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Silicon Valley Algorithm Manipulation Is The Only Thing Keeping Mainstream Media Alive

This article was originally published by Caitlin Johnstone at Caitlin Johnstone.com.

The emergence of the internet was met with hope and enthusiasm by people who understood that the plutocrat-controlled mainstream media were manipulating public opinion to manufacture consent for the status quo. The democratization of information-sharing was going to give rise to a public consciousness that is emancipated from the domination of plutocratic narrative control, thereby opening up the possibility of revolutionary change to our society’s corrupt systems.

But it never happened. Internet use has become commonplace around the world and humanity is able to network and share information like never before, yet we remain firmly under the thumb of the same power structures we’ve been ruled by for generations, both politically and psychologically. Even the dominant media institutions are somehow still the same.

So what went wrong? Nobody’s buying newspapers anymore, and the audiences for television and radio are dwindling. How is it possible that those same imperialist oligarchic institutions are still controlling the way most people think about their world?

The answer is algorithm manipulation.

Last month a very informative interview saw the CEO of YouTube, which is owned by Google, candidly discussing the way the platform uses algorithms to elevate mainstream news outlets and suppress independent content.

At the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Technology Governance Summit, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson that while the platform still allows arts and entertainment videos an equal shot at going viral and getting lots of views and subscribers, on important areas like news media it artificially elevates “authoritative sources”.

“What we’ve done is really fine-tune our algorithms to be able to make sure that we are still giving the new creators the ability to be found when it comes to music or humor or something funny,” Wojcicki said. “But when we’re dealing with sensitive areas, we really need to take a different approach.”

Wojcicki said in addition to banning content deemed harmful, YouTube has also created a category labeled “borderline content” which it algorithmically de-boosts so that it won’t show up as a recommended video to viewers who are interested in that topic:

“When we deal with information, we want to make sure that the sources that we’re recommending are authoritative news, medical science, et cetera. And we also have created a category of more borderline content where sometimes we’ll see people looking at content that’s lower quality and borderline. And so we want to be careful about not over-recommending that. So that’s a content that stays on the platform but is not something that we’re going to recommend. And so our algorithms have definitely evolved in terms of handling all these different content types.”

Progressive commentator Kyle Kulinski has a good video out reacting to Wojcicki’s comments, saying he believes his (entirely harmless) channel has been grouped in the “borderline” category because his views and new subscribers suddenly took a dramatic and inexplicable plunge. Kulinski reports that overnight he went from getting tens of thousands of new subscriptions per month to maybe a thousand.

“People went to YouTube to escape the mainstream nonsense that they see on cable news and on TV, and now YouTube just wants to become cable news and TV,” Kulinski says. “People are coming here to escape that and you’re gonna force-feed them the stuff they’re escaping like CNN and MSNBC and Fox News.”

It is not terribly surprising to hear Susan Wojcicki admit to elevating the media of the oligarchic empire to the CEO of a neoconservative publication at the World Economic Forum. She comes from the same elite empire management background as all the empire managers who’ve been placed in charge of mainstream media outlets by their plutocratic owners, having gone to Harvard after being literally raised on the campus of Stanford University as a child. Her sister Anne is the founder of the genetic testing company 23andMe and was married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Google itself also uses algorithms to artificially boost empire media in its searches. In 2017 World Socialist Website (WSWS) began documenting the fact that it, along with other leftist and antiwar outlets, had suddenly experienced a dramatic drop in traffic from Google searches. In 2019 the Wall Street Journal confirmed WSWS claims, reporting that “Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results.” In 2020 the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet admitted to censoring WSWS at a Senate hearing in response to one senator’s suggestion that Google only censors right-wing content.

Google, for the record, has been financially intertwined with US intelligence agencies since its very inception when it received research grants from the CIA and NSA. It pours massive amounts of money into federal lobbying and DC think tanks, has a cozy relationship with the NSA and has been a military-intelligence contractor from the beginning.

Then you’ve got Facebook, where a third of Americans regularly get their news. Facebook is a bit less evasive about its status quo-enforcing censorship practices, openly enlisting the government-and-plutocrat-funded imperialist narrative management firm The Atlantic Council to help it determine what content to censor and what to boost. Facebook has stated that if its “fact-checkers” like The Atlantic Council deem a page or domain guilty of spreading false information, it will “dramatically reduce the distribution of all of their Page-level or domain-level content on Facebook.”

All the algorithm stacking by the dominant news distribution giants Google and Facebook also ensures that mainstream platforms and reporters will have far more followers than indie media on platforms like Twitter since an article that has been artificially amplified will receive far more views and therefore far more clicks on their social media information. Mass media employees tend to clique up and amplify each other on Twitter, further exacerbating the divide. Meanwhile left and antiwar voices, including myself, have been complaining for years that Twitter artificially throttles their follower count.

If not for these deliberate acts of sabotage and manipulation by Silicon Valley megacorporations, the mainstream media which have deceived us into war after war and which manufacture consent for an oppressive status quo would have been replaced by independent media years ago. These tech giants are the life support system of corporate media propaganda.

The post Silicon Valley Algorithm Manipulation Is The Only Thing Keeping Mainstream Media Alive first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

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I Don’t Always Believe CIA Narratives. But When I Do, I Believe Them About China

This article was originally published by Caitlin Johnstone at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. 

My social media notifications have been lighting up the last few days with virulent Chinagaters sharing a video that purports to show Uighur Muslims being loaded onto a train to be taken to concentration camps.

It’s actually an old video that had already surfaced last year, but it is magically making the rounds again as a new and shocking revelation in 2020 now that western China hysteria has been officially kicked into high gear, at exactly the same time the US enacts one of the most dangerous and incendiary escalations of recent years in the South China Sea.

Everyone tagging me in this video presents it as a self-evident “gotcha” moment, in exactly the same way Russiagaters spent years tagging me in every HUGE BOMBSHELL WALLS ARE CLOSING IN item of thinly sourced narrative fluff in their debunked conspiracy theory that the Kremlin had infiltrated the highest levels of the US government.

They are one hundred percent certain that the video shows Uighurs being loaded onto a train to go to a concentration camp, solely because that is what the bit of text over the video tells them they are seeing. They aren’t looking at the actual data and thinking critically about it, they’re looking at the narrative and believing it on blind faith. Which, in a post-Iraq invasion world, is an absolutely insane thing to do when presented with information about a nation that is targeted by the US-centralized empire.

In reality there’s nothing in the video which tells us that these are Uighur people being sent to a “re-education camp” and not merely a conventional prison transfer of convicted criminals, the likes of which take place in the far more populous US prison system all the time. It’s an unknown. We are told by the BBC’s Andrew Marr (the same Andrew Marr whose phony journalism Noam Chomsky derided years ago) that it has been “authenticated by western intelligence agencies and by Australian experts”, which in practice are the same thing, and that’s really the extent of the evidence. Again, this is an insane source to take on faith in a post-Iraq invasion world.

There are in fact an abundance of reasons to be highly skeptical of the establishment narrative about what is happening to Uighurs in Xinjiang. But that isn’t the point that I am trying to make here.

The point I am trying to make here is that the only sane response to any narrative that is being promoted by western intelligence agencies and their media stenographers about governments which have resisted absorption into the imperial blob is intense and unrelenting skepticism. These organizations have such an extensive and well-known history of lying about exactly this sort of thing that they have left us no choice but to withhold belief from anything they say absent a mountain of independently verifiable evidence if we want to have a fact-based relationship with reality.

None of this means that China has a wonderful government. It doesn’t even mean that all the bad things we’re being told about what the Chinese government is doing are false. It’s entirely possible that that video shows exactly what we’re being urgently told to believe it shows. There’s simply no way to be sure one way or the other in an information ecosystem that is so severely tainted by propagandistic narrative manipulation.

Surely the Chinese government is far from sinless. It seems to be a constant that power structures which keep secrets and use propaganda will always wind up doing ugly things. But this doesn’t mean you go believing whatever cold war-facilitating story we are fed by western power structures about it. Not if we want to avoid being duped into serving as pro bono CIA propagandists, unwitting tools of a murderous war machine.

There is a slow-motion third world war underway between the US-centralized power alliance and the nations like China which have resisted being absorbed into it, and that war is being largely facilitated by propaganda. If one doesn’t wish to become a propagandist themselves, one ought to withhold belief from the stories they are told about the terrible, awful things the unabsorbed nations are doing which require extensive sanctions, subversion, and interventionism in response.

This doesn’t mean you believe the opposite of what you’re told, it simply means you refrain from believing either way and remain agnostic until presented with hard verifiable proof. Believing damaging narratives about US-targeted governments is exactly as stupid as believing the words of a known compulsive liar about someone you know he hates.

China is such a curious anomaly in the narrative matrix. Many who are normally skeptical of claims by western governments immediately swallow anything they’re told about China. They not only believe all such claims, it never even occurs to them to seriously question them. Like they seem to be genuinely unaware that skepticism of establishment China narratives is even an option. The claims just slide right into the “believe” file in their mind, completely unchecked by anything resembling critical thought.

I argue with people all over the political spectrum about China online, and an astonishing percentage of them have clearly put exactly zero research into critically examining these claims, even if they’re people who are normally relatively critical of western foreign policy. They’re often completely unaware that whatever claims they’re advancing are not just disputed but have large amounts of evidence against them. This is because they’ve done no research whatsoever into finding out what they were told is even true. They’ll do that research on Iran, they’ll do it about Russia, they’ll do it about Syria, but with China, all skepticism immediately goes right now the window. It’s the weirdest thing.

Always be intensely skeptical of claims made about governments targeted by the known liars who run the US-centralized empire. Always, always, always, always. If you advance imperialist propaganda, then you are just as culpable for the bloodshed and suffering they help facilitate as the people who are actually launching the missiles.

Stay skeptical, my friends.

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Andrew Marr China china hysteria Chinagaters Chinese CIA Cold War concentration camps desperate to hold on to power divide establishment narrative Government Headline News incendiary escalation infiltration Intelwars INVASION Kremlin launching missiles LIES Manipulation Noam Chomsky old videos power structures Prison System public opinion Russia Russiagaters Secrets skeptical south china sea SYRIA Uighur muslims United States Video War war mongers War Propaganda Warfare World War 3

I Don’t Always Believe CIA Narratives. But When I Do, I Believe Them About China

This article was originally published by Caitlin Johnstone at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. 

My social media notifications have been lighting up the last few days with virulent Chinagaters sharing a video that purports to show Uighur Muslims being loaded onto a train to be taken to concentration camps.

It’s actually an old video that had already surfaced last year, but it is magically making the rounds again as a new and shocking revelation in 2020 now that western China hysteria has been officially kicked into high gear, at exactly the same time the US enacts one of the most dangerous and incendiary escalations of recent years in the South China Sea.

Everyone tagging me in this video presents it as a self-evident “gotcha” moment, in exactly the same way Russiagaters spent years tagging me in every HUGE BOMBSHELL WALLS ARE CLOSING IN item of thinly sourced narrative fluff in their debunked conspiracy theory that the Kremlin had infiltrated the highest levels of the US government.

They are one hundred percent certain that the video shows Uighurs being loaded onto a train to go to a concentration camp, solely because that is what the bit of text over the video tells them they are seeing. They aren’t looking at the actual data and thinking critically about it, they’re looking at the narrative and believing it on blind faith. Which, in a post-Iraq invasion world, is an absolutely insane thing to do when presented with information about a nation that is targeted by the US-centralized empire.

In reality there’s nothing in the video which tells us that these are Uighur people being sent to a “re-education camp” and not merely a conventional prison transfer of convicted criminals, the likes of which take place in the far more populous US prison system all the time. It’s an unknown. We are told by the BBC’s Andrew Marr (the same Andrew Marr whose phony journalism Noam Chomsky derided years ago) that it has been “authenticated by western intelligence agencies and by Australian experts”, which in practice are the same thing, and that’s really the extent of the evidence. Again, this is an insane source to take on faith in a post-Iraq invasion world.

There are in fact an abundance of reasons to be highly skeptical of the establishment narrative about what is happening to Uighurs in Xinjiang. But that isn’t the point that I am trying to make here.

The point I am trying to make here is that the only sane response to any narrative that is being promoted by western intelligence agencies and their media stenographers about governments which have resisted absorption into the imperial blob is intense and unrelenting skepticism. These organizations have such an extensive and well-known history of lying about exactly this sort of thing that they have left us no choice but to withhold belief from anything they say absent a mountain of independently verifiable evidence if we want to have a fact-based relationship with reality.

None of this means that China has a wonderful government. It doesn’t even mean that all the bad things we’re being told about what the Chinese government is doing are false. It’s entirely possible that that video shows exactly what we’re being urgently told to believe it shows. There’s simply no way to be sure one way or the other in an information ecosystem that is so severely tainted by propagandistic narrative manipulation.

Surely the Chinese government is far from sinless. It seems to be a constant that power structures which keep secrets and use propaganda will always wind up doing ugly things. But this doesn’t mean you go believing whatever cold war-facilitating story we are fed by western power structures about it. Not if we want to avoid being duped into serving as pro bono CIA propagandists, unwitting tools of a murderous war machine.

There is a slow-motion third world war underway between the US-centralized power alliance and the nations like China which have resisted being absorbed into it, and that war is being largely facilitated by propaganda. If one doesn’t wish to become a propagandist themselves, one ought to withhold belief from the stories they are told about the terrible, awful things the unabsorbed nations are doing which require extensive sanctions, subversion, and interventionism in response.

This doesn’t mean you believe the opposite of what you’re told, it simply means you refrain from believing either way and remain agnostic until presented with hard verifiable proof. Believing damaging narratives about US-targeted governments is exactly as stupid as believing the words of a known compulsive liar about someone you know he hates.

China is such a curious anomaly in the narrative matrix. Many who are normally skeptical of claims by western governments immediately swallow anything they’re told about China. They not only believe all such claims, it never even occurs to them to seriously question them. Like they seem to be genuinely unaware that skepticism of establishment China narratives is even an option. The claims just slide right into the “believe” file in their mind, completely unchecked by anything resembling critical thought.

I argue with people all over the political spectrum about China online, and an astonishing percentage of them have clearly put exactly zero research into critically examining these claims, even if they’re people who are normally relatively critical of western foreign policy. They’re often completely unaware that whatever claims they’re advancing are not just disputed but have large amounts of evidence against them. This is because they’ve done no research whatsoever into finding out what they were told is even true. They’ll do that research on Iran, they’ll do it about Russia, they’ll do it about Syria, but with China, all skepticism immediately goes right now the window. It’s the weirdest thing.

Always be intensely skeptical of claims made about governments targeted by the known liars who run the US-centralized empire. Always, always, always, always. If you advance imperialist propaganda, then you are just as culpable for the bloodshed and suffering they help facilitate as the people who are actually launching the missiles.

Stay skeptical, my friends.

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