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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  • Stevie Boy

    Wasn’t/isn’t ‘internet freedom’ just an illusion we have lived with without being aware of the realities of the commercial entities that make up the internet ?
    The actual internet was developed by DARPA as a means of ensuring communications in the event of a nuclear war, that means that the USA has always had a controlling interest in the internet and has always used that to collect information on those who use it, as does GCHQ and most other states.
    Facebook, Twitter, et al have always been commercial entities whose business model is collect and sell the data of those who use it.
    The web (WWW), developed at CERN to simplify data interchanges between scientists, is the only entity that aimed at digital democracy but events have overtaken that objective as big money has taken control.
    Internet providers act as the front line in controlling what gets out onto the internet and throttling data to control usage.
    It’s just become a bit more obvious lately that our illusion of freedom might be false.

    • Goose

      Popularity, big money and consolidation ruin everything in the end.

      It’s a truism that what’s good is only good while it’s relatively niche; mass popularity brings political interest and with it censorship & conformity.

    • Isabelle Sandow

      No, it was not always the same.

      First of all, there was Net Neutrality. Meaning every packet sent through the network must be treated equally. Now we have a fast lane that allows packets from facebook, youtube etc. to be sent via highspeed internet while the rest gets reduced speed. Then there are privacy and data protection, they were regulated by the same rules that protected letters from being read by third parties. All of the things mentioned have been amended to become what we have today. There were political movements fighting for them and they even got traction, until they were subverted into something else.
      And then there is censorship. Since the second world war censorship has been seen as a step towards fascism. Nowadays, people cherish censorship if it hits the perceived enemy. It is always bad and it is always a fascist tool, no matter how good the intention might be.
      This entire development is an oppressive organized criminal effort. The public discourse is held hostage around gender and “antifascism”, while the laws are changed without much scrutiny.
      This goes so far, that you even have the impression, it always has been this way.
      It does not have to be this way. People just do not think about it anymore as they take most of the things as a given standard.
      You just wont get any publicity or boosted search results, if you do not adhere to the dark patterns of modern day fascism.

      • pretzelattack

        excellent post with regards to the internet. with regard to “antifascism” people don’t like being murdered by cops or spied on by “our intel community”. one important point of change in the u.s. was cancelling the fairness doctrine. it made it so much easier for propaganda to work.

      • nevermind

        bravo Isabelle, it feels as if you are twanging my heart strings, we have been used to divert each other, become a willing tool in their box of tricks.
        All this hypocrisy over the issue of BAME when councils were clambering for their token black person to represent them on their ‘diversity boards’., some took the hook, others would not go with such tokenism, they want equality of opportunity and get on by means of their own merit.
        Fascism has been creeping up everywhere, if not in name but by method, hallo Bibi and BBC. Public broadcasters have willingly turned themselves into outlets for intelligence services and or are dependent for their futures on caressing the buttocks in charge, by becoming a willing propaganda service.
        thanks again for an observation many of us here feel creeping up on us.

      • Minority Of One

        Spot on. Especially this bit:

        “This entire development is an oppressive organized criminal effort.”

    • Ascot2

      Not sure why DARPA is so often mentioned as the “inventor” of the internet.
      I had a career in Data processing when the network was first rolling out. It started as a research information network between CERN and academic institutions around the world (CERNET). That eventually grew in North America to form other networks (BITNET in the US, NETNORTH in Canada), and similarly around the world. I was involved with developing the participation of the Canadian universities, and then its use by a broader set of communities. The communications software technology primarily in use at that time was standard commercial code called Customer Information Control System (CICS). I am sure the national defense organizations around the world developed their own private, protected networks for secure communications, as did large commercial users, but unless someone can enlighten me about things I was not aware of, the Internet is in no way derived from the military. In fact it was a wonderful example of how if left alone international cooperation and information sharing can produce great things.

      • Josh R

        Ascot2, some quite good info on history of military-tech relations:
        Secrets of Silicon Valley:The Corbett Report

        chicken & egg arguments are often difficult to reconcile definitively but, regardless, it is almost inconceivable to imagine that there is not immense cooperation & coordination between what has become ‘big tech’ and the more traditional political, military & intelligence agencies.

        Control of information and being able to construct the accepted narrative has always been the most powerful tool for minority establishments/rulers to maintain their self serving status quo – from ‘sacred’ knowledge of the stars & seasons to bibles in dead languages, the educational curriculum and spies in press offices.

        So no surprise that the subversion and control of this cultural revolution called the WWW will have been given the utmost priority, attention and resources. It would almost be naive to believe otherwise. From it’s very conception as a form of military communication, to seed money and ‘cosey’ relationships for those who became the bloated and stale monopolies that dominate the digital lives of countless millions of humans today – the tech industry did not evolve in a vacuum.

        The flip side, as I believe you allude to, is the unquestionable potential for ‘good’, but it’s still worth considering who might be benefiting from corrupting this idyll, how they can do so & why.

        • Susan


          Further to your thought: “…it is almost inconceivable to imagine that there is not immense cooperation & coordination between what has become ‘big tech’ and the more traditional political, military & intelligence agencies,” Brandon Smith postulates that part of the reason for this debacle is because of corruption of the 14th Amendment by corporations in 1886.

          “The public has been led to believe that government and corporations are separate tools that can be used to keep each side in check. This is a lie. Big government and big corporations have always worked together while pretending to be disconnected, and this needs to stop if we are to ever defuse the political time bomb we now face.”

          So, in addition to the influence of the political, military and surveillance entities, the perversion of a foreign ideology, and the economic dimension of the corruption of capitalism, we end up with a perfect authoritarianism. And what’s so perfect about it, most people don’t even know it has happened, including our elected officials. We have ended up with the following situation:

          “The Deep State governs both Republicans and Democrats. Trump has to work within the system. He knows it. I am a friend of Donald and I know he wants to do the right thing. But he is not in charge. He certainly wants to be friends with Russia and China. He is a businessman. He wants to make deals with countries not fight them. We were among those who set the main campaign features for him in 2016: stop rigged currencies destroying domestic industries, stop unlimited immigration destroying the lower classes wages and encourage detente with Russia and China. Largely nothing has happened in four years.”

          “Trump does 90% of what they want anyway. Better to keep a villain at the top to blame and keep the proles running in circles.”

      • Deepgreenpuddock

        OK I take your point, but I’d be very surprised if the hand of the military was not very near to the early phases of development. I would also say that military is a way of funding technology that then leaks into the non-military sphere.The US essentiallu uses the military to finance technology so private contractors are indemnified against losses. The ‘lag; used to be about ten years between military and civil use but that may have shortened over the recent past.

        • Ascot2

          Thanks to all for your feedback. I did mistakenly say that CICS was the foundational communications software for the internet, but I was mistaken, it was TCPIP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol), which, along with CICS, was a largely commercially driven set of standards and code that was subsequently picked up, modified and used by government agencies and military organizations around the world. Most large corporations with extensive distributed applications requiring data communications used it through the 80s and 90s. I’m sure the military did too.
          But that was not the internet as we know it. The seemingly free open, uncontrolled, distribution of data and information between any and all groups and individuals, was developed, as I said, through research organizations and academia. The company I worked for ( and my job for a while ) donated large commercial mainframe computers to Universities across the country. Some universities made “networking” research and development a leading department in their computer science faculty. Software development labs moved away from coding largely centralized applications, to modular distributed applications.
          Here’s the point…
          The development of the internet was bottoms up. This scared the Corporate/Military/Political establishment stiff. The open, seemingly free, World Wide Web was a technological and cultural advance that had never even been foreseen even in science fiction. The authorities, including the military, had no option but to go with the flow, and over time, they have been able to regain control through, in the case of the US government, support for their high tech dot com monopolists.
          Now corporations provide governments useful software trapdoors which allow intelligence and security organizations to siphon off what they desire. That has been standard practice in North America for a long time now. Other countries/regions do the same.
          Craig is absolutely right. We need to reclaim the internet as an infrastructure that is owned and run by and for the people. Not corporations or countries or their security apparatus.
          I do not claim to know how to do it, but regaining control must surely start with breaking up the largest of the monopolies that have developed, and encourage decentralization . New international standards relating to privacy and fair access to public information will be key.

          • Ethan Allen

            Thank you for both of your cogent and knowledgeable comments regarding the factual origins of the present-day internet, as well as your informed opinion regarding Craig’s admonition that:

            We need to reclaim the internet as an infrastructure that is owned and run by and for the people. Not corporations or countries or their security apparatus.

  • Watcher

    And oh look who’s been editing the Hunter Biden page on Wikipedia – Philip Cross! The evil empire’s Seal of Approval!

    • bj

      Philip Cross is an umbrella term for the MSM: The Guardian, NYT, WaPo et al. That’s what being an editor there entails nowadays.
      Like I said — it is all hands on deck, the CIA, NSA and MSM and ‘Social’ Media all firmly aligned to bring the one man into the White House who can and will finalize the Totalitarian Intelligence State.

      • pretzelattack

        there are two running that will do that. one of them is named trump and the other is named biden.

      • Deepgreenpuddock

        It doesn’t really ring true. Can it be true that whoever Phillip Cross is, that if the MSM/intelligence services wanted to conceal their activities in manipulating information. they are not capable of creating other unmarked identities?
        Since the name is now so well known can it be that they intentionally want to discredit any information. If PC is real he must be a total twat.

        • bj

          Philip Cross was defended forcefully by dimwit Wikipedia owner Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales. ‘He’ serves a purpose. From ‘his’ actions we know what that purpose is: make sure that whatever historical narrative might be recorded on WP. it is the one vetted by the Intelligence agencies and all those that serve its purpose: the aligned MSM. Note that this must mean the suppression of any countervailing narratives and those that propose them. That’s why you will see The Grayzone and for instance journalist John Pilger maligned and diminished as unreliable and probably as conspiracy theorists.

          Why create ‘unmarked’ identities. Besides, Wikipedia doesn’t allow ‘unmarked’ identities; take a look at a ‘history’ page of an article, you either have an IP or an account name. Would the public be less or more alarmed when the user ‘MI6’ or ‘MI5’ was editing stuff on WP?

          Your last sentence is incomprehensible to me.

  • Allan Howard

    I’m sure the Spycops Bill that’s being rushed through at breakneck speed at the moment has come up in the comments on here the past few days, but I was just on the Hansard website checking out the debates, albeit just quickly skimming through, and the following are a couple of clips from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the bill. The link below takes you to his profile page, and if you scroll down a bit you’ll see a link which takes you to his full speech:

    The proceedings on this Bill today are an absolute travesty of parliamentary accountability. That a major Bill such as this, with huge implications for civil rights and human rights in our society and for our standing around the world, should be pushed through in a very short time this afternoon is a travesty…….

    What has come out so far for those of us who have good friends in environmental groups, human rights groups, trade unions and many other campaigns is the sheer arrogance of police undercover operations that have infiltrated wholly legitimate and legal operations in order to disrupt them, spread negative information and cause problems for them……..

  • Ged

    Craig, it’s nothing to with conspiracy and everything to do with wanting you to advertise and make money out of you so cutting back on your viewers…

  • Aidworker1

    Our lovely website seems to have been taken over!
    Please people this is not a conspiracy website.

    We discuss left wing and Scottish politics.

    But all welcome.

    • lysias

      The Internet censorship that Craig here discusses has interfered with people being informed about Salmond’s trial and Craig’s imminent trial. Aren’t those Scottish issues?

      • Crispa

        But if it wasn’t for the internet we would not have been able to follow the Julian Assange extradition hearing at all. The issue is about people in power deciding what we should read or watch or not as they have tried to do over the ages, the freedom of expression that the internet has released posing too much of a threat to their presumptions.

        • Deepgreenpuddock

          Must admit to thinking that if the authorities wished to close this site down they probably could, although I note it uses a Russian server.
          The omission of the JA trial from the great majority of high circulation news outlets is obviously a ‘managed’ situation. The prodigious efforts of Craig in bringing this to our attention are highly noteworthy and creditable but I quake somewhat in my shoes that such a fragile thread attaches us to such important matters. I mean it suggests so many more possibilities/stories than the obvious ones. I am troubled by this fragility-that we depend on the virtually of the single handed efforts of Craig’s heroism. What would happen without him? Where does his protection come from? The underlying fascistic stance of the Johnson/Gove enterprise makes me fearful.The potential for deception is huge.

    • Minority Of One

      >>Please people this is not a conspiracy website.
      >>We discuss left wing and Scottish politics.

      What a strange thing to write, given that many of Craig’s posts relate to … conspiracies.
      Not least the Alex Salmond and Assange sagas. And indeed the current post which has nothing to do with left wing or Scottish politics.

      • Anthony

        Minority of One bravely standing alone with the Scottish and Anglo-American establishments.

        • pretzelattack

          how so? establishments often conspire. like the uk and the us establishments conspiring to frame assange.

    • David

      let’s see, well the FBI receipt for receiving the laptop goes so far as to quote its serial number as:-

      and that resolves to this info:-
      Model MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports)
      Color Space Gray
      Name A1708
      Identifier MacBookPro14,1
      Type Wi-Fi
      Replaced NO
      Activated YES
      Estimated Purchase Date 2018-10-14
      (age) 2 year(s) 0 month(s) 8 day(s)
      Warranty end 2019-10-13
      Warranty status Out Of Warranty (No Coverage)
      Repairs and Service Coverage Expired
      Phone Tech support Expired
      AppleCare plan Not active
      Loaner NO
      more accurate info from (and similar websites)
      (This device was made during the week beginning September 3, 2018)
      the receipt made available on the free internet suggested that the repair started around 12th April 2019

      • Stewart

        And answer came there none…

        “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

  • JM

    Is your hearing still going ahead tomorrow, 22nd October? The dial-in details haven’t been posted yet.

  • Simon

    No Craig. I’m sure Hunter Biden is a goose. But is he such a complete goose as to drop off to a repair shop a laptop with, apparently, thousands of emails and the odd incriminating video on it? And then forget that he’s done so? I don’t think so. And how incriminating is all the laptop content anyway? It all seems to be stuff that we already knew about. This looks like an FBI setup to me.

    • David

      He dropped off three water damaged laptops. In discussions with the repair shop owner (who now apparently fears for his life) it was determined that two of these laptops were irrecoverable, one was able to be saved. Hunter returned with an external USB drive and was given the contents of the laptop in question. He was supposed to return later to pay the $85 bill for the data recovery, which he apparently didn’t. The Wilmington store owner later called the FBI when the impeachment process was underway and they took the laptop away.

      Having noticed the partial impeachment process on TV , shop owner and now presumed legal owner of the laptop (Hunter had signed the terms & conditions of repair, including clause about abandoned property) store owner contacted Guliani, trumpy’s lawyer and mentioned that there seemed to be inaccuracies in the claims, as he had seen emails in his, formerly Hunters laptop. Store owner had also distributed copies of the laptop contents to a handful of friends, in case a letter agency was annoyed, and killed him. (According to press reports)

      Morals to take home: don’t seek or accept kickbacks then email about them, and perhaps most importantly, pay your $85 repair bills promptly.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      “But is he such a complete goose as to drop off to a repair shop a laptop with, apparently, thousands of emails and the odd incriminating video on it? And then forget that he’s done so?”

      Don’t forget the crack addict angle.

      • John A

        And don’t forget the clumsy idiot angle, in the sense of Lady Bracknell, 3 laptops badly water damaged? I can understand one, accidents happen, but two, let alone three, all in the same period? Maybe Hunter was surfing in the bath while off his head on crack or whatever and fell asleep (see photos of him) and the macbook slide into the water. Sure once, but twice, thrice? HB is clearly a complete liability.

    • CasualObserver

      With some reports indicating that the Delaware Police have confirmed after receiving (presumably) a copy of the drive, that it does contain child pornography, and other reports suggesting the child in question was Hunters 14 year old niece, I’d suggest the FBI would had to have had other worldly powers to have set up such a thing ?

      By all accounts the Police couldn’t get rid of the drive fast enough, and its now in the hands of the FBI. That’ll be the same FBI who’ve had the original drive for a year or so. Clearly, there’s likely a blowtorch pointing in the FBI’s direction at this point, which would also point towards Hunter helping with enquiries within the next few days ? should that happen, its safe to say that Joe is finished.

      But Hey, Its almost certain, that should the reports turn out to be accurate, that the True Believers will continue to reject the possibility that they’ve been played by a fundamentally corrupt DC political class who have painted Trump as Hitler Mk2 whilst being several orders of magnitude worse themselves.

      • Simon

        You seem to believe that privacy still exists. It doesn’t. Hasn’t for a while. Your online stuff is available. The Cloud is part of the panopticon.

        • bj

          It is a fair comment: ‘Simon’ was just above proposing something that is more belief than rooted in (current) evidence. That’s the aim of my remark.

        • pretzelattack

          and you seem to be avoiding the fact that, whatever the provenance of the emails and photos, they aren’t being denounced as fake.

  • Mary

    No surprise here. Shame on the Tories.

    ‘THE Foreign Office has allegedly refused to help Scottish police with an investigation into British complicity in US torture and extraordinary rendition, drawing criticism from human rights groups today.

    Police Scotland have been investigating the potentially unlawful use of airports in CIA rendition flights since 2013, which saw suspects secretly detained and transferred to foreign interrogation sites where they were tortured.’

  • Johny Conspiranoid

    Its not so much that Facebook et. al. should be forced to give everybody a platform, they are after all private organisations and ‘free speech’ does not oblige anybody to listen or give a platform. The problem is that if tried to exercise your right to set up a similar organisation with the kind of free speech policy you desire ways would be found to prevent your success.

    • Mr B J Man

      Regardless of whether or not free speech is a right or even a “thing”, or whether the US Constitution prevents their government, or EVEN their government, limiting it, as you rightly say anti-social media companies are private organisations and so not above the law and certainly not able to make up the law as they go along.

      As far as I’m aware the Common Law has always said, and still does, that a private organisation is free to act arbitrarily.

      Only up to the point it starts to make up rules.

      It then itself has to comply with its own rules.

      And the rules themselves have to comply with natural justice.

      You can’t have a “rule” that allows you to break the rules or act arbitrarily!

      Then there’s little things like advertising standards, contract law, fraud…..

      So if a private company promotes itself as say the Free Speech Wing of the Free Speech Party.

      Advertises it’s service as giving the public a platform to instantly and without barriers share their ideas and views with the world.

      Confirms that in its rules.

      Subject only to legality and actual harm or threats.

      Where does its “right” to censor free speech in general come from?

      Never mind on a party-political basis!

      And that’s without even needing to consider whether or not they are effectively public utilities and monopolies acting as the not just national but global Town Hall and Public Square?!

      Imagine if the Royal Mail and British Telecom had started opening up your mail or listening in to your phone conversations and refusing to deliver your letters or disconnected your calls if they were pro Tory.

      Imagine if British Telecom closed your phone account if it discovered you were a Conservative branch or even a member or supporter?

      Would it be acceptable in a state run monopoly in a democracy?

      Would it suddenly become acceptable if the monopoly were privatised?!

      Should it be acceptable if a private organisation grows to effectively become a monopoly public utility?!?!

      Especially if it gained it’s stranglehold on the market by promoting itself as the Free Speech Wing of the Free Speech Party giving the public a platform to instantly and without barriers share their ideas and views with the world!!!

  • Tom74

    It’s one of the oldest tricks in the marketing book to ‘ban’ things so they get more exposure. I don’t know whether the Hunter Biden story is true or not but many such stories are concocted by the intelligence agencies to confuse people and avoid scrutiny on other matters (in this case, presumably, Joe Biden himself). The same intelligence agencies then get Facebook, YouTube and the rest to ‘ban’ these stories to attempt to give the stories credibility, while also make it look as though these online outlets are not simply propaganda arms of the ‘deep state’. These fake rows between the online media and state are very similar to what we’ve had in the UK for years between the BBC, Guardian and the right-wing media, and the government – they pretend to be at loggerheads for public consumption while actually serving the same government agenda.

    • Tatyana

      yes, there’s a “Streisand effect” which may even lead to “unflattering Beyonce’s photos” effect – we still celebrate February 5 every year on Pikabu – the day when Beyonce’s publicist demanded to delete the photos from the Internet.

  • James Charles

    Biden or Trump?

    “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. “

    • Sarge

      Yes, that’s Gilen and Page, two of the most esteemed mainstream political scientists in the U. S. They conclude their book Democracy in America: what has gone wrong? by stating that the U. S. political system has become an oligarchy, “where corporations and wealthy elites steer the direction of the country, regardless of and against the will of the U. S. majority and irrespective of which party holds the White House or Congress”.

      They have concluded that, after two centuries of America’s Great Experiment, “Ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.” That book was published in early 2015, two years before Trump.

      Another testament at the height of the Obama presidency was a former US president publicly stating that the world’s greatest democracy™ was now a corporate and financial oligarchy, due to the unlimited political bribery.

      The corporate coup d’etat has been entrenched by Trump and would be entrenched further by Biden, one of the most corrupt senators in the most corrupt legislative body in the developed world.

      • Stevie Boy

        Published in early 2015 !!!
        Where have they been ? I’d suggest that this situation has existed in the USA for a lot longer than the last decade. It was possibly during the Reagan era where it really got out of hand, even so the MIC has been a major player in steering policy since WWII.
        Depressingly, the UK is going/gone the same way – the big donors and corporations call the shots..

        • Yalt

          I’d suggest that this situation has been present since the founding and that each expansion of the franchise has been met with restrictions on the effectiveness of said franchise. It was always intended to be rule by the propertied, after all, though there’s been a change in the nature of wealth since the 1780s that’s required some adjusting.

          • np

            The founding fathers of the United States were acting in their own personal (and class) interests when they rebelled against the king, agreed to create a federation of the states and drafted a constitution. Some historians even say the constitution was written in such a way that it would always protect the (often corrupt) wealthy and privileged in society from the people.

            Right from the start – 200 years before Clinton/Bush/Obama/Trump!

            Needless to say, American (and British) children are largely taught myths and fairy tales about their history.

            The American historian Charles Beard wrote this in 1913:

            “The movement for the Constitution of the United States was originated and carried through principally by four groups of personalty (i.e. propertied) interests which had been adversely affected under the Articles of Confederation: money, public securities, manufactures, and trade and shipping.

            The first firm steps toward the formation of the Constitution were taken by a small and active group of men immediately interested through their personal possessions in the outcome of their labours.

            No popular vote was taken directly or indirectly on the proposition to call the Convention which drafted the Constitution.

            A large propertyless mass was, under the prevailing suffrage qualifications, excluded at the outset from participation (through representatives) in the work of framing the Constitution.

            The members of the Philadelphia Convention which drafted the Constitution were, with a few exceptions, immediately, directly, and personally interested in, and derived economic advantages from, the establishment of the new system.”

            From An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States

  • Michael Graaf

    I suggest you add a “Share on Mastodon” button (it could replace the now-redundant G**gle+ one).

    You’re correct that the fediverse (e.g. Mastodon) hasn’t yet scaled but it’s important for activists to have fallback positions.

    • Stevie Boy

      Are the ‘ordinary people’ prepared to fund an independent body ? (I know we already do implicitly).
      The UN might be the appropriate body but unfortunately they’ve shown that they are not really independent.

  • Eoin

    If Facebook and Twitter are suppressing posts or indeed promoting posts, then surely they can’t get away with the claim they are not publishers, a tag they strenuously try to avoid lest they become liable for users’ posts and potential defamation claims.

    Either they treat each post the same or they don’t and if they don’t they are publishers.

    • Blissex

      “If Facebook and Twitter are suppressing posts or indeed promoting posts, then surely they can’t get away with the claim they are not publishers”

      There is a special provision in an USA law, called “Section 280” that explicitly removes accountability from social media for user-created content, even if they exercise editorial discretion as to which user-create created content they publish. So they are considered neither a “common carrier” nor a “publication”, a very convenient position.

      Some people in the USA would like to abolish “Section 280” entirely, but that would basically shutdown independent blogs like this.

  • Thierry Blanc

    I would see RSS has the potential to do what is needed.
    It is an open standard, there is no central server or node, it is browser-based so anyone can use it even without his/her own website/domain and it keeps members updated about what is going on.
    With more development of RSS – and due to the open standard that should be possible – RSS could become a fb/twitter alternative with the same functionality plus more (encrypted groups, etc.)

    I just installed RSS add on for firefox and added Craig’s feed as the first feed 😉

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    I detect a distinct whiff of anti-semitism in your post .I am definitely not a sympathiser for Israeli actions in the middle east-but you don’t help by falling into the trap of using such tropes and innuendo.

  • Athanasius

    The article makes some good points, but there is one aspect of the whole debate which never seems to get any attention, and that’s the attitude of the public itself. Why is it, for instance, that most Scottish nationalists have zero problem believing the bad agency and motivations of the mainstream media when it comes to independence, but for all other purposes (like, for instance, slagging off Trump) then they’re bona fides are completely trustworthy?

  • Chris Barclay

    It’s worth asking why the likes of Google, Facebook and Twatter are so desperate for Biden to win. No doubt they would claim to be acting in the name of diversity or BLM. The truth though is that they know they will be safe from having their monopolies examined under a Biden Presidency. It’s no surprise then that the Bezos Post failed to stand up for press freedom.

  • fonso

    WISE Up, a solidarity group for Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, is due to stage a demonstration outside the Guardian offices at noon tomorrow (October 22) to protest the paper’s failure to support Assange as the US seeks his extradition in an unprecedented assault on press freedom.

    The date chosen for the protest marks the tenth anniversary of the Guardian’s publication of the Iraq war logs, leaked by Manning to Assange and which lie at the heart of the US case to reclassify journalism exposing crimes against humanity as “espionage”.

    Good article today by Johnathan Cook,
    ‘The Guardian’s Silence has let the UK Trample on Assange’s Rights in Effective Darkness’

    • bj

      All Jonathan Cook’s articles on Assange and The Guardian’s failures are worth reading. (In fact all of his articles are worth reading).

  • Jim

    Seems a good time to share this again…

    “Today most of the world’s communications pass through Cornwall making this small county in the South West of England one of the most connected places in the world. This special documentary details how the system works and is put together.

    This documentary mainly features on the modern day communications systems and undersea fibre optic cables because there is almost no public record of what is actually going on.

    In November 2014 Edward Snowden leaked documents that pointed to Cornwall as the intercept point for GCHQ’s Tempora program, this documentary also delves into the murky world of espionage and how it actually works.”

    • Stevie Boy

      Not just Cornwall, GCHQ has many listening posts related to subsea cable connection points – Cyprus, far East, etc. This enables them to intercept ALL traffic passing through those points.
      Similarly, the NSA does the same and has listening posts situated in the UK.

      • Mr V

        Yup. Cornwall is just peanuts, they also have spy points all over Germany, listening to EU traffic, in Stockholm (where conveniently biggest cable attaching EU to Finland and Russia is located), Turkey, Greece, Spain, etc, etc. There will be no true EU sovereignty unless US bases are kicked out, EU states leave NATO (and make European version of it), and most importantly, make sure neighboring countries don’t have US Trojan posts…

  • SH

    Craig, I am surprised that it took you so long to figure out where the ‘real’ control of the web-based media/content rests! If the ‘release’ of technology to the ‘civilian domain’ concerning the World Wide Web (through CERN) involved funding from DARPA/US DoD, why does this comes as a surprise to anyone that web content is monitored and shared at the behest of those who control the architecture of the so-called internet?
    ‘Taking-back’ of the internet is at best a ‘rhetoric’ my dear friend! The best that can be done is to make ‘noise’. Does the ‘noise’ making have any real impact? The jury is still out on that one, ask Julian or millions suffering the same fate.

  • Blissex

    «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,»

    They know very well that the “Ancien Regime” of feudalism, in which most of the population were serfs, lasted over 900 years. Extreme capitalist rentierism could last as long.

    • Natasha

      Blissex writes: “… feudalism, in which most of the population were serfs, lasted over 900 years. Extreme capitalist rentierism could last as long.”

      Not likely. The 900 years of feudalism was powered by burning wood, followed by a few hundred burning coal, and the last 100years or so of exponential growth of burning oil, which we’re half way through. This means humans are skidding down the second half of the natural resources bell curve = rapidly decreasing extraction efficiencies. This means “extreme capitalist rentierism” doesn’t have enough surplus energy to maintain growth NOR to build out renewables to take over from fossils. Which means our best chance of lasting 900 years into the future is going to be nuclear fission or global collapse of living standards followed by …. [insert favourite energy collapse descriptor].

      • Minority Of One

        >>is going to be nuclear fission or global collapse of living standards

        Living standards are collapsing now, have already collapsed for the 500 million or so and their families who have recently lost their jobs (according to a UN report that was released a couple of weeks ago). And if the global financial system goes pop, living standards are not something most of us are going to be too worried about.

        The problem with oil is that although there is plenty left in the ground, it is too expensive for it to be economically extracted.
        Nuclear cannot replace the 80-90 million barrels per day we currently use. Nuclear is a source of electricity, we need liquid fuels.

        • Mr V

          You are aware that liquid fuels can be easily mass produced if you have enough electricity? So, from nuclear power? Germany did manage to power half of Europe with synthetic oil during WW2, and since then we developed multiple alternatives to oil that work as well and can be easily made if you have enough energy (hydrogen, or any number of combustible gasses).

          Plus, we uselessly waste most of these 80-90 million barrels you mentioned. Real need is just tiny fraction of that, replace cars with electric vehicles and oil/gas burning furnaces, heaters and stoves with electric ones and you just got rid of most of that demand…

  • Lutz Barz

    Time to wean people off rich social media plutocrats. People used to get in touch before the internet by phone. Then chat rooms. Then forums. Then this got hijacked. I left Twitter because living on the opposite end of the planet, when it was night up your way, tweets at twitter continued relentlessly by about 30%. This was robotic. That was then. This is weird. Responding to robot tweets. I left not because of that, but the outrage a decade ago was boiling there. If you did not agree with the twitterati you got bombarded with their faux outrage. Those who want to stay, let them. Dissociate and reclaim your own freedom. When, as a publisher, contacts were made with reciprocal linkages plus visiting sites by going to them. That is independence. Social media has become a magnet for the many. What you want is the intelligent. They will find you. The many, well, they are what they are.

    • Blissex

      «People used to get in touch before the internet by phone.»

      And because of pervasive listening in by government agents, the phrase “let’s not talk about this over the phone” was very common, and not just in east Germany. The authorities have always sought to control “gossip” by the unruly masses.

  • Scott

    The idea that the political elite in Europe would be more tolerant of a European owned Twitter/ Facebook alternatives is ridiculous. The same commercial and power interests will push their agendas globally, to defang freedom of speech wherever it presents itself.

    To assume that EU politicians are more benevolent than their American contemporaries is also ridiculous. Undoubtedly there are good people in both systems, being quietly contained or neutralised by their respective political parties.

    This does not mean we should give up. Of course we need to fight the censorship of internet platforms. We need to support new and alternative media sources. The alternative is the continuation of a monetised internet based on an advertising model that is predicated on the understanding that your attention has a monetary value, and an acceptance that there is no moral dimension constraining the manipulation of emotions or nudging behaviours in a particular direction.

    • Anthony

      ‘A 2018 document updated in January 2020 reveals that “deception” is a core practice for the 77th Brigade, stating “it’s critical we degrade understanding”‘

      Also a core practice for mainstream media, whether state or corporate.

    • Doctor K

      Error 1020 Ray ID: 5e62efa74e60a336 • 2020-10-22 11:39:09 UTC
      Access denied
      What happened?

      This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks.

      • Kathleen

        I got the same message when I used the Tor browser, I need to look at my settings (meaning, my son will need to look at my settings).

  • Geoff Reynolds

    Without the internet, Craig, the UK public would be unaware that a percentage of taxes paid by American citizens goes directly to our Queen and the Monarchy is registered as a Corporation.

    I was fully unaware of this if not for access to the internet airwaves of which are being censored in order to keep us in the dark surrounding matters that the powers that be would love to suppress.

    Our beloved Treasury which bears the seal of the Crown Estate, says that they have no such information relating to this … but they would do, wouldn’t they.

    I wonder if the citizens of America know they are supporting the Crown, or could it be just another omission lost in the great friendship with our pals over the pond?

    • Geoff Reynolds

      I am in no way suggesting that our Monarchy and the Crown are some kind of landlord from hell that derives unimaginable wealth from those nations it pirated to gain control of its assets, i am merely pointing out that when anyone tries to use the internet to find information on what places like Australia, Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth pay, access is strangely distorted to the point of ‘it’s none of your business’ …

      Are we a free country with an elected head of state, because i never heard of anybody voting for the existence of the Monarchy ever!

      • Stevie Boy

        ARTHUR: I am your king!
        WOMAN: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
        ARTHUR: You don’t vote for kings.
        WOMAN: Well, how did you become King, then?
        ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake,…
        …her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.
        That is why I am your king!
        DENNIS: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

        • Joe Dopelle

          “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government”.

          Nice. I would substitute “ironmongery” for “swords”, to drive home the absurdity.


          The important thing, Stevie Boy, is that there IS NO BASIS FOR A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. None at all. Human beings evolved as apes living in troops of 10-30 or so, and later as hunter gatherers in group so maybe up to 100 or so.

          Thus we have no instinctive “basis for a system of government”; and being the animals we are, without an instinctive basis, nothing is going to work well or for long.

          • Joe Dopelle

            One of the worst outcomes of our educational system is the strange belief that every problem must have an optimal solution.

            Which, of course, is simply not true. If you are a hunter-gatherer and you happen to stumble and break a leg, you WILL be eaten by hyenas.

            And if you are a homo sapiens among 330 million others looking for a system of government that will be safe, reliable, benevolent and foolproof, you are a fool.

        • Stewart

          Very interesting quote Stevie Boy,
          I think it illustrates very succinctly the main reason that institutions such as the monarchy still exist today; in a word: Romance.
          How is it possible that a system based on huge privilege and inequality has triumphed over the notion of equality?
          Simply because equality was dressed in boiler suits and spoke like Dennis – the aquatic ceremony may have been farcical, but it was interesting and exciting.
          Present-day politics is almost entirely charisma-free, consisting of interchangeable “polished aluminium androids” (to quote The Thick of It). No wonder a third of the country does not engage in it at all.
          If a political system of equality and fairness (which is presumably what “communism” was meant to be) is ever to gain a foothold in this country, it must be made exciting. Endless power points on “Equality and Diversity” in the workplace are not going to do it, especially when the REAL inequalities in this country (land ownership, inherited wealth, tax avoidance, issuance of currency) remain inviolate.
          There is a scene in the movie “Defiance” where the band of refugees in the forest are beginning to argue and lose cohesion. “We need a leader” someone says to Daniel “James Bond” Craig. So he mounts a white horse…
          Yes, we are at a critically dangerous point in this country, we stand on the brink of open totalitarianism, but the situation is not without hope. The illusion of “freedom” and “democracy” that we have lived under is disintegrating, but the “pandemic” control measures, far from being a diabolically clever master plan, actually smack of desperation.
          All we need is a charismatic leader with a sensible plan. Anyone?

        • Kev

          This made me chuckle. When I threw my first (and only, obviously contaminated) smartphone into my local reservoir. I pondered the ripples, half expecting the Lady of the Lake to refurbish me with said item. Unfortunately, my “Al-Qaeda” dumbphone replacement suffers the same afflictions.
          The Lady of the Lake is called SIGINT, and is to be despiesed.

  • N_

    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.“

    Count me in with the “fools”. There are no such implications, and there wouldn’t be even if such “suppression” happened, the internet has never been a public commons, and Joe Biden isn’t a wicked establishment pizza-eating paedophile enemy of the only true “man of the people” to make it to the White House, the man who tells it as it really is, the honest-to-God most unfascist president ever, whom only Soros-paid fooles and morans dare criticise, Donald Presbyterian Trump, defender of all possible freedoms, especially the ancient liberty of gun-stroking white male wrestling-fan cretins to refight the Civil War with police and NRA help and this time ensure a grrreat result.

    Aw, little Trump fans, is Facebook getting paid by puppet masters richer than yours this time? Why are bullies always such crybabies? Did Trump turn out to be smaller than Bloomberg in NYC after all? The question today is whether Trump, Mr “God tested him” Immune himself, will collapse into a full-on Forrester-style freakout (replacing “the Russians are coming” with “Antifa are coming”?) in tonight’s debate. It was Hillary that pushed that mute button! Yore awl morans! One really has got to see the funny side here.

    It won’t surprise me if he says “it’s not me who’s got the Chinese bank account – it’s Mao Tse Biden!” and it wasn’t Rudy Giuliano who got caught playing pocket billiards in the direction of a young woman comedian – it was Bill Clinton, egged on by Anthony Fauci!”

    • N_

      Trump is in a similar position to Le Pen in the sense that he is backed – and only half-heartedly I think, maybe mainly by units that it was difficult to wind down or point in a new direction? – by one of the two main forces in psywar, and not by the other one. In 2016 he was backed by both.

      • Courtenay Barnett


        A retired Professor friend in the state of Georgia believes that Trump will win that state and win nationwide; he is not a Trump supporter.

        So, my best bet is –

        ‘I think he could win, and I think he could lose’

        • M.J.

          I’ve believed for some time that the Democrats need to answer the economic argument of the Republicans. Many people who vote Trump do so for economic reasons, especially owners of small businesses who pay less taxes with him in the White House.
          If the Democrats don’t answer the economic argument, either by giving it the lie or even setting it against higher priorities, it could go by default like the Northern States which Hillary didn’t make it her business to visit. If Trump is returned to power (and I hope not), it might be because of this reason.
          Still, I hope your retired Georgian academic friend is wrong on both counts.

          • Stevie Boy

            Never underestimate the hatred that a lot of working class people have for Biden, Hillary, Obama and all their clan. No-one on either side has tried to put forward any sort of rational argument as to why people should vote for Trump or Biden. Obviously, the environment, the economy, healthcare takes second place to vacuous tweets.
            No real choice but, I believe, Trump will win because he’s so obviously not a member of ‘the club’ and an outsider, which is how a lot of voters feel – emotions will win.

          • M.J.

            I hope you’re wrong Steve B, but hopefully in a fortnight we’ll know, one way or the other, if the turnout is decisive enough for the postal ballots not to matter.

          • Courtenay Barnett


            I think that you have a solid point on the ‘economic argument’ point.

            However, for the life of me I do not get it with the American working class:-

            1. Do you want comprehensive and affordable health care – or don’t you?
            2. Do you want there to be highly regressive taxation or do you want corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share?
            3. Do you want to be able to breathe clean air and have a healthy environment – or don’t you?

            And of course, other similar questions relating to the economic health and welfare of such people; these questions to be answered sensibly – or which ones become more important?

          • Mr B J Man

            @ Courtenay

            American working class:-

            1. We don’t want FEDERAL and UNaffordable BUREAUCRAT CONTROLLED health care.

            2. We don’t want highly regressive prices due to corporations being bled dry by Socialists and Commies.

            3. We don’t want to be able to breathe clean air and have a healthy environment – at the cost of our jobs (and Asian kids being poisoned).

            There, simple!

  • Geoff Reynolds

    Will we be able to access the interweb when we are in full Hunger Games mode?

    Will the information highway be able to connect to those living in a tent outside the shining metropolis of the elite?
    Maybe we will be able to read the truth as it is projected into the sky by lasers. Our main stream media will need to contact us somehow to let us know a vacancy has arisen within the walled stockade that requires a new slave.

    Now that Christmas has been banned, Nicola Krankie has made an address to children assuring them that Santa is indeed a ‘key worker’…

    Shouldn’t be too long before ‘The Hanging Tree’ becomes a firm favourite in the Christmas music charts as the dystopian nightmare unravels.

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