Boot Coming Down Hard and Fast on Social Media

The censorship of a political faction at the hands of a few liberal Silicon Valley billionaires will do the exact opposite of eliminating right-wing paranoia and conspiracy theories, and everyone knows it, writes Caity Johnstone.

Biden, author of Patriot Act. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Joe Biden has announced plans to roll out new domestic terrorism laws in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot.

“Mr. Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Did you know that Biden has often boasted about being the original author of the US Patriot Act?

The first draft of the civil rights-eroding USA PATRIOT Act was magically introduced one week after the 9/11 attacks. Legislators later admitted that they hadn’t even had time to read through the hundreds of pages of the history-shaping bill before passing it the next month, yet somehow its authors were able to gather all the necessary information and write the whole entire thing in a week.

This was because most of the work had already been done. CNET reported the following back in 2008:

“Months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, [then-Senator Joe] Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of ‘terrorism’ that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detention of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review. The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode ‘constitutional and statutory due process protections’ and would ‘authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations.’

Biden’s bill was never put to a vote, but after 9/11 then-Attorney General John Ashcroft reportedly credited his bill with the foundations of the USA PATRIOT Act.

“Civil libertarians were opposed to it,” Biden said in 2002 of his bill. “Right after 1994, and you can ask the attorney general this, because I got a call when he introduced the Patriot Act. He said, ‘Joe, I’m introducing the act basically as you wrote it in 1994.’”

A recent Morning Joe appearance by CIA analyst-turned House Representative Elissa Slotkin eagerly informed us that the real battle against terrorism is now inside America’s borders.

“The post 9/11 era is over,” Slotkin tweeted while sharing a clip of her appearance. “The single greatest national security threat right now is our internal division. The threat of domestic terrorism. The polarization that threatens our democracy. If we don’t reconnect our two Americas, the threats will not have to come from the outside.”

“Before Congress, Elissa worked for the CIA and the Pentagon and helped destabilize the Middle East during the Bush and Obama admins,” tweeted journalist Whitney Webb in response. “What she says here is essentially an open announcement that the US has moved from the ‘War on [foreign] terror’ to the ‘War on domestic terror’.”

Vanishing Accounts

In response to pressures from all directions including its own staff, Twitter has followed Facebook’s lead and removed Donald Trump’s account.

And it wasn’t just Trump. Accounts are vanishing quickly, including some popular Trump supporter accounts. I myself have lost hundreds of followers on Twitter in the last few hours, and I’ve seen people saying they lost a lot more.

It also wasn’t just Trump supporters; leftist accounts are getting suspended too. The online left is hopefully learning that cheering for Twitter “banning fascists” irrationally assumes that (A) their purges are only banning fascists and (B) they are limiting their bans to your personal definition of fascists. There is no basis whatsoever for either of these assumptions.

Google has ratcheted things up even further by removing Parler from its app store, and Apple will likely soon follow. This push to marginalize even the already fringey social media sites is making the libertarian/shitlib argument of “If you don’t like censorship just go to another platform” look pretty ridiculous.

This is all happening just in time for the Biden administration, about which critics had already been voicing grave concerns regarding the future of internet censorship.

The censorship of a political faction at the hands of a few liberal Silicon Valley billionaires will do the exact opposite of eliminating right-wing paranoia and conspiracy theories, and everyone knows it. You’re not trying to make things better, you’re trying to make them worse. You’re not trying to restore peace and order, you’re trying to force a confrontation so your political enemies can be crushed. You’re accelerationist.

A Venn diagram of people who support the latest social media purges and people who secretly hope Trumpers freak out and attempt a violent uprising would look like the Japanese flag.

The correct response to a huge section of the citizenry doubting an electoral system we’ve known for years is garbage would have been more transparency, not shoving the process through and silencing people who voice doubts and making that entire faction more paranoid and crazy.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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28 comments for “Boot Coming Down Hard and Fast on Social Media

  1. January 11, 2021 at 11:26

    I find it distressing that even Diana Johnstone is inclined to lump all Trump supporters in her writing by saying “not shoving the process through and silencing people who voice doubts and making that entire faction more paranoid and crazy”. Perhaps I am misrepresenting her position but it is very much like “I know he is a bumbling idiot but he is right on some issue or another”. The effect is to destroy the point you claim to be making. It has the effect of making Trump supporters targets as is already happening. Names are taken of people who attended the march or encouraged it whether they participated in the break in or not. Recent reference to looking for police officers who participated. Seems to me looking at the barrage of leftist criticism of the police makes attendance in a protest march pretty understandable.

    Of course, Ms Johnstone is corrrect that more oppressive oversight of people you don’t agree with is in store for us although thee is a more than ample amount going around already.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    January 11, 2021 at 10:32

    Some manage to fool us more than others. Either way, we seem to fall for it each and every time.

  3. Craig Simmons
    January 11, 2021 at 06:50

    Thank you to Andrew Stretton above for the passage from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free.” This book is courageous and insightful on the highest tiers, and I can’t think of another that affected my world view more. Or as much! I recall its constant comparisons and contrasts between Nazi Germany and modern America, exploring the difficulties of seeing beyond the veneers of normalcy. If you haven’t read this yet and plan to then prepare to be floored.

  4. zhu
    January 11, 2021 at 05:11

    Don’t forget the hierarchy of needs. If I’m homeless, Twitter and Facebook are not at all what I need. Ordinary Americans find it harder and harder to pay for food and shelter. What are the D and R factions doing? Telling themselves “it can’t happen to ME! I’m not like THOSE PEOPLE! They’re wicke! They use drugs! They’re crazy!” One Hillary fan was telling me the other day that the problem of the homeless was spiritual. I was afraid to ask what he meant by that. Not the right New Thought affirmations, I suppose.

  5. Bry
    January 10, 2021 at 15:53

    Obviously “conspiracy theories” aren’t simply “right wing” anymore, if they ever were. Plenty of young open-minded liberals believe in the idea conspiracy theories now. It’s the media that tries to control the narrative of conspiracy theories, which merely causes more conspiracy theory.

    • zhu
      January 11, 2021 at 00:31

      Of course not! The stupidest left-wing conspiracy theory of my lifetime was Russiagate! Pure fantasy, invented to excuse losing a badly run election!

  6. January 10, 2021 at 14:39

    Convo Couch was in DC for the protest. They reported that the people Trump addressed and told to “…walk down to the Capitol…” were four miles away, and that very few of those folks actually made it to the capitol building. The vast majority of the people at the Capitol were protesting the elections peacefully. The suspiciously few DC cops on the scene all but invited– and definitely allowed the protestors to enter the Capitol grounds and building. The establishment media greatly exaggerated the “treasonous” and “seditious” nature of the protestors. The protest was announced and anticipated weeks in advance. Someone called these events the “9/11 of the neocons” (and I would add, the Woke crowd). “Domestic Terrorism” will be the media’s new obsession. Mass censorship will be the primary outcome. There will be lots of self-censorship too. The “anti-establishment” crowd will become more paranoid and further acts of “domestic terror” will justify even more drastic censorship and authoritarianism. More rights will be taken away leading to more desperate acts of resistance (some real, some staged). Rinse, repeat, as they say.

  7. Jonny James
    January 10, 2021 at 13:40 puts both the R and D parties (based on policy, not rhetoric) firmly in the upper-right quadrant of the two-dimensional political spectrum – right wing and authoritarian. We can expect more right-wing authoritarian dystopia to unfold under a Biden regime. I highly doubt Biden will investigate or indict Trump high crimes. Obama didn’t even investigate the many high crimes of the Bush Jr. regime (nor the largest financial crimes in US history). The situation has become worse since the revelations of Ed Snowden, Wikileaks etc. “The rule of law”, like taxes, are only for the “little people” The ruling classes and their servants are clearly not held accountable to the law.

    The Techno-Totalitarian Finance Capital Oligarchy is firmly in control, no matter which right-wing authoritarian party is in office. As Chris Hedges has said many times: there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs in the US. I recall when the Ds had control of both houses and Obama in the WH. We saw no change: just more right-wing authoritarian policies to benefit the Oligarchy who have the US gov. bought and paid for. Jimmy Carter is quoted as describing the US as “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” after the Citizens United Case formalized bribery and political corruption in the USA.

    Without accurate information, the public is unable to make informed decisions about public policy. The fact that the so-called news media is controlled by an oligopoly or cartel is highly problematic to say the least. This is yet another huge barrier to any sort of ‘democracy’, unless we define democracy as a public relations stunt that generates billions for media, consulting firms, marketing firms, advertisers etc. Democracy Inc. has been privatized as well.

  8. January 10, 2021 at 11:52

    Events at the Capitol Building were ugly – but they cannot be characterized as terror or insurrection by reasonable people.

    Responsibility for those events lies in two places – police protection and planning were appalling, and Trump and his close associates were criminally reckless by inciting a mob.

    Trump’s behavior has been just as reckless many times in foreign affairs, and I believe he has shamed the United States many times

    But only now do we see a serious reaction by the political establishment, and the reaction is inappropriate and itself dangerous. The invaders are common criminals and should be treated as such.

    Biden promises new domestic anti-terror legislation now as a first priority. That is the last thing anyone needs, and it sends a chilling message about his future intentions.

    • Keith McClary
      January 10, 2021 at 20:33

      “cannot be characterized as terror or insurrection by reasonable people. ”

      How about David Frum? He figures that Trump actually believed Pence could reject some ballots and make Trump the winner, and that the attack was to intimidate Pence.

      Trump told Pence “What takes courage is to do nothing”. Sounds to me like a threat.

    • robert e williamson jr
      January 10, 2021 at 21:03

      One question John. Given the schizophrenic nature of the majority of our government leaders , non of whom seem capable of agreeing on anything that represents a government “party line”, never mind listening to the voices of the people. Who makes the cut-off as being “reasonable people” in our government these days?

      After the last four years I’m thinking none exist. Your claims here are right on the money however.

      Now and only now that all members of the house and senate have been brutally threatened and embarrassed does anyone seem concerned. You know what they say John, about not really being interested in doing what is right as far too many of these congress people are not, until that is it’s their lily white butts on the line.

      I have told most of those around me and written it here, likely more than once that this guy would be carried out of the White House in a straight jacket strapped to a gurney. Anyone reading some of what I have written knows damned well I’m no genius so what gives. I have friends who know how loud I spoke out barely six weeks into his term on the golf course.

      What Biden needs to do is repeal the Patriot Act. It seems more than obvious to me that it is as worthless as the paper it’s written on. Unless you actually see just how much money the boondoggle costs the US taxpayer.

      Any law or act that cuts into the freedom of individual US citizens in the manner that this act does and then fails so miserably as the DHS record reveals needs not to be.

      Biden, Uncle Joe Biden, heh! He is the lesser of two evils. Are we screwed or what?

      Andrew Stretton below Jan 9, 2021 @ 20:22. has delivered to us a quote Milton Mayer – “They thought they were free.”

      At first glance it fits or seems to fit well but our leaders cannot claim noble, high ground . Their sanctimonious self righteous behavior rings hollow to these ears especially after the collapse of opposition to the Iraq war and their sycophantic self illusion and indulgence in the incestuous spectacle of the passing of the Patriot Act that had been hidden away since the Oklahoma bombing spectacle that was home grown.

      Yes John Biden has all the feel of being a very frightening fellow. The finished product of a life involved in DC politics.

      I can now at least see a reason for not building gallows instead of inaugural bleachers. But who knew?

  9. Evan
    January 10, 2021 at 10:32

    It’s a contradiction. By letting Donald speak for many years (because of our free speech law), it progressed the rising action, which lead to the sacking of the Eternal City. But now that they are being censored (not allowed to speak), another rising action process has begun; the build up of another series of raids will happen, that is certain by the events of history.

    How to eliminate or resolve the contradiction? Admittedly, I dont know.

    On the one hand, they are working class Red Necks, I use this term positively, and they know that the Congress is filled with people removed from everyday society, but they have come to the wrong conclusion about what to do (kill more Jews, immigrants in camps, et cetera) and if these forces take power, there may be death camps erected in the us for spanish speakers.

    I realise this reasoning may be a slippery slope fallacy but I’m trying not to censor myself (haha) and type without editing my comment; thereby making it feel organic.

  10. January 10, 2021 at 03:25

    Those are all private companies or corporations and they can choose (within the laws of the USA) what kind of policies they think will suit them best. Profit, obviously, is the purpose. If we don’t like this, we can (a) not use social media and/or (b) work for socialist solutions which would include taking these entities into public ownership and running them for social benefit not for profits. Humans lived without social media for most of their history. How necessary are those media?

  11. Afdal
    January 10, 2021 at 01:52

    I really hope freedom-respecting alternatives that are censorship resistant like GNU Social can finally rise from this opportunity.

  12. zhu
    January 9, 2021 at 21:54

    I suggest 1) up-grading our critical thinking skills
    2) teach them to our children, etc
    3 find alternatives to the present social media.

    • ETH3
      January 10, 2021 at 05:59

      Amen brother (or sister) – the first two are the most important. As for social media, I have avoided religiously (no social media accounts, not even LinkedIn). Critical thinking has been washed out through generations of public education learning by rote

    • David H
      January 11, 2021 at 01:45

      Amen again. Please return sometime, zhu, and elaborate.

      The present world of writing I’m finding a little weird. I go back to it over and over like an addict…I mean to read. In the old days you could read Karl Popper, and he wasn’t too far from any issue out there. But today issues multiply. I mean threats multiply. And you have to get versed in the threats, even as fast as they come on the scene. But the whole world of writers seems to me like it’s become encompassed by the MICIMATT concept (except eg most of those here). On the whole writers “in print” are not versed in all the issues out there. Seems like some days they’re a group not versed in many at all. You go to Counterpunch day after day after day looking for something about vaccines [how they work relatively, hence which might pose problems?]. Where is it? In MICIMATT land I’m led to believe writers want to be writers like film makers wanna be film makers. They mainly just want to do the thang. Podcasts seem to be replacing writing. In podcasts people talk, and talking has rhythm. I think Jung would say we’re cutting ourselves off from normal work rhythms (if he were here). Without these it’s my belief critical thinking suffers. In my work I’m not cut off from’em, so I’m lucky. Re others on phones all day…not lucky. And I believe too much time on phones can cancel out much of what one gets from any traditional work one does. Course, things can go too far on an assembly line…Taylorism.

      You want to talk about thinking, and I’m off into work related movement, Tai Chi type stuff. Alright, well, listening to Phyllis Bennis last night it was clear that that was the rhythm of critical thinking…critical thinking turned into spoken words. Maybe it doesn’t manifest often just like this in other modalities these days? (yeah, yeah…here of course)

      Look at this. In an interview about GM’d plants Vandana Shiva will, in the same interview, dare to make an aside comment like we don’t know whether the bug was gain-of-functioned, or if it mutated on its own [passaged perhaps] and just got out. Dare to take a stand! A stand of: we don’t know! I’m telling ya when writers were writing about GM’d plants when I heard this, there was a long period when they wouldn’t dare roll that one on out there like it was a natural conclusion. Instead they ignored it like the plague (yep, and it would have only been words about plague, not the plague itself!). You were supposed to have known which option was right…PC right. So her last book is just about the only one I can think of I’d like to purchase.

      Pappe Bennis Braverman ~

  13. Andrew Stretton
    January 9, 2021 at 20:22

    “What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap between the government and the people. And it became always wider. The whole process of its coming into being was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about & kept us so busy with continuous changes & crises & so fascinated by the machinations of the “National Enemies”, without & within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occassion, “regretted”, that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. Each act is worst than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occassion, thinking that others , when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, you don’t want to “go out of your way to make trouble.” But the one great shocking occassion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the diffculty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the house, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made a life long mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate & fear, & the people who hate & fear don’t even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. You have accepted things you would not have accepted a year ago, things your Father could never have imagined.”

    Milton Mayer – They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-1945

    • Tennegon
      January 10, 2021 at 19:23

      Thank you for this.

      It is available at my local library, and now on my list of books to read.

  14. Me my self
    January 9, 2021 at 20:05

    “in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot”?

    “Adam Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Florida was arrested and taken into custody and is facing charges for knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority”

    Excuse me!

    But didn’t POTUS help organize this event?

    Kinda sounds like authorization to me. After all its the people house.

    More like UN-scheduled visit. Should a brought pizza & wings.

  15. David H
    January 9, 2021 at 18:20

    Two things the movement must come to understand better. Cyber. Synthetic biology. I don’t cheer fascists getting banned from twitter. The big platforms have the resources to hire people. And the people can screen out the demonstration announcements, while letting these folks drone on and on about whatever else. If people want to demonstrate, let’em go to Progressive International, or OTOH to their own right wing sites. The big platforms will keep bungling and bungling and bungling for nigh on nigh on. They’re gonna try to stop left demonstrations for a time, cause they don’t know much about the world they live in. The people that run these companies have to wake up! Until they do I don’t mind going to off sites if I’m looking for demonstrations. Aren’t we defeated already if we don’t do that already? JUST HIRE THE PEOPLE TO STOP PLANNED ATTACKS ON eg MUSLIMS IN INDIA. Jobs are needed anyway everywhere. Stop hoarding the profits. If they claim they can’t do it, then turn’em into public utilities. Similar problem with tracing databases. Folks, you may not believe this’ll fly, but one big reason the whole national security establishment needs to change is that we [in the US] need unhackable tracing databases. Maybe I’m wrong, but to me it looks like the bug issue is gonna be as big as the MICIMATT issue. People aren’t seeing it.

  16. Cadogan Parry
    January 9, 2021 at 16:38

    “It is doubtful that any new bans will stop at only the president, however. Indeed, after the 2016 election and the dubious accusations that Russia had taken over social media, swinging the result for Trump, big tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Bing changed their algorithms, supposedly to promote more trustworthy sources and demote unreliable ones. The instant effect, however, was a collapse in traffic for high-quality alternative media sites. Overnight, Consortium News’ Google traffic fell by 47%, Common Dreams’ by 37%, Democracy Now! By 36% and The Intercept by 19%. MintPress News suffered similar, unrecoverable losses.”

    “This Will Be Remembered as a Turning Point”: Snowden Warns Against Trump Social Media Ban
    by Alan Macleod – MintPress News (o8-Jan-2021)

  17. January 9, 2021 at 16:03

    I just wonder how long it will be before the extrajudicial killing-by-drone industry gets extended into the domestic market?

    It would be perfect for all those groups living in hard-to-reach places or police no-go areas.

    After all, the CIA’s work with other methods of control, such as assassination of leaders, gradually was adapted to domestic needs, starting around 1960.

    • January 10, 2021 at 03:27

      “police no-go areas” such as where, for example? I wasn’t aware they existed. Are they autonomous, anarchist collectives?

    January 9, 2021 at 15:54

    Just what the world needs, more anti-terrorism legislation.

    But, no matter what, we may be sure that in America free speech remains securely in control.

    After all, didn’t the Supreme Court tell us that money is free speech?

  19. michael888
    January 9, 2021 at 15:53

    To cross the CIA/ State Department and pardon Assange, Snowden or Manning (commuted after imprisonment and torture for 7 years under Obama), would basically be spitting in Hillary’s and the Deep State’s face. Not only would that mean death for Trump, but likely also for Assange, Snowden and Manning (do you think the CIA is going to honor Trump’s pardons?)

  20. Em
    January 9, 2021 at 14:33

    If Trump was ever genuinely sincere about resolving the ’fake’ media issues; wanting more transparency in government conduct, now’s the time to prove it, before it is too late, for all of us.
    Immediately grant Julian Assange a full pardon and drop all the utterly false and malicious charges against him. Set him free today!
    And then, as your only institutional act of grace, resign, yourself, to face the consequences of your own fraudulent conduct – putting it mildly.
    Show the world what a true Christian is.
    Let there be at least one bright spot in your dark legacy.

    • Cadogan Parry
      January 9, 2021 at 16:45

      “After this, we’re going to walk down… and I’ll be there with you… we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol…” – Der Stürmer in Chief

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