* * *
Statistics professor Salil Mehta, adjunct professor at Columbia and Georgetown who teaches probability and data science and whose work has appeared on this website on numerous prior occasions, was banned by Google on Friday.
What did Salil do to provoke Google? It is not entirely clear, however what is clear is that his repeated attempts at restoring his email, blog and other Google-linked accounts have so far been rejected with a blanket and uniform statement from the search giant.
Here is what happened, in Salil Mehta’s own words.
But it’s OK to host ISIS and Al-Qaeda websites?
As social media and internet companies scramble to ban or otherwise cut ties with extremist and far right-wing websites like the neo-nazi Daily Stormer, which were unceremoniously dropped by the likes of GoDaddy, Google and security firm Cloudflare earlier this week after helping to organize last weekend’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, a prominent nonprofit has come forward to defend them.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, best known for its activism surrounding net neutrality has a simple message: even though you don’t agree with their message, banning people from the internet is a slippery slope. Which is why it called on domain-name companies like Google and GoDaddy to “draw a hard line” and not remove or suspend websites based solely on their content.
Quoted by Reuters: Cindy Cohn, EFF CEO wrote in a blog post that “We strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous.”
In a blog post, the EEF argued that the power to decide what is and isn’t appropriate for the internet is too important to entrust to any company or government.
There are two points I want to hammer home in today’s piece. First, we all need to accept that Donald Trump is not some sort of crazy aberration in U.S. politics, but rather basically just the ghastly continuation of the authoritarianism and militarism which has characterized our insane society since we experienced a civilization-wide mental breakdown following the attacks of 9/11.
I’ve written about this ongoing cultural insanity on many occasions, but most passionately in my 2013 piece, How I Remember September 11, 2001:
New data released by the World Socialist Web Site seems to confirm what many had feared: the new Google search evaluation protocol is adversely affecting a broad array of leftist, whistleblower and democratic rights organizations, and anti-war news outlets. The data, collected from the search engine metric website SEMrush, shows massive drops in traffic to Wikileaks, the Intercept, the ACLU, Common Dreams, Antiwar.com, and many others.
Google’s new algorithm, implemented for the ostensible purpose of limiting the reach of “fake news” and “conspiracy theories,” has targeted anti-establishment websites seeking to challenge the disinformation and propaganda of corporate mainstream media. Facing mounting criticism from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other MSM benefactors following the 2016 presidential election, both Google and Facebook have capitulated and taken drastic measures to restrict the flow of information. Wikileaks traffic dropped by 30 percent; Democracy Now fell by 36 percent. The WSWS was the most adversely affected, as its traffic dropped by 70 percent during the same month the new algorithm went into effect.
Mozilla, the non-profit organization which runs the Firefox internet browser, said Wednesday it was launching an effort against “fake news,” as fact-checking software backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and George Soros got its first run-out in public to shape our Orwellian nightmare of future truth arbiters.
Mozilla said it was “investing in people, programs and projects” in a new initiative to “disrupt misinformation online” calling for a “Mozilla Information Trust Initiative,” or MITI for short, Business Insider reported.
With the war between mainstream and independent media heating up, YouTube has weaponized a new content censorship program, calling it an effort to “fight terror content online.” With standards set by groups like the Anti-Defamation League, political agendas are sure to intrude.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — Ever since “fake news” found its place among the various explanations used by the Clinton campaign and supporters to account for their candidate’s loss, there has been a quiet but concerted effort on the part of establishment media, technology, and telecommunications companies to thwart the surging popularity of independent media.
The rise of the independent media has been hugely detrimental to the once privileged position of the mainstream media, who have now lost the trust of the vast majority of Americans and – along with that trust – their ability to control political and social narratives.
Facebook is rolling out a “related articles” section that will appear below popular stories and those that are deemed to be “fake news,” according to a report.
Shared articles that Facebook’s fact-checking partners deem to be fake news will now include links to the fact-check below the post.
“Appearing before someone reads, Related Articles will surface links to additional reporting on the same topic to provide different view points, and to truthiness reports from the fact checkers,” reported TechCrunch. “If users see drastically different angles when they compare a story to its Related Articles, they might deem it suspicious and skip it, be less likely to believe or share it, or could click through the Related Articles and make up their own mind.”
China’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party – the quinquennial confab where the party selects new members of the Politburo, its ruling council – is expected to begin this fall (official dates have not yet been publicly announced). And in an effort to guarantee that the leadership reshuffle goes off without a hitch, President Xi Jinping is tightening the government’s grip on the internet to help protect the official narrative that Xi’s “Chinese Dream” remains intact.
According to Reuters, China held a drill on Thursday with internet service providers to practice taking down websites deemed harmful.
Last night YouTube took to its ‘Official Blog’ to more or less announce that they would be taking steps to censor content they found to be “controversial” even if it didn’t break any laws or violate the site’s user agreement. And while the message vowed to be part of an effort to “fight terror content online,” the move was met wth widespread skepticism among YouTuber’s as nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to censor conservative speech.
H/t reader squodgy:
“We must spread awareness of the next BIG step the PTB have planned….a CYBER 9/11.”
* * *
More than three years after the FBI shut down the Silk Road, the pioneering dark-web marketplace for drugs and illegal goods, the FBI and DEA – working with international law-enforcement agencies – have busted two more dark-web marketplaces that facilitated the sales of illicit items like drugs, weapons and stolen data, according to the Department of Justice.
AlphaBay and Hansa, two of the largest illegal marketplaces on the dark web, have been shut down and their operators arrested during a collaboration between US and European police agencies, according to the BBC. Investigations were led by the FBI and DEA in partnership with Europol.
* * *
WINNIE-THE-POOH has been banned from social media sites in China as the Government continues to increase levels of internet censorship. But why is Winnie-the-Pooh banned in China?
H/t reader kevin a.
* * *
A Muslim Imam who campaigns against radicalism and Sharia Law claims his Facebook page was shut down because he spoke out against Islamic State terrorism.
Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi, from Adelaide, said his Facebook page was deleted after radical Muslims made ‘false reports’ in an effort to silence him.
‘I’m not even allowed to criticise ISIS or Jihadis. Any comment against ISIS gets my page banned,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
* * *