The campaign of the social media companies to cancel the right to freedom of speech continues to target alternative voices and social movements, suspending and blocking accounts with no right to appeal their arbitrary decisions. Although US President Trump complained loudly earlier this week when he was targeted by the social media companies of the Financial Establishment, he now appears to have no objection to the extensive operation of censorship and control over access to information as long as his twits are not affected.
Unity 2020, a campaign launched by ‘cancelled’ Evergreen College Professor Bret Weinstein to join the disaffected left and right to ‘fix’ US democracy, has been suspended from Twitter and had its website banned.
The campaign’s Twitter account was suspended on Thursday night as US President Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential race. Weinstein told his followers the account was cut off for promoting the hashtag #JustSayNotoDonaldandJoe, which had been tweeted more than 11,000 times by the time @ArticlesofUnity was cut off. LINK
It’s not clear what is was about the hashtag that set Twitter to block the site. It had previously summarised Unity 2020’s stated mission as being that of bringing together those on the left and right who feel they’ve been excluded from the political process. However, the attempted censorship brought more attention to the target, and the hashtag started trending again as Twitter users demanded to know what rule the account had broken.
Twitter then blocked all efforts to post Unity 2020’s web address, and existing tweets with the address were redirected to the ‘potentially harmful website’ warning screen.
Weinstein, a biology professor, became famous in 2017 after he was mobbed by angry students after refusing to vacate the Evergreen campus during a ‘day of absence’ event, in which white students and faculty staff were expected to stay home in a contrived show of ‘solidarity’ with black students. Weinstein and his wife, also a professor at the school, left Evergreen later that year after suing the college over its failure to protect them from harassment and violence.
The Articles of Unity campaign talks about bipartisan cooperation, proposing a dual presidency with one ‘centre-left’ candidate and one from the ‘centre-right’, the main requirement being that the candidates must be ‘patriotic, highly capable, and courageous’.
A social movement with similar policies, the Movement for a People’s Party, is holding a virtual convention on Sunday with speakers including former Democratic candidates Marianne Williamson and Mike Gravel, progressive comedian Jimmy Dore, and journalist Chris Hedges. Democratic Socialist and former Bernie Sanders campaign head Nina Turner and activist professor Dr. Cornel West are set to headline the convention, which is pushing back against another business-as-usual party platform from the Democrats, demanding the inclusion of Medicare for All, a “people’s stimulus” amid the pandemic-related economic crisis, and other progressive measures.
Earlier this year US President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting social media companies after Twitter called two of his tweets ‘potentially misleading’.
Speaking from the Oval Office ahead of signing the order, Trump said the move was to “defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history.”
He further stated: “A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States,” he claimed. “They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences.”
The measure specifically cites Twitter for “selectively” applying warning labels to “certain tweets.” It also faults Google for helping the Chinese government surveil its citizens; Twitter for spreading Chinese propaganda; and Facebook for profiting from Chinese advertising.
Tech companies pushed back against the order.
Facebook and Google said Trump’s proposal risks harming the internet and digital economy…
Twitter declined to comment…
So, who exactly are some of these social media companies and tech companies that control and manage such a large proportion of the world’s most-used social media platforms? Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were singled out for mention in Trump’s statements.
While the largest individual shareholders and senior executives receive almost all the attention and divert attention from where the real power over decision-making lies, the largest institutional investors of Twitter, Inc. are Vanguard Group (10.6%), Blackrock (7%), Morgan Stanley (6.1%) and State Street Corporation (4.5%), between them around 28% (directly). They are also among the largest mutual fund holders through a range of investment vehicles. Vanguard, Blackrock and State Street are also among the 5 largest shareholders of Morgan Stanley.
Facebook acquired the WhatsApp messaging and calling platform in 2014. It acquired Instagram in 2012, and has purchased a variety of other technology and data collection companies with capabilities with many diverse capabilities such as face recognition technology. The largest institutional investors of Facebook are Vanguard (7.4%), Capital R&M (6.9%), Fidelity M&R (5%), State Street (4%) and Blackrock (2.4%) – between them around 28.7%.
The largest institutional investors of Google are Vanguard (7.4%), Capital R&M (5%), Fidelity M&R (4%), State Street (3.9%) and Blackrock (2.4%) – between them around 22.8%.
How about Silicon Valley? Just to take two examples, the four largest shareholders of Microsoft are Vanguard (7%), Blackrock (4%), State Street (4%) and Capital R&M (4%): of Apple the largest shareholders are Vanguard (7%), Berkshire Hathway (5%), Blackrock (3%) and State Street (4%).
The same financial/ investment fund monsters have large stakes if not between them a controlling interest in many of the most influential banks, mass media companies, weapons producers, among many, many other key economic, industrial and technology sectors.
|JP Morgan||Vngd 7%||StSt 5%||BkRk 4%||FMR 3%||CapRM 2%||23%|
|Citigroup||Vngd 7%||StSt 4%||BkRk 4%||FMR 4%||Harris 2%||20%|
|HSBC||PingAn 6%||BkRk 3%||Vngd 2%||LglGnl 2%||Norges 2%||6%|
|Bnk of Amer.||BrkshrH 9%||Vngd 7%||StSt 4%||BkRk 4%||FMR 3%||28%|
|Wells Fargo||BrkshrH 9%||Vngd 7%||StSt 4%||BkRk 4%||CpRM 3%||31%|
|Gldman Schs||Vngd 6%||StSt 6%||GSachs5%||Bkshr 5%||BkRk 4%||28%|
|Mrgn Stanley||Mtbshi 25%||StSt 8%||Vngd 5%||TRP 5%||BkRk 3%||25%|
|Lckheed Mrtn||StSt 20%||Vngd 9%||CpRM 7%||BkRk 7%||Bnk Am 4%||47%|
|Boeing||Vngd 11%||BkRk 7%||Nwpt 7%||TRP 7%||StSt 5%||37%|
|Raytheon||Vngd 11%||BkRk 10%||StSt 6%||FMR 4%||Bnk Am 3%||34%|
|Nrthrp Grumn||StSt 12%||Vngd 9%||BkRk 8%||FMR 6%||TRP 4%||39%|
|Gnl Dynamics||LAC 11%||CpRM 8%||Nwpt 7%||Vngd 7%||BkRk 4%||26%|
Vngd – Vanguard, BkRk – BlackRock, StSt – State Street, Nwpt – Newport, CapRM – Capital Research & Management, FMR – Fidelity Management & Research Co. – FMR LLC, TRP – T. Rowe Price Associates, Bnk Am – Bank of America, LAC – Longview Asset Management, Norges – Norges Bank, Harris – Harris Associates, Brkshr H – Berkshire Hathaway, Mtbshi – Mitsubishi
The total in the final column refers to the combined holdings of the main financial conglomerates involved (in particular Vanguard, BlackRock, Capital Research & Management, Fidelity Management & Research Co. and T. Rowe Price). The actual total is probably considerably larger as it only includes the ten or twenty largest shareholders in each instance and also doesn’t include the shareholdings of other corporations and investment funds controlled by the principal financial entities (such as JP Morgan, etc.). The percentages are taken from the lists of largest shareholders compiled by ‘Marketscreener’ and ‘Morningstar’.
A more detailed of the multi-layered, interlocked financial pyramid of ownership and control is available in another South Front report.
The latest campaign of censorship of all alternative voices raises the need to reconsider the regulation of social media platforms. Beyond this is the challenge of seeking to ensure diversity, freedom of choice and real alternatives among social media platforms, as well as deciding who should have the power to censor or control their use, and according to what principles and objectives.
Going a step further, how have such a small number of investment funds and financial conglomerates, some of them recently established, managed to obtain control over such a staggering share of most of the major companies involved?
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