Tag Archives: Social Media

The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0, by Nicholas Levis

One of the things Russiagate and the impeachment spectacle conclusively demonstrated is the waning power of the mainstream media, because most people simply tune them out. Recently, the highest rated nightly TV news program had 9 million viewers. That is less than three percent of the US population. You’re not “controlling the narrative” and thereby “controlling people’s minds” if nobody is watching you. From Nicholas Levis at counterpunch.org:

The US corporate media, who had such a long run as relative monopolizers of truth, have been discrediting themselves in serial fashion since 9/11. Their lapdoggery to the Bush regime backfired on them during the WMD lie operation and the resulting war of aggression. Then came their participation in the fraudulent business reporting leading up to the 2007-2009 Wall Street crash, and their big lies afterward that “no one could have imagined.” The next big rupture arrived in 2015-2016, their million-minutes spent on preemptive coronations of Trump as one candidate and Clinton as the other, and their responsibility for the unexpected result, which they have tried ever since to blame daily on a vague, ever-present “Russia.”

In the last few years, it is true that a few million mostly well-meaning people have partaken in the fandom and breaking-news rituals of the Extended Maddowverse. A similar number have bought into the sorry fantasies of Murdochworld, in which a heroic manly Trump is always about to drain the swamp that spawned him. These groups are like the devoted audiences of Game of Thrones or Star Wars, but smaller. Of course it’s a far more serious matter, because they don’t distinguish between their favorite shows and reality, and they are politically influential people, relatively speaking. A third minority, meanwhile, also small if growing, reject both sides of the #Russiagate coin.

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Is Social Media the New Tobacco? by Charles Hugh Smith

Social media may be even more addicting than nicotine. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

If we set out to design a highly addictive platform that optimized the most toxic, destructive aspects of human nature, we’d eventually come up with social media.

Social problems arise when initially harmless addictions explode in popularity, and economic problems arise when the long-term costs of the addictions start adding up. Political problems arise when the addictions are so immensely profitable that the companies skimming the profits can buy political influence to protect their toxic products from scrutiny and regulation.

That describes both the tobacco industry before its political protection was stripped away and social media today, as the social media giants hasten to buy political influence to protect their immensely profitable monopolies from scrutiny and regulation.

It’s difficult to measure the full costs of addictions because our system focuses on price discovery at the point of purchase, meaning that absent any regulatory measuring of long-term consequences, the cost of a pack of cigarettes is based not on the long-term costs but solely on the cost of producing and packaging the tobacco into cigarettes, and the enterprise side: marketing, overhead and profit.

(I address the consequences of what we don’t measure in my latest book, Will You Be Richer or Poorer?)

To take tobacco as an example, the full costs of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years is not limited to the cost of the cigarettes: 365 days/year X 20 years X 2 packs (14,600) X cost per pack ($5 each) $73,000.

The full costs might total over $1 million in treatments for lung cancer and heart disease, and the reduction in life span and productivity of the smoker. (The emotional losses of those who lose a loved one to a painful early death is difficult to assign an economic value but it is very real.)

If the full costs of the nicotine addiction were included at the point of purchase, each pack of cigarettes would cost about $70 ($1,000,000 / 14,600). Very few people could afford a habit that costs $140 per day ($51,000 per year).

What are the full costs of the current addiction to social media? These costs are even more difficult to measure than the consequences of widespread addiction to nicotine, but they exist regardless of our unwillingness or inability to measure the costs.

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What’s Been Normalized? Nothing Good or Positive, by Charles Hugh Smith

Many things that were considered abhorrent within the past few decades are now considered normal. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

What’s been normalized are policies and cultural norms that seek to enrich and protect the few at the expense of the many.

When the initially extraordinary fades into the unremarkable background of everyday life, we say it’s been normalized. Put another way, we quickly habituateto new conditions, and rationalize our ready acceptance of what was previously unacceptable.

Technology offers many examples of extraordinary advances quickly becoming normalized as we habituate to new devices and behaviors, but my focus today is on policies and cultural norms that were radical departures from accepted norms at their introduction but which are now accepted as “normal.”

This normalization of extreme policies conceals the often equally extreme unintended consequences of the new policies and norms.

Let’s start with two examples which have unleashed unintended consequences that have completely distorted markets: allowing pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to “consumers” and allowing corporations to buy back their own shares. Each of these activities had been banned for self-evident reasons, yet were allowed in the neoliberal rush to deregulate industries without regard for the long-term consequences.

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Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights as Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent, by Mnar Muhawesh

The big social media companies have become arms of the government, and they keep tightening the noose on what’s left of free expression. From Mnar Muhawesh at mintpressnews.com:

It’s an open secret. The deep state is working hand in hand with Silicon Valley social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google to control the flow of information. That includes suppressing, censoring and sometimes outright purging dissenting voices – all under the guise of fighting fake news and Russian propaganda.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York Times, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following ’MintPress News’ extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

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The Court of Justice of the European Union Limits Free Speech, by Judith Bergman

Free speech is just about dead in Europe. From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • “This judgment has major implications for online freedom of expression around the world…. The ruling also means that a court in one EU member state will be able to order the removal of social media posts in other countries, even if they are not considered unlawful there. This would set a dangerous precedent where the courts of one country can control what internet users in another country can see. This could be open to abuse, particularly by regimes with weak human rights records.” — Thomas Hughes, executive director of ARTICLE 19, a non-profit organization that works on “protecting the right to freedom of expression around the world,” October 3, 2019.
  • The judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union… appears to give EU member states unprecedented power to determine public discourse online — to determine what citizens can and cannot read…. [T]he prospects now look even bleaker for the future of free speech in Europe.
A recent judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union appears to give EU member states unprecedented power to determine public discourse online — to determine what citizens can and cannot read. Pictured: The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. (Image source: Transparency International/Flickr

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How the Fourth Estate Illuminati Silences the Right, by Leesa K. Donner

The more the mainstream media and the big social media outfits try to stifle non-approved political views, the stronger the alternative media gets. It’s thriving because it delivers something an increasing number of people want: skepticism of official story lines, hard-hitting analysis, provocative questions, and something closer to the truth. From Leesa K. Donner at libertynation.com:

Journalism has taken quite a beating since the turn of the century. This is true on the business side of the equation and regarding its reputation as a non-biased source of information. The adversarial relationship between the president and the Fourth Estate has not dissipated since Donald J. Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. And a good argument could be made that it’s gotten even more ugly in the public square. This war of words has turned into an all-out frontal assault on those the legacy press perceives as its enemy: the political right. So, it’s worth checking in on the state of the battle. Who’s winning? Who’s losing? And perhaps more significantly: How effectively is the war being waged?

The Bloody Inkwell

It’s not difficult to determine who is being targeted. The legacy press has set its sights on the right, but within that category the Illuminati are gunning for three types of adversaries: well-known conservative individuals, large and small organizations, and public citizens. As for the how, the big-city scribes have chosen the sniper attack as their primary operational-tactical strategy. That is, establish a cover position, lie in wait, and pick off the enemy one by one.

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Have You Noticed How Social Media Purges Always Align With The US Empire? by Caitlin Johnstone

The greatest sin is questioning the empire. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

Twitter has suspended multiple large Cuban media accounts for reasons the social media platform has yet to explain as of this writing, a move which journalist Dan Cohen has described as “the equivalent of silencing CNN, Fox, WaPo and NPR’s accounts” for that nation. The Union of Cuban Journalists has denounced the move as censorship.

Last month we saw Twitter suspend hundreds of accounts which it claims originated in mainland China for engaging in “covert, manipulative behaviors” against the Hong Kong protests, with Facebook and Google/YouTube following suit in the creepy, uniform coordination we’ve come to expect between these social media giants. In June of this year Twitter removed thousands of accounts it claims were associated with the governments of Iran, Russia and Venezuela, as well as 130 accounts reportedly tied to the Catalan independence movement in Spain. In May Twitter removed 2,800 of what it claimed were “inauthentic accounts originating in Iran.” Earlier this year, Twitter and Facebook coordinated with each other to remove hundreds of accounts they claim were tied to “coordinated influence operations” in Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.

Cuba, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and the Catalan independence movement. Noticing a pattern here?

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