Blocked By Facebook and the Vulnerability of New Media 238


This site’s visitor numbers are currently around one third normal levels, stuck at around 20,000 unique visitors per day. The cause is not hard to find. Normally over half of our visitors arrive via Facebook. These last few days, virtually nothing has come from Facebook:

What is especially pernicious is that Facebook deliberately imposes this censorship in a secretive way. The primary mechanism when a block is imposed by Facebook is that my posts to Facebook are simply not sent into the timelines of the large majority of people who are friends or who follow. I am left to believe the post has been shared with them, but in fact it has only been shown to a tiny number. Then, if you are one of the few recipients and do see the post and share it, it will show to you on your timeline as shared, but in fact the vast majority of your own friends will also not receive it. Facebook is not doing what it is telling you it is doing – it shows you it is shared – and Facebook is deliberately concealing that fact from you.

Twitter have a similar system known as “shadow banning”. Again it is secretive and the victim is not informed. I do not appear to be shadow banned at the moment, but there has been an extremely sharp drop – by a factor of ten – in the impressions my tweets are generating.

I am among those who argue that the strength of the state and corporate media is being increasingly and happily undermined by our ability to communicate via social media. But social media has developed in such a way that the channels of communication are dominated by corporations – Facebook, Twitter and Google – which can in effect turn off the traffic to a citizen journalism site in a second. The site is not taken down, and the determined person can still navigate directly to it, but the vast bulk of the traffic is cut off. What is more this is done secretly, without your being informed, and in a manner deliberately hard to detect. The ability to simply block the avenues by which people get to see dissenting opinions, is terrifying.

Furthermore neither Facebook nor Twitter contact you when they block traffic to your site to tell you this is happening, let alone tell you why, and let alone give you a chance to counter whatever argument they make. I do not know if I am blocked by Facebook as an alleged Russian bot, or for any other reason. I do know that it appears to have happened shortly after I published the transcript of the Israeli general discussing the procedures for shooting children.

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238 thoughts on “Blocked By Facebook and the Vulnerability of New Media

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  • Gordon Liddle

    It really is shocking. Facebook should be broken up and at least a part owned by the citizens. The ability for manipulation is too obvious now as the Cambridge Analytica farce shows. As on Twitter, interventions to protect the status quo is too tempting.

  • lissnup

    Many websites have recently taken to sending notifications direct to subscribers – hopefully you will be able to do the same. In Twitter, you can encourage followers to click the bell icon at the top right of your Twitter profile. Never use Facebook now so I don’t know the current workaround but one probably exists.

  • Craig P

    You will be getting my traffic regardless as I have not used either of those sites (Facebook, Twitter) for a couple of years now. Quitting social media is the new black. Though I still use Google several times every day and would find life inconvenient without it.

      • james

        good suggestion richard.. i use yandex.. i would prefer to give my personal search history to a russian company then an american one!!!

        • Shatnersrug

          I use google for finding but cheap deals, yandex for news, google used to find what ever article you wanted, but now? Quite often it’s givem me smear pieces on journalists from the guardian rather than the article I requested. What a shitty way to run a business

          • Tom Smythe

            >> google used to find what ever article you wanted, but now?

            I’ve noticed that too, dramatic shift. They went from ‘do no evil’ to allowing a few ads identified as such as top hits, to lots of ads not identified as such as top hits, to lots of top hits not shown at all because of a silent ad taken out to silence particular hits.

          • james

            it’s all filtered and about generating revenue.. it is sickening really… google is like the antithesis of freedom and equality, not that anyone in business was ever interested in any of that!!! you want something real? step away from any computer or hand held device try face to face contact… you want manipulated info/world? – go for google!

          • Sergei

            Google’s “Don’t Do Evil” motto is about as truthful as Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. A load of bullcrap.

    • Arby

      People do not aggressively read or social network. They may be busy, but they are not busy in a smart, productive way. When I read a book, I take notes, filling up every bit of white space. I also staple a pile of pages to a page within the book, at the front or back, to do additional note-taking. When I surf the net, mindfully and mostly in alt media (much of which has issues, but What are you going to do?), I bookmark sites and I organize my bookmarks. I have alt media, blogs and individuals for example, as well as other categories (socialist sites, progressive Jewish sites). And I have hundreds of articles bookmarked with my own tags, since anything you type into the bookmark title area will serve as a tag. It’s easy peasy. Do it and make it a habit.

      That’s the workaround that I use. I have zero technical smarts, so without my work habits, I’d be screwed. Although I try to keep on top of the best browsers etc.. Epic is so stripped down that it doesn’t take addons, but, theoretically, you will not be tracked. Avoid the enemy, I would suggest. How many people know that Mozilla (Firefox) has jumped on the ‘fake news’ bandwagon, joining Google et al?

      Let me repeat: BOOKMARKS!

  • Alan McMahon

    This needs a distributed social media alternative that takes it out of the hands of corporations. Actions like the ones you describe above, as they become more frequent and more apparent, will I believe prompt the development of such systems. The sooner the better.

  • Derek J. Smith

    After 24th May – when the new GDPR regulations come in – you will have redress for their having processed data outside of the consent you have given. And if every European did it Facebook wouldn’t make it to June. Try posting kittens and you get a much better response. Wonder why. I’ll probably let my account lapse because I can’t get past line one of the new terms and conditions – sure they don;t “sell” your data, but they don’t promise not to give it away, and we well know who they give it to!

    • Yonatan

      I read an article a while back stating that Facebook was moving ~1.5 billion accounts (mostly bots, shirley?) from EU servers to US servers to get around this.

      • MightyDrunken

        They are moving non-EU accounts out of the EU so they are not also included in the GDPR legislation. So EU citizen Facebook data are still held in Ireland.

  • Tim Hoddy

    Given recent events and your increased output, I would have expected traffic to your site to have increased.

    If it is true that Facebook (and Twitter) are censoring links to your blog, then that is very disturbing indeed!

  • reel guid

    Do you have any view about what’s now happening to the devo settlements in Scotland and Wales Craig?

    • craig Post author

      I have an extremely strong view. I think the SNP should shut the fuck up about whether or not they will have the power to subsidise neeps from Holyrood, and campaign for bloody indrependence.

        • N_

          What does it mean for a government, in office with a remit, and given and loaned funds to fulfil that remit, to “campaign” for something?

      • Peter N

        I agree too. They should be hammering away at independence at every turn, day and night. They should be working on promoting the benefits of independence 24/7.

        • N_

          That’s clear enough. You mean they should use public resources for private purposes, and they should forget about things like improving public health services in Scotland which I can tell you are falling apart. In other words they should make the strongest possible case for direct rule, or at least for the abolition of the Scotland-level tier of local government in Britain. Fuck the roads as well as the hospitals and public housing. Let big potholes grow in the motorways. They can be fixed come the glorious day! Let them grow, and then blame the English for stopping Scots from fixing them. 24/7, you said. Am I distorting your position?

  • Clark

    Facebook days it is deleting accounts at the direction of the US and Israeli governments:

    https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-deleting-accounts-at-the-direction-of-the-u-s-and-israeli-governments/

    Glenn Greenwald: Is Facebook Operating as an Arm of the Israeli State by Removing Palestinian Posts?

    https://www.democracynow.org/2018/1/2/glenn_greenwald_is_facebook_operating_as

    I find it truly depressing the degree of autonomy people are willing to surrender to corporate giants like Facebook and Google. Facebook has always practised censorship and other evils:

    https://stallman.org/facebook.html

    • Anthony

      There’s the explanation. The Fogel transcript obviously triggered them to block Craig.

      • N_

        One more thing. The British police, RIGHT NOW, are threatening people who post on the internet to oppose the view that the British authorities have the right to kill a little boy in a Liverpool hospital because he is disabled.

        The mass murder of innocents in Nazi Germany started not with Jeωs, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or criminals. It started precisely with people who were mentally or physically disabled. Have a look too at the 1917 US film “The Black Stork” and tell me which way the pendulum is swinging.

  • Aberdoon quine

    Relying on Facebook as a propogating medium is frankly disgusting anyway. The fact they are implicated in rigging elections as close to home as Holyrood makes them a platform unworthy of democratic comment.

    • fred

      It wasn’t Facebook and Twitter doing the rigging though. They were used by the SNP and Yes. Data was harvested and people were manipulated. People were led to believe they were a grass roots movement when all the time they were sheep being herded by SNP and Yes movement sheep dogs through their social media accounts.

  • Bunkum

    A lot of Facebook pages I follow have had the same effect, the way round it is to click on follow and a drop down bar gives you the choice to see first, this then brings them back to the top. How you explain same to your followers is another matter.

  • Pete

    Please forgive me if I’m missing something but all your Facebook posts use t.co and so will surely show up as such in your came-from activity.

    • Darth

      That is the case for initial sharing via twitter to facebook but is normally quickly overcome by the numbers coming in directly from facebook by direct sharing and it’s especially the further sharing bit that isn’t happening and this has only happened in the last few days. Facebook traffic is at about one tenth of what it can be.

      There are also instructions to facebook encoded in the web page that tell it what the “canonical” URL for the page (ie craigmurray.org.uk/etc) so it can go direct in future and the Facebook sharing debugger says all is present and correct.

      • Pete

        I’ve just used 2 old Facebook accounts to try links published to timeline as well as links from direct sharing and they are all links to https://t.co/. Unless you can track more than one jump then surely all this traffic is going to go FB -> t.co -> here and will report in your stat counter as coming from t.co?

        Just for the record, I have a large amount of respect for Craig and mostly agree with his views/analysis, and I also have no doubt that Facebook can (and almost certainly does) use shadowbans. That said, I’m just trying to make sure I have a full understanding.

        • Darth

          Pete

          Try sharing the page using the share button on the post. Thing is we know what the incoming traffic normally looks like and typically every other referral is from facebook. Sometimes the entire page is facebook with the odd twitter or google mixed in. We can also see the facebook share count going up and know what traffic a certain share count typically generates.

          This happened once before on the account and a few hours after Craig posted about it traffic suddenly increased from a dozen or so per hour to over ten thousand per hour in the space of a few minutes . That hasn’t happened this time yet anyway.

          Here is what the Facebook sharer currently says about the t.co link for this article.

          • Pete

            I did originally try using the share button from the post and have just tried with another. Both the sharing account and the friend of that account can see the post. I did, however, notice something odd – the first time you hover over a link to the blog (or any other for that matter) the URL shown uses Facebook’s ‘link shim’ (l.facebook.com). If you remove the cursor from the link and then re-hover over it, the link no longer uses the shim.

            That said, the shares/likes numbers do seem to have declined recently and presumably you have plenty of other stats you can compare that tell a similar story. Intriguing for sure.

  • WaRu

    I have found that. Facebook rarely shows me what Offguardian posts. I have to click their homepage to browser their timeline.

  • Bunkum

    Meanwhile OPCW visit second site in Douma? Did they not find anything the first time?

    OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Visits Second Site in Douma, Syria
    Wednesday, 25 April 2018
    null

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 25 April 2018 — The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) deployed to Damascus on 14 April 2018 to gather facts in connection with the reported use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic on 7 April 2018. Security arrangements for the team’s deployment to various locations in Douma were made by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) in liaison with the Syrian authorities and the Russian Military Police. Due to the security situation the team was only able to visit Douma on 21 April. The team also interviewed some people related to the Douma incident, who were brought to Damascus.

    Today, the FFM team carried out a visit to a second location in Douma. It also collected samples at this site. These samples will be brought back, together with other samples, to the OPCW laboratory in Rijswik. They will be split and dispatched for analysis by the OPCW designated labs.

    Meanwhile, the OPCW Technical Secretariat was informed by the Russian delegation to the OPCW that it will organise a briefing for States Parties in The Hague on 26 April. The delegation would bring some Syrians to speak about the reported Douma incident. In line with Director-General’s earlier requests to States Parties to share information on the Douma incident, the Secretariat advised the Russian delegation that these persons should be first interviewed by the FFM. It was also recommended that such a briefing take place once the FFM has completed its work. Nevertheless, the Russian delegation stated that it would go ahead with the briefing and that its intention was not to interfere with the FFM’s work.

    The FFM will continue to carry out its independent and impartial mission based on interviews with relevant people, its findings from the site visits, analysis of the sample results, as well as any other information and materials collected.

    The Director-General is confident that the OPCW FFM will continue to enjoy the support of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-fact-finding-mission-visits-second-site-in-douma-syria/

  • Normski

    I don’t necessarily think they have (cesnsored you (this time)) Craig. Facebook has been recently popping up messages advising people how to control their data sharing with Apps and Websites. Many people will most likely simply have turned off the permissions in Settings->Apps and Websites – which means they won’t be able to login or traverse (or sometimes even see) links to offsite sites.

  • Mike Baker

    Craig, I’m still getting your Facebook posts, probably because I’ve selected to see your posts “first” in my News Feed. I’ve also had to do that for my local newspaper, which despite some good articles pointing out the failings of our local council is probably not a great threat to the powers that be.

  • joeblogs

    Mr. Murray, you have my greatest respect for your courage in what you do.

    One example of what facilitated the evil state the ‘West’ is in – the BBC. A source of truth? It never was – ever. The BBC was the main propaganda arm, financed by the British Government’s ‘Telly Tax’, that enabled all the rubbish about Iraqi WMD to be broadcast. That ‘truth’ was then used to condition the Working Class to accept, and many to support, the illegal (under Nuremburg criteria) invasion of Iraq.

    To explain, from a worker’s point of view, why I believe things are as they are from personal experience: before the invasion of Iraq, I was the only person who would point out the inconsistencies in the ‘war party’ camp at the workplace. I had a well paid and useful job – but I was drummed out for being ‘bad for morale’.

    The social pressures on people to get in line with the MSM commentary is strong – particularly if they have families. Like Nazism in Germany during WWII, the need to be a good cardholding party member ended with their whole society infested with these people from top to bottom. The truth teller became an enemy of the state and thus the people’s enemy. Everyone knows how that ended.

    I attended the February, 2003 anti-war marches in London – I did not see one, single, Trades Union placard protesting what was happening.

    Back in the day, when Saddam Hussein was the darling of the West, and buying their weapons by the shipload, I remember seeing a TV news broadcast in 1988 (30 years ago last month), showing the dreadful gassing massacre of Kurdish civilians in Iraq’s Halabja.

    This shocking vision remains with me to this day, many decades later. The TV screen shows a woman, holding her tiny little baby in her arms, both lying dead on the ground just meters from her own front door, to which she had clearly sought sanctuary. The announcer (Channel Four news) said the following: “Well, that’s Saddam being Saddam, I suppose. Anyway, on now to the sporting results”. That was the reaction from the West, after thousands of civilians were killed in the most horrible way imaginable – even the birds in the trees were falling to the ground; livestock and pets killed too. Nothing was ever the same to me after.

    This time, the stakes are even higher – not just a country, but the World is now on the table. The evil is real, and it is with us.

    An informative book on this and more was written by Alfred Noyes, in 1942, entitled ‘The Edge of the Abyss’ He shows clearly that the moral decline into relativism began during the Great War of 1914-18. It’s copyright free now (or should be) get the PDF download and find out just how bad it’s got since.

  • Bunkum

    Looks like FCO have spat out their dummy

    UK position on briefing by Russia and Syria at the OPCW

    Statement from the UK Permanent Representative to the OPCW on the briefing by the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic at the OPCW on 26 April 2018.
    Published 26 April 2018

    From:
    Foreign & Commonwealth Office

    placeholder

    The UK has outlined its position on the briefing by the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic held at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today on “the staged incident in Syrian Duma on 7 April, with the participation of unwitting comedians and other witnesses from the famous ‘White Helmets’ footage broad (sic) to The Hague straight from the site of the event.”

    Ambassador Peter Wilson, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW, said:

    Russia and Syria’s briefing at the OPCW premises today is a stunt. The Director General has opposed Russia’s decision to host this briefing today. The UK will not attend, in company with our allies.

    The OPCW is not a theatre. Russia’s decision to misuse it is yet another Russian attempt to undermine the OPCW’s work, and in particular the work of its Fact Finding Mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria; The Director General of the OPCW has called on Russia and Syria to work with the Fact Finding Mission, and to wait for its report. Russia and Syria have ignored his concerns.

    Describing chemical weapons victims as ‘comedians’ is despicable. It shows the utter disregard Russia and Syria have for the suffering of the Syrian people, and indeed the global norm against chemical weapons use.

    Widespread reports of intimidation of witnesses to the Douma attack is a cause for real concern. The Director General has asked states to supply information about the Douma attack to his Fact Finding Mission. Russia and Syria should do so, instead of waging a propaganda campaign of misinformation. We will not compromise with states that seek to degrade the structures and treaties that keep us safe.

    Any witnesses with information related to chemical weapons attacks in Syria should be heard by the impartial OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM). We support the FFM and urge others to cease attempts to undermine its vital work.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-position-on-briefing-by-russia-and-syria-at-the-opcw

    • bj

      Nice how in statements like these there’s always the premise that yes, something involving and attack actually did happen.

      Id est — there is always the presumption of guilt and established fact, and this presumption is then weaponized and used to preempt any attempt by the accused to defend themselves.

      Unjust, repulsive arrogance and hubris.

    • Laguerre

      By “comedians” I think they meant actors, not funny men, in the sense of the French ‘comédien’.

  • Antony

    I didn’t agree with your focus on some Israeli general’s interview when much worse is going in that region, but find this secret Facebook / Twitter attack on your viewpoints totally unacceptable. You didn’t promote any violence. Others got blocked even on Youtube too for their views – Pat Condell comes to mind now. These Cyber companies became too big too fail – near monopolies, and alternatives should be promoted, like gab.ai for Twitter.

    This kind of neo-Machiavellianism was promoted by the character below in 2002:
    “Senior British diplomat Robert Cooper has helped to shape British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s calls for a new internationalism and a new doctrine of humanitarian intervention which would place limits on state sovereignty. ”
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/apr/07/1

    • N_

      Here’s a question for people who want to understand more about how to use the internet to circulate critical thoughts. How many of you know how to keep a copy of your entire blog on a flash drive, capable of being uploaded again whenever you want using FTP, so that if a webhost whacks it then all you need to do is get another webhost and upload it, and Bob’s your uncle?

      The blogging systems that 99.99% of bloggers use – crap such as Blogger and WordPress – don’t allow that. They befuddle you with words such as “database” and “remote”.

      Probably the only readers of this who can say they DO know how to do the above will be the tiny minority who are highly technically knowledgeable hackers and who don’t think “dynamic” must be better than “static” because it sounds better.

      Craig – if most of your audience depends on CIA permission to read your stuff, just concentrate on those who don’t.

    • wendy

      pat condall is a islamophobe – racist loved by the alt-right / edl / bf types and quite rightly should be banned.

      • Bayard

        So banning people is right, so long that the “right” people are banned, eh? Can’t see anything going wrong with that rule.

  • N_

    Listen: Facebook was created by the CIA. Facebook is US soft power. So is much of the internet, especially the bottlenecks that people think “everything” has to go through nowadays.

    Lose the fans who are Facebook dependent. Fuck them.

    • flatulence

      I’m not sure about created by the CIA, but it does meet with facebook regularly.

      • Sergei

        Does it really matter whether it was CIA right from the start, or it was hijacked by “private investments” requiring that certain people assume certain positions within the company? The end result is the same.

  • Ryan Moon

    Craig – can you not start getting email sign ups to your blog as well (you may already do this, I just haven’t noticed where to subscribe!)?

    This would lessen your dependence on people happening to see the posts in Facebook. It seems a good back up measure if nothing else.

  • Sami

    I had an unpleasant experience as a result of which I decided about a year ago to steer clear off Facebook particularly when it became clear to me that it was being monitored by MOSSAD!

  • Anne O'Nimmus

    I didn’t know you had a fb page. Largely because I’ve looked but never found it.
    Is it under the same name as the blog?
    And if so, why on earth would it not show up when I looked?

  • marvellousMRchops

    I followed the last UK election almost entirely on Facebook via subscribing to various feeds. It was amazing how quickly the MSM bullshit was being debunked by so many people who questioned the one sided narrative with links to verifiable facts. At the time my feed list was constantly being updated and the amount of information available was spectacular. The hung parliament was not a shock to me unlike my wife who read the papers and watched the TV.
    I still have all those subscriptions active yet now I hardly receive any posts – nothing like before. I have no doubt there has been a concentrated effort to ‘shadow block’ these feeds. I can only believe it was done for my own good to stop me reading any’ fake’ news because after all ‘Auntie knows best’ and ‘Uncle Rupert is my friend’. No coincidence that when the Cambridge Analytica story broke the MSM seemed to point the finger of blame almost entirely at Facebook – a question of ‘do shoot the messenger’.

    • N_

      So as a consumer you felt as though you had your finger on the pulse because you kept logging into Facebook. And the practical implications of that were WHAT, exactly?

      • marvellousMRchops

        Most people rely on the MSM’s one sided narrative and over the past few weeks we have seen the National papers even disabling comments to their online articles. I don’t use Facebook as a way of communicating with friends – but as a way of way of accessing alternative news/ideas etc. It is only a tool. Like this blog – Craig writes an article, people discuss it, agree, disagree and provide links and articles to other ideas, reports, historical facts, videos etc. Facebook is no different . What Craig has highlighted here is that this ‘shadow banning’ or CENSORSHIP is being done in secret. Why? I can only surmise that our ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ don’t wont the plebs to be able to question this one sided narrative masquerading as the truth – but if you want to tell all your friends you’ve just taken a shit – then go ahead – no problem there.

        • james

          i think craigs site is very different then fb on so many levels, not the least the advertising which is missing here… also – craigs site is not an open collection agency for the nsa / cia.. that is what people get with fb!!

  • bj

    Please edit the article on the pronouns, to make a clear and consistent difference between the website owner and the website visitor.

  • Simon

    These posts are really important. How else would we know about ghost banning etc. Craig could you consider posting a graphic. Your log screenshot doesn’t prove anything.

    I did my good deed the other day by bringing you to the attention of les-crises.fr, who’ve duly translated and posted one of your Skripal posts. They’re serious and have a big following, and if you look at their contributors you’re in good company. Their format deserves attention. They republish articles from all over the place, of translated by their readers. They manage to have the pull of a newspaper, but with a team of one or two. I don’t know how they negotiate rights. The dam is surely ready to burst for mainstream newspapers, but until the alternative sites increase their breadth and flow-rate, we’ll keep on drinking their poison.

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