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The War on Social Media Facebook was the Deep State’s baby, why have they turned on it?

Kit Knightly

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.

In December last year The Guardian published an editorial calling social media “dangerous for out democracy”. Just a month later, Vice took up the same call.

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.

The hits just keep on coming. We’re told social media spreads conspiracy theories. And increases feelings of loneliness too. It’s also is bad for the disabled. And your mental health.

It’s “very addictive”.
And “dishonest”.
And “dangerous”.

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 – thesefourdifferentones – 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

Facebook has a LONG history of working with the Deep State. Some even argue the whole thing was a creation of the CIA.

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.

Unforeseen Conseuquences

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.

Conclusion

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.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

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Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

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Ueli
Reader
Ueli

Spot on man is all I can say!

Dimly Glimpsed
Reader
Dimly Glimpsed

Not calling for regulation cedes unrestricted (“private property”) power to the social media giants, which are proxies of intelligence agences. This power is certain to be abused both by profit motive imperatives and by surveillance and manipulation by intelligence agencies.
On the other hand, direct regulation or control by government or its proxies is likely to degenerate into censorship.
Perhaps a solution is to go the Baby Bell route and break up social media giants into smaller separate corporations once they reach a certain size in audience, revenue or other metrics.

Tom
Reader
Tom

Good piece. Clearly losing control of the narrative has major implications, as we have seen in the elections in the US and the UK. However, I wouldn’t rule out either the possibility that the sniping is merely a smokescreen and a deception. This fake sniping is the tactic that has long been used by governments and right-wing politicians ‘against’ the ‘left-wing’ BBC to hide its purpose as a government mouthpiece.

Willem
Reader
Willem

‘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.’ I agree. I used to think that exposing regular media propaganda was difficult, but it is opposite: it is easy. The reason why I thought it was difficult had more to do with me than with the difficulty of exposing a lie, that is I did not really care about the content of the news. Only when that changed, I became aware of the lies and how easily they could be exposed.… Read more »

Yarkob
Reader
Yarkob

it puts nonsense like the “10-year challenge” into a bit more perspective..I think the “joke” about that being used to fuel “AI-enhanced facial recog software” is probably only half joking

Yarkob
Reader
Yarkob

great article. thanks.

“social media” will soon also mean “websites that propose any views contrary to the Groupthink dynamic” ..watch out Off-G!!

““ISIS use of social media” even has its own wikipedia page.” – Created and edited by a Mr. Philip Cross, one suspects

crank
Reader
crank

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

There is a distinct irony in the fact that the people clamouring for social media to be better controlled (and censored) to prevent the spread of their perceived idea of ‘fake’ news are the very same people who have been deafeningly vocal in their condemnation of President Assad, based entirely on fake news circulated on social media by the ‘White Helmets’ Propaganda Corporation’.

BigB
Reader
BigB

In 2014 FB ran a covert psychological experiment and changed the mood of 700K users. It came out in a scientific paper: which was highlighted by the Graun among others. ABC made a documentary about it. The Mercers supposedly used Cambridge Analytica to get Trump elected, by micro-targeting voters. I say supposedly, not because I think that this is not true: I’m just not sure how influential it was – applied late in his campaign. The potential to manipulate elections is real, however, if applied from the start. No one said anything about Crooked Hillary being in bed with Eric… Read more »

George
Reader
George

Ever since the MM raised the issue of “fake news”. their own fake news manufacturing has skyrocketed. So much so that I can’t believe the shit they are spreading and – even more to the point – I can’t believe that even THEY can think they’re convincing anybody. But having said that I am sometimes astonished at how effective repeated messages can be. An old friend referred to Corbyn as “racist”. I had to answer that. But it shows how even the most absurd crud can percolate dow. The advantage that the MM has is that even now it stands… Read more »

Fair dinkum
Reader
Fair dinkum

Generally speaking, two personality types are attracted to the upper hierarchies of our society:
Ambitious, ruthless, control freaks and psychopaths.
When the sand shifts under them they go into overdrive or kill mode.

Dimly Glimpsed
Reader
Dimly Glimpsed

So . . . what’s the second personality type?

David Ho
Reader
David Ho

Fb seriously limits a person’s ability to diseminate information. Only cat videos can go viral. I attempted to post a YouTube video into the comments section of political ads here in Oz and after a few times I was warned I was violating community standards and was subsequently blocked from posting any further videos from that particular channel. My freedom of speach and ability to spread an idea was curtailed. https://youtu.be/OJrXI3rBbSA

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

Executive summary

Freedom of association: problems, problems, problems…

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

I think they have turned on “their baby” simply because they have noticed that their baby is no longer the genius they hoped it would be.
They have also noticed that WE have noticed, which makes it more convenient for them just to ditch the baby and look for another one.

Arby
Reader

Most (choose to) believe that if we – imperfect human beings – don’t fix the broken world, then it won’t get fixed. Most believe that we are our own savior. That then justifies doing things, not necessarily principled things (which actually kills ‘winning’), because, supposedly, EVERYTHING good is at sake. Count me outside of that crowd. I take Kit’s point and mostly agree with his article, but I can’t follow his advice because I have faith. I am not God. I ditched Facebook years ago because I found it strange and cold and had better things to do. Then I… Read more »

Arby
Reader

“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…”

You mean like Tor, which Wikileaks promotes for gosh sake?

Admin
Moderator
Admin

What is the relevance of this remark?

Arby
Reader

Tor was created by the US gov and is still funded by the US gov and progressives think that it protects them from big brother. How is that not appropriate?

Mister Bump
Reader
Mister Bump

The US govnt also invented the internet, LCD screens and Lithium batteries, how can you typing on your computer not be a US govnt official spying on us all for gosh sake?

TheThinker
Reader
TheThinker

I think what Arby was suggesting is that tor was also an Intel agency run software and not as secure as it was first touted to those wishing to stay anon on the dark web. And the irony of it being pushed by Wikileaks as a safe way of navigating anonymously for whistleblowers is not quite as safe as it thought? https://pando.com/2014/07/16/tor-spooks/ I spoke with an ex cyber counter intel bloke recently who is now an ethical hacker in corporate security. I have not fact checked his point he made to me, as his credentials seemed to speak for themselves.… Read more »

Arby
Reader

Indeed. It’s all covered in Yasha Levine’s “Surveillance Valley.” The book is awesome but not perfect. Yasha is ignorant about JFK, even though his only reference to that admin has to do with the economy (and he gets it wrong). The more serious error Yasha makes has to do with the reason why Julian Assange went into the Ecuadorian Embassy. Yasha said that Assange was avoiding having to answer questions about the rape allegations. What a big fail that statement represents! It really looks like people don’t read. And it really looks like even writers don’t read!

mark
Reader
mark

Very good article from Kit. Social Media supposedly needs to be controlled, censored, or simply suppressed, to control a now bewildering variety of evils. It’s worth briefly summarising these again to consider their validity. 1. To protect children from pornography (a favourite old chestnut to justify censorship historically.) As of a couple of month’s time, supposedly you will have to buy some kind of a permit to view porn. But do the powers that be really expect us to believe this will make any difference? Porn has been around for thousands of years, from cave paintings onwards. And how concerned… Read more »

Loverat
Reader
Loverat

Just a small point.
But the analogy with Charles 11 not a great one.

Charles 11 was a progressive in his time. And the prevention of a new civil war and religious conflict was key at the time.

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

None of us can sleep well in our beds until we have the kind of internet Susanne Moore and Jess Phillips approve of – after all, sometimes nearly 5 minutes goes by before they are again reminding everybody (from a prominent media platform) how fed-up they are with being ‘silenced’.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/07/twitter-misogynists-women-public-life-social-media-abuse

For them, challenging female authority figures is a bit of a no, no, although hi-fiving over human rights abuses is perfectly OK, so long as it only affects men they don’t approve of, such as Julian Assange – go figure.

JonathanRichard
Reader
JonathanRichard

I found this article pretty stupid. The author needs to read The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff for starters. Then, the author needs to remember the world before “social media”. Social media HAS morphed into the highly disingenuous, destructive blabber that has polluted every single narrative out there. Getting rid of con-men, liars, rip-off artists like Jones (and the author didn’t even touch on the REAL reasons Jones has been banned off of all social media) isn’t a bad thing. You don’t get to go into a crowded room and scream “FIRE” again and again. Jones not only… Read more »

OffG
Moderator
OffG

To sum up your point – “social media belongs to THEM not us, but we still need to applaud when THEY censor people on it, because they’re doing it for our own good.”

Thanks your concern-trolling is duly noted.

Rhisiart Gwilym
Reader
Rhisiart Gwilym

These channels of popular communication are Commons. And Commons should never be in private hands. History is replete with examples of the disastrous things that happen when they are. They need to be nationalised – or more exactly internationalised – public property, protected as strongly as possible by publics everywhere defending them, as with our widely-loved NHS, against the incorrigibly-crooked gangsters-in-charge – the gics – both state and commercial, who want to quarry them to a state of nearly-hamstrung tight limits, for nothing more than goddamned profit and control; certainly not for the unhampered intercommunication of we plebs. This has… Read more »