For a long time now, bubbling away on the mainstream media’s back-boiler, there’s been an on-going campaign to attack and undermine social media. It is multi-faceted, and unfocused, but constant. Seldom does a day go by, and never a week, that a story calling for limitation, regulation or outright banning of certain social media networks is called for.
In a perfect example of what I’m talking about, I just went to The Guardian to find a story they published criticising social media two days ago…and then found new story on the same topic published yesterday.
For months, years, we’ve been told how dangerous, immoral, out-of-control corrupt and just plain evil social media has become.
The anti-social media campaign first came into view in the UK, immediately after Jeremy Corbyn won his first Labour leadership election 2015. Just two months later Yvette Cooper MP, who lost to Corbyn (humiliatingly badly), launched her “Reclaim the Web” campaign to “stamp out” abuse of women on the internet.
This can be plainly seen as a direct response to Corbyn, who won the leadership in large part due to his followers swamping social media. Momentum, and others on the left, were vilified as misogynistic bullies, and social media were called on to “regulate” the alleged “bullying” of MPs.
The campaign tied in with The Guardian‘s “web we want” section, a long-running series of articles about how we need to shut down the internet to protect free speech. It fizzled completely (hopefully at least partly due to our response section, The Web THEY Want), but its slowburn successor is still going.
There are many recent examples.
Tellingly, they have different reasons. The Guardian, of course, blames “Russian trolls” [sic] for controlling the debate, whilst Vice says social media enables right-wing demagogues. But, whatever their (flawed) reasoning, they agree on the basics: social media = bad.
Social media is also blamed for the “rise of extremism”. ISIS, though very much out of vogue right now, were the threat du jour just a few years ago. They were ALWAYS being associated with social media, “ISIS use of social media” even has its own wikipedia page.
More recently “far right” extremists are consistently blamed on social media platforms. The social network Gab was attacked throughout the media after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, despite having no connection to the crime other than the alleged gunman has an account. The Christchurch attacks were live-streamed on Facebook, leading to much outrage directed at the platform. Social media was blamed, not for the gunman’s actions, but for the spread of his supposed ideas and broadcasting of his crimes.
They’re also pulling the “think of the children card”. Two days ago the UK police announced we should “boycott” social media to “protect children” from pornography.
Further, apparently, “social media is bad” because the internet companies are monopolies. Alexandroa Ocasio-Cortez, an SJW mouthpiece I increasingly have very little time for, has called social media a “public health risk”, and then echoed Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes in calling for big-tech companies to be broken up. This sentiment has been widely broadcast across the media. I don’t know when, exactly, the six media conglomerates that own 90% of the Western press developed a problem with monopolies, but it was fairly recently.
Of course, the media’s reaction to these problems, is to suggest a solution.
Cue “calls for regulation”.
Of which there have been many, including – these – four – different – ones – in the last few months. There are many others. It’s unending. Almost literally. There are dozens of examples. Some of them actually call social media a weapon that should be controlled “like guns”.
The media is unanimous: Social media needs to be “regulated”.
What does “regulating” social media mean?
Well we already know. It means kicking people like Alex Jones off Twitter, or cutting off Gab’s hosting service. It means that corporations receive hit-lists from the state, and censor people they label “dangerous”.
What does “dangerous” mean?
That’s the beauty of the system, “dangerous” can mean whatever they want it to mean. Jeremy Corbyn has been called “dangerous”.
It will start with “fringe” or “controversial” figures like Alex Jones, because people won’t defend him for fear of being called “conspiracy theorists”. It won’t end there. Chris Wiliamson, and other Labour leftists, will be in the crosshairs – they’ll be banned for antisemitism or “hate speech” or some other fluffy, ill-defined newspeak.
The methods are obvious, the deeper motivations as old as the hills, the real question is, “why now?” Why is Facebook suddenly a target of the Deep State? It certainly wasn’t always that way.
Social Media as a Tool of the Deep State
Whatever the reality, it cannot be denied that Facebook is, in many ways, a totalitarian dream. All that information, willingly surrendered, gathered in one place for the whole world to see. It’s remarkable people fell for it, really.
An analogy I often use: Imagine Facebook had been invented by a government. Imagine it was a state-backed project. Imagine a government employee called you, out of the blue, and asked you for the following information:
- Your name, age, address and contact information.
- Your employment status, job and education history.
- The names and addresses of your friends and family.
- Your relationship status, plus the names and addresses of your former partners.
- All the places you’ve been on vacation. Plus copies of photos you took whilst you were there.
- What movies you like, what book you’re reading, what you had for dinner last night.
- Oh, and where you are, and what you’re doing, right now.
When you ask him why they need this information, he tells you they’re planning on putting it on an internet database which the whole world can access.
Would you answer those questions? No. Most people would be appalled. But that’s what Facebook is, what it was always supposed to be. A vast public database of information that, at some point, might be useful.
Big picture: Monitoring general trends, social experiments, sowing disinformation and nurturing narratives.
In the specific: blackmail material, compromising photos, embarassing secrets, easy background checks.
As a tool of the state, Facebook is unsurpassed in its usefulness. All social media platforms are.
BUT they also became something else.
Facebook enables the state, and mega corporate partners, to monitor and influence people on an unprecedented scale, but they also allowed us to talk to each other. To cooperate. To circumvent traditional media. To see behind the curtain. To experience news without a filter.
The symptoms of this are clear, every day.
Social media may have been utilized by the Deep State, it may even have been created by the Deep State, but the unforeseen consequences of this creation is handing an incredible power to the people.
Look at Syria. The deep state plan for Syria was destroyed, and not just because of Russia and Iran, but because the narrative agenda was not allowed to go unchallenged.
Compare Syria to Iraq. The war in Iraq was sold to the public on a mass of lies, obvious and picked apart at the time by people in the know, but those voices had no platform. No way to organise. Yes, a million people marched in London, but the establishment narrative was the only one allowed to air. It was stated, over and over again, but never contradicted. It sunk in, even if people didn’t realise. That’s why they won, and we lost.
Syria was supposed to go the same way, but Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…they all allow people on the ground to report the truth directly to their peers, and then the public. Fifteen years ago if Vanessa Beeley or Eva Bartlett couldn’t get in the mainstream media, no one would ever have read their work. Now, they just livestream interviews. Post to their blogs. Share it on Twitter. Now they can make their own audience.
It works in the domestic sphere as well as foreign policy.
Jeremy Corbyn is soft, and misguided in some things. He’s not as tough as Tony Benn or as forthright as George Galloway. He’s hardly a dynamic threat to the status quo, he’s just a decent guy who tries his best. Fifteen years ago there’s no way he would ever have been a within a mile of Number 10, let alone – as he finds himself – a fingertip away. Corbyn is there because people have the power to communicate, to talk past absurd media narratives (*ahem* antisemitism), and tell each other the truth.
Bernie Sanders is nothing like as big a threat to the US power structure as Corbyn is here, in the UK, but he’s brashly and brazenly used the word “socialist”. For most of America’s history that would spell doom for a political career. But, if it weren’t for the DNC’s corruption, he would have been running for President. That was all on the back of the much-maligned “Bernie Bros” and their comrades on the internet.
But by far, by FAR, the biggest virtue of social media – all internet media – is the ability to step on lies instantly. To real-time fact-check propaganda.
The US post-war Empire is a power based on control of narrative. And narrative is a crop that has to be cultivated carefully. You need to be able to tell lies, regularly and without contradiction. Small lies, most of the time, but it’s always vital they go unchallenged at the time. Printing retractions later is fine, letters to the editor are fine, by then the damage is done.
Realtime social media takes that all away. You can’t control the story of Hillary Clinton’s health with well-placed op-eds, when a member of the public can just throw up a cellphone video proving you wrong. You can’t spin Nazis as sympethetic just because they have vaginas, when everyone in the comments is pointing out the fascist imagery in your photographs. You can’t just pretend protests in Paris or London aren’t happening, when every one of the protesters has a cellphone and a twitter account.
The old saying goes that a lie can go around the world whilst the truth is putting its boots on, and that broadly speaking is true. But only because the system was designed that way. Social networks, and the internet in general, tears holes in that system. The truth has its boots on and is back in the race.
And the powers that be hate that.
This is not new in the human experience, it is very very old. Whenever a new forum, a new social avenue, or a new technology opens up channels of communication between citizens, the power structure immediately begins to attack, undermine or outlaw it.
According to this podcast, in 1872 telegrams were criticised because they:
Allowed instant publication of words and criticisms, often without their propert context and not unfrequently without mallicious additions
All the way back in 1675, Charles II banned Coffeehouses, his reasoning sounds pretty familiar:
…in such houses, and by occasion of the meetings of such persons therein, diverse False, Malitious and Scandalous Reports are devised and spread abroad, to the Defamation of His Majesties Government, and to the Disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm
Power is always paranoid, and always at once looking to extend itself and fearful of its own destruction. Power is an ever-hungry monster. If one area of public life springs up which stands outside the control of the state, it will instinctively move against it.
That is an old lesson.
Editors Note: Many thanks to one of our followers for bringing these historical examples to our attention on twitter. A wonderful example of exactly what this article is about.
The sheer weight of articles attacking social media, from multiple angles on multiple topics, speaks to the fact it has become a thorn in the establishment side. As such, it falls to us in the alt news to defend it.
That’s not to say the Facebook is perfect, or even a good thing. I’m not arguing that corporate monopolies are great, or that you should let Mark Zuckerberg do whatever he wants with your private information. Clearly, Facebook and the other social media giants aren’t benign, they have already censored on demand and their huge corporate reach is truly frightening – But we’re not just talking about facebook. Or Twitter. Or Google.
“Regulating” social media does not mean “making Facebook nice”. Facebook will still harvest data, they will still monitor us and breach our privacy. “Regulating social media” means limiting freedom on the internet, and nothing more.
Not just users, but also publishers. Increased “regulation” will hit start-ups and newer platforms much harder than the established giants. Gab and Dtube and Bitchute and the like are much more likely to be shut down than facebook.
The freedom to communicate is far too important to let personal objections to a certain platform colour your attitude.
Likewise, it would be foolish to let partisan politics define your position on this issue. Just because the new breed of Democrat – AOC and her peers – are attacking social media, doesn’t mean we should join in. “Concern” about the “issues” of social media will come from both sides. The conservative right and the progressive left. As in all such things, both “opposing sides” will suggest the same solution to a made-up problem. Left and right meet in the middle and have the same core concerns.
All aspects of the establishment serve to protect the state at the cost of the individual – to increase their power at the expense of ours. If we cheer on the censorship and control of the social networks, we will be helping them do just that.
They will call it “regulating social media”, but they mean regulating us.