He wasn’t bluffing. After threatening to sue liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America (CNBC, 11/18/23), Twitter’s principal owner Elon Musk did just that, arguing in papers filed in a Texas court that the group “manipulated” data in an effort to “destroy” the social media platform, causing major advertisers to pull back (BBC, 11/20/23). The world’s richest human was responding to an MMFA report (11/16/23) about Twitter—which Musk has rebranded as X since purchasing the once publicly traded company—and its promotion of far-right, antisemitic content. It said that while “Musk continues his descent into white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories,” the social media network has been “placing ads for major brands like Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle and Xfinity (Comcast) next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.”
July 31, 2023 Dimitris Dimitriadis, Joey Grostern and Sam Bright, DeSmog. Educate! Fossil Fuels, Influencers, Media, Oil & Gas, Social Media, United Kingdom (UK)
Oil and gas supermajors including Shell and BP are using UK influencers to push false solutions to the climate crisis and manufacture a more family friendly image, DeSmog can reveal. The influencers have included a popular former BBC presenter, a polar explorer, and an exasperated father of five who needs a break and finds it in the form of BP’s rewards app. The campaigns have been deployed across a number of social media platforms and are part of a global effort to give “millennials a reason to connect emotionally” with oil and gas firms, and to tackle their perception as “the bad guys”. DeSmog analysed examples of more than 100 influencers being paid to promote fossil fuel firms worldwide since 2017, from the US to Malaysia, in campaigns that have reached billions of people.
July 16, 2023 Patrick Lawrence, Scheer Post. Educate! Censorship, Disinformation, Freedom of Speech, Legal System, Media, Social Media, Surveillance
What kind of a week was last week in the theater of war wherein battles rage over illegal censorship, illegal attacks on freedom of speech, illegal government infringements on our constitutional rights, and, amid it all, the complicity of our most powerful media in these illegalities? For a brief while it looked as though it was a very fine week. On July 4, an excellent day for this, a district court in Louisiana ruled that the White House and a long list of other federal agencies are barred from all contacts with social media companies if the intent is to intimidate or otherwise coerce Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other such platforms into deleting, suppressing, or in any way obscuring content protected as free speech, to paraphrase a key passage in the ruling.
July 5, 2023 Joe Lauria, Consortium News. Resist! Censorship, FBI, Freedom of Speech, Legal System, Louisiana, Media, Social Media, Victory
A judge in Louisiana has barred the F.B.I. and other government agencies from asking social media companies to suppress free speech, reports Joe Lauria. A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction against a number of government agencies preventing them from talking to social media firms for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.” Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled that the agencies couldn’t identify specific social media posts to be taken down or ask for reports about the social media company’s efforts to do so.
June 24, 2023 Chris Hedges, The Real News Network. Resistance Report FBI, IRS, Matt Taibbi, Media, Retaliation, Social Media, Twitter Files
On March 9th, 2023, Matt Taibbi appeared before Congress regarding the revelations uncovered by the “Twitter Files,” which demonstrated the US federal government and social media companies worked together to censor information and accounts unfavorable to US interests. The same day, an IRS agent visited Taibbi’s home in New Jersey. Matt Taibbi joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the case opened against him, as well as the role of the FBI and multiple law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Foreign Influence Task Force which identified accounts and stories for censorship from Twitter.
May 28, 2023 Ari Paul, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Educate! Censorship, China, Media, Montana, New Cold War, Social Media, Tik Tok
There is an emerging consensus in US foreign policy circles that a US/China cold war is either imminent or already underway (Foreign Policy, 12/29/22; New Yorker, 2/26/23; New York Times, 3/23/23; Fox News, 3/28/23; Reuters, 3/30/23). Domestically, the most recent and most intense iteration of this anti-China fervor is the move to ban the Chinese video app TikTok, which is both a sweeping assault on free speech movement and a dangerous sign that mere affiliation with China is grounds for vilification and loss of rights. Several TikTok content creators are suing to overturn “Montana’s first-in-the-nation ban on the video sharing app, arguing the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights,” on the grounds “that the state doesn’t have any authority over matters of national security” (AP, 5/18/23). TikTok followed up with a lawsuit of its own (New York Times, 5/22/23).
May 15, 2023 John Perry and Dan Kovalik, Morningstar Online. Educate! Nicaragua, Social Media, US coup, US Regime Change
The “groundwork for insurrection” in Nicaragua was laid down months and years before the coup attempt began, as our first article explained. But the coup could only succeed if it mobilised sufficient people into demanding that President Daniel Ortega resigns. How was this to be done, with polls showing his government had some 80 per cent support in a country that had enjoyed several years of prosperity and social development? One tool was old-fashioned class war. The middle and upper classes could be convinced to follow the example of the elite and of business leaders if they thought this would bring Nicaragua closer to the US, favour multinational investment and end the revolution, but only if there was no threat to their current prosperity.
May 7, 2023 Editors, In These Times. Educate! Capitalism, Consumerism, Overconsumption, Social Media
How did “deinfluencing” get started? Apparently in January on “beauty TikTok,” that corner of the popular video app where users promote tips, tricks and products in the world of skin care and cosmetics, and the trend has spread into everything from fashion to electronics to kitchen gadgets. “No,” deinfluencers are saying, “maybe you don’t need Dior lipstick or $500 AirPods.” And people are listening: #deinfluencing TikToks have more than 400 million views. It’s in response to the $16 billion-and-growing “influencer” industry, in which brands sponsor social media stars and large hauls of products seem to be the norm.
April 9, 2023 Rebecca Klar, The Hill. Educate! China, Data Privacy, Media, Social Media, Tiktok, US Imperialism
A bipartisan bill that aims to give the administration the power to ban apps linked to foreign adversaries, including TikTok, is raising privacy concerns across the political spectrum. The RESTRICT Act, led by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), is touted by supporters as a way for the administration to review and potentially ban services without solely targeting the controversial video app, the way other GOP-backed bills do. Although the broader scope may evade issues of targeting one company, digital rights groups, industry officials and privacy experts are sounding the alarm that the RESTRICT Act poses concerns that could limit Americans’ freedom online.
April 5, 2023 Amanda Yee, Black Agenda Report. Educate! China, Media, Social Media, Tiktok, US Imperialism
On March 23, CEO of TikTok Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee addressing concerns over the popular social media app’s data collection practices and parent company ByteDance’s alleged links to the Chinese government. Though TikTok is a subsidiary of ByteDance, which is based in Beijing, it operates as an independent entity. Chew has maintained the company has never shared user data with the Chinese government, and would refuse if pressed to do so. Still, the Congressional hearings amounted to nothing more than racist political theater, a McCarthyite witch trial, in which members of Congress who demonstrated little understanding of how basic social media algorithms—or even home Wi–Fi networks —work attempted to spuriously link Chew, who was born, raised, and currently lives in Singapore, to the Communist Party of China .
April 1, 2023 Wei Yu, Nuvpreet Kalra and Melissa Garriga, LA Progressive. Educate! China, Congress, Media, Social Media, Tik Tok, US Imperialism
Last Thursday, a Congressional hearing took place where the TikTok CEO was grilled for five hours on the grounds of “security concerns.” This was days after the FBI and DOJ launched an investigation on the Chinese-owned American company. Isn’t it ironic that while the US government is putting TikTok under the magnifying glass, it’s turning a blind eye to its own surveillance programs on the American people? Ten years ago, Edward Snowden told the whole world the truth about the US global surveillance programs. If Congress cares about our digital privacy, it should first begin by investigating the surveillance policies of its own US agencies.
March 25, 2023 Adam Schwartz and David Greene, Electronic Frontier Foundation. Educate! Censorship, Media, New Cold War, Social Media, Tiktok
So we are troubled by growing demands in the United States for restrictions on TikTok, a technology that many people have chosen to exchange information with others around the world. Before taking such a drastic step, the government must come forward with specific evidence showing, at the very least, a real problem and a narrowly tailored solution. So far, the government hasn’t done so. Nearly all social media platforms and other online businesses collect a lot of personal data from their users. TikTok raises special concerns, given the surveillance and censorship practices of its home country, China. Still, the best solution to these problems is not to single-out one business or country for a ban.
March 11, 2023 Cristen Hemingway Jaynes, Ecowatch. Resist! Alaska, Joe Biden, Media, Oil and Gas, Social Media, Tiktok, Willow
With 161.5 million views and counting on TikTok alone, the #StopWillow social media campaign has left no question of the groundswell of opposition to the proposed oil development project Willow on Alaska’s remote North Slope. Social media users have been using the hashtag to voice their resistance to President Joe Biden’s failure to keep his campaign pledges to reduce oil drilling. “With all of the progress that the U.S. government has made on climate change, it now feels like they’re turning their backs by allowing Willow to go through,” said climate activist Hazel Thayer, who posted TikTok videos using the #StopWillow hashtag, as The Associated Press reported.
March 6, 2023 Rosa Miriam Elizalde, Resumen English. Educate! Bolivia, Censorship, Cuba, Facebook, Media, Meta, Social Media
Meta has been at it again. It deactivated 363 Facebook accounts of Cuban users, in addition to 270 pages and 229 groups, as well as 72 from Instagram. The operation covered other social networks such as YouTube, TikTok and Twitter, and included hundreds of pages of Bolivian citizens. As is often the case, it hit two leftist governments without providing any evidence of violation of the platforms’ community policies. What’s new in this raid? Little, actually. It is not the first time it happens. Zuckerberg’s transnational is under the dictates of U.S. government figures, particularly groups associated with the Cuban-American gang in Florida. Facebook’s director of public affairs, Alex Burgos, previously worked for Senator Marco Rubio and was his campaign manager in 2016.
February 28, 2023 Stella Levantesi, DeSmog. Educate! Energy, Media, Oil and Gas, Russia, Social Media, Ukraine, Wars and Militarism
Europe’s gas industry has ramped up its messaging since Russia invaded Ukraine, exploiting fears over energy security to justify projects that risk locking the continent into long-term dependence on fossil fuels, DeSmog can reveal. Four big industry groups began to post many more tweets portraying investments in gas and related infrastructure as the key to secure energy supplies soon after the invasion started — and maintained this strategy throughout last year, an analysis of their social media accounts found. The lobby groups were Gas Infrastructure Europe; Gas For Climate; Eurogas; and the European branch of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, which represent companies operating pipelines, gas storage, and infrastructure to import liquefied natural gas (LNG).