Dissent Under Attack – Mainstream Media and Internet

Note: The following tekst is the middle part of "Dissent Under Attack by Government and Corporations",   By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers on Globalresearch.org

Free Media equals Free People

Attacks on the Media and Internet

Critical to the success of movement actions is drawing public attention to them. A goal of popular movements is to grow by attracting more people to the movement, and especially to divide power holders (e.g. political parties, elected officials, business people, the media) and bring them to support the movement. A key ingredient to accomplish these goals is the public knowing about the protest, which requires media attention.

The corporate mass media has always been a problem for movements seeking transformational change. At times, movements have been able to break through corporate media blockades and get their message out, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as mass media is further concentrated and controlled by government and big business.

The Internet has been the great equalizer allowing people to create their own media through video, websites, and live stream and share them through social media. Now, that is under attack.

The founder of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for an “open platform [is one] that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries.” Today he sees the Internet going into some “nasty storms,” including the erosion of Net Neutrality, which will allow Internet providers to be gatekeepers and determine where people can go, what they can see and how quickly they can see it. He also notes the use of algorithms to control what people can find in web searches and he worries about click-bait advertising pushing fake news, which is sometimes done by artificial intelligence.

Berners-Lee writes that “Net neutrality, which some have described as the ‘first amendment of the internet,’” is being threatened by Verizon employee Ajit Pai who President Trump nominated to be FCC chairman. Pai just announced the FCC plans to vote on December 14 to remove Net Neutrality rules that were won in 2015.

Join our Protect The Internet campaign and take action at this critical time. Sign up here if you can come to DC to protest the vote.

Berners-Lee believes “the internet should remain a ‘permissionless space for creativity, innovation and free expression.’” ISP’s should not be able to pick winners and losers or throttle services that they oppose or who do not pay enough money, rather they should be treated like public utilities that provide equal service to everyone.

In addition to mass media being more concentrated, Russiagate is being used as an excuse to weaken alternative media, like Russia Today (RT), the US-based Russian network. Chris Hedges describes RT being required to register as a foreign agent as a horrendous blow to press freedom. Hedges puts it into the context of the clamp down on dissent, writing it is “driven by RT America’s decision to provide a platform to critics of American capitalism and imperialism, critics who lambast a system of government that can no longer be called democratic. And it is accompanied by the installation of algorithms by Google, Facebook and Twitter that divert readers away from left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites . . .”

Popular Resistance has been affected by the new algorithms, with a decline in our readership by 60 percent since they were instituted. That’s why we need you to share our articles on social media so we can reach more people.

Congress is playing its role in heightening fear in order to quiet criticism of the government on social media. At a recent hearing, Clint Watts, a retired Army officer who purports to be an expert on Russiagate, testified that there needs to be a government-imposed censorship of the media. He demanded that “government news inquisitors drive dissident media off the internet.” No elected official responded negatively to his call for censorship.

In fact, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate used hearings focused on social media outlets to call for censorship. They used extreme language to describe social media with Senator Feinstein calling it “cyber warfare.” Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, after describing Russian influence in the media, went on to say “its not just foreign” accusing Facebook and Twitter algorithms as having the “consequence of widening divisions among our society.”

Google testified that they fact check labels to spot fake news testifying, “at Google search, we have updated our quality guidelines and evaluations to help surface more authoritative content from the web.” He was describing the new Google search algorithms that result in sites like ours being undermined by suppressing our articles when people search terms.

The “fake news” meme is being used to curtail foreign media, independent media and social media even though we know that the most common source of false news comes from the corporate mass media. They put forward the news from the perspective of the government and big corporations to support the concentration of wealth and militarism, among other issues. Part of our job as activists is to point out their lies and falsehoods. Responding to the attack on RT, peace activist and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka wrote that CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post should be required to register as “agents of capitalism.”

The remaining and beginning parts of this article, can be read on globalresearch.org