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Ron Patton | June 5, 2019
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I am dismayed to inform people that today, war was officially declared on open source journalism and various bloggers and vloggers across the internet. The warning that this was in the making was first explored when Alex Jones of Infowars was banned from various technical platforms online. There were others that had controversial views that were also banned or blocked.

After these first steps were made in controlling controversial speech, Julian Assange was arrested and charged with violating the Espionage Act.

While many civil libertarians are alarmed at what his prosecution could signal for journalists, national security hawks have been saying Julian Assange got what he deserved. Despite Assange’s role in upending the 2016 election by publishing Democratic National Committee emails as well as longstanding conspiracy theory that he himself is a Kremlin asset, the grounds for his indictment by the U.S. government center on having “conspired” with whistleblower Chelsea Manning for hacking into a Pentagon computer in 2010, before publishing the findings via WikiLeaks.

It is the conspiracy argument, a vague rationale with a potentially extensive scope that poses danger for journalists, especially as more information continues to be published online.

For years there has been an ongoing war against populist propaganda provided by the government and corporate media in the United States.

Today, we are now seeing who is winning the war.

State-sponsored propaganda and disinformation have been in existence for as long as there have been states. The major difference in the 21st century is the ease, efficiency, and low cost of such efforts. Because audiences worldwide rely on the Internet and social media as primary sources of news and information, they have emerged as an ideal vector of information attack.

It looks like what is happening is the result of cognitive security measures to curtail abstract thought. Interaction within the information environment is rapidly evolving, and old models are becoming irrelevant faster than we can develop new ones. The result is uncertainty that leaves us exposed to all sorts of manipulation and the homogenizing effect on independent journalism.

YouTube will delete thousands of accounts after banning “supremacists”, conspiracy theorists and other harmful accounts, it has claimed.

The decision was made after an in-depth review of its rules on hateful content, YouTube said. While it has always banned hate content in general, the site has allowed some specific kinds of harmful videos, such as those promoting Nazi ideology or claiming 9/11was an inside job– to continue being hosted on the site.

Those videos, as well as other kinds of “supremacist” content, will now be officially banned.

“Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status,” it wrote in a blog post.

That is expected to lead to the removal of thousands of accounts as it goes into place, though that could take some time. “We will begin enforcing this updated policy today; however, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up and we’ll be gradually expanding coverage over the next several months,” its announcement read.

It did not give any specific examples of accounts that would be removed.

It noted that some of those accounts are useful to researchers, and said it would try and work on ways of making sure they stay available. It also said the change would not affect videos that are discussing “pending legislation, aim to condemn or expose hate or provide analysis of current events.”

It will also alter its algorithm in an attempt to stop certain kinds of misleading and harmful videos, such as those promoting fake miracle cures or Flat Earth theories, will stop being recommended in YouTube’s “up next” sidebar. It will also encourage more authoritative videos to try and discourage people from being tricked by those stories.

It has already trialed the system to do this in the US and said it has found success. It will bring it to more countries by the end of the year, it said, as well as tuning the algorithm so that it is more efficient and can spot more content, it said.

It also said it would work harder to stop YouTube users promoting harmful content from receiving ad money. Channels that “repeatedly brush up against” its hate speech policies will be suspended from the company’s partner program.

YouTube has been repeatedly criticized for its relatively lax approach towards various kinds of harmful content, including those on the far-right. That criticism became even more prominent in the wake of the Christchurch shooting when it and other video sites failed to quickly remove videos of the mass murder.

As such, the site has been repeatedly accused of not only permitting but also encouraging extremism, by playing host to often violent and niche accounts.

But right-wing channels also make up a significant part of YouTube’s channels and their viewers. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that far-right videos were one of the site’s most popular categories.

The decision also comes amid increasing scrutiny from conservative politicians about whether YouTube has a bias against right-wing creators. As with Twitter and Facebook, the company has been criticized for undermining free speech and being unfair towards its conservative users, despite the fact there is no evidence of those accounts being discriminated against.

In other words, YouTube now in the business of intense content moderation and in essence, believes that they have a handle on the truth.

Meanwhile, in Australia, there have been two police raids in two days on Australia’s national broadcaster ABC and a prominent journalist have raised concerns about press freedom in their country.

Police searched the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Sydney on Wednesday, saying in a statement they were acting on a “referral” from the country’s defense forces over “allegations of publishing classified material.”

ABC linked the police investigation to a series of stories it published in 2017 called “The Afghan Files,” which revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan. The network slammed the raids and vowed to stand by its journalists.

Again freedom of the press all over the world is becoming a casualty—and we do not hear anything from corporate journalists because they want their power back to filter information.

Bold Journalists who expose corruption are being abused and replaced by government intelligence operators and dead bots that dole out artificial intelligence and algorithms.

Many times I have used my show as a means to present topics that I am literally trying to assess in order to find a thread of sanity in the midst of the insanity. It has been a catharsis in many ways, listening to others trying to cleanse myself from all of the inhumanity.

It is with the listeners being the media and speaking to me on the air I find salvation. It is the listener that reminds me that there are a plethora of individuals in the world that are aware, sharp and awake. I value that in my listeners. I look around and I see many people falling for what we call here ‘conspiracy bait’ that is being generated in order to make those who question the official story look like they are mentally challenged.

That is why I often caution my listeners to be careful about what you believe about an event because what the media may tell you it is one thing and quite literally it is nothing of the sort.

Let us think about world events and how we all have an opinion on what is going on based on the narrative provided by the media. There have been several events in history that have been traumatizing to the nation as a whole. So traumatizing in fact that people are confused about what really went on and rather than overload with details are satisfied to the watered down explanations provided by the media that is under the direction of corporate interest and quite frankly produces news that is sanitized by the Pentagon and in some cases the executive branch of government.

Very few average people have the discipline to check their views and beliefs with the criteria of consistency. The average person when listening to proposed authority, needs to also internally decide if any claim that has been made provides verifiable documentation to your satisfaction. Do all of the pieces of information provided fit the dialogue and timeline provided?

If they do not then do you reject the claim or do you investigate further? The average person will not even go that far. While the experiences of the world differ do you still decide that what you have seen in the narrative is reality?

Who in the world has the ambition to weigh everything based on what is really transpiring and not what the narrative provides or what the inner core belief you possess tends to cloud?

Problems in any of the traits I have described go ignored by the average person. They are also forgotten and are replaced by emotional belief and not on anything dealing with fact with respect to time or environment.

If there is an extreme break with the reality and the world view, there is always the consensus opinion that the mental health of the person is under suspicion. However, there has never been a consensus opinion that the breakdown of reality is happening and that people now are not exactly privy to harsh realities that are creating that blind spot in time and that selective reality that seems to be a refuge for the person in denial.

Take into account the behavior of the United States right now. How have we become so divided in such a small amount of time?

There has to be a reason why this has happened so quickly.

Western democracies are succumbing to populist movements promising little more than nostalgia. Jobs are supposed to “come back” from abroad that were actually lost to technology, or won’t exist within a few years. The paradox of populism is that it makes narrow appeals to aggrieved segments of the population, appeals that make little sense on a national scale. It glorifies the interests of a minority over the majority.

The political class, rather than combating these tendencies, has succumbed fully to them.

Populism is a political philosophy which focuses on standing up for the rights and positions of the common people as opposed to the elite and the government. Several political movements around the world have promoted populist ideals.

When used to describe political rhetoric, an individual or a political party, the term often carries pejorative connotations, and “populism” has become a loaded word to many people.

The key ideal behind populism is that the common man should have a chance in society and an active role in government.

Populist movements generally divide society into “the people” and “the elite,” with individuals who have limited power being considered the people and individuals who have clout being among the elite. The elite typically are wealthy and often use their wealth to influence the political system while accruing more wealth. Populists typically feel that the government protects the interests of the elite, not the needs of the common people, and they want that to change.

Sometimes it feels like there are as many interpretations of populism as there are populists. That’s because populism is relatively flexible when it comes to political traditions and economic systems; it’s neither strictly right nor left, socialist nor conservative. Instead, it often combines elements of capitalism and socialism — with a touch of autocracy and democracy.

It can be said that there seems to be an objective with the people and the elites to somehow mix populism with Socialism and their biggest tool in bringing this about is both the left-leaning media outlets and in an even bigger way the internet.

However, it has to be said that however these buzzwords are seasoned in the media or online, the world has to deal with the fact that no one can promise everything to everyone.

There is no panacea for the liberation of our problems and the concerns of most Americans at the moment are quite peculiar because of how the internet has shaped and molded the populace into believing in what George Orwell called Newspeak.

In George Orwell’s dystopia “1984,” Newspeak was the corrupted/purged language everyone was supposed to speak according to the totalitarian dictatorship which ran everything. Words with subversive potential and those which had unclear meanings were eliminated, along with references to the past. The attempt was to bring language and therefore, thought into line with the wishes of the rulers.

It is also used to refer to any instance of politically-invented language put out through apparatuses of propaganda and social control or by spin doctors.

The internal dynamic that is being presented in the media today is that anyone who questions their Newspeak, any outspoken independent reporter or activist is a target that should be maligned and viewed as a tinfoil hat wearing crank.

What is most disconcerting is that a new PEW research poll suggests that Americans are far more concerned about “fake news” than other critical issues, including terrorism, immigration, Climate Change, and racism.

The survey finds that Americans feel more worried today about fake news because it’s undermining their trust in key institutions, like government and the media.

The only issues that rank higher than made-up news and information as “very big problems in the country today” are drug addiction, the affordability of health care, the U.S. political system, and the income gap. An overwhelming majority of Americans (68%) believe made-up news and information has a big impact on their trust in government, according to the survey.

More than half (54%) of Americans say it impacts their confidence in other Americans. More than half (51%) say it impacts the ability of political leaders to get work done.

Between the lines: While most Americans blame political leaders and activist groups for creating misinformation over journalists, most say “the news media” is the most responsible for fixing the problem.

Republicans blame journalists more for the issue than Democrats, according to the survey. Misinformation has always existed in various forms, but the internet era has made the problem harder to stop in real-time.

According to the poll, more than half of Americans sometimes come across what they claim is fake news online, and many reports changing their internet habits to lessen their overall intake of fake news as a result.

I suppose that the overall opinion is that “fake news” only comes from the internet and that the “nightly news” from biased sources is far more credible.

“Fake news” and “misinformation” are abstract terms and are usually in the eye of the beholder. It is another Orwellian term that is basically used as a pejorative to identify information people do not agree with.

It is another one of those weaponized words that we have discussed that is being used to the point of banality.

Quite frankly, it is a word that I am suspicious of.

The use of “fake news” to denounce or silence information has dramatically exposed more Americans to the debate around the problems it causes for society.

The majority of those surveyed said they think the problem will get worse over time.

I find it ironic that while Americans are concerned about fake news, they have fewer concerns about what is happening to journalists and what is happening to the right to a free press.

Many journalists depend on a free and unfettered internet to deliver news in their own communities and around the world. But, increasingly, they find themselves victimized by the same freedom.

In some instances, the news they produce is drowned out by a flood of misinformation, disinformation, lies, and clickbait. In others, they are harassed and threatened by armies of vicious trolls, sometimes organized by governments, intended to hound them into silence.

Many news aggregators on social platforms are being banned and silence with the excuse that they do not meet “company values” or “community standards.”

Corporate content moderation and government regulation is now being used as a way to justify taking away individual and democratic rights to free speech.

We are told that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

However, most Americans who are concerned about fake news, have no interest in defending the freedom of speech or worse the freedom of journalists and their right to participate in a free press.

Relying on human rights law rather than a vague and subjective term like community standards would allow tech companies to push back more effectively against repressive governments that want them to censor critical journalism. If companies become more transparent about their rules and are open to oversight by some sort of independent body composed of experts drawn from different fields, then the public can participate in the debate about content removal and journalists can report on it.

Companies have resisted this approach for business reasons and in essence, have silenced people who report information that the mainstream media refuses to touch.

Journalists should certainly be covering the debate, and media companies and press freedom organizations need to be more actively engaged. The future of journalism and the future of the internet as a shared global resource depends on getting this right.

Written by Ron Patton

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