The situation surrounding the censorship of Southfront on Facebook has turned into a display of the stereotypical Big-tech super villain. Facebook has published a report justifying its actions, which is an egregious, textbook example of fake news. The report contains only disjointed accusations under the cover of meaningless words, and without a single example being presented. Special attention should be paid to the fact that in the full 29-page report, there are no mentions of SouthFront itself, besides the baseless accusations at its outset.
Furthermore, in order to label SouthFront as allegedly official Russian propaganda, Facebook first identifies another media site with a similar name, and then proceeds to emphasize the similarity of the brands. The name of this organization is “News Front”, which indeed shares the word “Front” in its name, yet the similarities end there. News Front is an official Russian organization that is located in Crimea and publicly pursues an acute pro-Russian patriotic informational agenda for a Russian speaking audience.
In the case of News Front, to assert that the site is engaged in pushing fake news or disinformation is also nonsense. There are no hidden “trolls” infecting the weak minds of the citizens of Russia or other countries of the post-Soviet space through devious attempts to manipulate and mold their innermost perception. This is a regular Russian patriotic media site with a declared pro-Russian bias. Having a declared and obvious bias is not a crime in a democratic world.
As for the wider, global, non-Russian-speaking audience, News Front has a minimal presence. So why it was necessary to censor this Russian organization? The answer is now obvious, as described above.
The comparison of the audience of southfront.org and news-front.info by Alexa:
The comparison of the audience of southfront.org and news-front.info by SimilarWeb:
The catalyst that led to these actions concern mass complaints made by propaganda units created and funded by NATO, the EU and other Euro-Atlantic organizations. A majority of these propaganda units, like Euvsdisinfo, StopFake, or the Atlantic Council, have offices and representatives in Ukraine and Baltic states. They operate with the designated goal of utilizing both formal and informal tools to undermine the work of independent and non-mainstream media. To achieve their goals, the pro-NATO propagandists often exploit the so-called ‘Russian threat’ concept; however, this merely provides a cover for their aggressive actions to silence and discredit opposing opinions and sources of information they deem to be counter to their own interests.
The reason behind their activity is simple – they must justify their existence in reports to their sponsors. They are constantly and fiercely working to engineer ‘successful actions’ regardless of their validity. In order to continue securing funding to expose and defeat an imaginary enemy, they must create imaginary victories, irrespective of reality.
At the same time, the quality of the analysis and approaches of these propaganda units are of a surprisingly low quality. Their main ‘innovation’ is in bombarding the likes of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other global media platforms with thousands of complaints. In more simple terms, a glorified spam operation. The structure of these complaints is simple. They irately claim that some media organization or a media activist violates the policy of the social platform; for example: by spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, or by simply asserting that the offending party is creating fake news (in general without any explanation). Such complains may include one or several links to posts that allegedly violate the policies of the social platforms as evidence of wrongdoing. However, even this does not happen in most of the cases, or the evidence turns out to be nothing more than a link to a substantiated post that includes either opinion or factual information.
We, the international team of authors and experts working under the brand SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, has evidenced this and regularly faces such hostile actions from pro-NATO propaganda organizations. Moreover, we have the impression that many employees of large social platforms have grown tired of the shameless actions of some of these pro-NATO propagandists.
From its very creation, SouthFront has stated that we provide the opportunity to express a multitude of opinions and views covering international issues on our platform. We make sure that these points of view do not go beyond rationality or violate any national or international laws. Southfront and our authors can make a multitude of assumptions, but when we make claims they are always based on facts and substantiated by identified sources. We specifically do not use the term ‘reliable sources’, since in this modern world of information warfare and media noise and obfuscation, each combatant has their own understanding of the world ‘reliable’. More often than not, the term ‘reliable sources’ is the first clue that no such sources exist.
Let’s take a closer look at accusations against SouthFront put forward by Euvsdisinfo, a propaganda unit of the EU East Stratcom Task Force. Since the start of 2020, SouthFront has released about 3,000 articles. Pro-NATO propagandists found a grand total of 3 (0.1% of the total) that they can use to back up their claim that SouthFront supposedly promotes some disinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The real title of the article is “COVID-19 – THE FIGHT FOR A CURE: ONE GIGANTIC WESTERN PHARMA RIP-OFF” (source)
This article is written by Peter Koenig and submitted via Global Research. Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization in many parts of the world, including in Palestine, in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greenville Post; Defend Democracy Press, TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of “Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed”, a fictional work based on historical fact and over 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (Global Research). Global Research itself is run by a group of authors that have advanced academic degrees from respected academic institutions and teach in universities of the United State and Canada.
So, what kind of ‘fake news’ or ‘disinformation’ did Mr. Koenig push in the article? The article provides a critical look at and addresses the concerns regarding the goals of the global pharmaceutical industry, otherwise known as Big Pharma, in the larger context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are these global corporations not commercial entities that seek to gain larger revenues and increased profits? Yes, clearly so. So, what is wrong with this logic? Furthermore, Mr. Koenig wrote his article based on official statistics and sources.
“The vaccine that might eventually be applied to COVID-19, may most likely no longer be valid for the next coronavirus outbreak – which, also according to Mr. Redfield, CDC, will most probably occur. A later virus may most certainly have mutated. It’s quite similar to the common flu virus. In fact, the annually reoccurring common flu virus contains a proportion of 10% to 15% (sometimes more) of coronaviruses.”
This is an obvious scientific fact – a specific vaccine acts against a particular strain of virus. Complex vaccines act against several strains, but the accumulated modern scientific knowledge has yet to invent a vaccine that can act against all the possible strains. The converse statement is a falsehood and is aimed at misleading the public.
A biased critic may label as conspiracy the author’s point of view towards the aggressive advertising of vaccines or the need for electronic IDs; however, this very same point of view has been voiced by various politicians or representatives of big business. Even the term ‘New World Order’ which appears twice in the subject text, was itself widely used by the mainstream political establishment, and even presidents of the United States like George H. W. Bush.
However, this did not stop paid propagandists from labeling the article the work of a conspiracy theorist and thus labelling it as disinformation. One could claim that the author asserted a notion of conspiracy, but there was zero disinformation, as the author’s hypothesis was based on scientist fact and common knowledge.
The real title of the article is “WESTERN MEDIA TALKS UP BIG PHARMA’S SEARCH FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE WHILE IGNORING USE OF HIGH DOES VITAMIN C TO SAVE LIVES IN CHINA” (source)
This article is written by a well-known international author, Dr. Leon Tressell. The main assertion of the article is that high dose vitamin C therapy apparently helps to deal with acute respiratory disease and viral pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2. The article clearly shows that the methods of treating the symptoms caused by SARS-CoV-2 share some commonality with the actions taken to treat the symptoms of respiratory disease and viral pneumonia caused by other viruses. There is no correlation between the effectiveness of a particular drug or method of treatment and its monetary cost. This fact is also universally recognized in the scientific community.
Mr. Tressell writes:
- Clinical trials using high dose vitamin C therapy in China ignored by Western media
- New York hospitals now using vitamin C therapy to treat coronavirus patients
Are these false statements? No. These points are demonstrably true.
Indeed, the author states that the “mainstream media, and the scientific and political establishments are completely under the spell of big pharma”; however, in the same article he explains this point of view in detail. This remark is based on his personal point of view (protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution) as well as those of scientists quoted in the text. For example:
Dr. Andrew W. Saul, Editor in chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service
Dr. Richard Cheng, an American-Chinese doctor currently based in Shanghai
Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health facilities on Long Island
Thus, there is no reason to say that Tressell distributes fake news. In the worst case, the author writes about a valid hypothesis and only once does he make a personal judgment regarding the motives and aims of big pharma. Is this false news or disinformation? Of course it is not. Is some conspiracy theory present here? If one claims “yes”, then that person will have to accept that most of the political establishment of the United States, which also uses the terms the New World Order and Big Pharma are also conspiracy theorists. Surely one statement of the article’s author pales in comparison to the thousands of statements of politicians and top businessmen espousing similar views. How popular does a dissenting view have to become before it is no longer considered a conspiracy theory?
The real title of the article is “WHILE THE WORLD IS IN DISARRAY, COVID-19 IS BREAKING UP RUSSIA” (source)
The article was likely used by the Euvsdisinfo authors either out of a lack of humor, ignorance, or sheer stupidity. This article is a critical review of the political and administrative situation in Russia amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the first part of April 2020. The article provides a critical look at the actions of the Russian government (in particular the Moscow authorities) and points out that, while the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant public health challenge, the threat of the pandemic may be estimated inaccurately, resulting in the government making poor decisions in dealing with it. The developments in Russia in the second half of 2020 confirmed this analysis. Meanwhile, the article itself regularly refers to scientific and state sources of data and criticizes political and administrative actions of the Russian government. It also looks critically at actions of Moscow mayor Sergey Sobaynin, which at the time went contrary to the Russian legislative system.
Euvsdisinfo labeled the article as conspiracy theory and disinformation. This decision raises some eyebrows. Does NATO really support the actions of the Moscow authorities? If this is the case, perhaps President Putin should consider taking a closer look at the mayor of the Russian capital. Another explanation is that nobody in Euvsdisinfo actually read the article. The aforementioned article regularly refers to publicly available facts and quotes numerous substantiated sources, while providing a critical point of view of the author towards the administrative and political situation in Russia.
The aforementioned articles are all that pro-NATO propaganda organizations have been able to highlight to accuse SouthFront of spreading disinformation. Three articles out of approximately 3,000 published since the start of the year. The attention of such propagandists to SouthFront comes amid the termination of our YouTube channels. These arbitrary and unjustified actions lead us to believe that there is almost no objectivity in the modern world. So, if somebody wants to claim that white is black, he will continue to do so as long as it serves the interests of his sponsors. Nonetheless, in the case of YouTube, the situation is even more surprising. SouthFront released no videos that could be labeled as ‘COVID-19 disinformation’ even theoretically. There were only 3 video infographics on the topic on our YouTube channel. They presented facts and data and did not even feature narration. SouthFront’s YouTube channel had zero active strikes to over 1,900 uploaded videos up until the point of termination.
In this situation, it will be especially interesting to witness how YouTube will react to the developing scandal.
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