(CJ Opinion) — Facebook has purged more dissident political media pages today, this time under the pretense of protecting its users from “inauthentic activity”. In a statement co-authored by Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher (who also happens to be the former White House National Security Council Director of Cybersecurity Policy), the massive social media platform explained that it has removed “559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
This “inauthentic behavior”, according to Facebook, consists of using “sensational political content — regardless of its political slant — to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites,” which is the same as saying they write about controversial things, and posting those political articles “in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites.”
In other words, the pages were removed for publishing controversial political content and trying to get people to read it. Not for writing “fake news”, but for doing what they could to get legitimate indie media news stories viewed by people who might want to view it. The practice of sharing your material around in Facebook groups is common practice for most independent media content creators; I did it myself a lot in late 2016 and early 2017, and pretty much all my indie media peers at the time did too.
“For those of you who read what I write, you know that I did not violate any standards,” writes Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, whose personal profile and Facebook page for her political blog NoisyRoom.net were both deleted. “In fact, I don’t send out most of what I write. I send on big news links and a few memes. It was enough to get me banned and the pages are simply gone.”
“Facebook took down my page with nearly 70,000 followers, labeling it as ‘spam,’ when I have spent 4 years working to build that page up and using it to post the articles I wrote and videos of my reporting,” tweeted RT America’s Rachel Blevins. “This is so incredibly wrong and is affecting hundreds of similar pages.”
“And just like that 5 + years of hard work promoting ideas of peace and freedom have been erased,” wrote a Facebook user called John Liberty, who lost multiple pages about police accountability, cannabis legalization and libertarianism.
Two of the most high-profile pages which were shut down have probably been seen at some point by any political dissident who uses Facebook; the Free Thought Project, which had 3.1 million followers, and Anti-Media, which had 2.1 million. I’ve found useful information on both sites before, and despite disagreeing with them ideologically in some areas have found them both vastly more legitimate than anything you’ll find on Google News.
As if that wasn’t creepy enough, some of the accounts purged by Facebook appear to be getting censored on Twitter as well, bringing back memories of the August cross-platform coordinated silencing of Alex Jones. The aforementioned Anti-Media has now been suspended from Twitter just hours after tweeting about being removed from Facebook, and Patti Beers who had more than 30,000 Twitter followers has just been removed from both sites as well.
I have said it before and I will say it again: in a corporatist system, wherein there is no clear line between corporate power and government power, corporate censorship is government censorship. You can’t have a system wherein corporate lobbying and campaign finance amount to legalized bribery of elected officials, wherein massive Silicon Valley corporations form extensive ties with secretive government agencies in order to eclipse their competition, and then claim this is a matter of private corporations enforcing their own rules on their own private property. This is just what totalitarian government censorship looks like in a corporatist oligarchy.
Do you want a few Silicon Valley plutocrats determining what political speech constitutes “inauthentic activity” for you? Do you want a world in which the masses are herded into massive government-allied social media stables which are then regularly brought before the US Senate to pledge more iron-fisted censorship of problematic political speech? Do you want a world in which social media corporations are forced to make alliances with existing power structures in order to be allowed to grow? Do you want a world in which venues of political discourse are increasingly sterilized to favor the agendas of the ruling class? If not, the time to act is now.
Regardless of where you’re at on the political spectrum, if you oppose the status quo then opposing internet censorship of any political speech is now a matter of simple self defense. If this wasn’t obvious to you when they shut down Alex Jones, it should damn well be obvious to you now. If you want to change the existing system in any way which takes power away from those currently in power, your voice is next on the chopping block. They’re locking all the doors down as fast as they can to keep us trapped in this Orwellian oligarchy until they get us all killed by war or ecocide. If they shut down the public’s ability to share dissident information, they’ll have locked the final door. Don’t let them.
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