People Need to Reclaim the Internet 403

No matter how much you dislike Trump, only a fool can fail to see the implications for public access to information of the massive suppression on the internet of the Hunter Biden leaks.

This blog has been suffering a ratcheting of social media suppression for years, which reached its apogee in my coverage of the Julian Assange trial. As I reported on 24 September:

Even my blog has never been so systematically subject to shadowbanning from Twitter and Facebook as now. Normally about 50% of my blog readers arrive from Twitter and 40% from Facebook. During the trial it has been 3% from Twitter and 9% from Facebook. That is a fall from 90% to 12%. In the February hearings Facebook and Twitter were between them sending me over 200,000 readers a day. Now they are between them sending me 3,000 readers a day. To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline. My own family have not been getting their notifications of my posts on either platform.

It was not just me: everyone reporting the Assange trial on social media suffered the same effect. Wikileaks, which has 5.6 million Twitter followers, were obtaining about the same number of Twitter “impressions” of their tweets (ie number who saw them) as I was. I spoke with several of the major US independent news sites and they all reported the same.

I have written before about the great danger to internet freedom from the fact that a few massively dominant social media corporations – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – have become in effect the “gatekeepers” to internet traffic. In the Assange hearing and Hunter Biden cases we see perhaps the first overt use of that coordinated power to control public information worldwide.

The way the power of the “gatekeepers” is used normally is insidious. It is quite deliberately disguised. “Shadow banning” is a term for a technique which has many variations. The net result is always that the post is not ostensibly banned. Some people see it, so that if the subject of the suppression claims to be banned they look stupid. But it is in fact shown to far, far less people than it would normally be. So even members of my own immediate family find that my posts no longer turn up in their timeline on either Facebook or Twitter. But a few followers, presumably at random, do see them. Generally, though not always, those followers are apparently able to retweet or share, but what they are not told is that their retweet or share is in fact put in to very, very few people’s timelines. The overall audience for the Tweet or Facebook post is cut to as little as 1% of what it might be without suppression. As 90% of the traffic to this blog comes in clicks from these social media posts, the effect is massive.

That was the technique used on the Assange hearing. In normal times, the ratchet on traffic can be screwed down or released a little, from week to week or post to post.

In the Hunter Biden case, social media went still further and without disguise simply banned all mention of the Hunter Biden leaks.

As I reported on September 27 last year:

What I find deeply reprehensible in all the BBC coverage is their failure to report the facts of the case, and their utter lack of curiosity about why Joe Biden’s son Hunter was paid $60,000 a month by Burisma, Ukraine’s largest natural gas producer, as an entirely absent non-executive director, when he had no relevant experience in Ukraine or gas, and very little business experience, having just been dishonorably discharged from the Navy Reserve for use of crack cocaine? Is that question not just a little bit interesting? That may be the thin end of it – in 2014-15 Hunter Biden received US $850,000 from the intermediary company channeling the payments. In reporting on Trump being potentially impeached for asking about it, might you not expect some analysis – or at least mention – of what he was asking about?

That Hunter Biden received so much money from a company he never once visited or did any legitimate work for, located in a country which remarkably at the same time launched into a US sponsored civil war while his father was Vice President, is a question which might reasonably interest people. This is not “fake news”. There is no doubt whatsoever of the facts. There
is also no doubt that, as Vice President of the USA, Joe Biden secured the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma for corruption.

The story now is that Hunter Biden abandoned a laptop in a repair shop, and the hard drive contained emails between Hunter and Burisma in which he was asked for, and promised, various assistance to the company from the Vice President. This hard drive was passed to the New York Post. What the emails do not include is any incriminating correspondence between Hunter and his father in which Joe Biden agrees to any of this – which speaks to their authenticity, as that would be the key thing to forge. Given that the hard drive also contains intimate photos and video, there does not seem to be any real doubt about its authenticity.

However both Facebook and Twitter slapped an immediate and total ban on all mention of the Hunter Biden emails, claiming doubts as to its authenticity and an astonishing claim that they never link to leaked material or information about leaked material.

Alert readers will note that this policy was not applied to Donald Trump’s tax returns. These were extremely widely publicised throughout social and mainstream media – and quite right too – despite being illegally leaked. Twitter may be attempting to draw a distinction between a “hack” and a “leak”. This is difficult to do – the Clinton and Podesta emails, for example, were leaked but are frequently claimed to have been hacked.

I am astonished by the online comment of people who consider themselves “liberals” who support the social media suppression of the Hunter Biden story, because they want Trump to be defeated. The truth is that those in control of social media censorship are overwhelmingly Atlanticist figures on the Clinton/Blair political spectrum. That embraces the roles of Nick Clegg and Ben Nimmo at Facebook. It explains the protective attitude of Blairite Wikipedia boss Jimmy Wales (also a director of Guardian Media Group) toward the Philip Cross operation.

Censorship from the self-satisfied centre of the political establishment is still more dangerous, because more stable, than censorship from the left or right. It seeks rigorously to enforce the “Overton window” on social media. It has a “whatever it takes” attitude to getting Joe Biden into the White House and removing a maverick element from the political stability it so prizes. Its hatred of public knowledge is behind the persecution of Assange.

The Establishment’s problem is that inequalities of wealth are now so extreme in Western society, that the attempted removal of access by the public to radical thinking is not protecting a stable society, but is protecting a society tilting towards structural instability, in which the lack of job security and decent conditions and pay for large swathes of the population contrasts vividly with the spectacularly flourishing fortunes of the ultra billionaires. Our society desperately needs thinking outside the box into which the social media gatekeepers are attempting to confine us.

An early part of that thinking out of the box needs to relate to internet architecture and finding a way that the social media gatekeepers can be bypassed – not by a few activists, but by the bulk of the population. We used to say the internet will always find a work-around, and there are optimists who believe that the kind of censorship we saw over Hunter Biden will lead to a flight to alternative platforms, but I don’t see that happening on the scale required. Regulation to prevent censorship is improbable – governments are much more interested in regulation to impose more censorship.

The development of social media gatekeeping of internet traffic is one of the key socio-political issues of our time. We need the original founders of the internet to get together with figures like Richard Stallman and – vitally – Julian Assange – to find a way we break free from this. Ten years ago I would not have thought it a danger that the internet would become a method of political control, not of political freedom. I now worry it is too late to avert the danger.

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403 thoughts on “People Need to Reclaim the Internet

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  • Giyane

    It’s not beyond possibility that the Lord Advocate could tweet you the names of the alphabet women using an alias, just to land you in trouble. After all someone used my email address and avatar on this blog.

    In the digital age, no sound, image or word can reliably construed as genuine or genuinely from whom it purports to be from. As I’ve said before, they could animate Jurassic dinosaurs 30 years ago.

    The problem of the censorship of the internet lies in the intent to deceive, which has increased like the technology well beyond our control. The intent to deceive is a moral and religious problem. So imho looking at technical solutions is to address only a tiny part of the problem.

    [ MOD: “After all someone used my email address and avatar on this blog.”
    This is very concerning. Kindly refer us to the post in which this occurred. ]

    • SA

      How do we know it is you giyane? Your name has been, as far as l remember always written with a small not capital G. Am I right or wrong?

      • giyane


        Yes, I think my mobile prefers to start it with a capital but not my computer. I have been trying to eliminate any remembered passwords in a vain attempt to thwart potential hackers. I don’t remember what thread my avatar appeared on but the other person did not use the name giyane, just my email/avatar. Unless the mods had scrubbed my email from their records in a moment of exasperation and the avatar became available to another user. It was soon deleted after I complained.

        Some of the mods would like to exclude all discussion of morality from a purely political blog.
        I agree with that whole-heartedly. But when all of the politics , maybe deliberately because it is not discussable in polite society, is now mixed with religion and all colonial aggression is now being conducted by Islamist proxy, I don’t see why we should oblige our corrupt rulers by totally avoiding the whole topic of morality. In fact I often complain to the the mods that they have a dour Presbyterian narrowness in holding all questioning of our leaders’ political morality inadmissable.

        As I understand it, the only Northern European country to embrace Fascism was ultra Protestant, as indeed is the US which has run 40 years of continuous war against the Middle East. That is the reason why I believe that excluding moral discussion fails to address our current problem. Whatever germ of rebellion that caused the Pilgrim Fathers to leave Europe, by their fruit shalt thou know them.
        Vanessa Baraitser disallowed discussion. It’s a kind of tyranny that poses as sophistication:
        Sophisticated people don’t delve into the morality of political behaviour.

        [ Mod: Giyane, here is a reminder of a moderator notice posted for your attention earlier this year.

        “Recall this advice from Craig:

        Giyane … I would prefer you and others not to blog based on personal religious belief, which is uninteresting to people who don’t share your beliefs. You are quite entitled to them, but I really don’t want my blog cluttered up with religious adjuration from any religion.

        The terminology is unequivocal and it clearly does not apply to non-religious political philosophy”.

        Please be mindful to stay on topic.

        Records show that you have also posted as ‘guano’, ‘خاله ووسو’, ‘gewgaw’, ‘Charles Crawfull’, ‘Anas Taunton’, ‘anon’, amongst many other pseudonyms – often using different identities on the same thread. Kindly do some revision about the morality of the “intent to deceive”. ]

        • Giyane


          Please check that the avatars of the comments did not identify me clearly as me. I changed from guano out of respect for a young man nicknamed guano who died in Africa as I think I explained at the time. I introduced myself to Craig at he time of the JCHR hearing as Ana’s Taunton so no deception there. You will also recall that we were dealing with the Habbabkuk poster who regularly sock_ puppeted with impunity from your team.

          Got any more axes to grind or were you just in a bad mood?

          • mods-cm-org

            Your defence against the charge of deliberate deception by sockpuppetry is equivalent to “A big boy did it and ran away!”

            So how do you explain the continuity of IP addresses, then? Did the big boy sneak up and use your PC – or pickpocket your phone, make a post on the Craig Murray blog and slip it back?

            If you’re not prepared to confess, then we can post some examples to jog your memory.

          • Giyane


            If you are saying that somebody else used my IP address AND my email address to forge comments from me I’m not at all surprised at you being annoyed.

            Craig is not the only person with enemies. I think you may have evidence of somebody having a key to my house and using my computer. Anybody with a crowbar, or a locksmith, could easily do that, but it’s far more likely that you are wrong about the IP address, or the IP address is generic and has been replicated nefariously.

            I do like it when my enemies get agitated enough not just to bug my house but now to commit cyber crime. It would mean that I must be getting under their skin.

            My opponent , Kurdish CIA man, is particularly angry that CM blog gives me a platform to speak against the crimes of Political Islam.

            Are they capable of cyber crime and breaking & entry? Very much so and with the full approval of Boris’ wonks in the police and MI5.

            Thank you very much for telling me.

          • Giyane


            If you are talking about years ago when I was sparring with Habbabkuk who sockpuppeting for a pastime why not say so?
            Several years ago we were given a stern reminder it and people were banned. If you want to talk about the distant past, yes guilty as charged, but not now.

            Maybe one of the mods sock puppeted by using my email recently. You question my honesty, I will certainly question yours as well.

        • Giyane

          We have witnessed in the Assange trial an attempt by a team of ingenious lawyers to convince a judge by the non-religious morality of international law and the Geneva convention of the crimes of the US and Iraq, but if the US and UK accepted that non-religious morality of their own making, they would not have done the crimes in the first place. What possible benefit can come out of reminding people of something they believe they are exempt from because they have a rule of exceptionalism for USUKIS?

          I see no benefit in rehearsing international law in front of those who reject it. Are we waiting for the wrath of God to descend on the exceptionalism?
          We have a toolbag of law derived from religious texts but we are supposed to leave them in the van?

          The strategy of British colonialism is divide and rule. By your disallowing religious ethics, you have tried your own hands behind d your back.
          Your choice. Live with it.

          If Salt loses its flavour, with what will you Salt it??

  • Fredi

    Indeed Geoff, the new world order, agenda 21, take over is in full fkn swing these days. Yet the slaves still like to think they have some sort of choice, a voice, a vote, a vaccine, and other such absurdities, in the bleak future that is being firmly implemented for them.
    Illusions blind them in their one horse race elections farce, freedom of speech, rights etc. When will they ever learn? Some of the decades old ‘conspiracy theory’ was right from the very start, their children will know this as a fact in the end.

    George Carling had the right idea.

    The Owners of the Country

    • nevermind

      You must explain Fredi, when you write ‘Yet the slaves still like to think they have some sort of choice, a voice, a vote, a vaccine, and other such absurdities, in the bleak future that is being firmly implemented for them.’

      What makes you think that you are somehow not part of ‘them’? If you desist being unified with all the other slaves, what does this united Kingdom mean to you? there will be many slaves around you uniting and trying to create the same Independence those Brexiteers currently seeking, who are cutting themselves off from their historic past as Europeans, to be eaten up by America’s polarised disunited politics and society, at any price so it seems, a colony of control over doom, gloom and hunger?

      • Fredi

        I’m a powerless slave as much as the next man. Perhaps I’m different in so far as I’m willing to admit it.
        As for brexit, the UK was crushed by globalist power from WW2 onward. America, the EU, and now China are merely limbs on the the body of globalist power, there is no ‘independence’ from those forces, just the illusion of it.

  • Simon

    My employer (Brighton and Hove City Council) has a new firewall in place. As of this month I am unable to access this blog for a lunchtime read. “This content has been blocked because it does not comply with the acceptable usage policy.”

  • Fredi

    Sometimes startpage .com can get you where there is a block.

    NY Post story goes massive on social media despite crackdowns

    Facebook and Twitter’s frantic attempts to stop the spread of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story didn’t prevent the article from becoming the top story about the election on those platforms last week, according to data from NewsWhip.

    Why it matters: The data shows that even swift, aggressive content suppression may not be swift or aggressive enough to keep down a story with as much White House backing and partisan fuel as this one.

    By the numbers: The Post’s story generated 2.59m interactions (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook and Twitter last week — more than double the next biggest story about Trump or Biden.

  • Nicola Cairncross

    As the author of a personal Finace book ‘The Money Gym’, for ordinary Brits, I have been experiencing shadowbanning since around 2006. First by Google In the form of dwindling traffic (8000 visitors a month to 20 odd) and not being allowed to advertise, then by Google and Facebook even after changing my URL and rebranding. Now onto my third URL and brand I can advertise on Facebook for my marketing consultancy, but not share my personal URL or my email, I suspect because I was intrigued by and shared info about Bret Weinstein’s Unity2020 movement.

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