Caitlin Johnstone: Silicon Valley Taking Control of History

The idea that government-tied corporations should act as arbiters of history and accuracy is steadily gaining acceptance in the echo chamber of mainstream public opinion.


By Caitlin Johnstone

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Twitter has imposed a weeklong suspension on the account of writer and political activist Danny Haiphong for a thread he made on the platform disputing the mainstream Tiananmen Square massacre narrative.

The notification Haiphong received informed him that Twitter had locked his account for “Violating our rules against abuse and harassment,” presumably in reference to a rule the platform put in place a year ago which prohibits “content that denies that mass murder or other mass casualty events took place, where we can verify that the event occurred, and when the content is shared with abusive intent.”

“This may include references to such an event as a ‘hoax’ or claims that victims or survivors are fake or ‘actors,’” Twitter said of the new rule. “It includes, but is not limited to, events like the Holocaust, school shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.”

That we are now seeing this rule applied to protect narratives which support the geostrategic interests of the U.S.-centralized empire is not in the least bit surprising.

Haiphong is far from the first to dispute the mainstream Western narrative about exactly what happened around Tiananmen Square in June of 1989 as the Soviet Union was crumbling and Washington’s temporary Cold War alignment with Beijing was losing its strategic usefulness. But we can expect more acts of online censorship like this as Silicon Valley continues to expand into its role as guardian of imperial historic records.

This idea that government-tied Silicon Valley institutions should act as arbiters of history on behalf of the public consumer is gaining steadily increasing acceptance in the artificially manufactured echo chamber of mainstream public opinion.

We saw another example of this recently in Joe Lauria’s excellent refutation of accusations against Consortium News of historic inaccuracy by the imperial narrative management firm NewsGuard.

As journalists such as Whitney Webb and Mnar Adley noted years ago, NewsGuard markets itself as a “news rating agency” designed to help people sort out good from bad sources of information online, but in reality functions as an empire-backed weapon against media that question imperial narratives about what’s happening in the world.

The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal outlined the company’s many partnerships with imperial swamp monsters such as former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and “chief propagandist” Richard Stengel as well as “imperialist cutouts like the German Marshall Fund” when its operatives contacted his outlet for comment on their accusations.

Lauria compiles a mountain of evidence in refutation of NewsGuard’s claim that Consortium News published “false content” about the 2014 U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine, copiously citing outlets which NewsGuard itself has labeled accurate sources of information with its “green check” designation system.

It becomes clear as you read the article that NewsGuard’s real function is, as John Kiriakou put it, “guarding the country from the news.”

Then you’ve got Wikipedia, which blacklists the same sites as NewsGuard and whose operatives run relentless smear campaigns on anti-imperialist voices, thereby guaranteeing a view of history that is wildly tilted in the favor of empire-authorized narratives. Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, also happens to serve on NewsGuard’s advisory board.

This idea that anyone can ever be an impartial arbiter of objective reality is logically fallacious and is invalidated by facts in evidence. It is clear that imposing regulations on people’s efforts to understand world events on the platforms where people have come to congregate to share ideas and information will necessarily lead to an information ecosystem that is skewed to the benefit of whatever power structure is imposing those regulations. When that power structure is an alliance of oligarchs and government proxies whose interests are served by the ongoing dominance of the U.S.-centralized empire, the information ecosystem will be biased in favor of that empire.

The most impressive feat of engineering in the 21st century has been of the “social” variety. The social engineering necessary to continually keep people confused and blinkered about what’s going on in the world despite a sudden influx of information availability is one of the most astonishing achievements in the history of civilization, despite its depraved and destructive nature.

The empire has had mixed feelings about the internet since its creation. On one hand it allows for unprecedented surveillance and information gathering and the rapid distribution of propaganda, which it likes, but on the other it allows for the unprecedented democratization of information, which it doesn’t like. 

Its answer to this quandary has been to come up with “fact checking” services and Silicon Valley censorship protocols for restricting “misinformation” (with “facts” and “information” defined as “whatever advances imperial interests”). That’s all we’re seeing with continually expanding online censorship policies, and with government-tied oligarchic narrative management operations like NewsGuard.

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 onPatreon 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 andWoke: 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.

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13 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Silicon Valley Taking Control of History

  1. Crazy Talk
    June 9, 2022 at 16:00

    How about just turning off social media, then it will go away because advertisers are looking for eyeballs. Read books printed before 2000, and make the new rock stars Historians. Publish books with verifiable facts and leave opinions to the Richard Craniums.
    I once asked my Social Studies teacher in the mid 60’s why we only study history before 1900 and she said it was because the historians haven’t had time to sift through all of the material.
    In the 80’s, the ‘right’ ran candidates only for school superintendents on the God and guns platform. When those were secured, they went after local, then county, then state offices. This is how to get the country back. Get involved in your community and neighborhood and do what’s best for your kids. We didn’t lose the country overnight, and we won’t get it back overnight, either.
    And stop with the politics of division for cryin’ out loud. Bad things have happened to everyone, so stop with the ‘looking for a payoff’ from your transgressors. It ain’t gonna happen.

  2. Carolyn L Zaremba
    June 8, 2022 at 14:31

    We do not live in a democracy and have not for some time. We live in an oligarchy defended by militarized police, warmongers and war criminals, banks, Wall Street, and all of the security “services”. End-stage capitalism and its spawn, imperialism, demonstrate the rotting foundation of privilege and the rule of the rich. It seems to me that the only country standing up to the United States’s insane pursuit of world domination is Russia, even a capitalist Russia. South America is beginning to fight back, but the fact that the gigantic landmass of Russia is not under the thumb of U.S. imperialism drives the U.S. war criminals nuts.

  3. Mark Thomason
    June 8, 2022 at 13:57

    Censorship is commonly very popular among those who think they can impose it, and unpopular with those who fear it being done to them.

    The exceptions are people of principle who value freedom of thought and expression. We are seeing now that is not either of our political parties. They just want to censor each other.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    June 8, 2022 at 10:16

    Evil gaining the upper hand? Those of us who are still mentally fit must NOT allow this to happen. Enough with all the fairy tales we are being fed.

    • RS
      June 8, 2022 at 13:00

      To Vera:

      I have been saying this for quite awhile. Namely, the way things are we cannot stop this from happening. With democracy muzzled, a bought congress and a collection of manikins in suits, ties and toothy smiles whom we must vote on to assuage our duty as citizens things will not change.

  5. John Perry
    June 8, 2022 at 09:18

    We’ve replaced “Big brother is watching you!” with the more comforting “Big brother is watching over you.”
    “You can’t handle the truth!” with “Let me handle the truth.” It’s all in the phrasing.

    • Joe Wallace
      June 8, 2022 at 13:20

      John Perry:

      Mark Crispin Miller, a professor in media studies at New York University, has come up with another variant, a neat inversion that emphasizes our own complicity in yielding up so much of our personal information as the price for using social media: “Big brother is you, watching.”

  6. Cynic
    June 8, 2022 at 03:58

    He who censures has things to hide. The honest man is not afraid of the truth, the dishonest man however constantly worry about how he is perceived by others.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      June 8, 2022 at 10:17

      And the more a person claims innocence…the guiltier he/she is.

  7. firstpersoninfinite
    June 8, 2022 at 00:08

    The Constitution of the United States obviously cannot stand up to the Alien and Sedition Laws (or Act) put in place by Woodrow Wilson (or was it John Adams?). We can’t let anyone question the money-making machine that is turning the best of humanity into elitist gods, now can we? Money leaves a stigmata only upon the hands of those holding it. We’re a few legal turns away from oblivion. Best to give in to the demands of government and faceless corporations without making a distinction between the two.

  8. Shaun Onimus
    June 7, 2022 at 19:58

    Excellent article as always. Many in the Empire champion our ability to criticize our leaders, something other superpowers aren’t allowed(supposedly). But that is as far as our ‘freedom of speech’ goes. Which is likely why we have only been putting clowns in office, just to take the heat(without much real power, IMO).
    But once you criticize our foreign policy, dissent on a MSM view, you will earn censorship. Then we Imperialists can claim, oh but (insert platform) is a private company, they can do what they like. Moderation is necessary! And start/allow a hate mob to abuse the offender(s), de-platform and de-monetize.
    Big tech(which all have IC offices in their headquarters) is mainly Western companies, and those that get big enough (TikTok as most recent) are forced to sell to a Western investor(Oracle in this case, IIRC). They (like the media pre-internet) are another tool to keep the narrative in line.
    (Just to blow off some steam, MS bought Skype and basically killed it, same thing with Nokia) Anything(specifically comms apps/hardware) that picks up steam gets bought by printed out of thin air dollars, and burned. So we can claim Western superiority and keep the narrative alive.
    We were beaten by China in 5G tech so, surprise surprise, we banned them from competing in our markets. Rolled out weaker 5G, years later.
    Western tech companies are all gov’t lead IMHO.
    Sorry for the wall of text, thanks again Caitlin and CN!

    June 7, 2022 at 19:03

    Where else but in America would the state censorship and propaganda apparatus be privatized? Nothing like creating an opportunity for stockholders to collect nice dividends from the extinction of free expression. Still, the First Amendment is carefully worded to state that free speech is only a granted freedom, not an unalienable natural right – a big, big difference in eighteenth century legal usage which often goes unnoticed. In the next clause of the amendment, Bill of Rights author James Madison specifically defines peaceful assembly and petitioning the government as rights of the citizenry. And the amendment forbids only the national legislature to tamper with this “freedom.” There is no stricture against any action by the Executive or Judicial, or any state or local government or private organization.

    For those who may think the present state of “journalism” is a novel phenomenon, Thomas Jefferson wrote this to John Norvell in 1807 in the midst of unceasing Federalist attacks on him and his administration, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knolege with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live & die in the belief, that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time…”

    • Andy Stretton
      June 10, 2022 at 02:05

      Even if the truth value of newspapers in Thomas Jefferson’s time was questionable, they didn’t just go “poof” if the webmaster didn’t renew the domain name. Newspapers in the analog world were tangible things one could hold in the hand or store in a safe. At least they had that going for them, if nothing else.

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