With the rise of internet social media, patronized by multi-millions of receptive people and supplied by a small number of companies that have achieved dominance, a path way to information control was cleared.
To complete the highway, all that was required was its extension to and from Washington elites, neocon types, intelligence agencies and establishment types. These connections are being built now. They picked up speed in the last two years with the resistance to Trump and his agenda.
Microsoft now uses NewsGuard to rate news sites via an optional browser add-on; but NewsGuard’s ratings are biased, it being dominated by establishment types. Its blacklisting of the Drudge Report is an example. This is only one step in an ongoing process in which big-tech social media eliminate accounts and news sources. Facebook allied with the Atlantic Council, which houses the Digital Forensic Research Lab. Its aim is to “analyze open-source material to provide proof against false narratives”.
When the censors decide what’s false, they necessarily have beliefs about what is true. What if they are wrong? What if they are biased? What if the truth is more complex than they think it is? What if new facts come to light that tarnish or render obsolete their views? What if the censors act on behalf of interests in or close to government who want to maintain secrecy for their own purposes? What if the censors stand against Wikileaks, as NewsGuard does? What if truth-tellers sometimes get it wrong? Will they be entirely censored and cut off from certain internet avenues as is now being done?
Who will provide protection against the information protectors? Who will provide protection against false narratives that the censors believe in, which they use as benchmarks and claim are true?
There is no substitute for people thinking for themselves, and that requires handling conflicting and incomplete information. The notion of news-raters dividing the news sources into trusted and untrusted sites simply alters the problem. The problem doesn’t go away. People then have to decide which news-raters are trustworthy or not. Meanwhile, people who do not actively think about political and other issues are putty in the hands of those who control the information flows and shape the narratives.
The information control highway is in its infancy. It can go to unimaginable lengths to control speech and the distribution of speech, especially the latter. Sufficient control over distribution makes control of actual content less important to the information-controllers.
This disturbing development is going to be countered by the rise of the independents. Independent news sources and interpreters are going to find a market and build out counter-networks. The forces of censorship are going to lose this war.
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