Fake News? Who’s to Say? GOOGLE AND FACEBOOK ARE FAKING THAT THEIR NEWS IS NOT FAKE!
Fake news? OK, so the large dedicated and indoctrinated news networks are complaining that there is an abundance of fake news published on a daily basis. In fact they are even going so far as to say that the “Fake News” revolution played a role in influencing the 2016 presidential election and the outcome of BREXIT. Not only have they called foul on independent and alt-media sites, they want to escalate it to an all out war. The surprising thing to note is who is complaining the loudest. There is a list of major broadcasters involved in attempting to discredit alt-media starting with CNN and ending with Fox News. There is only one problem. The alt-media in many cases isn’t promoting “Fake News” they are merely pointing out inaccuracy and hypocrisy when it is being presented by the media giants. Certainly there are alt producers out there that are creating and promoting bogus “click bait” content as the truth. Unfortunately there is an audience that is believing this content as gospel. However, that is a very small portion of the alt-media market. All of a sudden the media giants, in conjunction with the political wings, are screaming to the mega social media outlets such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter that the alt-media needs to be suppressed. The sad point is they are falling in lockstep to do so.
Most of this outcry now stems from the publication of an article on an up until this past week unknown blogging site, that Donald Trump had won the popular vote by approximately 700,000 in the final voting tally. Truth is that the final tally has yet to be tabulated and published by any official organization linked to the election. The numbers currently stand with Hillary Clinton leading the popular vote by…. you guessed it…. approximately 700,000. However, (I did this myself last week before it became a news story.) if you searched Google for “final election results”, the top link took you to this inaccurate post. Most people when researching information are fortunately smart enough to view more than one source to at least verify results. But, as was pointed out earlier, some take it as the truth. Big media, on the other hand, jumped all over this and loudly screamed foul. In response to the criticism from the large media networks, the social media platforms knuckled under and are now taking punitive measures against many of the alt-media producers. Google is, or has adjusted its adsense algorithm to suspend advertising on many of the alt-media websites. Facebook is taking action to suspend, remove, or block accounts pertaining to alt-media. Twitter has already suspended and removed several prominent alt-media posters from its network. Even Reddit groups are falling into the trap with subReddits such as r/politics now only accepting submissions if they only come in from one of the major networks or those approved by them.
The big question here is who is labeled judge, jury, and executioner in determining whether a site is proliferating inaccurate or fake information? The truth is that many of the major news event stories over the last year were actually first brought to the surface on alt-media news sources. The big media outlets ignored or delayed taking notice of these stories until they snowballed on the social media platforms to the point they absolutely had no choice but to acknowledge them. Big media complains that many if not all alt-media outlets are producing biased and misleading content. This is nothing short of blatant hypocrisy. What about CNN’s continuous favorable coverage of Hillary Clinton, while at the same time completely and unabashedly demonizing Donald Trump? If you think CNN in English was bad, be thankful you never watched CNN in Spanish. Then what about the obviously weighted and biased polls we were being fed? If the big media outlets were not pushing a biased and misleading agenda, who was? Does this mean that they too will be censored for social media? Considering that, at this point, social media appears to have become a lapdog to big media it is highly doubtful.
Big media and their “presstitutes” have much to fear. The “New York Times” outright admitted to promoting its journalists to infuse their news stories with personal opinions. This is the reason major print, video, and cable news networks ratings are in a state of near free fall. Viewership and readership has fallen across the board as more and more people turn to their social media feeds to keep up with the news and information they wish to receive. This in turn places a severe impact on big media’s bottom line. During the election coverage on Fox News, one of the announcers stated that their new studio cost a whopping sixty three million dollars to construct. You have to sell a lot of commercial advertising to pay for something like that. Just think how big media producers feel when they suddenly discover that they are being outdone by a small group of individuals with a green screen, DSLR camera, 100 dollar microphone, and a laptop are taking them to the cleaners? No wonder they are in near panic and are pulling out all the stops to have the alt-media squelched. Perhaps if they returned to a model of journalistic integrity and balanced news coverage they could recover some of their credibility. But, on the other hand it is easier to open the checkbook and use financial and political influence to simply eliminate the competition.
More than likely these attempts at silencing the alt-media will backfire as demonstrated by the Streisand effect. Whereby, in their continued attempts to obfuscate the alt-media competition, they simply draw more focus and in turn more viewers to the alt-media platforms. Many of the more popular platforms and personalities have been mentioned and are being scrutinized and persecuted by the big media outlets. The InfoWars (infomercial) platform operated by Alex Jones is one of “big media’s” most mentioned and heavily criticized alt-media outlets. Granted their content is often heavily laden with somewhere on the other side of Pluto conspiracy theory based items, but they do deliver many ahead of the curve and current breaking features, that do not appear on big media until several days later. No one can deny that Wikileaks and Project Veritas performed an invaluable service that revealed truths many wished were kept hidden during the final weeks of the election. The information released by these outlets quite literally ripped the blinders off many people’s eyes, as to just how slime laden election campaigns are operated. A few other notable personalities were doing their best to inform the public of what was going on. Among these were Stefan Molyneux, Mike Cernovich, and Paul Joseph Watson of PrisonPlanet who were producing informative Youtube videos on a nearly daily basis.
Big media wants these alt-media voices as well as many others silenced. But as we asked. Who is to determine what content is real and what is fake? How can you determine when an alt-media source is credible or not, when the big media sources are so often the ones disseminating misleading information? The real answer is you can not. Too many times a story has appeared on an alt-media source only to be publicly dismissed by big media and then turning out to be factual truth a short time later. It is obvious that the big media outlets are becoming as unscrupulous as modern day politicians in their efforts to control exactly what information they want released to the public, in an effort to preserve their dominance in the market and cash flow. The internet and social media are supposed to be places for the sharing of information. Who is to say what information is to be considered relevant?
Until next time… PanamaExpat signing off.
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A dispatch from the new censorship-defying social network in the wake of “the purge” of alt-right users on Facebook and Twitter this week.
The purge is happening. At least according to the universe of alt-right users on social media: Many of them claim that in recent days their Twitter accounts have been suspended and that their posts on Facebook are not being promoted or shared like they used to. It’s all part of a crackdown on “fake news” in the wake of reports that misleading reports shared on Facebook and Twitter helped influence the election. To many, these efforts are an overdue attempt to maintain online civility. But to others it’s blatant censorship.
“Hateful and harassment are subjective terms.”
For those alt-right individuals and other social media refugees who feel that their views are suppressed, there’s a new social network that promises a digital space for completely free and unfettered communications. Gab, a platform that looks and feels like a combination of Twitter and Reddit, is meant to “put people first and promote people first,” as it was described to me by its founder. And this week, it’s been attracting thousands of users, many of them alt-righters exiled from Facebook and Twitter, though its founder insists that it aims to expand beyond that community and build a more diverse audience. Even Richard Spencer, who leads the far-right National Policy Institute think tank and is widely credited with inventing the term “alt-right” had his Twitter account suspended on Tuesday and soon increased the frequency of his posts on Gab.
Gab is the brainchild of Andrew Torba, an adtech startup founder who now lives in Austin after a stint in Silicon Valley. He found the politically progressive atmosphere of the Bay Area to be stifling, making him uncomfortable about expressing his views, and he moved to Texas to help build his fledgling social network. He was once a member of Y Combinator (he was recently ousted), and has now taken on the mission of fixing what he sees as the censorship that plagues online spaces. The tipping point that pushed him to leave the tech bubble and start Gab came earlier this year, when he read that several Facebook employees had come forward to divulge that the network’s trending topics section was actively suppressing conservative news. “I knew I had to take action,” Torba says.
So he created Gab, which is similar to Twitter in that users can only write a limited number of characters (up to 300) in a single post and also mimics Reddit in that these posts can be up-voted or down-voted.
Thus far the social network is in closed beta. Torba says it has about 56,000 users along with a waitlist of over 120,000. When Gab first launched in August, it got a little bit of press. But with the election now over there seems to be renewed interest in the platform. Torba tells me that this past Tuesday was the biggest day the site has seen for signups, with more than 5,000 people showing interest in that 24-hour period alone.
This surge in interest very likely has to do with the ongoing debate over fake news and offensive speech on Twitter and Facebook. Earlier this week, Twitter shut down many accounts deemed to be offensive or hateful. And Facebook reportedly has a renegade internal task force working to suppress “fake news,” much of which was conservative content. On Gab, these steps are akin to censorship and are called “The Purge,” and highlights the hypocrisy of supposedly open platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
According to Torba, the real issue with this crackdown is that what constitutes unacceptable conduct is subjective and depends on the eye of the beholder. “Hateful and harassment are subjective terms,” he tells me. In his eyes it shouldn’t be a company’s job to decide what is offensive and what isn’t—especially if the ethos of the organization is to provide an open communicative platform. Gab gives users the ability to mute words they don’t like or accounts they don’t want to see, but the entire point is that it’s user-controlled. (Ironically, Gab’s moderation tools that allow users to mute specific words—sans the ability to block users—are similar to the steps Twitter just implemented to beef up its anti-harassment program.)
Gab’s logo is a green frog, which looks a hell of a lot like “Pepe,” a meme that became the symbol of the alt-right movement. Torba insists that the logo was inspired by a Biblical passage from Exodus. He sees Gab as “releasing the frogs on the leaders of Big Social and what they’ve been doing… releasing the frogs on Silicon Valley.” He adds that he once saw a YouTube video about an African frog who saved a bunch of tadpoles by digging a pathway to another channel, and this is what he believes he’s doing. Gab’s chief communications officer, Utsav Danduja, chimes that in ancient Mesopotamia frogs represented “fertility… creation, the birth of new life.”
Whether or not Gab is able to extend its appeal beyond the alt-right fringe—and become a true competitor to the giants of social media, as Torba told me he wants to do—is difficult to say. Gab, Torba insists, is “not for a specific group.” He goes on to say that he’s been “proactively reaching out to folks in the center,” and following the past week’s success he thinks the audience growth is going to continue to happen. I’ve been scanning the site for a few days and have found nearly every message to consist of support for Trump, condemnation of liberals, or something racist or xenophobic. Torba insists that there’s actually a lot of non-alt-right dialogue going on and that its appeal is global. And in fact, he says, there are many users from Canada, Poland, India, and other countries (he adds that Gab is “going viral” in India right now) but many of them were also sharing conservative views. The Canadian users seem to love Trump as much as the Americans, and many other international users really loved to share conservative memes. Although I did find a small and tight-knit contingent of Indians who discussed local politics.
Torba claims that posts about Trump and conservative views are so dominant on Gab because trending topics is a broken science. “People see what’s trending and they create that content and tag that content,” he says. “That’s why you’re seeing those same trends at the top.” It’s a dynamic problem of how trending works, and doesn’t reflect what the users are actually talking about, says Torba. But most posts I saw were very politically charged and seemed to reflect a very baseline and homogeneous reactionary ethos. Torba admits that the core user base “happens to be right now the folks on the right.” He goes on to say that he hopes people on the left join in and then they too will be heard and free to speak. One way to do that would be to get a major liberal influencer to join in and contribute content. “If we get one major person on the left,” he says, “Rachel Maddow, for example,” then her followers would likely join and perhaps balance out the current narrow stream of ideologies. “That’s our goal,” he says.
Call it free speech but some of Gab’s most prominent users are intent on harassment, in their own words. Take one of the most popular Gabbers, Ricky Vaughn. He had a very large following on Twitter with the alt-right community—he’s a proud white nationalist who has publicly called for racial separatism. On Gab, he’s been using a hashtag called #TwitterTerror, which aims to create a culture war on that platform. He calls for Gab users to create anonymous temporary Twitter accounts just to “harass the critics of Trump.” When people like Torba say that harassment is subjective, it’s difficult to couple that with posts that actively call for users to harass.
Though Torba insists that Gab is a place where people considered trolls on Facebook and Twitter can actively discuss their views without fear of suppression, there’s an insidious side to that type of “filter bubble.” It can also serve as a planning ground for these users to start online “warfare” with their online enemies.
As for plans to scale up Gab, Torba cited a number of monetization models including influencer networks, premium subscriptions, and a few other tricks. Torba adds that in the last 30 days the site has raised $25,000 thanks to user donations. But the major hurdle is gaining real user traction. Remember Ello? Its closed beta growth was much bigger than Gab’s when it originally launched in 2014 (Ello’s founder said it received 4,000 signups an hour during its peak). It also attracted a few core user groups. These users—namely finance Twitterers and artists—stayed on the platform for a bit until ultimately going back to their old social media ways.
While there certainly is a core user base on Gab, and some are people who genuinely feel disenfranchised by sites like Twitter for whatever reason, they inhabit a very specific world and share similar views, and it’s hard to imagine left-leaning influencers wanting to join the fray. Calling Rachel Maddow—are you interested in Gabbing?
Facebook/Google/Twitter Cartel’s Desperate Attacks On The Truth
“Facebook, Google, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat, Ebay are operated by a Cartel of infantile fraternity house yuppie elitist males who will engage in crimes and lies to protect their tax evasion, stock market rigging and political manipulation schemes. They need a complete FTC investigation..”
“…Whether you are left-wing or right-wing you must know the truth that Schmidt, Page, Musk and Zuckerberg get tens of billions of dollars from Obama and their entire motivation is greed and political power. They are NOTHING about social issues.
The list of “fake news” sites being spread by MSM. George Soros and Silicon Valley Billionaires Outed As Force Behind “Fake News”, “Immigration”, “Trump is anti-Gay/Anti-Muslim” Campaigns (archive.is)
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