Monday, February 26, 2018

Will the Real Julian Assange Please Stand Up?

There are many "Julian Assange"​ @JulianAssange accounts on Twitter, but only one of them is the real Julian Assange​. You must be careful to ensure that you are reading the words of the genuine Assange, and not one of the multiple "parody" accounts that Twitter permits. 

It is inexcusable that Twitter allows so many fake Assange accounts to proliferate, but their reasons are simple enough. Twitter is a private company, and it can do whatever the hell that it wants to do with its service. By mistreating Assange, Twitter also genuflects to governments worldwide that demonize Assange and WikiLeaks as a "non state hostile intelligence service." 

Splitting off undiscriminating users who follow fake Assange accounts enables controllers of those accounts to say anything and to attribute it to Assange, duping thousands of people. Deliberate confusion ensues. This is no mistake. 

Finally, Twitter prevents the genuine Assange from accumulating Twitter followers, reducing his data footprint and blunting the reach of his words. Twitter does this often, "shadow banning," using a variety of schemes, in an effort to suppress speech that they disagree with. 

This is why Twitter declines to register the real Julian Assange's Twitter account, withholding the iconic blue checkmark that denotes a confirmed account. 

Twitter's partisanship not only violates simple right and wrong, it is contrary to the spirit of the internet itself, which retains an increasingly embattled libertarian quality of permitting all perspectives to be stated, no matter how repugnant that they may be. 

One simple example is Twitter's tolerance of Big Harvey Weinstein, surely among the most reviled figures of our time. Big Harvey retains his account. And he has a blue checkmark. 

Assange exposed government corruption. Big Harvey reportedly raped and subjected actresses to sexual harassment, and allegedly ejaculated on a potted plant. Do the math. 

Twitter and YouTube primarily interfere with "alt-right" internet personalities like David Seaman (who quit Twitter entirely for a time, and just recently resumed tweeting after he was booted off YouTube), Lauren Southern (banned from Patreon), Mike Cernovich (a net media juggernaut banned from Medium), Alex Jones (another net juggernaut, host of InfoWars, on the verge of getting banned from YouTube despite millions of subscribers), his sartorial badness Roger Stone (lifetime ban from Twitter) and Jack Posobiec (banned from Medium). 

Other so-called "alt-right" personalities suffer ideological discrimination on Twitter, like Milo Yiannopoulos​, who has nearly 2.5 million followers on Facebook. Twitter kicked Milo off its service entirely, claiming that he harassed a black actress. Milo did not merely harass her. He observed that she is a shitty actress, which she is, and she looks like a dude, which she does. 

Milo's acolytes then unleashed a deluge of racism, misogyny, sexism and transphobia. I thought that that was what the internet was for, allowing a billion flowers to bloom, even the rankest. I am clearly mistaken. 

I generally favor market solutions to market problems, and this harassment of Assange could be classified that way, but it is time for Twitter and YouTube and all social media leviathans to be subjected to FCC regulations, regulated like any other communications utility. 

In the meantime, quit all Assange accounts that you follow on Twitter, and follow only @JulianAssange. You can also follow the various @WikiLeaks accounts (which is blue check marked, adding insult to injury)  but Assange maintains a personal account for logical reasons, and he should be able to do that without suffering such petty abuses from Twitter. 

How many of us follow @realdonaldtrump? Our president maintains and tweets from his personal account, reserving @POTUS for official statements. Even presidents are entitled to hold personal views, and nobody can tell them that they cannot express them when they wish. 

As an American, I think that everybody should be treated with the same respect that Twitter shows to President Trump. That would be egalitarian, and respectful of the free speech ideals that founded the internet. 

We all see what happens when private firms try to legislate morality: they begin by withholding a blue checkmark, then they censor. Nobody designated Twitter the thought police. 

Now please pardon me. I need to get a fresh cup of covfefe. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Thought Control, Propaganda, Censorship

I talked recently with readers on my Facebook rant page about the writer Ms. Caitlin Johnstone (Twitter: @caitoz). Their verdict is that she can be shrill, click-baity, and that she is trying too hard to win eyeballs. 

None of those criticisms invalidate her self-analysis, which I mostly agree with, except for her naive faith in socialism. In America, we do in fact have a mixed economy with many socialist elements. As a libertarian Tea Partier I consider the socialist elements of the American state to be its weakest parts. 

When market forces are permitted to operate, a Darwinian process ensues which usually yields optimal solutions. It is in our efforts to curb capitalism, to soften it, that we most often err on a macro level. I favor buffering the impact of harsh capitalism on American citizens when necessary, but I also think that we need to let market forces work. This requires balance. 

I say this fully witting of my own hypocrisy, as I live on a government Veterans Disability Pension. Without the state, without the US government, I would not be able to feed my family. Nonetheless, as an American, I reserve my right to criticize my government. My rights are enshrined in the Constitution, a document that we too often ignore. 

Like Ms. Johnstone, I condemn plutocracy and oligarchy, and I perceive both at the root of the behemoths of Amazon, Google and Facebook. These leviathans control so much of our current reality that I am forced to write these words on my personal website and on Medium, as Facebook artificially suppresses the growth of my rant page and limits the reach of my words. 

I have been stuck for weeks with a mere 687 Likes. Really? Sometimes the Facebook Pages software, which I use to administer my rant page, tells me the truth about how many people are seeing my posts. The number does not correspond to reporting elsewhere on Facebook, much less direct observation. This discrepancy feeds my sense that Facebook suppresses some voices, primarily conservative opinions, and God forbid that you earn the dreaded label "alt-right."

An outright pogrom against "alt-right" speakers on YouTube and Twitter is underway, and many have been demonetized, their channels given warning strikes, and an increasing number have been shut down entirely. 

Alex Jones and InfoWars on YouTube are treading on thin ice, despite millions of subscribers and millions of views, and it is my hope that Mr. Jones leads the way in suing the pants off of YouTube, which abuses its near monopoly on internet video. YouTube needs to be split off from Google on antitrust grounds, and it needs to be regulated like a communications utility, because that is what it is. 

This video by Lift The Veil may be deleted by YouTube at any time. The creator's solution is to post his videos on Twitch and on SteemIt. SteemIt in particular is based on blockchain, and is hence inherently hostile to censorship. 

There are definitions of "alt-right" and then there are definitions. If you accept the definition of the Southern Poverty Law Center, you brand anyone who is "alt-right" as racist, and the problem is that the SPLC condemns creators who manifestly are not racist as racist, and their categorization is not only a modern form of McCarthyism, it is widely adopted throughout the neoliberal blogosphere. 

Then communications monopolies like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now, Medium act, disguising censorship as social justice virtue signaling. 

On Twitter, Milo remains persona non grata, as does his sartorial badness Roger Stone. David Seaman has been censored entirely on both Twitter and on YouTube, leading him to take his 160,000 subscribers to his own platform on Fulcrum, leveraging the censorship proof video host BitChute. The problem with BitChute is that blockchain is built for transparency and permanence, not for speed of file delivery, so videos streamed from BitChute can be laggy. 

Even on Medium, censorship has begun, with Jack Posobiec, Laura Loomer and Mike Cernovich banned from the platform. The rationale? "Disinformation." I do not know how Medium can claim to discern "disinformation" without applying partisan filters, as was clearly done in their case. 

I am obviously well aware of censorship masquerading as something else, and I condemn it. When I am not lazy, I break out rants from my Facebook rant page and I publish them on Medium and my own site at I will soon resume publishing them on SteemIt, as well, another censorship resistant platform using blockchain. 

If you are reading these words you know that something is wrong, that the Pravda mass media is wholly suborned, that the corporate concentration of ownership is stoking censorship amid fears that our voices enjoy too much liberty. I do not know how that is even imaginable, as a First Amendment absolutist I defend even the rights of fascists to speak, but when six corporations control 90% of media, we see the consequences

The internet has changed mankind. Our ability to search data and to speak, even when we speak into artificially constrained chambers like this one, is unprecedented, and it contains the seeds of our ultimate liberty or our ultimate enslavement. 

Cryptocurrencies are the other great innovation that can change our civilization. Cryptocurrencies at this point are synonymous with the internet: to control them, the net must be controlled, and this is the threat that we must combat every day. 

I consider Ms. Johnstone an ally to a certain point, and I feature her writing because it often mirrors my own sentiments. If you do not like our ideas, you are under no compulsion to read me, or to read her. If you read Milo, or Roger Stone, or Jack Posobiec, or Laura Loomer, or Mike Cernovich, or David Seaman, you already notice that it is harder to find them due to increasing censorship. 

I hope that you will take the additional steps necessary to hear all those suppressed voices. My rationale is simple: We all can continue to learn until our final metamorphosis at the moment of our death, and hearing alternative opinions enriches our lives. We need to step out of our comfort zones, and we need to defend the free speech rights of all speakers. Mass media is already naked thought control: One person's fake news is another's propaganda.  

I appreciate every one of you who read me. I do not take your eyeballs or your consciousness for granted. I am not incapable of change. But at age 57, I have lived a rich life with many experiences, and my views are based on long experience and much reading. 

I hope that you will consider what I write, and what dissident voices like Ms. Johnstone and others say, as we live through this amazing time in human history.