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Kiriakou writes: "Censorship has become such a normal part of daily American life that most people either don't pay attention to it or don't care. But it's taken on a life of its own, and it's beginning to spin out of control. We must take back our constitutional right to freedom of speech and our civil liberties."

Alex Jones from speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. (photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Alex Jones from speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. (photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

ALSO SEE: YouTube, Apple, Facebook and Spotify Escalate
Enforcement Against Alex Jones

When Twitter Decides Who Speaks

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

08 August 18


ensorship has become such a normal part of daily American life that most people either don’t pay attention to it or don’t care. But it’s taken on a life of its own, and it’s beginning to spin out of control. We must take back our constitutional right to freedom of speech and our civil liberties.

Many Americans laughed this week when Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube suspended the accounts of Alex Jones and InfoWars. Jones is well-known for his bombastic, conspiracy-laden, often offensive views on just about everything from the Sandy Hook massacre (no children were killed; they were all “crisis actors”) to the United Nations (it’s a hostile foreign power that maintains a secret army and will launch a war to install a one-world government) to so-called “chemtrails” and space aliens. (In the interest of transparency, I have appeared three times on InfoWars’ The Real News with David Knight. David is a mainstream Libertarian and a great supporter of whistleblowers.)

But the decision to ban Jones was not funny at all. You don’t have to agree with a single thing the man says to believe that he has the same fundamental right to freedom of speech that you and I have. When news of the ban broke on August 6, I was surprised at how few of my friends objected to it. Indeed, many gloated over it. I felt exactly the opposite. I was infuriated. And the next day, on August 7, Twitter permanently banned my friend Peter Van Buren from the site.

Van Buren is a renowned State Department whistleblower and 24-year Foreign Service veteran who also led a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Iraq. He has written extensively about waste, fraud, and abuse at the State Department, and he published a well-received memoir in 2012 entitled, “We Meant Well: How I Helped to Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.” As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton tried mightily to fire Van Buren for that memoir, even though the State Department’s publications review staff approved its release. She tried to confiscate his pension. Only after a lawsuit on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Government Accountability Project was he allowed to retire and to keep his pension.

Twitter, however, doesn’t have to answer to anybody. It’s a private company and it can do what it wants. Last week, Van Buren got involved in an acrimonious exchange about government lying with mainstream journalist Jonathan Katz, a freelancer who writes primarily for The New York Times, Politico, and Slate. Katz apparently reported Van Buren to Twitter, which quickly banned him for life, saying he had “harassed, intimidated, or used fear to silence” Katz. No such thing ever took place. Because of the permanent nature of the ban, every one of Van Buren’s tweets from the past seven years has been deleted.

Twitter’s action turns out to not have been limited to Alex Jones and a buddy of mine. The company went on yesterday to suspend the accounts of Scott Horton, a prominent radio host, director of, and great friend of whistleblowers; and Dan McAdams, a highly-respected former congressional staff member and executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. I know both of these men well and I would stake my reputation on their decency, honesty, and integrity. Twitter suspended them because they came to Van Buren’s aid.

There’s an even worse result from Twitter’s actions. InfoWars this week had promoted a petition asking President Trump to pardon Julian Assange. In just 48 hours, the petition was signed by nearly 40,000 people. It was all but killed when removed from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

There’s a very serious issue at play here. Put aside your feelings about Alex Jones, about crisis actors, and about chemtrails. This is an issue of free speech. It’s an issue of corporate censorship. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other tech mega-companies are telling us that they get to decide what we see and don’t see. They get to decide what we say and don’t say.

I won’t live like that. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of retired intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers, and FBI agents, is writing a letter to Twitter’s leadership to protest these heavy-handed, anti-democratic actions. I’m proud to be a member of VIPS and I think that our collective voice will be heard. But VIPS can’t do it alone. Twitter and the others must be called to account. I, for one, don’t want to live like a North Korean, an Iranian, or even an Israeli or a Brit, where my government or a company tells me what to think or to say. I will boycott Twitter and speak out against it everywhere until it remedies these egregious attacks on civil liberties.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act - a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+24 # DudeistPriest 2018-08-08 11:36
Hold on there pal, Twitter was the only one who didn't give Infowars the boot. Apple started it and FB and YouTube quickly followed suit. Let's face it, the press has never really been free in the US, just like people. It's just a lie we all agree on. The Government tells us we're free, and we, non-critical fools that we are, just accept it. Personally, I see social media as a pariah, and don't use it, although I know a lot of other fools do. I just figure that I should be paid if people are going to sell information about me. We'd all be better off if someone shutdown social media.
+7 # chrisconno 2018-08-08 13:48
How far is speech free when these extreme right-wing spewers of hate threaten that the time for the armed Trump supporters to start killing journalists, congressmen and liberals so the tyrant liberals won't take over? There is a limit on free speech: "can't falsely yell fire in a crowded theater." How can yelling for the execution of those who oppose you to such a wide audience be lawful or moral?
+1 # kyzipster 2018-08-08 14:23
I think a private company should have the right to censor. When done well, it's about protecting rights, not taking them away. The issue of doxing for example, no one should be subjected to this sort of intimidation on social media. I watched the social media section of a pagan website out of Europe taken over by white supremacists. The founders of the group wanted nothing to do with them, the white supremacists were focusing on this group to appropriate their pagan religion as 'white religion.' Racists bringing in their toxic worldview. The only solution that I could see was to censor, deleting every racist comment, or shut down the social media section. I think they have every right to do so. Facebook and Twitter are very different of course, but they're at risk of this same sort of phenomenon.

Your article points out the other side of this, companies that dominate social media, censoring very valuable content, content that could very well shift the collective psyche a bit, impacting the political landscape.

I don't think Facebook and Twitter can function without the right to censor, yet there's no way to guarantee they will use this right in a good way. As your article points out, they've already abused this power.

The best we can do right now is to stay vigilant, exposing this censorship. I hope your article reaches a lot of people.
+11 # Jim Rocket 2018-08-08 14:34
Yes, Twitter did not ban Jones but it did ban all those others. The Chief Twit seems to be quite a d*ck. It is disturbing that those companies have so much influence but I believe repealing the Fairness Doctrine was a serious mistake. Fox News and right-wing radio that oozed out of that decision they have done huge damage to the US. We do need controls on broadcasting (however it's defined) and we can debate what that should look like but imagining that everyone is a rational thinker like Mr. Spok is a fantasy. We are somewhere between Spok and a bunch of bald monkeys. No Fox News = no President Trump.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-08 14:42
It is important to remember that Twitter is not a completely independent corporation. It was started by CIA investment money from the CIA's Silicon Valley investment group called In-Q-Tel. The CIA still has members on Twitter's board. It assists the CIA in operations in developing nations.

The same is true for Google and very many other internet tech companies. Amazon's data management systems are also very close to the CIA.

These companies are quasi-governmen t agencies. They operate in ways that further the interests of the CIA and other government agencies. They allow the CIA to use their platforms for covert ops or to plant trojans and bots in devices that use their services. Here's an interesting list of very recent CIA start up. They develop technologies that are used in every thing from phones on out --

"14 cutting edge firms funded by the CIA"

John writes,
"Twitter, however, doesn’t have to answer to anybody. It’s a private company and it can do what it wants."

The CIA uses companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google in just the same way it uses mercenaries like Blackwater (now Academi) -- they can do things that a government agency cannot. There is some "oversight" for government agencies. There is none for private corporations.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-10 06:49
Now Twitter has banned Ron Paul. There seems to be a coordinated purge of libertarian, right leaning web broadcasters. I wonder if this is an effort to suppress these organizers of the libertarian right wing in advance of the Nov. 2018 elections. Would this be Silicon Valley interfering in the election?

Now Michael Avenatti says he wants to run for president on the democratic party ticket. Oh, god. If there were anyone worse than Trump, it would be Avenatti -- the hitman for Rahm Emmanuel.
+15 # PaineRad 2018-08-08 14:46
The central problem IMO with clowns like Alex Jones is that there is no significant effort to fact check his bombastic BS. As a result his lies spread faster and further than dead leaves in a hurricane. Yes, he has the right to say anything he wishes. However, what of those on the listening end? What rights do we have? Until the FCC or Congress passes an updated version of the Fairness Doctrine, we seem to have none. Liars rule. We are confronted with the worst form of "buyer beware" other than our chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
+1 # tgemberl 2018-08-08 17:18
The First Amendment protects the right to express your opinions. It doesn't protect your right to be a highly paid entertainer. See my other comment below on this
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-09 15:55
tge -- OK. But most national news is also entertainment. For years American news media has been called "infotainment." Why would MDNBC run 455 stories on Stormy Daniels and 0 on Yemen in the last year. Stormy is very entertaining, just like porn.

I think drawing a line between 1st Amendment protected speech and non-protected entertainment would be very difficult. After all, porn is protected speech. You can't shut down a porn site (except for children). Why would Alex Jones or the NYTimes and Wapo for that matter have the same protections as a porn site.

I know we are dealing with private companies like Twitter and google. But porn flows across the web very easily. Why not Alex Jones?
+1 # tgemberl 2018-08-09 21:03
I have to go back to the same point I made in my other post. If someone has a truth to tell, they should tell it. The First Amendment guarantees their right to tell it. It doesn't guarantee their right to make money from it.

As for the porn analogy, I am not saying that private companies shouldn't be able to broadcast Jones' messages if they want to. But they're not obligated to do so.
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-11 05:29
tge -- "If someone has a truth to tell, they should tell it. The First Amendment guarantees their right to tell it."

Perfectly describes Kiriakou, Snowden, and many others. I agree totally. THis is what we need.
+5 # heraldmage 2018-08-09 16:30
you could always self verify content. The problem is Americans are to lazy to bother and are so use to propaganda they will believe anything. The only thing exceptional about Americans is their gullibility.
Why do you expect some one else to responsible for verifying the facts.
Social; media is open to everyone except the Chinese. It is shouldn't be a news site.
The Fairness Doctrine required media to give equal time to opposing views.
What we need is a return to a time when news organization required verification of facts and several sources for anonymous tips. They should also publish a the sources of data & stats in an article reference list.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-10 06:59
herald -- why do you say the Chinese -- "Social; media is open to everyone except the Chinese. " China has banned Google, Twitter and a few others because they are so openly CIA. But China has all of its own social media that are just as active as any in the US. Chinese people are as addicted to social media as Americans are. They build all the cell phones and laptops. And they use them obsessively. Why can't a nation like China have its own social media platforms and be recognized by Americans. After all, the Chinese is much bigger that Google's There are 1.5 billion people in its market. That dwarfs Youtube's market.
+3 # heraldmage 2018-08-12 00:49
You are absolutely correct. I should have been more specific. My intend was to remind Americans that Google, FB & Twitter aren't just in the USA but everywhere except China.
When I read Tass, Pravda, Sputnik, RT, PressTV, France24, & Der Spiegel I can post a comment on FB or twitter.
People from around the planet can comment on US news on FB & Twitter. They aren't bots. Do we really want FB to ban comments from people in other countries because they might present an alternative view? Conversely, should FB ban Americans from commenting on international sites? After all, if they can't meddle in our affairs then why should we be allowed to meddle in theirs.
+13 # btraven 2018-08-08 14:49
Social media has transitioned from a force that helped keep skepticism of power alive and healthy to an anti democratic force that suppresses rather than enables discourse.
Peter Van Buren is a remarkably brave and responsible American. we value him as a friend and are impressed that he had taken the time to bring the Yemin catatrophe to the attention of other jounalists. He should be admired not banished for his civic action.
-2 # rodion the troll 2018-08-08 15:00
Go to my fb group “Facebook pay me” and support adjust cause!
-2 # tgemberl 2018-08-08 15:00
I think what the writer needs to consider is that a truth-teller has to be ready to be a "failure" in worldly terms. The world does not owe anyone an audience. If you have a truth to tell, tell it. You may die in poverty. No one is obligated to broadcast your message. In history your failure may be your validation.

I usually feel like standing up for the underdog. I even defended Roy Moore after he had the sexual abuse accusations made against him. I did that, not because I like Moore, but because what he did was a common practice in the religious community he belonged to. That seemed to mitigate his guilt. He was probably telling the truth when he said he didn't abuse those women, at least by the standards of, say, Bill Cosby.

But you need to realize that American society is close to collapse. There is no good reason to stand up for someone like Alex Jones who doesn't mind libeling the parents of children who were murdered at Sandy Hook.

Now, I imagine people might be thinking, "but who is the mob going to go after next?" It doesn't matter because the only thing we need to protect is the ability to tell the truth.
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-08-08 15:46
There isn a serious question here: Is Alex Jones carelessly practising Free Speech, or is he deliberately practising extreme Incitement to Violence? The former is tolerable, the latter is not. I am a very strong supporter of Free Speech. Until the USA comes up with adequate definitions & policy here, I cannot see a better solution than muzzling Jones.
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-09 05:38
KC -- "Is Alex Jones carelessly practising Free Speech, or is he deliberately practising extreme Incitement to Violence? "

Good question. But I would say the major media like the NYT or Wapo also incite violence. Remember the 2002-03 run up to the invasion of Iraq. More than 1 million people were killed. Here is John Pilger on this question --

" I was looking this morning at a report by Media Lens in Britain describing how the British press has reported on Julian Assange. It describes the tsunami of vindictive personal abuse that has been heaped upon Julian from well-known journalists, many claiming liberal credentials. The Guardian, which used to consider itself the most enlightened newspaper in the country, has probably been the worst. The frontal attacks have been coming not from governments but from journalists. I described this recently as “Vichy journalism,” a term which now fits so much of the mainstream media. It collaborates in the same way that the Vichy government in France collaborated with the Nazis.

There used to be spaces within the so-called mainstream for unbiased discussion, for the airing of real grievances and injustices. These spaces have closed completely. . . the journalism I see now is part of a rapacious establishment and one of its prime targets is Julian Assange and WikiLeaks."

Assange may face the death penalty and it is mainstream media chanting for this prosecution.
0 # mblockhart 2018-08-08 16:13
The First Amendment applies only to what the government may not do. Would it not be censorship (compelling speech) for the government to compel the social media private companies to allow their platform to be used for purposes they don't support? And it isn't quite true that these actions abridge the free speech rights of Alex Jones and his crazy followers. They're free to speak where they can put out their garbage, just not in these venues. And how does Kiriakou know that Van Buren didn't harass, intimidate or use fear to silence Katz? Has he read all of what Ven Buren said? Van Buren or anyone else banned by social media are free to file a civil lawsuit if they think they were mistreated.
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-10 07:05
mblock -- "The First Amendment applies only to what the government may not do."

The problem here is that we are encountering now entities that are quasi-governmen t. Google, Twitter, Facebook all have very deep entanglements with government. It is hard to draw a clear line between government and google. This is the full meaning of trend of "privitization" of government activities that started in the 80s. The web itself was created by the government and the government still funds a lot of it.

Are private prisons that get all of their funding from government exempt form First Amendment and all other constitutional protections of people?

This is really new territory. There are no clear rules. Who actually "owns" Google. It is several million stock holders. Did they decide? Who owns the "web"? Who decides what signals can travel across the web?
-2 # Jaax88 2018-08-08 16:14
I think John Kiriakou is over blowing his protest. Those social media outlets are not the government, so the 1st Amendment does not apply. If I do not like what some reporter, opinionated or big mouth sort or Hannity says on TV or radio I can turn it off. Neither can I force anyone to talk or communicate. I would say that publications ever since the printing press have refused to print letters to the editor or opinions submitted. Now are we as a society going to castigate publications for being selective and refusing input from the public? Why should a private business be forced to print or publicize falsehoods and lies. Isn't the speaker responsible for being honest?
+3 # tomwalker8 2018-08-08 16:57
John - I always read your articles and believe your prosecutions/co nviction were travesties. Still, I think you're conflating the right to speak whatever you wish with an obligation for whatever it is to deserve a public forum on popular media. As far as I know, no such obligation exists. There are forums where vile, hateful screeds are welcome, so losing a twitter platform doesn't really silence anyone. Think about it.
0 # SenorN 2018-08-08 20:08
So what's YOUR solution, John? Frightening numbers of people believe this malevolent lunatic. Do you believe we have any obligation to protect our airwaves (& equivalent new media) for the public good?
+2 # elizabethblock 2018-08-08 20:21
Point of information: Petition asking Trump to pardon Assange? For what? Has he actually been accused of a crime?
Some people, I know, think he should be tried for treason. Excuse me, he's not an American citizen. He's Australian. He owes no allegiance to the United States, and so cannot commit treason against it.
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-09 05:44
I don't know much about Alex Jones and InfoWars. I did see some documentaries he made on the Patriot Act, the Bilderburg meetings, the World Economic Forum, 9-11 cover-up, and other big level conspiracy subjects. I thought they were pretty good. I also understand that Roger Stone and Lee Stranahan have segments on InfoWars. Both are right-wingers but they have valuable information.

All media is mixed -- some good and some bad reporting. I'm assuming that Jones is primarily a media organizer for right wing Trump supporters. That's probably the reason he got banned. The move by Twitter, Google, Facebook and the rest is purely political. They want an effective right wing organizing program shut down. Next they will go after the real source -- FOX News.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-09 06:14
Here's a good commentary by Luke Rudkowski on the Alex Jones banning. Luke worked for Jones for a while so he knows him well. Luke is a good reporter.
+4 # evolver 2018-08-09 10:28
What about people banned on RSN? Thoughts on that?
+1 # dbrize 2018-08-11 09:33
Quoting evolver:
What about people banned on RSN? Thoughts on that?

We have no statistics on “banning” by RSN though we may guess they have occurred. Censorship indeed is practiced here and have undoubtedly caused many defections. And we can see for ourselves the apparent diminution of funding which may well be a response to these practices.

In final analysis RSN is under no obligation to promote “fairness”, freedom of speech or anything other than what it chooses to publish or allow in response. You aren’t likely to see anything from Paul Gottfried, Daniel Larison or several other very qualified “conservatives” on these pages. Should they be required to provide them as “ fairness”?

As a consumer I am free to move on anytime I choose, ignore RSN altogether, promote a boycott and/or take my support and meager efforts to any of dozens of other sites in the marketplace. This is actually the advantage of the market of ideas. I am not required to put up with RSN and they are not required to put up with me.

Is it all a bit annoying? Yes. But so long as there exist no mandated barriers to entry, other competitors will develop from those annoyances.
+4 # heraldmage 2018-08-09 17:48
While the 1st Amendment only prevents government from restricting the freedom of speech, religion and news, the 9th Amendment covers the perceived rights of the people, which definitely includes speech.
I believe the following words of wisdom are appropriate to this conversation:
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
― Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood / The Busy-Body / Early Writings
“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.”
― United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.”
― Aung San Suu Kyi, Letters from Burma
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."
[Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950]”
― Harry Truman
0 # librarian1984 2018-08-10 02:22
No court will allow this. Jones will be even more popular and claim he's the victim. He has admitted in court he considers himself an entertainer.

Mark Zuckerberg decided to leave up Holocaust deniers because they were making an 'honest mistake' but Jones is too dangerous for me to hear?

Debunk him. Prove him wrong. But to cancel a first amendment protection because of a pissant like Jones? That is unbelievably dangerous. How long until FB or Google decides we shouldn't be allowed to talk about socialism? What if evangelicals buy FB and decide they will no longer let homosexuals post?

These are private companies that have more power than they should. They should NEVER be in the position of deciding who has protection under the first amendment.

Has anyone noticed how very many of our rights and freedoms have disappeared since 9/11? Elsewhere Kiriakou makes an interesting point, that since 9/11 WDC has superceded Silicon Valley for the number of millionaires. People we've entrusted with the care and maintenance of our government, Constitution and country are profiting -- at the same time they curtail our rights.

Don't let the repugnance of Jones cloud reason. We need to protect these rights. Don't let fear convince you that a scoundrel like Zuck can take them away. Do we really want Zuckerberg to be the arbiter of liberty?

The answer should be 'Hell NO'.

The response to hate speech is not censorship. It's MORE FREE SPEECH.
+1 # tgemberl 2018-08-10 13:41
This shows the danger of slippery slope arguments. You are saying that because there could theoretically be censorship of people with legitimate views, these private companies have to support a lunatic like Jones.

"The response to hate speech is not censorship. It's MORE FREE SPEECH." Jones can speak all he wants. We just don't have to pay him.
0 # evolver 2018-08-21 11:43
Besides. Librarian has spoken with excitement in the past for people RSN has banned that she didn't like being banned during the 2016 election. And she made it sound like she was on RSN to do it. I also notice since the election her message has changed, too and it often sounds trumpian which is fine except?
+5 # heraldmage 2018-08-11 23:39
The 1st Amendment begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." That means that neither Congress nor the President can order social media to censor or ban content.
It doesn't apply to corporations or organizations.
However I believe the little talked about 9th amendment may actually be the most powerful amendment for personal freedom.
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This is where our freedom of speech, peaceful protests, religion & right to privacy, free press etc. comes from. Perceived rights, that's what makes the USA exceptional.
It seems the time has come when we are going to have to fight to keep these rights.
WE need to stop giving up our rights for a false sense of security. WE need to stop convicting people of crimes before they are charged & found guilty. We need to demand the Patriot Act be rescinded and government not only ends, but deletes all data it has collected on US citizens without a warrant. We need to end corporate sharing of personal data without consent or warrant.
So how important are your personal freedoms to you? Are you ready to fight to keep them?
To corporations profit is all they care about, if we cause a sudden reduction in their profit they will get the message.
0 # nogardflow 2018-08-10 05:30
My free speech reaches the ear of the person next to me, that's all.
+3 # Benign Observer 2018-08-10 06:25
The Hill reports:

"Infowars becomes the fourth most popular Apple news app after crackdown from tech companies."

Do we EVER learn? I am sick of my life and my country being in the hands of morons.
-1 # MikeAF48 2018-08-10 14:52
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
+3 # Salus Populi 2018-08-11 14:31
A few points to consider: Before cable and the internet, there were only three broadcasting systems. All of them were privately owned. They were granted provisional licenses to occupy the public airwaves, which were severely limited, for free. This came about after long debate in Congress in the thirties and forties. One of the prices they paid for their monopoly, which amounted to licenses to print money, was to be regulated by the federal government, just as the phone company, the original natural monopoly, was regulated. Beginning in the late seventies, corporate pressure resulted in the loosening and then abolition of many regulations, rather than their mere non-enforcement . Steven Breyer, at the time a staffer of Ted Kennedy, led off by writing legislation deregulating the trucking industry. When Reagan came into office, one of his early orders of business was to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required the television stations to, at least theoretically, tell both sides of a controversy. [In practice, even then, leftist radicals were systematically excluded.] With the advent of cable, the private owners claimed that the airwaves were no longer limited, so they should have no responsibility to be fair. Of course, in due time -- a remarkably short time, in fact -- they had consolidated to the extent that entry into their market was prohibitively expensive, but they remained virtually unregulated in most cases. [1 of 2]
+3 # heraldmage 2018-08-12 00:23
I believe the license was for the use of public airwave which are part of the commons. They were allowed to operate within certain frequency range. The advent of cable changed usage because they weren't transmitting through the air. However todays satellites transmit their programming through the peoples airwaves within a specific frequency range.
Originally, broadcasting of news was the fee for the use of the peoples airwaves. It was a non profit public service completely separate from commercial programing.
WE need to return to the original model of not for profit verified fact based news where opinion & speculation are clearly labeled as; commentary, not based on fact.
We need new Fairness doctrine requiring equal time for all opposing views not just GOP or Dem.
+4 # Salus Populi 2018-08-11 14:44
[2nd of 2]
When the Defense Department's DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, created the Internet, using the concept of distributed information to theoretically provide communications even after a nuclear exchange, there was originally no intent to go public with it, but "sh*t happens," and it rapidly became a communications industry, especially after the invention of the World Wide Web.

As companies realized the potential to cheaply and vastly increase their consumer base, it became increasingly commercialized. Cell phones, soon connected to the web, magnified this tendency a thousand-fold.

In effect, the restrictions on entry into the field dictated by the extravagant cost enabled the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter -- all, as Rodion says, assisted by the CIA -- became the same sort of gatekeepers that the three national broadcasting systems had been in days gone by.
With this unregulated and undiluted power, it was only a matter of time [very little of it] before they became corrupted and tyrannical. They may still be private companies, but they have what is essentially a monopoly on widespread communication, and without the restrictions of the modern equivalent of a Fairness Doctrine, they will inevitably end up as arbiters of what can and can't be said, or even thought, in our non-fictional version of 1984.

"Natural monopolies" need to be constrained, in the interest of democracy itself.
-1 # dbrize 2018-08-12 10:24
Are you saying there exist no options for consumers other than these companies, the traditional definition of a monopoly?

If I'm unhappy with Google I can for example, use Opera browser. I can use DuckDuckGo search engine. Facebook by its policies has actually fostered more competition upon itself rather than less.

The actions of these companies are bad no doubt and consumers possess the best remedies.
0 # Salus Populi 2018-08-13 14:27
When one or two companies have overwhelming dominance of the market, the fact that there are a few marginal alternatives available is essentially irrelevant in most cases. The Nation magazine, for example, has been published since the 1850s, quite a bit longer than, say, Time or Newsweek, but guess which ones have the larger circulation by several orders of magnitude, and which are more influential in terms of editorially influencing both foreign and domestic policies.

Likewise, Duckduckgo, Privatelee, Startpage/Ixqui ck, and several other alternatives to Google exist, and don't keep cookies or sell your internet search habits and results to commercial or government institutions.

But realistically, how many people are aware that these, not Microsft's Bing, are true and superior alternatives, or even that they exist? Virtually no one that I know, which includes many activists [admittedly, older activists].

When Scroogle, the Google-watching alternative created by the redoubtable Daniel Brandt, who also came up with NameBase, which was actually used by many mainstream news sources, began to be annoying to Google, the latter simply sued Brandt for trademark trespassing, and forced him not only to close down Scroogle, but also cost him Namebase, which no longer exists except in the old diskette forma, as well.

When a virtual monopoly, or an oligopoly, exists in a certain field, that field is generally immune from prosecution or competition.
[Concluded below]
0 # Salus Populi 2018-08-13 14:32
The last time monopolies were dealt any kind of damaging blow was when Teddy Roosevelt took on the oil industry and broke it up. No longer a Rockefeller monopoly, it is just as restrictive to entry and as tightly controls the market as it was and did in the nineteenth century, only now there are several companies participating -- all of which share similar controlling interests by the same financial powerhouses. Likewise with Ma Bell.

It is a basic property of capitalism that it inevitably leads to consolidation and monopoly/oligop oly, and thence to control of not only the economy by corporate interests, but control of the polity as well.

As long as any competition is marginal and ineffective, it's good advertising and propaganda to allow it to exist unmolested. When it becomes effective, the response is generally either repression or direct attacks, which nowadays need not involve bloodshed to be effective.
0 # dbrize 2018-08-13 17:06
Zuckerberg, et al are hiding an assassins smile behind crocodile tears in this entire episode. There is nothing they want to cement their power, control and enrichment more than to have government step in and grant them monopoly status.

To acquiesce...hug e mistake.

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