poisoned the public sphere. The unbridled collection of personal data has broken down traditional notions of privacy. And a cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.

Events this year have confirmed that the internet can be used to disrupt democracies as surely as it can destabilize dictatorships. In April 2018, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified in two congressional hearings about his company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which it was revealed that Facebook had exposed the data of up to 87 million users to political exploitation. The case was a reminder of how personal information is increasingly being employed to influence electoral outcomes. Russian hackers targeted US voter rolls in several states as part of the Kremlin’s broader efforts to undermine the integrity of the 2016 elections, and since then, security researchers have discovered further breaches of data affecting 198 million American, 93 million Mexican, 55 million Filipino, and 50 million Turkish voters.

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Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine, by Carl Miller

Information warfare is just propaganda with a high-tech gloss. Here is a look at how the British Army wages propaganda information warfare. From Carl Miller at wired.co.uk:

They are soldiers, but the 77th Brigade edit videos, record podcasts and write viral posts. Welcome to the age of information warfare

barbed-wire fence stretched off far to either side. A Union flag twisted in a gust of wind, and soldiers strode in and out of a squat guard’s hut in the middle of the road. Through the hut, and under a row of floodlights, I walked towards a long line of drab, low-rise brick buildings. It was the summer of 2017, and on this military base nestled among the hills of Berkshire, I was visiting a part of the British Army unlike any other. They call it the 77th Brigade. They are the troops fighting Britain’s information wars.

“If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking,” was written in foot-high letters across a whiteboard in one of the main atriums of the base. Over to one side, there was a suite full of large, electronic sketch pads and multi-screened desktops loaded with digital editing software. The men and women of the 77th knew how to set up cameras, record sound, edit videos. Plucked from across the military, they were proficient in graphic design, social media advertising, and data analytics. Some may have taken the army’s course in Defence Media Operations, and almost half were reservists from civvy street, with full time jobs in marketing or consumer research.

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The New York Times as Iago, by Diana Johnstone

Is the NY Times just trying to drive Trump and his administration crazy by making everyone suspicious of everyone else? From Diama Johnstone at unz.com:

Undermining Peace Efforts by Sowing Suspicion

The New York Times continues to outdo itself in the production of fake news. There is no more reliable source of fake news than the intelligence services, which regularly provide their pet outlets (NYT and WaPo) with sensational stories that are as unverifiable as their sources are anonymous. A prize example was the August 24 report that US intelligence agencies don’t know anything about Russia’s plans to mess up our November elections because “informants close to … Putin and in the Kremlin” aren’t saying anything. Not knowing anything about something for which there is no evidence is a rare scoop.

A story like that is not designed to “inform the public” since there is no information in it. It has other purposes: to keep the “Russia is undermining our democracy” story on front pages, with the extra twist in this case of trying to make Putin distrustful of his entourage. The Russian president is supposed to wonder, who are those informants in my entourage?

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The Weak Leading The Crazy, by the Zman

The press has been riddled with fraud for a long time. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

The fake news phenomenon is nothing new. It’s been a part of the business since William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer invented it in the United States. They are the two credited with inventing yellow journalism and using it to get the US to declare war on Spain at the end of the 19th century. It probably goes back further, but it was these two who figured out how to make it work in the age of mass media. It’s not an accident that the two men who created fake news have journalism awards named after them.

More recently, the gold standard of fake news is the fake human interest story. This is where the fake reporter would find some fake people to write about, placing them into a canned narrative. Sometimes the people would be real, but their story was fictionalized and their quotes created by the fake reporters. Mike Barnacle had a long career at the Boston Globe writing fake human interest stories. He was eventually found out and fired, but people always knew he was a faker. He’s now a regular on MSNBC as a fake guest.

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Russia and Iran Hate Us for Our Freedoms, by Kurt Nimmo

Can Trump’s many enemies ride the Russiagate concoction all the way to suppression of the alternative media and President Trump’s impeachment? From Kurt Nimmo at kurtnimmo.blog:

It’s easy to detect fake news. I don’t need a fact checker or a laboratory at a globalist think tank to clue me in. 

Here’s the latest fake news. 

Both Russia and Iran want to influence the midterm elections. 

It’s lunacy to believe this would make a difference, even if it were true. 

The story was posted at one of the more notorious fake news sites—The New York Times, the folks who sold you WMDs and the invasion of Iraq. 

Facebook passed this info on to the Gray Lady of Propaganda. 

Facebook said it had identified a new political influence campaign on its platform that appeared intended to disrupt the midterm elections. The social network found and took down 652 fake accounts and pages that were trying to sow discord around social issues… Some of the accounts in the new influence campaign originated in Iran and Russia, Facebook said.

This latest threat by people who hate us for our freedoms—as George W. Bush so pointedly phrased it—follows a similar claim last month. 

The campaign’s scale exceeded that of another influence operation that Facebook revealed last month, in which the company said it detected and removed 32 pages and fake accounts that had engaged in activity around divisive social issues ahead of the midterms.

Elections always arouse heated discussion on divisive issues and have done so since the founding of the (former) republic. Establishment Republicans and Democrats use the media as an influence tool and it is accepted as normal behavior. Billions are spent every election cycle to influence voters one way or the other. 

The revelations underscore how Facebook continues to be used as a weapon by others to try to influence the American electorate.

Others. It’s not simply Russia and Iran trying to take down America. It’s unspecified others. It is more than obvious who these others are despite the vagueness of the above sentence. 

To continue reading: Russia and Iran Hate Us for Our Freedoms

The Enemy of the People, by Justin Raimondo

Sometimes Trump’s tweets hit the nail right on the head. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Last night before I put down The Star Beast and fell into dreamland I wondered to myself: “What will I write about tomorrow?” There didn’t seem to be anything especially pressing or interesting: and then I thought, “Oh, don’t worry, he’ll tweet something that’ll have them frothing at the mouth before dawn breaks.”

And, lo and behold, I was right! It was 4:30 in the morning, with most of the country asleep, but there was Trump tweeting truth to power:

“The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

Oh my goodness, how the Fake News crowd hated that one! From left to right, from Chuck Todd to Chris Wallace, how they howled and screamed in pain! Because the truth hurts. Where was Chuck Todd during the run up to the Kosovo war – in a Trappist monastery? He can’t be unaware of the catalytic role played by CNN in ginning up that conflict.

Yet that’s nothing compared to the chutzpah of Chris Wallace, who demanded to know “What wars have we started?” The truth is that it’s hard to list any recent wars Fox News hasn’t had a huge hand in starting, beginning with Kosovo and going on down the line – from Gulf War I to the invasion of Iraq to Libya, Syria, and all the way to the present day, where fresh calls for new conflicts are too commonplace to even be noted.

My favorite response to Trump’s tweet, however, came from Bill Kristol, who tweeted a quote from Thomas Jefferson lauding the freedom of the press – and is anyone surprised that the leading advocate of militarism in the US is hailing the First Amendment because it protects the media’s “right” to lie us into war.

Trump is correct about the dangers posed by our media – not any and all media, per se – which has nearly always been in the War Party’s pocket. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, war serves their purposes both ideologically and in terms of the bottom line.

To continue reading: The Enemy of the People

The Real “Fake News” from Government Media, by Scott Lazarowitz

A lot of demonstrably fake news comes from the mainstream media outlets decrying “fake news.” From Scott Lazarowitz at activistpost.com:

Facebook has announced its campaign against “fake news.” But, according to some workers’ own admission, conservatives are being censored.

And Google also wants to censor “fake news.” But Google also was shown to treat conservative websites, but not liberal ones, as “fake news.”

The same thing seems to be going on with Twitter. And again, conservatives are complaining.

But who is to decide what is “fake news”? Who will be Facebook and Google’s sources for real news?

In 2013 the U.S. Senate considered a new a shield law to protect journalists. In the lawmakers’ attempts to narrow the definition of a journalist, some Senators including Sen. Dianne Feinstein only wanted to include reporters with “professional qualifications.”

“Professional” publications such as the New York Times, the “Paper of Record,” would apparently be protected.

So one can conclude that the New York Times can be a source of “real” news for Facebook or Google, despite all the Timeserrors, screw-ups, and corrections, right?

According to one NYT former reporter, the Times has been a “propaganda megaphone” for war. Also a partner with the CIA to promote Obama’s reelection bid.

Or CNN, “The Most Trusted Name in News” which wins its own “fake news” awards with its errors, screw-ups and corrections.

During the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, there were collusions between then-CNN contributor and DNC operative Donna Brazile, who was outed by WikiLeaks in her giving candidate Hillary Clinton questions in advance for a CNN Town Hall.

Other emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks informed us that reporters obediently followed instructions from the Hillary Clinton campaign on how to cover the campaign. These include reporters from the New York Times such as Maggie Haberman who said the campaign would “tee up stories for us,” and Mark Leibovich, who would email Clinton flunky Jennifer Palmieri for editing recommendations.

And Politico reporter Glenn Thrush asked Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for approval of stories on Clinton. Thrush was then hired by the New York Times. After Thrush was then suspended from NYT over allegations of sexual misconduct, the Times ended the suspension, stating that while Thrush had “acted offensively,” he would be trained to behave himself. Hmm.

To continue reading: The Real “Fake News” from Government Media