More Information Wars 107


I am subject to a very peculiar hidden censorship by Twitter. I have long noted that many of the articles I deem most important were reaching far fewer people than I might expect through Twitter, whereas inconsequential tweets reach large numbers with ease. I decided to do a controlled test on this, with a content free tweet.

 

This got retweeted 131 times and was seen by 134,576 people.

That’s 1,027 people per retweet.

That is the neutral control. Now here is the tweet of an article which I believe to be very important.

That got retweeted 419 times but was seen by just 38,288 people.

That’s 91 people per retweet.

On that measure 11 times less than the content free tweet.

The “Impressions” measure is governed by Twitter actually introducing the Tweet into somebody’s timeline. When I tweet, (the same principle applies when somebody retweets) Twitter does not just automatically drop that tweet into the timeline of all 80,000 people who follow me. It starts with a sample of those, and then an algorithm increases the number depending on how popular the tweet was. There are a number of moving parts to that, but retweets is a major factor. Yet in this instance, a tweet which is retweeted by over 1.1% of those who see it, is given far less exposure by twitter than a tweet retweeted by less than 0.1% of those who see it.

The reason that I did this experiment is that I have been observing this happening for a long time, with many of my most important tweets suppressed. Either there is electronic monitoring and analysis of subject matter to suppress certain political subjects, or there is active human monitoring. I am very much inclined to believe the latter, because I find the suppression kicking in is quite nuanced; it depends not so much on subject matter, as on precisely my take on the subject matter and how far it challenges the mainstream narrative.

Impressions per retweet is a rough measure of what is going on. For a more accurate measure you would need to divide Impressions by: my 80,000 follows plus the totaled follows of all who retweeted, in each case. But the rough measure is a good indication that something is amiss. As I said, I am attempting to measure a phenomenon I have noticed over a long period.

Yesterday, my friend Stuart Campbell had all his twitter accounts cancelled. The highly popular Wings Over Scotland account was taken down some time ago, and now his personal account and his old Sealand Gazette account have also been taken down. This is following a campaign against him by activists opposed to his view on trans rights. I do not share Stu’s views on that specific subject, but the attempt to impose conformity of opinion and to limit the right of free expression is appalling.

These attacks on free speech matter.

Sadly the internet has developed in such a way that alternative media outlets like this one are highly dependent on two major corporate gatekeepers – Facebook and Twitter – for bringing in the majority of our traffic. Both have instituted policies of deliberate suppression of views which do not accord to the agenda of the mainstream media.

The reason that my tweet in this instance was suppressed is that it points to my article giving information on the UK government’s coronavirus App which you will not find in the mainstream media.

I find Twitter much worse than Facebook in this regard. A few years ago I would have mentioned Google as a major source of traffic too, but that pass has long been sold. This website used to get a great deal of traffic from Google, but even though our readership is now many times what it was a few years ago, Google has penalised alternative media heavily in its rankings and we now get almost no traffic from that source.

People learn. About 40% of readers of this site now just come straight here, and not from any link or source, just dropping in themselves to see if anything new. Five years ago that number was less than 10%. The internet retains its ability to work round blockages, because it empowers the ingenuity of people.  Keep that hopeful thought and cherish it.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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107 thoughts on “More Information Wars

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  • Steeve Greene

    40%, Craig. You and Trump both.

    Worry not, Scrivener. You shall always be supported.

  • Muscleguy

    Also Craig your RSS feed still works. I run Vienna on the Mac, an old RSS aggregator and often get new articles from you that way. I am reading and posting this via Vienna which runs the Safari engine. I expect your feeds from RSS have declined a lot as it goes out of fashion. But it is still there.

    I have been considering joining twitter recently to help fight the gender wars but your and the Rev Stu’s travails have given me a lot of pause.

    If anyone in Twitter is reading this: your actions are putting new users off. Why join if my very first tweet will cause a storm of reports from TRA’s causing an instant spell in twitter jail? Is free speech meaningless to you? I’m a PhD Physiologist and Developmental Biologist. I Know about sex determination in development. I used to know Robin Lovell-Badge who discovered SRY. Nobody is going to tell me sex does not exist and persuade me. But it is a fact and you are censoring people who simply state demonstrable scientific reality.

    Why would I make myself subject to that?

    • Nothertom

      Same here, using Liferea and Linux resp. Feeder and Android or Feedreader and Windows 10. RSS is simple, low traffic and failsafe but doesn’t get much attention because it can’t be easily monetized or data mined. There’s no company running it, RSS streams are taken directly from the publishing site (p.e. this one).

    • Capella

      You would be a great asset to twitter. Some scientific reality is desperately needed in the trans debate. It’s true that most gender critical women get banned eventually, even the one’s with PhDs and academic tenure. In fact, especially those. Rev Stu is a great resource too. That’s why they are targeted. But you are a MAN SCIENTIST (at least your handle suggests it!) so you may well survive a bit longer than the women.

      Good luck if you do dive in.

      • Muscleguy

        Done, posting as @WingsOverEcosse

        Gender critical comments, support for Wings and Indy, Muscle anatomy and NZ music.

    • Ericthegreek

      Thank you for putting the PayPal option into the subscription. Good luck Craig. You have the courage and heart of a true human.

  • pasha

    Some of us object to, and take precautions against, being tracked, shadowed, suppressed, surveilled, censored, or nudged. So we avoid so-called social media altogether.
    I suspect we are a lot happier and more secure than the facebook/twitter/etc. crowd.

  • Jane

    The goalposts have shifted in the war for control of the narrative.

    Before the internet, up to the 1990s, information was strictly controlled by a certain group. The gateways were the newspapers, national radio and national TV channels. What Craig presents would never have got out at all.

    It would seem that the controlling group now has had a change of personnel. The new rich have been brought in. It has also had to ramp up its game and go international.

    How to proceed in the face of this? This is what I’ve come to so far:

    1. Limit one’s dependence on the oligarchs. Find alternative routes to the bottlenecks they control.
    2. Stay fluid. Keep looking for new ways through.
    3. Remember one’s own values. Try not to do or say anything you may regret. It will stay there as a weakness.

  • Jan

    Not sure about some of that.

    Google “Civil Liberty Vanishes”: first result link is to this site.
    “Wrong Horseman”: 1st link is to this site.
    “Harry Dunn”: 23rd link (which is reasonable, there is a lot of stuff on that out there)
    “Julian Assange Extradition” is only on page 14 but the first 3 pages of results still contain a few non-mainstream results.

    So it probably isn’t Google algorithms that’s to blame here.

  • Jack

    “Yesterday, my friend Stuart Campbell had all his twitter accounts cancelled. This is following a campaign against him by activists opposed to his view on trans rights. I do not share Stu’s views on that specific subject, but the attempt to impose conformity of opinion and to limit the right of free expression is appalling.”

    Censorship by social media seems to be mostly done by the left and liberals these days.
    Issues like trans-rights, immigration, anti-war voices get silenced very easily.

    • douglas clark

      I’ll stand corrected. But I think I found your site on my own. Does that make me unique?

      Got to say it is always ‘interesting’.

      Best wishes with the court case.

    • Mr V

      This is utter nonsense. Find me ONE person with genuine liberal or left wing mindset that is pro-war or anti-immigrant. All three issues you mentioned are plain dog-whistles of the far right and fascists who try silencing anyone who doesn’t agree with them, and if your mythical “”left”” has anything to do with it it’s very rare successful removal of vile, hateful anti-immigrant or homo/transphobic bile worthy of a neonazi. Rare because 99% of it is never touched by moderators, we gotta earn clicks somehow, eh? Censorship? In what universe?

      And I like how you ignored (or are blind to) ongoing far right crusade against abortion, women showing more body than tiny piece of face, scientists, CoMmUnIsM (aka policies to the left of US republicans), other religions (and especially atheism), etc, etc – very successful one, I might add. I guess these don’t qualify as censorship? Or is it censorship you agree with, by any chance?

  • Freedom

    Yes, a problem.
    We have this wonderful medium for democratisation of communication and what has happened .. we have given it over to self-interested corporations.
    Well, we can get out.
    Let us look for alternatives.
    There are many such options developing.
    For example it is heartening to see Bitchute continuing to grow fro video content, and libry blockchain for decentralised distribution of all media.

    Can I suggest, Craig;

    Although neither of these is perfect, they seem moves in the right direction to me, and currently are uncensored.
    Telegram messenger is private (on the face it) and uncensored (so far) growing fast.
    Gab is a twitter like service that is also currently uncensored.

    People are ingenious and well will find ways to work around this outrageous manipulation of the social dialogue.
    We would be best to move to alternatives.
    When key people like your good self, Craig, do so, more will follow.

    Gor bless yer.

  • Cascadian

    The ultimate sanction is to block your URL in the DNS root servers. It may well come to it that only peer to peer communication is possible, and there is NAT which can be killed in the routers.

    Maybe it’s time to learn semaphore.

    • bj

      Maybe it’s time to learn semaphore

      Could it be that the distancing required today is a prelude to “semaphore disabling” distancing?

    • Harvard Good Buddy

      Yeah, or dust down the old CB (Citizens Band Radio). 10-4. Over and out.

  • Peter VE

    I’m 95% sure I was led here from a link in Naked Capitalism. Either search engine I use (g00gly or D…D..go) leads to sponsored ads for the first several pages in most cases, so they’re useless for news.
    Good luck to you in your case in the star chamber. At least they didn’t alert the media for the 5 AM heavily armed raid like was done to Roger Stone.

    • Jan

      Surely it will be very easy for you to produce an example of a result page which is entirely ads. Please share, or retract your comment.

  • Capella

    I’ve noticed for a while that I don’t get many tweets from you although I’ve been following you for quite a while. Sometimes I just go to your twitter account to see what you’ve been tweeting. Been meaning to mention this for a while I think you’v been “deboosted”

  • J R Tomlin

    I am sure that as usual, some people will accuse you of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’ but it conforms with my own observations. Hang in there, Craig. I can’t imagine that what is going on right now can be easy for you in spite of your comments otherwise.

  • Ron Preedy

    Craig, I have no idea how much time it would cost to add an RSS feed to the site, but if you did, anyone with an RSS reader gets notified of every update. That’s how I follow Wings, and WGD.

    Best,
    Ron Preedy

  • Capella

    I just got a promoted tweet from Tortoise Media – publisher of Dani Garavelli – announcing that the BBC IS BACK! Corona virus has shown us all the value of the BBC. They are certainly trying very hard to hypnotise us all again.

  • Capella

    Eric Schmidt too, former CEO of Google who fixed the algorithms during the 2008 presidential campaign to favour the Democrats, then was appointed by Obama as head of comms. Now lecturing us on how grateful we should all be for these big tech companies who have saved us from the corona virus.
    Did a memo go out this morning?
    https://twitter.com/dellsystem/status/1258816794866749440?s=20

  • Babak Fakhamzadeh

    There’s a factor that might play a role that you don’t seem to be taking into account.

    First, I do not *know* how Twitter’s algorithms work, nor how they suppress, but if I would have designed them, I would try to include a way to identify a person’s tweets that stand out from a person’s typical tweets, and, based on the tweet, ‘promote’ or ‘suppress’ the tweet more.
    That is to say, as an example, if the algorithm would recognise a tweet of a person to seem to be much funnier than normal, I might want the algorithm to promote that tweet more.

    Your ‘do not retweet’ tweet having been retweeted over a 100 times *is* funny. That makes it good material to show to more people. Particularly, in this case, also people who have no desire to see political content on their Twitter timeline.

    That’s not to say that Twitter does not act as a gatekeeper, as I’m quite convinced they actively do, but the effect you’ve noticed might in part simply, and really, be due to the algorithms Twitter uses.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    As far as I can see, it has already been taken down from Facebook but you can find it if you go to Vimeo and search for it. The amount of stuff being taken down by YouTube, Facebook et al is truly unprecedented.

    • John Goss

      I agree KoWN. It is part of the “new normal”. “Things are never going to be the same again.” If people do not get to the football matches, demonstrations against the imprisonment of Julian Assange and to Aberystwyth beach to discuss these issues without the intervention of electronic snooping things are never going to be the same again

  • Jim+Sinclare

    Twitter only want to make money, they don’t have the staff to monitor your tweets, but if some organization wants to pay for advance copy, with the option to “unpromote” in certain regions, it’s good business.

  • Chris

    I avoid Twitter and Facebook. I get my daily dose of news updates from a diverse range of RSS feeds (yours included, Craig). I’d specify the tools I use for reading, but I don’t want to make them a target. Paranoid, moi?

  • S

    You may be right. But couldn’t it also also be that the timeline feature prefers short punchy tweets over links to promote blogs? for example, because they more quickly provoke hasty replies, or because it doesn’t want people to stray outside their twitter feed to other websites. And it may have thought that “testing reach” was a short punchy tweet?

  • SayLess

    Craig, just a couple of small points.

    I don’t think that your initial tweet which you intended as a control was neutral. Quite the opposite, in fact. Putting something out to the public saying to not do something, I think, would actually encourage more interaction. It is right up there with putting a sign up in a park that says “Please do not throw rocks at this sign”.

    Your second tweet contains a link to a web page, so it is different to the first tweet. I’m not sure whether Twitter treats tweets containing links differently to those that do not. If they do, then this could explain the difference in reach. This could perhaps be tested by tweeting a neutral tweet containing a link.

  • nevermind

    Nearly everyone here has their local newspaper, or even fanscene football blogs with a non football section, gardening blogs that talk about politics on the side, mum ‘s net, any blog they have posted in before on some issue or other and have a certain foorhold in, these are the blogs not under the control of twatter or fartbook.
    Those who feel inclined to speak to jocks around the world about scottish Independence, or presstitutes in Scotland/blighty can use these channels and somewhat skew the Atlanticists bias which seemingly has a campaign on to subvert and control all those who speak some truth to their nefarious actions. Greenwald is being harrassed, Salmond is being prosecuted by liars, Craig is now being challenged for his truthful reporting from court.
    The fascists are on the march and they are using general covid to help them in any way possible. That Baraitser and her boss are compromised by their religous allegiances and by Atlanticist plotting is undebiable, but inthis climate of right wing societal and political swings, they feel strong, have the msm and the bbc behind them, and they are trying their best to finish off JA before this farce macabre culminates in September.
    Lets help Craig with multiple posts on other blogs we frequent ever so often, truthspeakers deserve being heard.

  • Mel

    Thanks for continuing the fight Craig. We need truth-tellers in these crazy times.

  • Mike Lothian

    Could you try another test with a link to an innocuous place? It could be the algorithm is tuned towards original content over links taking people away from twitter. Twitter want people to stay on their platform as much as possible

  • IKWIG

    I’m one of those readers who drops in here to see if there is anything new. On Facebook but dont always get alerted to updates and don’t use twitter.

    Would be useful if there were any way to get alerted to new posts here – is that possible?

    • Clark

      The site supplies an RSS Feed:

      https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/feed/rss/

      A Feed Reader application would alert you to new posts. Facebook can send alerts, including e-mail alerts, and I think if you had a Twitter account it could alert you with an SMS text message to your mobile ‘phone.

  • M.J.

    If Twitter is censoring your views, perhaps to be consistent one could ask them to censor the views of extreme groups in general. After all, if they (and Facebook) have made themseves gatekeepers or censors then it’s in for a penny etc.
    I wonder whether alternatives to Twitter or Facebook already exist which do the same thing, but with different censoring policies. Perhaps in Russia?
    The troubkle is, Putin’s agenda is liable to be even less benevolent than the West’s. At least in Crimea, or Eastern Ukraine.

    • Blissex

      «I wonder whether alternatives to Twitter or Facebook already exist which do the same thing, but with different censoring policies. Perhaps in Russia?»

      An ancient rule of wisdom is to listen to Radio Moscow to know what is being hidden in the USA, and to Radio America to know what is being hidden in the USSR.

      «The troubkle is, Putin’s agenda is liable to be even less benevolent than the West’s. At least in Crimea, or Eastern Ukraine.»

      So far the crimeans have been pretty impressed with the benevolence of Putin, and the eastern ukrainian are not very impressed with the benevolence of the ukrainian volunteer battalions or the national army too.
      The problem with the Ukraine is the huge gap in culture and politics between the western “polish lithuanian” and the eastern “russian” parts, which were slammed together by the USSR. Putin etc. are just side details in a story many many decades old. An interesting story from WW2 by a soviet soldier:

      http://ww2today.com/1-march-1944-the-red-army-marches-across-ukraine
      The population welcomed us warmly, regardless of how hard it was for them to provide food to soldiers; they always found some nice treats — some villagers boiled chicken, others boiled potatoes and cut lard (soldiers dubbed this kind of catering ‘a grandmother’s ration’).
      However, such attitudes were common only in the Eastern Ukraine.

      As soon as we entered the Western Ukraine, that had passed to the Soviet Union from Poland in 1940, the attitude of the population was quite different — people hid from us in their houses, as they disliked and feared the Muscovites and Kastaps (a disparaging name for Russians in Ukraine – translators comment). Besides that, those places were Bandera areas, where the nationalistic movement was quite strong.

  • Gary

    Some years ago we mocked the Russians for their ‘Pravda’ publication which was far from the truth, reprinting propaganda only. More recently we pity the Chinese whose access to the internet, the truth about Tiannenmen Square etc is severely curtailed. But now it is becoming ever more obvious that WE don’t have full access to honest and truthful reporting, that many articles are being suppressed and those who would tell us, your blog included, are being oppressed by the state. I say oppressed because not only are articles and tweets harder to ‘happen across’ but that they are actually trying to use the law against you and prosecute for ‘jigsaw identification’ Something which shouldn’t hold water under any circumstances. Either you can report or you can’t. Those who reported the ‘party line’ aren’t being taken to court, are they?

  • Blissex

    «Either there is electronic monitoring and analysis of subject matter to suppress certain political subjects, or there is active human monitoring.»

    It looks like that your substantive messages are regarded as “fake news” :-), and most platforms are keen to stamp out “fake news”.

    The difference between totalitarian regimes and current regimes is that totalitarian regimes try to prevent publication of all “out of line” stuff, our current regimes just prevent that of “out of line” stuff that is popular or risks to become popular. As long as something is unpopular it does not matter, and actually can be used to prove that token free expression is permitted.

    Note that so far exposure of your substantive messages has been minimized, not outright canceled.

    «This is following a campaign against him by activists opposed to his view on trans rights.»

    Some topics are more off-limits than others…

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