Written by Brian Kalman exclusively for SouthFront; Brian Kalman is a management professional in the marine transportation industry. He was an officer in the US Navy for eleven years.
The Big Profits Driving Online Censorship
This summer we have witnessed the increasing demand by mainstream media, Democratic Party legislators, and even former disgraced intelligence agency heads, for the silencing of dissenting viewpoints. Although the most recent wholesale ban on Alex Jones and Infowars on just about every social media platform out there is the most glaring and chilling example of outright censorship, the efforts of the Deep State to silence any voices of dissent or for presenting a narrative counter to that being peddled by the almost complete monopoly of social and mainstream media that serves them has been building in intensity for quite some time. The claims that the big tech companies that control all social media platforms through virtual monopoly are not required to meet the constitutional protections of the 1st amendment, because they are not governmental agencies, but private businesses, is patently false.
Immediately following the blanket ban on Alex Jones related accounts on social media platforms, a multitude of mass media writers and pundits appeared to argue why such a move was both vital and wholly legal. Perhaps a more reasonable opinion in this regard was presented in the Washington Examiner. In an opinion piece by Erin Dunne, published on August 6th, the author makes too basic assertions. Firstly, she argues correctly, that there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Secondly, she argues that private companies’ powers to regulate what speech is acceptable are not governed by the First Amendment. She succinctly states:
“Private companies, unlike government, are not beholden to court’s decisions on free speech. Facebook, Apple, and YouTube can all decide for themselves how to define hate speech and enforce that definition.
That makes sense. As private companies catering to users they have an obligation to shareholders to make a profit so they will pick a definition of hate speech that their users want and then enforce that.”
“For those who don’t like the chosen definition, there is also a simple solution: Don’t use those sites. This is how the market works. If you don’t like the terms of service then then there are other options (or soon will be). Companies want your business.
Unlike subscribing to the laws of the United States, the user agreements of social media companies are optional.”
Under most circumstances I would agree with Ms. Dunne’s second point, but the current case in question is quite different than any past case study in a private entity’s constitutional requirements where freedom of speech are concerned. Firstly, just a handful of big tech companies control virtually all social media platforms, effectively operating an illegal, anti-free market monopoly. This is not a normal, or even legal form of private business in the United States. Secondly, these companies are banning individuals and groups in coordination with one another and at the behest of special interests groups, including current federal government legislators, the mass media, and former federal intelligence agency officials. This “usual suspects” line-up, representing what is now acknowledged as the Deep State, even by the mainstream media outlets that serve as its propaganda operation, are basically contracting a private company to do what they are legally prevented from doing so themselves. So, Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube are working as independent contractors to conduct the type of censorship of the internet that the federal government would like to conduct through agencies such as the FCC or even the CIA and the NSA, but is legally prohibited from doing so.
Are these monolithic tech companies acting as “the beard” for the federal government? By working through Facebook and Google, the federal government has plausible deniability, and has removed itself from legal responsibility. This is only true, if one cannot connect the dots and establish a very clear ideological and economic relationship between these tech giants and the intelligence agencies of the federal government. As convenient a tool for communication and collaboration that social media platforms have become, we all have to recognize that they are an intrinsic component of the Deep State apparatus.
Google, the largest online search engine by far, which also owns YouTube, won its first federal government contract to provide Google apps and cloud services to the GSA in 2010. This contract, worth $6.7 million at the time, was just the first of many. They are currently in the running to provide cloud services (coined JEDI) to the Department of Defense worth an estimated $10 billion. Other service providers competing for the business, some of which already provide similar services for federal government agencies, include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, CSRA, and IBM. Google had a contract to aid the Department of Defense in developing AI technology (Project Maven), but announced its intent not to continue the work after tens of thousands of engineers employed by the company signed a petition sighting the unethical nature of the work. This principled stance by rank and file employees (not company executives) is encouraging.
It is well known that Amazon Web Services has a contract with the CIA worth a reported $600 million. Amazon created its “Secret Region” cloud service for the CIA in 2014, and has been providing these services ever since. Amazon is considered the front runner in winning the $10 billion contract to provide clouds services to the DOD. As Aaron Gregg reported for the Washington Post on August 7th,
“The $10 billion opportunity promises to be many times larger than Amazon’s earlier work with the CIA, something that has attracted interest from a diverse pool of software companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, Google, IBM and General Dynamics. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Post.)”
Did you catch the disclosure at the end? Yes, the owner of Amazon has his own propaganda service, the Washington Post. The Washington Post routinely runs articles praising the intelligence agencies regardless of their record of criminal behavior, has attacked Alex Jones and anyone that questions the “official narrative”, and has pushed the idea that there are limits that the federal government can impose on U.S. citizens constitutional rights. Oh yeah, and as a media provider with millions of customers, Alex Jones’ Infowars is a direct competitor of the Washington Post. See the conflict of interest here?
So how does Facebook fit in? Anyone that has followed the Facebook information sharing scandal of the past year knows that yes, Facebook does whatever the hell it wants with your personal information. They always have. And do you know who the first customer probably was? The NSA. Don’t kid yourself, you can be sure that Facebook and the intelligence agencies have a clandestine agreement in this regard. Both Facebook and the heads of the NSA have lied in testimony before Congress in the past. Should this surprise anyone?
Google has been helping the Chinese government censor internet searches originating in that country since 2006. China boasts over 772 million internet users, so the financial gain for Google is worth helping a totalitarian government stifle free speech and access to information. Apple removed all censorship circumventing apps from the company’s Chinese App Store. Amazon Web Services, through its Chinese partner Beijing Sinnet Technology, notified all of its clients to stop using any tools designed to circumvent the government’s online censorship tools. Although Facebook has still not been given the green light to open a subsidiary in China, over the issue of government imposed censorship regulations, the money will soon prove too hard an inducement to pass up, and Facebook will follow the lead of Apple, Amazon and even LinkedIn. That’s right, the same LinkedIn that banned Alex Jones from having a professional profile on its sight, has no qualms about censoring information available to its users in China at the behest of that nations communist government.
So we have a group of mass media outlets owned by large corporations, some of which are large defense corporation and some of which are social media monoliths. Both make millions of dollars off huge federal government contracts. Many former Department of Defense officials, generals, and heads of agencies such as the CIA, NSA and FBI are all paid contributors, analysts and consultants for these same media outlets. Many of these same individuals work for a well-known Deep State think-tank called the Atlantic Council. Why is this important you might ask? Well, they just happen to operate the Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab. As Joseph Menn wrote in an article for Reuters entitled “U.S. think tank’s tiny lab helps Facebook battle fake social media” on August 7th:
“Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.
Using its own software and other tools, the team sorts through social media postings for patterns.
Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.”
The Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Lab is made up of a research team with ties to the U.S. federal government. The Director and Managing Editor is Graham Brookie. His bio on the site states:
“He previously served in various positions at the White House and National Security Council. His most recent role was as an adviser for strategic communications with a focus on digital strategy, audience engagement, and coordinating a cohesive record of former U.S. President Obama’s national security and foreign policy.”
So his most recent former job was to find out how to best lie about the utter failure of Obama’s national security and foreign policy and pass it off as a success story? Yeah, that’s who I want telling me what information to believe on the internet… And don’t forget Senior Fellow Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, and his partner in crime Lead Digital Forensic Researcher Aric Toler, also of Bellingcat. Then there are Senior Fellow Ben Nimmo who was a former NATO press officer, and Digital Forensic Research Associate Donara Barojan who is based at the NATO StratCom Center of Excellence in Riga, Latvia. Finally there is Senior Fellow Naz Durakoglu. Her bio on the site states:
“Naz Durakoglu came to DFRLab after her role in the Obama Administration as senior advisor to the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs at the US Department of State. She has served on Capitol Hill and on several gubernatorial, congressional, and presidential campaigns and continues to advise Members of Congress, their staff, and companies on various foreign policy and national security matters.”
So this is the unbiased, independent organization filtering “real” and “fake” news for Facebook? I’m sorry, but their obvious and long running connections to the administration of former U.S. President Obama and NATO, not to the mention the proven anti-Russian trolls of Bellingcat, call into question any impartiality possible here. Are you starting to recognize the pattern in all of this? Here is a short list, and far from a complete list, of current Atlantic Council Directors and Honorary Directors:
Henry Kissinger – former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor
Phillip M. Breedlove – former Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (NATO Supreme Commander)
James Cartwright – former USMC General and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Michael Chertoff – former Secretary of Homeland Security, co-author of the USA Patriot Act
Wesley Clark – former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (NATO Supreme Commander)
Michael Hayden – former Director of the National Security Agency, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Michael Morell – former Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
David Petraeus – former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
James Baker III – former White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury
Ashton Carter – former U.S. Secretary of Defense
Frank Carlucci – former U.S. Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates – former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Michael Mullen – former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Leon Panetta – former White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
William Perry – former Secretary of Defense
Colin Powell – former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice – former National Security Advisor and U.S. Secretary of State
Although I am not a lawyer, I would have to say that Alex Jones has a good case against all of the entities working to silence him for engaging in a racketeering enterprise. Clearly, the mass media, at the behest of the Deep State (most importantly the intelligence agencies) is creating a false narrative of a problem that needs to be solved, the “conspiracy theories, racism and hate speech” being propagated by Alex Jones. The social media providers are then pressured by government and the mass media to do something about this problem. Behind the scenes the federal government is paying these same tech companies tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to provide various services, while asking them to act as a proxy censor of online content, because it is illegal for the U.S. government to do so directly. The tech companies act on behalf of the government, becoming a coconspirator and racketeer along with the mass media. The mass media stands to benefit by destroying their competition, which has been devastating their control of information and their profitability. In some cases the tech companies own these same mass media outlets.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with the opinions of Alex Jones or the information being provided on his many platforms, Infowars chief amongst them, he has the constitutional right to speak his mind and to operate a media platform that presents a different view of events. I do not agree with many of the opinions and views of Mr. Jones personally, but I would never support any efforts to silence him because his views run counter to mine. I can definitely say that nothing that I have ever read or viewed on Infowars can be described as racist or hateful. Many commentary found on mainstream media or social media can be clearly defined as racist or hateful, but as long as it fits in with the mainstream political and social narrative being pushed by mass media, academia, Hollywood and the Progressive Left, it is seen as acceptable speech. Take for example the recent revelations of racist tweets and comments made by the newest member of the editorial board at the New York Times, Sarah Jeong. The Times supports her and has no intention of firing her. She has been given a free pass, like so many others amongst the progressive left media and academia who have shown a long running pattern of anti-white racism, incitement to violence, and hateful commentary. Such is the double standard that we are faced with today.
The censorship and demonization of Alex Jones, love him or hate him, is just the beta test of wholesale government censorship by proxy. Infowars is the test case. If the American people allow this obvious violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to go unchallenged, Alex Jones will just be the first in a long line of voices silenced, because they put forward ideas and a narrative not embraced by the powers that be. After Jones, who will be next? The sky will be the limit. Acting as judge, jury and executioner, the “Mass Media – Social Media Giants – Military/Security Services” racket will silence anyone that threatens their narrative and their profits. They have a symbiotic relationship you see, and they feed off of the vast riches created for them by the military industrial complex that enslaves the rest of us. While the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos get rich depriving you of free speech and access to the truth, and the mass media pundits and former generals and CIA officers get rich peddling lies on the networks at the behest of a U.S. military industrial complex that has claimed the lives of millions globally, they would all have you think that Alex Jones is the monster. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so horrifying.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)