Caitlin Johnstone: Twitter IS ‘State-Affiliated Media’

Twitter has been working in steadily increasing intimacy with the U.S. government since it began pressuring Silicon Valley platforms to regulate content in support of the establishment following the 2016 election.

By Caitlin Johnstone

British politician and broadcaster George Galloway has made headlines in the U.K. with his threat to press legal action against Twitter for designating his account “Russia state-affiliated media,” a label which will now show up under his name every time he posts anything on the platform.

“Dear @TwitterSupport I am not ‘Russian State Affiliated media’,” reads a viral tweet by Galloway. “I work for NO Russian media. I have 400,000 followers. I’m the leader of a British political party and spent nearly 30 years in the British parliament. If you do not remove this designation I will take legal action.”

Galloway argues that while his broadcasts have previously been aired by Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik, because those outlets have been shut down in the U.K. by Ofcom and by European Union sanctions he can no longer be platformed by them even if he wants to. If you accept this argument, then it looks like Twitter is essentially using the “state-affiliated media” designation as a marker of who Galloway is as a person, rather than as a marker of what he actually does.

Regardless of whether you agree with Galloway’s argument or not, this all overlooks the innate absurdity of a government-tied social media corporation like Twitter labeling other people “state-affiliated media”. Twitter is state-affiliated media. It has been working in steadily increasing intimacy with the United States government since the U.S. empire began pressuring Silicon Valley platforms to regulate content in support of establishment power structures following the 2016 election.

In 2020 Twitter was one of the many Silicon Valley corporations who coordinated directly with U.S. government agencies to determine what content should be censored in order to “secure” the presidential election. In 2021 Twitter announced that it was orchestrating mass purges of foreign accounts on the advice of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which receives funding from many government institutions including the U.S. State Department.

“ASPI is the propaganda arm of the C.I.A. and the U.S. government,” veteran Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh told Mintpress News earlier this year. “It is a mouthpiece for the Americans. It is funded by the American government and American arms manufacturers. Why it is allowed to sit at the center of the Australian government when it has so much foreign funding, I don’t know. If it were funded by anybody else, it would not be where it is at.”

Twitter has also coordinated its mass purges of accounts with a cybersecurity firm called FireEye, which this 2019 Sputnik article by journalist Morgan Artyukhina explains was “founded in 2004 with money from the C.I.A.’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel.”

It has been an established pattern for years that whenever Twitter reports that it has purged thousands of accounts which it suspects of inauthentic behavior on behalf of foreign governments, you know it’s never going to be accounts from U.S.-aligned countries like the U.K., Israel or Australia, but consistently from U.S.-targeted nations like Russia, China, Venezuela or Iran. You can choose to believe that’s because the U.S. only aligns with saintly governments who would never dream of engaging in unethical online behavior, but that would be an infantile position which defies all known evidence.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Twitter has been aggressively boosting U.S. narratives about the war by frequently showing users a Twitter Topic without their having subscribed to it which is full of imperial spinmeisters, including The Kyiv Independent with all its shady C.I.A.affiliated origins.

Twitter also promotes U.S. narratives about the war by keeping a “War in Ukraine” section perpetually on the right-hand side of the screen for desktop users, which runs stories that are wildly biased toward the U.S./NATO/Ukraine alliance. There was a full day last month where any time I checked Twitter on my laptop I was informed that “Russia continues to strike civilian targets in Kyiv and across Ukraine.” The claim that Russia had been “targeting” civilians during that time was dismissed as nonsense shortly thereafter by U.S. military experts speaking to Newsweek.

When the invasion began Twitter also started actively minimizing the number of people who see Russian media content, saying that it is “reducing the content’s visibility” and “taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter”. It also began placing warning labels on all Russia-backed media and delivering a pop-up message informing you that you are committing wrongthink if you try to share or even ‘like’ a post linking to such outlets on the platform.

Twitter also began placing the label “Russia state-affiliated media” on every tweet made by the personal accounts of employees of Russian media platforms, baselessly giving the impression that the dissident opinions tweeted by those accounts are paid Kremlin content and not simply their own legitimate perspectives. This labeling has led to complaints of online harassment as propaganda-addled dupes seek out targets to act out their media-instilled hatred of all things Russian.

As more and more people find themselves branded with the “Russia state-affiliated media” label, Twitter has concurrently announced that it will be hiding the visibility of any account that wears it, announcing on Tuesday that the platform “will not amplify or recommend government accounts belonging to states that limit access to free information and are engaged in armed interstate conflict.” Which is a bit rich, considering the fact that the U.S. does both of those things.

“This means these accounts won’t be amplified or recommended to people on Twitter, including across the Home Timeline, Explore, Search, and other places on the service. We will first apply this policy to government accounts belonging to Russia,” Twitter said.

This diminished visibility has been verified by people who’ve been slapped with the “Russia state-affiliated media” label. So you can understand why imperial narrative managers whose job is to quash dissent want that designation applied to as many critics of the U.S. empire as possible.

If you are curious why the “state-affiliated media” label has not been applied to Twitter accounts associated with government-funded outlets of the U.S. and its allies like NPR and the BBC, it’s because Twitter has explicitly created a loophole to exclude those outlets from such a designation.

“State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the U.K. or NPR in the U.S. for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy,” Twitter’s rules say.

Which is of course an absurd and arbitrary distinction. Whether you like George Galloway or not, I think anyone who’s familiar with his personality would agree that if anyone ever tried to take away his editorial independence and tell him what he is or isn’t permitted to say, it would take an entire team of surgeons to remove Galloway’s footwear from their personal anatomy. Many people who’ve worked with Russian media have said they’ve never been told what to say, and Galloway is surely one of them.

The audacity of a social media company which works hand-in-glove with the most powerful government on earth to go around branding people “state-affiliated media” is appalling. Twitter is state-affiliated media. It is an instrument of imperial narrative control, just like all the other billionaire Silicon Valley mega-corporations of immense influence. Putin could only dream of having state media that effective.

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 Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative MatrixRogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

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

33 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Twitter IS ‘State-Affiliated Media’

  1. Tommy
    April 12, 2022 at 09:06

    And in addition there is this:
    “In a break with the past, U.S. is using intel to fight an info war with Russia, even when the intel isn’t rock solid”

    • Piotr Berman
      April 14, 2022 at 20:41

      “using not-rock-solid intel” — now we know what they mean by “soft power”. OTH, how ancient is this past the U.S. is breaking with?

  2. lester
    April 11, 2022 at 23:13

    For most Americans, finding enough $$$ to pay for rent and buy food is the highest priority. Facebook, Twitter, censorship is less important than imminent homelessness.

    That said the growing poverty of the ordinary American is more dangerous the 1% and their servants, the upper 10% or so. Fussing with algorithms will not prevent a revolt of the poor of the Rich. Think of the Mexican Revolution. There are a lot of angry Americns and a lot of weapons out there. Not all of them can be aimed at minorities and immigrants, or distracted with yet another war.

    • J Anthony
      April 12, 2022 at 22:13

      Agree, this non-controversy over Twitter and the faux-genius playboy Elon Musk, it means nothing. Twitter could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t effect the majority of people in any way, much less effect our free-speech privileges.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    April 11, 2022 at 19:17

    Twitter & the Co. behind it have made a gross miscalculation based on baseless assumption that was encouraged by Twitter & Co. knowing how much benefit it is to Twitter & Co. to be at the top of the list of high end boot lickers.

    I consider myself pro -America not pro totalitarian rule buy the super wealthy elitist, SWETS. This country just finished experiencing a very ignorant billionaire, proving that the super wealthy need not be intelligent to control large sums of wealth. This guy has proved it by losing money for years, nor are they any more moral by percentage that the rest of the population, sometimes being some of the worst offenders.

    The facts are that this entire issue with Putin could have been handled differently, very differently.

    Sanctions do not work over night and the president should have seen this blood bath coming. He is the one with the Super intelligence agencies talking in his ear.

    I don’t tweet with to many liars.

    • robert e williamson jr
      April 12, 2022 at 15:20

      FYI: I don’t tweet, too many liars. In addition I don’t do Facebook for the same reason.

      I do like my cell phone, messaging and videos are a good dear.

  4. April 11, 2022 at 18:01

    This is a very scary article! I don’t do Facebook or Twitter or any of that stuff so I had no idea all this was going on, but I do know that the whole world does Twitter and/or Facebook, so that makes the universal forcing of propaganda all the more frightening. Thank you Caitlin and thank you CN for working to keep some form of truth operative. How depressing to learn that it maybe a losing battle.

  5. Cara
    April 11, 2022 at 17:59

    Two CN contributors are currently suspended from Twitter: Patrick Lawrence and Scott Ritter. Is there any meaningful action we can take?

    • Rob Roy
      April 11, 2022 at 21:32

      Perhaps they should join George Galloway and others and form a group and take on Twitter and Facebook in court. I say that, then remember what happened to Steve Donziger. I knew when I heard Scott Ritter talk about Ukraine with more military accuracy than anyone else, he would be censored. He spoke on UNAC (United National Anti-War Coalition). If you want to hear him find it now before it’s gone forever.
      Thanks, Caitlin, for another piercing article.

  6. chupacabra
    April 11, 2022 at 16:29

    Excellent article on an important issue. Censorship of any dissident voices is getting stronger on several platforms – it is likely not just a coincidence. Anyone just questioning or exhibiting a healthy skepticism is under suspicion. Scott Ritter was banned on Twitter yet luckily reinstated. Youtube removed permanently the channels covering the war even though terms of service were not violated i.e. pure censorship (Yuri Podolyaka’s channel with 3,000,000 views per video). I call it “ukrainization” of the internet – there are activist lodging contrived terms of service complaints against ideological opponents.

    Speaking of NPR – I have never heard a single story from any civilian who experienced first-hand what nationalist battalions (like Azov, Aidar, etc.) do to them. I repeat, not a single story on NPR from civilians living in the Azov-occupied territories – despite plenty of video testimonies emerging from Mariupol. These are horror stories of systematic cruelty, I watched 2-3 videos (I understand the language) and my heart started to literally ache. I cannot be 100% certain of the authenticity of these videos but it is hard to make this stuff up, the emotion is impossible to fake and the overall vector of these videos fits, locals are simply afraid of Ukrainian forces (who use them as human shield) and curse out Zelensky. At the same time, NPR did a story with a mayor of a city who had Stepan Bandera’s portrait on the wall of his office (Bandera was an ultranationalist ideologue and Holocaust facilitator). I have yet to hear a balanced, nuanced coverage of the events in Ukraine on NPR – but that would shatter too many illusions.

    • April 11, 2022 at 18:07

      Chupacabra I’m fascinated by your remarks. I hope you will write an article that CN will publish, since you understand Ukranian. I’d like to know more about what these people are saying, and I’m sure others would too!
      CN – can you look into this?

      • chupacabra
        April 12, 2022 at 21:13

        I am glad the comment was informative! Well, I have never written any articles and do not necessarily have a coherent picture of these events – and Ukraine is internally diverse in terms of cultural orientations / historic memories / visions of future / ethnic identities. And this is precisely why ultranationalists who monopolized a certain version of Ukrainian identity and history as the default and only model for everyone are doomed to fail.

        Those who survived Mariupol had a moment of clarity. Everyone else (outside of Galicia/Western Ukraine): 30% are pro-Russian 50% are pro-Ukraine as an EU ally and 20% are in the middle, it is hard to say at the moment as it is not clear what Russians are offering exactly and pro-Russian ones are afraid (funny thing is that neither EU nor NATO seem realistic goals anymore so dead-end for EU-oriented political project or so it seems at the moment). Ukraine was fragmented and still is (just look at the presidential election results map of Ukraine in Wikipedia). Best advice is to listen to all sides, verify facts, and make independent conclusions – but like I said, certain voices have been silenced both in Ukrainian and EU/US media since 2014 and I mean primarily Eastern and Central regions. But I do not necessarily feel qualified to speak for them :)

    • J Anthony
      April 12, 2022 at 22:17

      This country needs its damned illusions shattered. We put bulls*** on a pedestal. Enough, right?

  7. Realist
    April 11, 2022 at 15:22

    That action against Galloway is a page right out of Orwell. He is being smeared as an acolyte of “madman” Vladimir Putin, just as thoughtcrime practitioners in the novel “1984” were tarred with “Emmanuel Goldstein’s” persona. Fictitious characterisations and fictitious alliances in both cases, but who cares in present day Ingsoc, aka Five Eyes, civilisation? The idea is not to be fair, just and accurate with your political opponents in today’s savage arena, but to simply “crush” them, as the current term of art goes.

  8. Deniz
    April 11, 2022 at 14:41

    Look on the bright side, the US has not yet succumbed to the Ukrainian Nazi’s methods of handling dissent.

    They hate us for our Freedoms.

  9. John Zeigler
    April 11, 2022 at 12:01

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” goes the song. Mortality has a final word on our dreams of unfettered freedom to do whatever we please. Everyone lives in some country or another, and every one of them has rules of the road for living in their environs. Kick against the goads, real or imaginary, Caitlin, but if we only spend our time here flinging ourselves against the ramparts, we will have little to show for time wasted. So, there is hypocrisy in the U.S. government? Surely, that is old news. How we find ways to make positive contributions in spite of the hypocrisy of others that we cannot control-that is truly the art of living.

    • J Anthony
      April 12, 2022 at 22:20

      You’re right of course, and it’s time to take that up a notch, yes?

  10. renate
    April 11, 2022 at 10:58

    As usual, Caitline is right. It is all about US global Supremacy. They have infiltrated everything and have proxies fight and die for their power grabs. They aim to surpass the British Colonial Empire, colonize Russia, China, India and Europe, and all the other little countries.

  11. Jeff Harrison
    April 11, 2022 at 10:18

    Let’s face it. The US MSM is state affiliated media.

    • Cara
      April 11, 2022 at 18:01

      Yes, my friend! Right as so often you are. In keeping with privatization, we simply privatized state media. And because it’s private we call it “free.” What a mind fuck.

  12. Em
    April 11, 2022 at 10:13

    And now the Musk taint makes it smell that much worse!?

    • David Otness
      April 11, 2022 at 12:35

      One of the worst of the vulture capitalists, Paul Singer, recently managed to get his claws and beak into Twitter for an undisclosed (to my knowledge) amount of stock; no doubt a meaningful amount however as it seems to parallel and dovetail Jack Dorsey’s departure. Singer’s vile infamy via his sociopathic nefariousness was exposed in detail in Greg Palast’s book “Vulture’s Picnic” wherein Palast took some great satisfaction in exposing him, making him a central character as he did, while mercilessly mocking him.
      Singer’s specialty is burdening already stressed and vulnerable countries with bail-out monies at exorbitant rates. Among his victims have been the Congo, Argentina, and even pobrecito Puerto Rico. The man has a black hole where most people’s hearts are situated.
      So Twitter’s devolution has a friend indeed.

      • Em
        April 11, 2022 at 19:25

        Sounds like the Paul Singer you refer to is part of the same ‘family’ as John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman (2004)

  13. Robert Wursthaus
    April 11, 2022 at 10:03

    Leave them to their own little safe space, where they can preach to their converts. Quit now.
    If you believe in free speech, truth and open discussion you really should not be anywhere near these sites.
    IMHO if you are on twitter, facebook, etc. you’re either corrupt or mentally impaired. Your choice.

    • John Zeigler
      April 11, 2022 at 12:04

      Amen, and amen.

    • Afdal
      April 11, 2022 at 14:08

      There has never been a better time to check out social media alternatives in the “Fediverse”, such as Mastodon, Pleroma, and Friendica. They can resist censorship at a fundamental level because of their federated structure: should moderation on one instance ever do something to anger its users, it’s a trivial matter to migrate to another instance without any loss in networking. The network effect is how the monopolies maintain their captive audience, but it has no power in federated communities.

  14. Crazy Talk
    April 11, 2022 at 09:46

    Perhaps it’s time to revisit The Communications Act of 1996 and Citizen’s United?

    • lester
      April 11, 2022 at 23:05

      Enforce the anti-monopoly laws against Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  15. James Terry
    April 11, 2022 at 08:58

    Twitter’s draconian rules have also been applied to Chris Hedges as well. It is also important to note that the censorship of Galloway and Hedges is also being carried out by the mainstream media since their challenge of the official narrative concerning Russia and Ukraine is not going to be heard on the cable and network news programs. The belief that the Cold War ended in 1991 appears to be less than accurate as the hysteria from that era continues well into the 21st century.

  16. Cynic
    April 11, 2022 at 06:46

    Another brilliant and concise article by Miss Caitlin, cutting to the bone, crushing the spine of hypocrisy and spitting out the disgustingly stinking marrow of establishment double-standards. It’s just sad that so many Westerners are brainwashed..

    • renate
      April 11, 2022 at 11:15

      The western so-called free press is united in one voice, it has been reduced to propaganda 24/7 in the covering the western controlled world. The Pravda had more credibility than what we now call our “free press”. Corporations are in control of governments and the MSM. NOT ONE VOICE OF DECENT IN CONGRESS.
      On Morning Joe there was Mika, Joe and Mika’s brother, ambassador Mark Brzezinski to Warshaw. That must have been a real objective discussion. When the current Biden press sectary joins MSNBC can we expect more objectivity? The revolving door between government officials and corporate media could not be better, even the guests are former political officials and now MIC lobbyists bumping into each other at the revolving door.

      • Realist
        April 11, 2022 at 15:28

        No dissent and they are not decent either!

        Much appreciated contribution, renate.

    • Kiers
      April 11, 2022 at 19:30

      +1 x 10!

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