Caitlin Johnstone: FBI’s Muting of Hunter Biden Story

Zuckerberg’s deployment of algorithms to please the F.B.I. is a glaring example of how billionaires and government work together to control information in an oligarchy.

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

Facebook restricted visibility of The New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in the lead-up to the 2020 election after receiving counsel from the F.B.I., according to Facebook/Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“So we took a different path than Twitter,” Zuckerberg said during a Thursday appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience.

“Basically the background here is the F.B.I., I think basically came to us — some folks on our team and was like, ‘Hey, um, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was the — we thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump of — that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.’”

Zuckerberg said a decision was made to restrict that information on Facebook’s multibillion-user platform. He said that unlike Twitter, which banned the sharing of the article entirely, Facebook opted for the somewhat subtler option of censorship by algorithm.

“The distribution on Facebook was decreased,” he said, adding when pressed by Rogan that the decreased visibility of the article happened to a “meaningful” extent.

As we’ve discussed previously, censorship by algorithm is becoming the preferred censorship method on large Silicon Valley platforms because it can be done to far more people with far less objection than outright de-platforming and bans.

In addition to being censored across social media platforms, the Hunter Biden laptop story was first ignored and dismissed by the mainstream news media, then spun as a Russian disinformation operation. Those media outlets eventually came around to admitting that the leaked emails were probably authentic, and Hunter Biden tacitly authenticated them himself when he acknowledged that the information “could” have come from his laptop.

Nothing we know so far that came from that laptop was as scandalous as the unified front presented by the news media and Silicon Valley in reducing the political impact of an October surprise before a presidential election.

And now we know that the reason the world’s largest social media platform censored that particular story was because they were cautioned by the F.B.I. against allowing such information to circulate. How many of those other institutions suppressed that news story because they were told to by the F.B.I. or other government agencies? How often are U.S. government agencies involving themselves in the act of censorship? What other information is being suppressed in this or similar ways? What other information will be suppressed in the future?

Because of the veils of government and corporate secrecy which obscure our view of the behaviors of power, we don’t get to have answers to these questions. All we get to have is what oligarchs like Zuckerberg choose to tell us, in whatever way and to whatever extent they choose to tell us about them.

But even what we’ve been told is pretty ugly. A government agency and a social media platform of unprecedented influence teaming up together to silence impactful political speech is censorship by any sane definition. Mainstream liberals can come up with all kinds of arguments for why the continually expanding justifications for online censorship are fine and normal and not really censorship, but are they able to maintain those justifications when government agencies are actively involved? Is it really better when political speech is being censored by a collaboration of government operatives and billionaires than censored directly by the government alone?

Alan MacLeod has been putting out a number of reports with Mintpress News documenting the way many veterans from the F.B.I., C.I.A., NSA and other government agencies have been recruited to work for tech companies like Google/YouTube, Facebook/Meta and Twitter. The intimacy with which these government and corporate entities are working together is growing and they’re making less and less effort to conceal it.

In a power structure without clear boundaries separating corporations from the government, corporate censorship is state censorship. The mightiest power structure on Earth is growing more and more brazen and shameless about this reality.

You know you are living in an oligarchy when Mark Zuckerberg has more political influence over your country than any elected official. Democracy is an illusion. Those who live under the U.S. empire are a propagandized and politically impotent population who only think they are free because they’ve been given the illusion of freedom, and less and less effort is being made to sustain that illusion.

We are ruled by unelected sociopaths who have no wisdom, no compassion, and no intention of ever relinquishing their rule. This will continue unless and until enough of us wake up to what’s going on to stop them.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

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.

42 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: FBI’s Muting of Hunter Biden Story

  1. TimN
    August 29, 2022 at 11:55

    Notice how Zuckerberg has the truncated speech and locutions of a 12 year old?

  2. susan
    August 29, 2022 at 09:06

    America, land of the indentured, home of the stupidly fearful…Wake up and Stand up you weenies!

  3. IRISH
    August 29, 2022 at 05:02

    the fact that this distraction occupies the minds of so many when its based on hearsay is pathetic. it is about as contrived as the BS comes.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    August 28, 2022 at 21:09

    FYI if you have not already, I encourage you to find the MSNBC Feb 17, 2022 inter view of Floyd Abrams, by Ari Melber: What does the 1rst Amendment protect? Floyd abrams on Speech, War, Tech, & Canceling | Melber Intv Feb 17,2022.

    I can assure you that much worse ways to spend a hour and a half exist but maybe not any better way.

    Abrams is a delightful guy, who seemed to me to be on his best game. Simply watch the beginning for a few minutes the middle for a few more and some of any of the lat fifteen or twenty minutes. Melber asks great question after great question, Abrams seemed hardly challenged.

    Great stuff on free speech.

    Thanks CN

  5. August 28, 2022 at 13:57

    This is hardly unprecedented. In the run-up to the 2004 election, The New York Times delayed the NSA wiretap story for fear that publishing it prior to the election would hurt George W. Bush’s chances of stealing a second term. Then, as now, the false pretense of protecting election integrity was dragged out, albeit using a somewhat different format. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

    • Tim N
      August 29, 2022 at 10:30

      Remember Dubya wearing the device under his suit jacket during the debate?

  6. mgr
    August 28, 2022 at 11:25

    How wonderful to live in a free and open democracy because, as we all know, that is the optimal environment for society and individuals to flourish and prosper. Isn’t that the ideology behind the great “American experiment” in democracy and the image of America as a “city on a hill”, a beacon for the self-determination and aspirations of peoples everywhere? This image has been the basis for America’s moral authority in the world. It’s really too bad that none of America’s leaders of late, perhaps ever, actually seem to believe all that.

    Moral authority is the most important power to influence events. It is based on inspiration and mutual respect as opposed to force and destruction. However, sincere allegiance to these principles is required otherwise it drains away like air from a leaky tire. Without moral authority, moving events in any particular direction is increasingly, eventually overwhelmingly, difficult and fraught with collateral damage. Not to mention increasingly costly, as we are witnessing now. The bills for America’s proxy war in Ukraine have not even begun to come due. That will begin in winter and grow steadily worse.

    Without moral capital, treasure and power are quickly expended. The Biden admin has officially ushered in the end of the “American Century”, but hopefully also the beginning of an international cooperative of nations who can work together to tackle the existential, global issues facing humanity. Certainly worth a try without America blocking the way.

  7. Ian Stevenson
    August 28, 2022 at 10:40

    Zuckerberg settles out of court.
    FYI hxxps://

  8. cristian martinus
    August 28, 2022 at 06:05

    interesting that the author seems to conceive of Facebook and the likes being the evils of the world to then a few paragraphs later asking to follow her on exactly the same platforms. How does that make any sense ?

    • Valerie
      August 28, 2022 at 18:00

      I’m trying to think of a polite answer. (Or even a logical one.)

    • J Anthony
      August 29, 2022 at 05:01

      Sadly we are all cogs-in-the-machine, even self-aware ones; can you rail against a system while at the same time having to function within it? The Great Paradox.

    • Tim N
      August 29, 2022 at 11:48

      You just keep working on the logic end of things. You’ll get it sooner or later.

  9. Manifold Destiny
    August 28, 2022 at 03:15

    The last two paragraphs point to the ultimate paradox: If propaganda has rendered the US citizen politically impotent, how are enough of them supposed to wake up and stop it?

    • Valerie
      August 28, 2022 at 18:05

      See my answer to cristian martinus.

  10. robert e williamson jr
    August 28, 2022 at 00:57

    Congrats Caitlin Johnstone, very nicely done.

    Short and direct very accurately targeting the very real government-corporate joint efforts to conspire using High-Tech methods to deceive the American people.

    I might ad Mr. Henry Smith has the perfect solution to stop this chicanery by the government and billionaires.

    Americans are doomed if they continue to be lazy and vengeful believing bogus BS pushed out the shit spewing mouths of perverted government officials/politicians and soulless billionaires.

    To describe Americans as being “dumbed down” is hardly an adequate description of those “Exceptional
    Americans”, as they so proudly and warmly embrace false trapping bought by “access coupons” ( US $ ), flaunting their faux patriotism, decked out in the red white and blue, bereft of any actual understanding of their tenaciously weak hold on reality and life.

    It should be an embarrassment to them that they actually know so damned little of their own precarious predicament.

    It is very troubling to witness how little money it takes to create the narcissist illusion that one is a great American.

    Pretty easy for me to see how and why so many were lured into the MAGAT, Make America Great Again Trumpism movement.

    Thanks CN

  11. Guernica
    August 27, 2022 at 19:33

    Has there ever been a time in the History of the United States (and this applies to all nations past and present), that the ruling elites or classes have not controlled the narrative about all things important to them? I am 70 years old, and it has always been that way. The only difference is the degree of sophistication and technology increases with time. During the French Revolution, the Royal ruling class lost control of the narrative and the international elites took note and has never forgotten it since. Censorship by algorithm is just the latest Big Brother tool to come alone.

  12. CNfan
    August 27, 2022 at 19:22

    It’s my observation that there are no more actual reporters in the corporate media. They have all been either fired or fled. Prominent examples are Dan Rather, Phil Donahue, Chris Hedges, Robert Parry, and Joe Lauria.

    The people that remain are essentially con artists, good at selling confidence in themselves. They make millions by very convincingly omitting information their oligarchy masters want omitted, and asserting fictions, without evidence, their masters want asserted. Their trusting audience thinks, “they wouldn’t make such unqualified assertions unless there was a lot of evidence for it.” The brazen lie is a hallmark of the professional confidence artist.

    I won’t mention names (to avoid potential problems for CN), but this is true for the most prominent and highly regarded of our corporate newscasters. They deploy their faces, their sincere manners, and their reputations in service to a massive deception of society. This deception covers up massive crimes, including the slaughter of millions of people and the theft of trillions of dollars. Every CN reader can probably provide a list of such crimes.

    Informing the public about this ongoing destruction of our 1st Amendment right is a top priority. This massive corruption is rotting our society at its foundation.

  13. Sam F
    August 27, 2022 at 15:25

    Where oligarchy-owned mass media control public information, courageous and independent thinkers are fewer than 10 percent, and those willing to defend truth where this is socially, physically, or financially risky are one percent or less. New institutions are the key, forming a new public mind permitting public debate, the celebration of public spirit and human values lost in our culture of greed, lying, and bullying.

    I am working to set up the Congress Of Policy Debate (CongressOfDebate dotcom) constituted to protect all points of view, and to conduct moderated text-only debate among university experts of several disciplines, of the status and possibilities of each world region, and the policy options. Debate summaries commented by all sides are to be made available for public study, mini-quizzes, and comment. The introductory book can be downloaded there. Public-interest software engineers for websites may contact us there,

  14. Stack Ramoni
    August 27, 2022 at 15:11

    After all the lies and disinformation from Project Veritas, the Internet Research Agency, and the Trump Cult, we can’t blame the FBI for what they did in this case. They know Trump is a clear and present danger, and they weren’t about to let a probably bogus story about Biden make the rounds.
    As it turned out, the Hunter laptop story turned out to be true.
    But after crying wolf so many times with their bogus information and false conspiracy theories, anyone from the Trump Cult or from Project Veritas should be doubted until proof occurs. They can’t be trusted.
    The FBI did the right thing.

    • Piotr Berman
      August 28, 2022 at 19:20

      In essence, you advocate disinformation for a good cause, ignoring observable corrupting effects. It may be trite to say that “good cannot be built on evil foundations”, but consider the consequences of protecting anti-Trump alternative with censorship.

      First, reliance on censorship leads to bad choices. Sane people would agree that Sanders aged better than Biden (I would prefer someone younger, more able to adjust to the changing world, which could be Gabbard and perhaps, perhaps O’Rourke), his program was more appealing and did not have disastrous liabilities like a profligate coddled offspring. But Democratic heavy weights went for Biden at the critical junction in the primaries.

      Second, censorship and related manipulations (interference with “algorithms” of searches and “you may also be interested in”‘s) are quite effective against marginal movements like the one we follow here, but not so much against GOP with their reliable funding, media and the ability to create new on-line platforms. That being the case

      Third. Nothing helps “bogus information” and “false conspiracy theories” like credible stories on disinformation and manipulations of the other political camp. And given my second point, you cannot manipulate effectively enough.
      Those three points are not on moralization but expediency. But as disastrous course of this Administration shows, dirty means have a way of leading to crappy governance. Morality serves a purpose, without such guide we drift according to pressures of today and worn slogans of the years past. Without it, we do not observe essential “wait a minute” inputs to decision making:

      1. Is judicial torture of Assange such a good idea? If not certain, drop it as it is immoral.
      2. Is continuation of other Trumpian disasters like refusal to re-activate agreement with Iran doing any good? If not certain….
      3. If the firm rejection of Minsk agreements and other compromises that would avert war in Ukraine giving real benefits — apart from hope that it will hurt Russia more that our closest allies? If not certain…. Secondarily, did the rejection of ANY OPEN DISCUSSION on that in “legitimate domestic media” brought positive fruits?

  15. BB
    August 27, 2022 at 13:00

    How dare we teach the whole world democracy, if we ourselves live in an oligarchy in reality?

    • Piotr Berman
      August 28, 2022 at 08:56

      If Mark Zuckerberg is to be believed, we do not have democracy anymore, where an entrepreneurs freely decide how to run their shops, be them small or large — well, small shops etc. have not negotiate with large ones, but that is freedom and economic reality.

      Instead, when siloviki (Russian term used for people representing the muscle power of the state, like FBI or agencies you cannot even mention) visit with a suggestion, then the shop owner, small or large but especially large (siloviki have no time to visit every Mom and Pop place) have to obey. The obedient one may thrive, other — not so much. This is the picture painted for Russia, and, according to Zuckerberg, true here.

      Some differences between USA and Russia remain. For example, one analysis of some recent events in Russia concluded that Kremlin tries to strengthen control over military-industrial complex. In USA the bottom-up power of the people is sufficient to ensure that it is the other way around.

      Isolated anecdotes may be unreliable, but point-by-point comparisons between democracies and autocracies are interesting.

    • C. Kent
      August 28, 2022 at 10:21

      ? Wtf are you talking about? We aren’t teaching anyone anything but that money doesn’t have a conscience. Wake up.

  16. michael888
    August 27, 2022 at 11:34

    When Smith Mundt, the domestic anti-propaganda Act, was abolished (“modernized”) under Obama, the State Department/ CIA became LEGALLY the VOICE of Official Narratives of the Federal Government (ie, State Media) with all dissent and questioning outlawed. The Gestapo and Stasi were crude organs of control compared to the US’s 17 Intelligence Agencies– the unelected officials who now essentially run the US. All other alternative, independent views– such as CN and the many substack sites– will soon be crushed. We see this increasingly in both our Domestic and Foreign Policies.
    The US Official Narrative Covid response led to the highest number of Covid deaths and the 16th worst Covid death RATE (per million) in the World. The Official Narratives need not be competent or beneficial to Americans; their purposes are entirely about CONTROL.

    • Daniel
      August 29, 2022 at 12:17

      Bingo. Despite the fact that narrative management by elites has always existed, it’s become clear that the control mechanism made possible by changes to (abolishment of) Smith Mundt (thanks, Obama) will make it harder than ever to confront and interrogate said narrative. Now it’s all intelligence-led narrative control all the time, with a corporate media thrilled to no longer have to pretend any different.

      I will never forgive Obama for this or for sweet-talking us into accepting the unholy alliance of drone warfare and total surveillance (among other sins.) That guy is a first-class con artist, lately telling Africa they can’t aspire to first-world living standards ‘cuz global warming.

  17. Fitzgerald
    August 27, 2022 at 11:18

    Musscolini, the founder of the first ‘fascist’ party, named after the old Roman beating sticks depicted on the party logo, described ‘fascism’ as the combination of corporate and government power. This appears to be a good example of this.

    Which means, America is now a Two-Party Fascist state. I know the Trump Left denies it and does not cover it and only attacks Democrats, but the Trump Cult of Personality is a fascist movement. But also, we see the ‘opposition’ using both the classic fascist formulation of combining state and corporate power, and sending $billions to Nazis (I see no need for a neo- any longer) in a one-party ‘democracy’ in Ukraine where massive human rights violations defend ‘freedom’ . Which of course clearly shows that the Party of Wall Street, the Pentagon and the CIA is also a fascist party.

    So, America will be deciding in its free and democratic fashion exactly which fascists will rule us, with non-fascists both banned from the ballots and barred from speaking on corporate tv. After all, anything that is not fascism is just Putin Propaganda.

    • C. Kent
      August 28, 2022 at 10:30

      Fasces were not “beating sticks” any more than a judge’s gavel is a beating hammer.
      They occur to this day on public monuments and buildings all over the world, including the US Supreme Court & statue of Lincoln freeing the slaves. Orwell warned about what you do, when words mean anything any simpleton wishes to use them for, they mean nothing and become tools of propaganda.

  18. michael
    August 27, 2022 at 11:14

    Censorship: isn’t that something well practiced by the main stream press, the likes of Zuckerberg and the mainstream press of the internet?

    And most especially in regards to the brutality of Israel for its practically non-citizen/non-jewish citizens? Never shown. Never reported. Never revealed.

    Ask Shireen Abu Aklah. Ask Alex Odah. Ask Rachel Corrie. Ask the living and the dead of the USSLiberty.

    • Charles E. Carroll
      August 27, 2022 at 19:44

      Amen! Remember the USS Liberty!

  19. Vera Gottlieb
    August 27, 2022 at 10:49

    In German it is called ‘stecken alle unter einer Decke’…and so it has been for a very long time and, I suspect, will continue.

  20. Dfnslblty
    August 27, 2022 at 10:29

    The basic takeaway is not to rely upon fb for political or other news.
    Used as a social platform to communicate with friends and family, it might be acceptable.

    • Realist
      August 28, 2022 at 00:56

      Whoever would want to use a system of communication in which you could be muzzled, silenced, censored or told to shut up at any time on any issue? Sadly, this is the way that Facebook and Twitter seem to be run. Anyone who uses and thinks they DEPEND upon these modalities for the acquisition and dissemination of truth are being fools. Plus you are being exploited by the likes of the billionaire owners of these organs, like Zuckerberg (FB), Bezos (WaPo), or Murdoch (NYP) who have a major vested interest in how American politics play out and how they affect the economy.

      At least half of political speech is clearly understood to be no more than opinion or exaggeration as matters stand. Your recourse to remedy such a situation should not be to silence the sources (more likely quite limited select sources not in good standing with the mainstream) with which you disagree, but rather to engage them, presenting facts and making arguments to counter them, not forbid them to be spoken or written about. The only way that you and your argument can ever truly defeat what you perceive to be the opposition is to dismantle them logically or factually, not by censorship or threat of force. Unless competing ideas can directly engage, they have never had their respective measures taken, let alone claim any right to an intellectual or popular victory.

      Zuckerberg, you run a goon squad at the behest of a fascist spook agency that protects the interests of select insider elites and puts at risk the wellbeing of the masses. You are, in fact, undermining the “freedoms” in this self-acclaimed “land of the free.”

    • Razzle Bathbone
      August 28, 2022 at 13:06

      Yup. Didn’t FB start out as a fratboy rating system of women and then became a tool to “communicate” with friends etc? How did it become a “reliable” source for “news” and politics? I smell a rat.

  21. douglas sedon
    August 27, 2022 at 10:16

    “Nothing we know so far that came from that laptop was as scandalous as the unified front presented by the news media and Silicon Valley in reducing the political impact of an October surprise before a presidential election”
    – so, it seems what was censored WAS in fact a disinformation campaign. Which is worse? Allowing disinformation, or censoring it? Is it ok to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater when there’s no fire?

    doug s.

    • IJScambling
      August 28, 2022 at 12:17

      I for one would appreciate clarification on just what we do know came from the laptop and the surrounding issues. How far am I off and a victim of “disinformation” with the following? Be sure to let me know.

      I don’t mean just you, douglas, but anyone with some accurate knowledge of the case.

      My impression below has been gathered from reading many sources, right and left (if we can still make that distinction) and could be completely wrong.

      *Hunter Biden was hired as an executive for Burisma Holdings with an at least 50,000 per month salary. He had no experience for his position and was essentially hired for his influence over his father.

      *Joe Biden then squashed a Ukraine prosecutor who was looking into the Burisma Holdings company. He not only did this he bragged about it. Essentially, he threatened to destroy a billion-dollar arms package, unless said prosecutor was removed.

      *Biden himself is rumored to receive pay-off money from his son, revealed in the laptop. The amount is not clear to me.

      *Whatever investigation of this matter is underway appears to be zero. The Republicans are threatening a special investigation if regaining power in the midterms.

      *The hypocrisy of smearing Trump with association with russiagate to distract from this matter is not only “breath-taking” it’s accompanied by a foul mouth odor.

      • michael888
        August 28, 2022 at 18:10 (this link was originally from Consortiumnews). It gives a Ukrainian perspective.

        Glenn Greenwald was chased away from the Intercept (which he co-founded) when they refused to allow him to publish his investigative journalism on the Hunter Biden computer hard drives: hxxps://

        In the US the State Media always goes with Corrupt Establishment Fascism over Outsiders who challenge the official narratives.

  22. Henry Smith
    August 27, 2022 at 09:03

    I believe that it’s NOT mandatory to have to set up accounts on these establishment disinformation platforms. So, I’d suggest if you don’t like being spied on and lied to then delete these apps from your devices. By signing up you are tacitly supporting the corrupt oppressors.

    • Mikael Andersson
      August 27, 2022 at 16:10

      Henry nails it. De-platform those propagandists out of your world and support Consortium News. Great that you’re already here. Invite others.

    • Razzle Bathbone
      August 28, 2022 at 12:54

      You nailed it, pal! I’ve been advocating the boycott of these creepy unnecessary social media platforms for years. Vote with your participation OR refusal to participate! (The essence of a general strike.) I hear/read about people complaining about Facebook, Twitter and Amazon all the time and the astounding thing is the complainers largely STILL participate being involved with the same corporations that they are complaining about!!!! It is positively Orwellian. These corporations do not give a damn about anyone’s criticism of them as long as you stay engaged with them. That is how they make their billions and control information and people. DUH!

      • Valerie
        August 28, 2022 at 18:29

        DUH! is spot on. The best T shirt I’ve ever seen had the caption: “NO. I DON’T DO FUCKING FACEBOOK”. (Btw, i’m a great fan of Basil Rathbone.)

        • Frank Lambert
          August 28, 2022 at 22:51

          He was the best Sherlock Holmes ever, in my opinion.

          Never had a desire to join Facebook, Twitter or the other social media websites. I don’t even care for Zoom meetings which are fashionable and convenient for many people.

  23. August 27, 2022 at 08:51

    The US has been this way for quite some time, it has just gotten more egregious and blatant of late. The propaganda was pretty overt during WWII, and then was dialed back a bit afterwards. By the time we got to the cold war a few years later, it was in full force again. But with the integration of state agencies with corporate news and social media platforms, it is now just one big disinformation campaign run by and for the benefit of The Blob. It pretty much makes the US the premiere totalitarian state when it comes to “narrative management” (i.e., propaganda).

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