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America’s Richest Men Ask The Courts To Make Unions Illegal

Fourscore and seven years ago—1937, to be exact—our fathers on the Supreme Court (well, five of them, which was just enough) brought forth a new nation: New Deal America. In that year, the justices ruled that the most fundamental legislative works of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency—Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—were constitutional. So said the Court; so said, in the NLRA case, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the decision’s author, who had been the Republican candidate for president in 1916.

Propaganda War: Pro-Israel Trolls Mob Twitter’s Community Notes

Almost as important as its military campaign for Israel is its battle to control its public image. Even as it kills thousands of people in Gaza, the small Middle Eastern nation is spending millions of dollars on a propaganda war, purchasing ads on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other online apps. At the same time, an army of pro-Israel trolls has invaded the Community Notes function on X/Twitter, attempting to influence the online debate around the ongoing crisis. Since October 7, Israel has inundated YouTube with advertisements, with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs spending nearly $7.1 million on ads in the two weeks following Hamas’ incursion.

Leaks Reveal FBI Helps Ukraine Censor Twitter Users

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has aided a Ukrainian intelligence effort to censor social media users and obtain their personal information, leaked emails reveal. In March 2022, an FBI Special Agent sent Twitter a list of accounts on behalf of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ukraine’s main intelligence agency. The accounts, the FBI wrote, “are suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation.” In an attached memo, the SBU asked Twitter to remove the accounts and hand over their user data. The Ukrainian government’s FBI-enabled targets extend to members of the media. The SBU list that the FBI provided to Twitter included my name and Twitter profile.

Response To Twitter Labeling NPR ‘State-Affiliated Media’ Exposes True Purpose Of Labels

I hate agreeing with anything Elon Musk does, but recently Twitter labeled National Public Radio (NPR) as “state-affiliated media” on the social media site, a move some worried could undermine public confidence in the news organization. The Associated Press reported that it was unclear why Twitter made the move. But Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, quoted a definition of state-affiliated media in the company’s guidelines as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” “Seems accurate,” Musk tweeted .

US Media Denounce Twitter’s ‘State Media’ Label When It Affects NPR

As part of an ongoing, impulsive and reactionary legacy news outlets, Elon Musk’s added to its list of “state-affiliated media”—a label from which all US media had, until recently, been exempt (, 1/6/23). NPR (4/5/23) rebuked the label, and major media rushed to the public broadcaster’s defense. “Twitter Slaps NPR With a Dubious New Tag: ‘State-Affiliated Media,’” read a Washington Post headline (4/5/23). Vanity Fair (4/5/23) lambasted the “false equivalence between NPR and state propaganda agencies.” CBS News (4/5/23), AP (4/5/23) and CNN (4/5/23) emphatically quoted NPR’s self-description as a purveyor of “independent, fact-based journalism.” The New York Times (4/5/23) offered an oblique criticism of Twitter’s labeling schemes under Musk as “unevenly enforced.”

On The Media Of ‘Russiagate’ And Related Fake Stories

Last week Matt Taibbi, with access to Twitter's internal papers, debunked the fake Hamilton 68 propaganda dashboard that was used to create many stories about alleged Russian disinformation. I had done similar five years earlier but had no access to the original data. There were enough secondary indications to conclude that the dashboard was a sham. Still, have the case made with primary data is a valuable addition. There has been no Russian influence or disinformation campaign. Two days later the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) published a five part longread from an 18 month long investigation into the 'Russigate' drama and on how the media had cooked it up. CJR's editor wrote the intro: No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate. The story, which included the Steele dossier and the Mueller report among other totemic moments, resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers. For Trump, the press’s pursuit of the Russia story convinced him that any sort of normal relationship with the press was impossible.For the past year and a half, CJR has been examining the American media’s coverage of Trump and Russia in granular detail, and what it means as the country enters a new political cycle. Investigative reporter Jeff Gerth interviewed dozens of people at the center of the story—editors and reporters, Trump himself, and others in his orbit.

Under Musk, Twitter Continues To Promote US Propaganda Networks

Elon Musk’s controlled release of the documents known as the “Twitter Files” has given us some insight into the inner workings of the social media platform. The batch of docs released on December 20 is arguably the most explosive, detailing Twitter’s deliberate shielding of US propaganda operations. After getting limited access to Twitter‘s internal systems, Lee Fang of the Intercept (12/20/22) detailed how Twitter staff “whitelisted” accounts run by US Central Command (CENTCOM), the unit of the US military that oversees the Middle East, as part of covert propaganda campaigns. In other words, Twitter protected accounts engaged in US psychological warfare operations, even though they clearly violated the platform’s terms of service.

‘Free Speech’ Is Whatever The Rich Say It Is

It’s been a banner month for people who love invoking the “free speech” buzzword. Whether Elon Musk was promoting it as a catch-all abstract value to justify inviting transphobes and neo-nazis back to Twitter, or mainstream journalists were invoking the idea in response to a petulant billionaire banning his critics from the large social media company he just purchased for $44 billion, everyone these past few weeks has had some opinion on “free speech,” what it means, and who its supposed champion—or, more often than not, its most hypocritical defender—truly is. What the conversation has been largely lacking (other than a coherent definition of “free speech”) is a serious acknowledgment that free speech as a concept means very little if we don’t discuss how massive asymmetries in the distribution of power and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a tiny few effectively determine who has the right to speak freely and who doesn’t.

Elon Musk’s Takeover Through The Eyes Of Twitter’s Janitors

San Francisco, California - Billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has captured headlines for its tumultuous effect on the company’s corporate staff and the risks it poses to the platform’s future survival. But Musk’s acquisition also has dire, albeit underreported, consequences for the service staff who keep the blue bird humming. In These Times spoke to four janitors who say that all 20 custodial workers at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters lost their jobs on December 5 because Twitter’s new custodial contractor refused to rehire them. The move comes less than two months after Musk, who bought Twitter on October 27, fired several senior executives and later roughly 3,700 employees ranging from engineers to communications workers to content moderators—half the company’s staff—on November 4.

The Twitter Files

The following is a thread of Tweets written by Matt Taibbi on Dec. 2 about Twitter’s content moderation practices—specifically dealing with the Hunter Biden laptop story—after being given internal documents by Elon Musk. Outlets like USA Today have reported they have not been able to verify the authenticity of the emails. The thread was promoted by Musk stating “The public deserves to know what really happened …” The “Twitter Files” tell an incredible story from inside one of the world’s largest and most influential social media platforms. It is a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out the control of its designer.

Workers Built Twitter — They Should Own It, Not Elon Musk

Let’s be clear: Elon Musk has no idea how the software that runs Twitter actually works. He has made it abundantly clear that he has not even a basic understanding of how a website like Twitter functions under the hood, or how it was built, or what Twitter workers do all day. On his first day in the office, he demanded that workers print out their code so that he could review it himself, apparently under the impression that a 16-year-old social media site with a system architecture made up of dozens if not hundreds of component pieces of software, each made up of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lines of code, could be remotely consumable by a single person kicked back in a La-Z-Boy for light bedtime reading.

Twitter May Be In Violation Of German Labor Law

Twitter has been conducting massive layoffs across its global workforce in the weeks since the company was officially acquired by Elon Musk, but Musk’s slash-and-burn approach to company staffing is running into major compliance issues and violations of local labor laws. This is especially true in Europe, where labor laws typically offer many more protections for workers than comparable laws in the United States. Workers across the continent, including in Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom, have challenged the legality of their terminations. In Germany, workers who were fired from Twitter are fighting back against their terminations and using German labor law to do so. “I think it is important now to use the German protections which are available.

Mass Twitter Walkout

On Thursday, hundreds of Twitter employees left the company, further depleting a workforce needed to maintain the integrity of the site and its content-moderation system. This follows Musk’s layoffs of half the Twitter staff, and a series of high-profile departures from key Twitter trust and safety; security; privacy; and compliance personnel. Musk had given Twitter's employees until 5 p.m. ET, Thursday, to decide whether they wanted to commit to his employment terms, which included a call to be “extremely hardcore” and work very long hours. Refusing to do so would effectively signal resignation, according to an email Musk sent to staff Wednesday. Upon seeing that few had accepted his terms by Thursday afternoon, Twitter decided to close company offices through Mon., Nov. 21.

FTX Goes Bust

The FTX story seems truly remarkable. From being founded only in 2017 it rose to be a “partner organisation” of the World Economic Forum and the second largest donor to Biden and the Democrat’s mid-term election campaign. It has now gone completely bust, taking every penny of its depositors money with it. That is some trajectory. I suppose it is inevitable that dodgy chancers would create derivatives markets for gambling on crypto, but I confess I had not given the matter much thought. It goes without saying that in those five years the founder of FTX had managed to take a huge personal fortune out of the company before it went bust. FTX was a one man company belonging to Sam Bankman-Fried.

Researchers Find Massive Anti-Russian ‘Bot Army’

A team of researchers at the University of Adelaide have found that as many as 80 percent of tweets about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine invasion in its early weeks were part of a covert propaganda campaign originating from automated fake “bot” accounts. An anti-Russia propaganda campaign originating from a “bot army” of phony automated Twitter accounts flooded the internet at the start of the war. The research shows that of the more than 5 million tweets studied, 90.2 percent (both bot and non-bot) came from accounts that were pro-Ukraine, with fewer than 7 percent of the accounts being classed as pro-Russian. The university researchers also found these automated tweets had been purposely used to drive up fear amongst people targeted by them, boosting a high level of statistically measurable “angst” in the online discourse.
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