With each passing day, the line between progressive liberalism and Leftist authoritarianism becomes further blurred; and as a result of Donald J. Trump winning the presidential election, rabid liberals have been attempting to impose their will on others by way of violence and intimidation. In conjunction with this, the Leftist media has been producing a breadth of stories concerning “fake” news on social media sites, primarily Facebook.
Many of the sites that have been accused of pushing out fictitious content are right-leaning, such as Breitbart, InfoWars, and Drudge Report. This is concerning for a number of reasons, the most glaring is the fact that conservative media outlets with an anti-establishment message seem to be a primary target of these allegations.
What is even more unsettling, though, is Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to combat these so-called fake news stories. In a post on Facebook, Zuckerberg outlined seven points which explain how he intends to curb the influx of dissident media. At a glance, these points may seem innocent enough; but upon further inspection, their resemblances to Stalinist censorship become more and more apparent.
Below, we will examine and draw comparisons between the points that Zuckerberg outlined, and the censorship commonly exercised by the authoritarian Left:
Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.
Here, Zuckerberg describes controlling the “highway” on which information travels (In this case, Facebook), and ultimately deciding where that information stops. Ideally, this would automatically flag any “undesirable” news article before anyone could even get a chance to read it, and decide for themselves if the article is credible or not. This effectively dictates whether or not you get to see new stories from your favorite publications–without your say in the matter.
The following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page “Printed Media In The Soviet Union,” which nearly describes this practice to the letter:
The press provided the transmission belt by which these organizations sent information to their representatives in the general public. Each had censors to insure that the journalist did not go further than were allowed by the government that would read through every article prior to publication. This degree of censorship was not only for soviet writers but foreign correspondents who wrote for western publications.
Do you see the similarities? When one controls the aforementioned “information highway,” it grants them the ability to assert what is and isn’t true, regardless of whether or not the contents of an article are credible. When this happens, it allows a single entity, or group of entities to practically monopolize the information that gets to the reader, which paves the way for the indoctrination of a populace (e.g., Communist Russia, China, and North Korea).
Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.
This is insurance, a way of making sure that any “fake” news stories that slip past the automated watchdogs will still get flagged. To ensure this happens, you simply make reporting content as simple as possible, and the rest takes care of itself. When the removal of “unwelcome” information becomes effortless, a person whose political ideology is threatened by such information is extremely likely to stifle dissent whenever they can; thus preserving their ideological echo chamber.
This next quote comes from Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book,” a piece of literature that essentially became the bible of “political correctness.” The book, which was a collection of Mao’s most famous writings, described in detail what a person with “correct” beliefs should do if confronted by “incorrect” ideas.
A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions.
Simply put, it is a Communist’s duty to purge any information that is deemed “incorrect,” or threatens to subvert their ideology.
Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.
“Fact checking” is a term that we should all be familiar with by now, especially after watching this year’s presidential debates. Basically, Facebook plans on colluding with orginizations like Snopes in order to determine which media outlets do, or don’t present “correct” information. In case you haven’t caught on yet, this is merely an attempt to justify the fact that they are blatantly targeting right-leaning media outlets.
This excerpt from “Printed Media In The Soviet Union” gives an explanation of how Communist governments work with professional orginizations that are loyal to the ruling party in order to censor news that doesn’t coincide with the status quo.
Censorship was backed in cases where performances did not meet with the favor of the Soviet leadership with newspaper campaigns against offending material and sanctions applied though party controlled professional organizations.
As you can see, any publications that criticize the government need to get their “facts checked.”
Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.
Yes, you read that correctly. The warning doesn’t go to the page itself, but rather to the person who is about to read the article. Facebook will be slapping a big “false” label across any article that is from a publication that isn’t considered credible in the eyes of the establishment media, or the “fact-checking” orginaztions with whom they cooperate.
The following quote is also from Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.” It explains how dissident ideas must be corrected, and claims that orginizations who don’t report “correctly” are to be criticized.
What the cadres at the lower levels say may or may not be correct, after hearing it, we must analyze it. We must heed the correct views and act upon them…. Listen also to the mistaken views from below, it is wrong not to listen to them at all. Such views, however, are not to be acted upon but to be criticized.
This is a polite way of saying, “Label them as incorrect, then criticize them for being incorrect.”
Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.
In essence, “raising the bar” means setting the standard for what is considered to be true. Anything less than what they percieve to be “correct” will not show up in your news feed as often as it typically would. In turn, stories from approved sources will appear more often in your news feed. This further establishes a system that punishes publications for speaking out against the establishment, and promoting stories and publications that praise the status quo.
In a document authored by Epp Lauk, titled “Practice of Soviet Censorship In The Press,” he covers this practice in great detail. This excerpt explains that when establishment media “raises the bar” for what is considered true or not, they become the only news sources that meet the new standard.
The media were used for creating an alternative reality, “an ideologically correct symbolic environment, filled with content designed to socialize the audience to the ideas and values of Communism.” … The media became a standard-setter, telling readers and listeners how to behave “properly” and say the “right” things.
You see, when you get to set the standard, nobody can disagree with you.
Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.
The best way to thwart opposition is to cripple their income. If news that isn’t “correct” doesn’t get as much publicity, it becomes difficult to make any revenue from that content. When Facebook starts flagging stories, labeling them as false, and directly intervening in the distrobution of content, those publications begin losing money.
This is once again described by “Printed Media In The Soviet Union.”
Books which met with official favor, for example, the collected speeches of Leonid Brezhnev, were printed in vast quantities while less favored literary material might be published in limited numbers and not distributed as widely.
When distrobution is impeded, there’s less money to be made. This, in turn makes it difficult for the affected publications to keep their websites running, pay writers, etc.
Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.
As mentioned earlier, the people Facebook will be listening to are those who support the status quo and spout unconditional praise for the establishment. This creates an inner circle of select groups who have a direct say in what is “correct,” and what is “fake.”
Epp Lauk again explains this in his document, “Practice of Soviet Censorship In The Press.”
However, only a limited circle of people were in the know of what exactly was allowed and what was forbidden. Concealment was largely used as an efficient means of intimidation in order to make people obedient to the regime.
It is no secret that the establishment media ignores facts in order to push their narrative, but when they collude with social media in an attempt to create an atmosphere that is virtually free of competition, it begins to cross the threshold into censorship. While they aren’t directly changing the information within news articles, they have clearly established the intent to discredit media outlets that go against the status quo, and subsequently make their articles less accessible to the readers.