West’s “Fake News” Begins to Backfire

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September 5, 2019 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – Western special interests have used the term “fake news” as a pretext for widening censorship, particularly across US-based social media networks like Facebook and Twitter as well as across Google’s various platforms.

In a move of political judo, many nations are citing the threat of “fake news” to in turn deal with media platforms, often funded and supported by the US and Europe, operating within their borders and often targeting sitting governments to either coerce or unseat them in pursuit of Western interests.

A recent example of this is in Thailand where the government has announced plans for measures to combat what is being called “fake news.”

A Bangkok Post article titled, “Digital Economy and Society Ministry outlines fake news crackdown,” would report:

The Digital Economy and Society Ministry (DE) is seeking to counter fake information shared online through the Line app because urgent issues could potentially incite mass public misunderstanding.

The article also makes mention of the Thai government’s plans to approach tech-giants like Facebook, Line and Google, urging each to establish offices in Thailand for the specific purpose of confronting “fake-news.”

Facebook and Google already have a well-oiled process of identifying and removing content both platforms deem “fake news” or “coordinated, disingenuous behaviour,” but this is a process that focuses solely on deleting narratives from their networks that challenge US interests. Both platforms, as well as Twitter, are more than happy to otherwise allow false narratives aimed at governments around the world to flourish with impunity.

The offices the Thai government seeks to establish are described as a shortcut for the Thai government to contact these foreign tech companies and spur them into action. However, similar arrangements have already been tried with mixed results and ultimately, with large foreign tech-giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter enjoying net influence over Thailand’s information space at the Thai government’s and the Thai people’s expense.


Genuine Cooperation and Non-Interference Requires Thai Leverage 

Google’s adherence to Chinese conditions for operating within Chinese territory resulted not from Google’s good will, but from China’s sufficient leverage over the tech-giant. China maintains its own tech corporations which dominate China’s information space. China’s Baidu is an equivalent to Google. Weibo is a Chinese equivalent to Twitter. And RenRen is a Chinese version of Facebook. All three dominate their respective target markets within China.

China doesn’t need Google. Google needs China. And because of this leverage, China is able to bend Google to conform to its conditions while operating within China. At any time China can remove what little of Google’s business remains there because of this fact.

For smaller nations like Thailand, tech-giants like Google face little to no competition. They are able to exert influence over Thailand’s information space with virtual impunity. The Thai government may “ask” for cooperation, but lacking any indigenous alternative, requests for cooperation lack the sufficient leverage necessary to receive it in full.

Thailand’s latest plans will likely backfire if not linked to serious efforts to establish Thai versions of Google, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms operated by foreign tech giants currently dominating Thailand’s information space.

Such efforts have been hinted at.  In 2017 there were talks between the Thai and Russian governments regarding Russian assistance to develop local Thai alternatives to US-based social media platforms.

So far, no tangible progress has been made. But should concrete plans be rolled out alongside requests that foreign tech giants concede control of Thai information space to the Thai government, the threat of local alternatives displacing foreign social media platforms just as they did in China or Russia could give Bangkok the leverage it needs to have its requests met.

The West’s Surreal Hypocrisy 

In the wake of Thailand’s announcement  to fight “fake news,” Western media platforms began decrying the proposed plans.

The Diplomat’s article, “‘Fake News’ and Thailand’s Information Wars,” would attempt to claim:  

Identifying what is considered “fake news” has become a political weapon for authoritarian consolidation after the 2014 military coup. The regime has relentlessly accused its critics of spreading false information while claiming that it is the only official source of true facts.

The author, Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, appears entirely unaware the term “fake news” was first coined in the West specifically for this purpose and the tech-giants Thailand proposes to lean on to enforce its own definition of “fake news” have already scoured their networks of tens of thousands of accounts in a politically-motivated censorship campaign propped up by claims of fighting “fake news.”

Janjira also complains that the Thai government’s proposal puts first and foremost US-backed political parties like Future Forward at risk. She never mentions Future Forward is a political proxy of foreign interests and glosses over its links to political parties guilty of mass murder, street violence and terrorism. She also attempts to imply US designs for primacy over Asia is a threat imagined by Thailand’s current government and its supporters despite a half century of US policy papers, US-led wars and standing armies placed in the region proving just how real this threat is.

If a campaign aimed at confronting “fake news” was ever really needed, it is for parties like Future Forward, the foreign special interests it works for and the networks of violence and terrorism it works with.

As Asia Rises, Western Influence in Physical and Information Space will Wane

Thailand is not alone. Other nations across Southeast Asia have already passed laws regarding what they define as “fake news,” much of which targets US-funded media platforms seeking to influence regional public perception, policy and economic decisions.

Reuters in its article, “Thailand asks tech firms to set up centers against ‘fake news’ in Southeast Asia,” would note:

Other Southeast Asian governments have also recently made efforts to exert more control over online content and taken a tough stance against misinformation. 

Singapore passed an anti-fake news bill in May, forcing online media platforms to correct or remove content the government considers to be false. 

Vietnam said its cybersecurity law, which was passed last year and banned posting anti-government information online, would guard against fake news. 

Whether or not Thailand’s current plans succeed, what is certain is that the balance of power in the region is shifting. Nations once powerless to compete against US economic, political, military and information supremacy are now moving individually and in unison to chip away at US hegemony in the region.

Thailand will eventually develop its own alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, Google and others which will not only be a benefit to Thai national security, but also to the Thai economy. Much of Thailand’s nearly 70 million strong population is online (including 46 million on Facebook alone) and keeping the money generated by their online activity inside Thailand’s borders can only be a positive thing.

It’s not a matter of if but of when US-based tech giants lose their grip on information space abroad. The only question that remains is how much damage they’ll be able to do in each respective country, including Thailand, before that grip loosens.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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‘Israeli’ Account Reporting on Al-Ahed’s Twitter Account

By Staff

A Zionist Twitter account based in the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories reported on al-Ahed News website’s account after, normally, doing our principal job in covering news and breaking news from all over the world.

Captioned with “REPORT THIS SITE FOR GENOCIDAL INCITMENT,” Rachel Yadin retweeted al-Ahed’s tweets covering stances made by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] top Chief Major General Hossein Salami.

The tweets didn’t comply with the mentioned caption. They only read Salami’s stances as the following:

“Our enemies are scattered, Muslims countries are being freed from political and military hegemony of enemies.”

Another tweet read:

“Zionists and their allies show no desire for war fearing its spill into their territories.”

It is worth noting that Facebook has been suspending al-Ahed News Arabic, English, French and Spanish pages for innumerable times.

An Award Winning Documentary Removed by Youtube

I have learned this morning that that the documentary film  Gilad And All That Jazz – by Golriz Kolahi  was removed from Youtube. It apparently ‘violates’ the company’s “guidelines.” Youtube writes that “content glorifying or inciting violence against another person or group of people is not allowed on YouTube.” None of the above can be found in the award winning documentary. “We also don’t allow any content that encourages hatred of another person or group of people based on their membership in a protected group.” Again none of that could be found in the film.

Kolahi’s film was broadcasted on TV around the world. It was screened in film festivals and won prices. The film indeed gave air to my views but it also featured the entire list of my detractors from Tony Greenstein to David Aaronovitch. It aimed at impartiality!

Youtube were kind enough to point out that “this removal has not resulted in a Community Guidelines strike or penalty on your account.” I guess that Youtube’s management knows very well that the film didn’t violate a single company’s guideline.

The film is still on the net and will remain on the net forever. Book burning and censorship is yet to suppress a single idea. It reveals instead what the oppressor is desperate to conceal.

Watch Gilad and All That Jazz:

My battle for truth and freedom involves some expensive legal and security services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me and others.

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New Zealand mosque attacks: Politicians and media have blood on their hands

By Siema Iqbal

ICH

March 15, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  We woke to news of at least 49 Muslims murdered in New Zealand by far-right fanatics.

We watched – or consciously avoided watching – in horror the live-streamed footage of Muslims being gunned down while praying. How depraved has society become when social media is used to lionise massacres?

I had to tell my children about the attack. I told them not to watch the videos or to be afraid of being who they are: Muslims.

Spreading hatred

Today, the media and politicians like American president Donald Trump and former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, have condemned the attacks. The same media and the same politicians have helped spread hatred against Muslims and Islam. They have blood on their hands.

This terrible mass murder was committed on the other side of the world supposedly in the name of “Europe”. There are lessons for us here in Britain, just as there are across the world.

This hatred is institutional. We knew Islamophobia was endemic in the Conservative party, but we turned a blind eye. Not anymore.

Siema Iqbal@siemaiqbal

This senator is Australian.

He has blood on his hands .

Call out the bigotry and hold people responsible.

Enough is enough.

Do not dare say that Islamophobia does not exist. The media and politicians must be held to account.

If we allow fanatics to turn up outside mosques with their banners of hate, and give airtime and social media platforms to the likes of Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, this is what happens.

If we continue to allow “think-tanks” to provide ammunition to parliamentarians and far-right leaders under the guise of “credible reports”, this is what happens.

Worldwide bigotry

This type of hatred is not confined to any country, but is widespread across the world.

Muslims are imprisoned in China; there are attacks on Muslims by Hindu nationalists in India; Rohingya Muslims are being ethnically cleansed in Myanmar. All of this is done in the name of tackling “extremism”, while ignoring the bigotry all around us.

Politicians might speak of their concern for the victims and families, but on a daily basis, many people are targeted by the far-right, as politicians have enabled a destructive discourse.

It’s time to admit that the UK’s Prevent strategy is not working. The “war on terror” has only fuelled hatred of Muslims in the general population, and distrust of the state among Muslim communities.

In 2013, the UK nearly suffered a similar attack against multiple mosques. Mosque security should be a major priority going forward.

Standing strong

Although Facebook was quick to remove a graphic video of the Christchurch attack, why was no action taken in response to previous posts threatening violence against Muslims?

How many more innocent people have to die before governments take a long, hard look at their role in creating this mess?

While many far-right extremists are celebrating the New Zealand attack, as a Muslim, I can promise you this: The more you attack us, the stronger and more united Muslims will become.

Today, the mosques will be packed – more than ever before – as prayers are offered for those killed. Muslims will never be afraid of bowing down to Allah, and nothing will stop us from doing so.

Siema Iqbal is a mother, a doctor and a British Muslim opinion writer based in Manchester. She is currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP practice. She enjoys writing and can often be found public speaking and raising money and awareness for charities both in the UK and abroad.

This article was originally published by MEE” –

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(Urgent): YouTube terminates Middle East Observer after almost 10 years online

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March 08, 2019

After almost 10 years online, over 250 videos, almost 13,000 subscribers, and about 8 million total video views, YouTube has terminated the Middle East Observer (MEO) channel on its platform.

Although perhaps MEO became best known for its video translations of regional political actors such as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, its work was certainly not limited to that. Middle East Observer sought to provide its viewers with reliable English translations on politics, religion, and culture from the Middle East more broadly, with a particular focus on media from key states such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The termination of MEO’s channel came after several months of seemingly routine ‘violation’ emails sent to us by YouTube, the taking down of various videos of ours (most of which were uploaded several years ago) and the imposition of ‘channel strikes’ accompanied by emails about how we could better uphold its rather vague and in many ways hegemonic ‘Community Guidelines’. We gradually realised that no matter what measures we took, it would not satisfy YouTube’s ‘Guidelines’, as the platform’s architecture and policies increasingly moved towards the censorship of alternative news and views.

This censorship process against MEO began several years earlier, when YouTube deactivated our ability to monetise the absolute majority of our videos, classifying them as “Non-advertiser friendly”. Needless to say, this demonetisation regime has increasingly been criticised by many observers and major ‘YouTubers’ in recent years. They argued that the “Non-advertiser friendly” label was deeply ideological, as it worked to effectively censor (no funds = less ability to produce content) alternative and non-mainstream narratives while continuing to portray YouTube as a democratic and transparent media platform.

To bypass reliance on YouTube advertising revenue, we tried various options over the years, the last of which being an up-until-now successful experience on Patreon (here’s our page), where after only a few months 17 of our global viewers/readers joined the highly flexible crowd sourcing platform to fund our work and keep it going. Truly without their support we would not have been able to continue producing translations consistently (by all means support us to help us expand our work too).

Nevertheless, we believe that the termination of our channel today is a great blow to the coverage on YouTube of voices, news, and perspectives found on Arab and Islamic media that are rarely covered – or even purposefully silenced – by Western mainstream media.

YouTube’s message today is clear: the production, uploading, and viewing of genuinely critical and alternative ideas and viewpoints is not welcome.

Thankfully we at MiddleEastObserver.net have been anticipating this scenario for many years, and especially in the last 6 months. For now, these are the best ways to continue to follow and support our work:

– Support us financially (even with $1/month) on Patreon
– You won’t miss out on any content if you subscribe to our Website Mailing List
– We will now be uploading our video content on our Daily Motion channel
– Like our Facebook page 
– Follow us on Twitter

Best wishes,
Middle East Observer

Beyond Kafka: How Youtube & Facebook Keep Purging Alternative Media

Beyond Kafka: How Youtube & Facebook Keep Purging Alternative Media

January 09, 2019

Hassan Nasrallah is persona non grata on Social Networks, where Anti-Zionism is the ultimate thoughtcrime 

With a comment from Norman Finkelstein

The guillotine’s blade fell again, one year later. On December 2017 already, my 5-years-old Youtube channel Sayed Hasan, mainly translating speeches from Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, was completely removed by Youtube, along with its 10 000 subscribers, +6 millions views and +400 subtitled videos of anti-Zionist & anti-Imperialist content. I then denunced this censorship in detail in my article Kafka 2.0: How Youtube’s Political Censorship is Exercised. And just around New Year’s Eve 2019, the +6000 Subscribed Facebook Page Resistance News Unfiltered, along with all its similar content, got deleted without explanation. The only thing left online is a cache view of the page dating back from this summer.
Cache view of the Facebook Page Resistance News Unfiltered, August 2018
I had created this Page at the beginning of 2018, since no other place can compete with Youtube and its near-monopoly on video content, in order to reach a broader audience. But it was deleted without explanation by Facebook short of its first anniversary. I can’t even know the precise date of termination. Youtube did at least bother to send emails notifying of the removal of a video or of a whole channel, but Facebook has only internal notifications for posts removals. Here is how it happened. 

I got two warnings from Facebook, dated December 24th and December 25th, 2018:

When I logged in on December 28th and saw these messages, I immediately appealed the decisions through the automated procedure, as shown above, though the specific posts alledgedly violating the Communnity Standards weren’t even accessible, since they had been removed. It means that I didn’t –and still don’t– even know which posts got me these “strikes”. At least, Youtube was specific about the videos alledgedly violating their rules –three speeches of Hassan Nasrallah–, though they didn’t say more than that. I don’t know if the whole Page was finally removed because of a third “strike” –Facebook does not even state how much “strikes” you can get before termination– or because of something else, like constant flagging and reports by cyber-IDF soldiers and Hasbara trolls. But I am positive it has to do with my anti-Zionist content. It is a blatant attempt to take down important speech and silence already marginalized voices, astated by Vera Eidelman from the ACLU

Of course, one should always protest and complain using the due procedures. After all, Facebook has been known to restore such Pages after the public outcry following their removal without proper reason (TeleSurVenezuelAnalysis, etc.). I did protest, and I am still expecting an answer from them, without much hope, since earlier appeals as old as September 17th are still awaiting a response almost 4 months later, as shown below (screenshot dated January 4th, 2019).

Appeals are not suspensive. Anyway, without any mention of a motive, corpus delicti and mere notification of removal of my page, not even in Facebook’s internal notifications on my personnal account, we are clearly beyond kafkaesque.

This witch-hunt against the voice of the Resistance Axis online, especially Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (I am the main translator of his speeches in English and French, voluntary and non-affiliated), is not new. Over and over again most often after Israeli-backed indictment campaigns, in 201220142016 and june 2018, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter closed down all accounts affiliated to the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance, including Al-Manar TV Channel, banned for good. In 2014 and 2016, Facebook was hunting down Nasrallah’s very picture and temporarily blocking the accounts that featured it, even though they were individuals having no link whatsoever with the organization: not only Hezbollah’s missiles and fighters, but the very voice and picture of its Secretary General are considered as an existential threat for Israel, whose paid trolls keep reporting his videos as terrorist hate-speech to ban mercilesslyThe right to information, neutrality or equity is a chimera in the Internet Giants’ turf, where only alternative views, especially videos hostile to Zionism, are subject to censorship and banishment.

On January 8, 2019, Norman Finkelstein commented on the issue:

It is a scandal that the speeches of Hassan Nasrallah are banned on Youtube. Whatever one thinks of his politics, it cannot be doubted that Nasrallah is among the shrewdest and most serious political observers in the world today. Israeli leaders carefully scrutinize Nasrallah’s every word. Why are the rest of us denied this right? One cannot help but wonder whether Nasrallah’s speeches are censored because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the degenerate, ignorant, blowhard Arab leader. It appears that Western social media aren’t yet ready for an Arab leader of dignified mind and person.

Thankfully, my first article got the attention of Ron Unz, who offered to safeguard my videos in his own website, and I published them back gradually in a new Dailymotion Channel from where they are automatically saved in The Unz Review’s internal storage system. Thus, even if they end up deleted by Dailymotion, they’ll still be accessible in one and same place without need to re-upload them again. I will keep posting my videos on Dailymotion –though it has its own, more subtle way of censorship: age-restricting videos, burying them in the search results… –, and I call on everyone to subscribe to my channel on the Unz Review (RSS feed) and on all those who can to donate to support this work. Whatever happens, the Electronic Intifada to which Hassan Nasrallah called will carry on.

Sayed Hasan

Donate as little as you can to support this work or become a Patron, and subscribe to get around censorship

Use the online form or send an email to Facebook to denounce the removal of the Page Resistance News Unfilteredinfo@facebook.comdisabled@facebook.comappeals@facebook.cominfo@support.facebook.com

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – SEPTEMBER 11, 2018: MSM CLAIMS ASSAD ORDERED CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS IN IDLIB

South Front

The Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces have continued intense airstrikes on militant targets in the provinces of Idlib and Latakia. According to local sources, a major part of the SAF strikes were delivered on militant positions near Khan Shaykhun, Kafr Zita, al-Latamih and the nearby areas. Syrian Army artillery guns and rocket launchers have also engaged militant targets along the contact line.

The situation remains tense. However, government forces have kicked off no ground offensive yet despite claims by some pro-government media outlets that it’s already ongoing.

The US-led coalition used phosphorous bombs to deliver a strike on the settlement of the ISIS-held village of Hajin in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on September 8, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties Vladimir Savchenko said on September 10. According to the statement, the strike were delivered by two F-15 warplanes of the US Air Force.

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson denied this adding that “none of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorous munitions of any kind”.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported citing unnamed US officials that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the militant-held part of Idlib province and the nearby areas.

The newspaper also claimed once again citing anonymous sources that US President Donald Trump had threatened to order a massive attack on facilities of the Damascus government if Syrian forces carry out “massacre in Idlib”.

It further added that the US military is now considering military options in Syria, but President Trump has made no final decision so far.
This report as well as multiple previous allegations by the mainstream media and Western diplomats are a part of the ongoing propaganda campaign designed to justify attempts of the US-led bloc to defend the last major terrorist stronghold in Syria. It’s interesting but most of commentators and media accidentally forget to point out that the main opposition force in Idlib is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an internationally recognized terrorist group and the former official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

At the same time, YouTube banned a number of Syrian state-run and pro-government channels, including ones belonging to the Syrian Presidency, the Syrian Defense Ministry and the state-run news agency SANA. The reason provided was that these accounts allegedly violate YouTube’s Terms of Service.

This move can be considered as another attempt to suppress non-mainstream reporting on the ongoing conflict. Some Syrian experts even claimed that these were another sign of preparations for a staged chemical attack in Idlib and then a US-led military strike on Syrian government forces.

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