Tag Archives: free speech

Facebook’s Begins “Ranking” News Orgs on “Trustworthiness”

Announcement Made as Zuckerberg Hob-Nobs “Off the Record” with Major News Media Execs

Facebook is the foremost platform where individual users alongside mainstream and alternative news media share news and perspectives. Now the links shared on Facebook will be promoted or suppressed based on what the social media giant calculates as their “trustworthiness” or lack thereof. The new program is costing “billions” of dollars, which is being spent on both artificial intelligence and “tens of thousands of human moderators.” Facebook’s efforts are allegedly intended to combat “fake news” and “deliberate propaganda, especially in elections.”

Buzfeed reports:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company has already begun to implement a system that ranks news organizations based on trustworthiness, and promotes or suppresses its content based on that metric.

Zuckerberg said the company has gathered data on how consumers perceive news brands by asking them to identify whether they have heard of various publications and if they trust them.

“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” he said. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”

Zuckerberg met with a group of news media executives at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park after delivering his keynote speech at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference Tuesday.

The meeting included representatives from BuzzFeed News, the Information, Quartz, the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, NBC, Recode, Univision, Barron’s, the Daily Beast, the Economist, HuffPost, Insider, the Atlantic, the New York Post, and others.

The event, called “OTR” (shorthand for “off the record”), is an annual gathering meant for new media news executives to talk shop. It is in its second year. Zuckerberg’s remarks were initially meant to be, like the name of the conference, off the record, but he agreed to answer questions on the record.

Even if it does not continue to overtly sideline conservative content, Facebook’s AI-guided censorship squad faces an uphill battle with an American public that is deeply divided along political lines, and 54% of whom believe Facebook and Twitter are part of the problem, according to a recent Gallup/Knight Foundation study.

Politico summarizes the paper’s findings thus,

Americans have a negative view of the media, believe coverage is more biased than ever and are sharply divided in their views along partisan lines.

The study’s sponsors and academic observers fault conservatives and supporters of President Trump for creating distrust of corporate media by subscribing to “‘Trump’s cult of personality credo that anything or anyone critiquing him is not real.’” Of course, such a view simplifies Trump’s stance toward the unmistakable,  across-the-board negative coverage of his campaign and administration from almost all quarters of the major news media.

One might wish to consider how alternative perspectives and conflicting information might be shared on Facebook or similar platforms once such “trustworthiness” guidelines are in play and in the wake of a complex public event, such as a mass shooting or terrorist attack. One can gather from past instances that major media coverage and commentary are primarily devoted to publicizing the official, state-sponsored narrative. Anomalies and contradictions will be deemed “untrustworthy” and accordingly tossed down the digital memory hole.

 

 

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TracyvFAU: “A Very Dangerous Precedent”

By Louis Leo IV and James Fetzer

Attorney Louis Leo IV discusses James Tracy’s pending civil rights lawsuit against Florida Atlantic University with University of Minnesota Professor James Fetzer on GCN’s The Power Hour, Monday,  April 23, 2018. Leo is the lead attorney representing Tracy in the federal civil rights lawsuit against the South Florida-based public university.

The two examine Tracy’s unlawful firing by Florida Atlantic University, the corrupt and fraudulent trial defense conducted by FAU’s corporate attorneys (who received significant aid from the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida), and the implications for public employees’ right of free speech and association in the wake of the decision. Leo and Fetzer also discuss the circumstances that led to Tracy’s termination by FAU officials, which followed a smear campaign by cyber trolls and major news media seeking to defend the Sandy Hook event’s official narrative. 

One day after the interview was recorded, on April 24, US District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg issued a 31-page final order denying all post-trial motions, defending her October 31, 2017 summary judgement rulings in favor of FAU, and asserting that Plaintiff Tracy was provided with a fair trial in her courtroom. With the decisions the case now proceeds to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

For additional information on case and how you can assist in the process, please visit the James Tracy Legal Defense Fund.


Professor Jim Fetzer

James H. Fetzer: My guest for the second hour has distinguished himself by representing James Tracy, who is an Associate Professor of Communications and the Media at Florida Atlantic, who is seeking to protect the American people from an elaborate scam by investigating the aspects of Sandy Hook, in particular, Lenny Pozner’s claim to have a son, Noah, who died there.

James was a skeptic at the time, but he was exercising his diligence and responsibility on behalf of the public to ensure they weren’t take in by a scam which wound up looting the American people of somewhere between $27 and $130 million in donations in the false belief that there’d actually been a shooting massacre, and that these 20 children and six adults had died. Divided by the 26 families that were impersonating the survivors, they split and derived over a million bucks apiece.

I believe this is one of the reasons Lenny Pozner has been so ruthless in going after those of us that have been seeking to expose the truth. James Tracy turned out to be targeted, where Lenny published several articles in the South Florida newspapers, including the Jewish journal, Forward, the Sun-Sentinel and others. Tracy ended up losing his position over this. The university had a flimsy excuse, but none better to address the issues here than Louis Leo IV, who represented him. Louis has a website, peopleoverpolitics.org, and he has authored a brilliant overview of Tracy versus Florida Atlantic, titled, “Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment.” Louis welcome to The Power Hour.

Louis Leo IV: Thanks for having me.

Fetzer: I’m just delighted. Perhaps you’d like to begin with a thumbnail overview of what happened here, and how this American university beat the First Amendment.

Attorney Louis Leo IV

Leo: Well, I can tell you there are a lot of moving parts in this case, but we’re still waiting for the court to rule on post-trial motions, which include a Motion for Judgement as a Matter of Law, as well as a Motion for a New Trial. And, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened. I guess you can say it’s been a long and disturbing ride through the legal system in this case.

Fetzer: I was just going to add that I too am a colleague, a collaborator, with James Tracy, and I was the head of his legal defense fund, and I believe in this man one-hundred-percent. In fact, I can’t imagine a less likely target for an action like this than James Tracy. He is so principled. He is so measured. He is so thoughtful. He is so intelligent. And he was actually undertaking at act of what’s technically known as super arrogation—going beyond the call of duty in an effort to determine the facts of the matter, and protect the American public from fraud.

Leo: Exactly.

Fetzer: They wound up being subjected to a theft by deception, by misrepresenting what had happened there. Lenny Pozner, Neil Heslin and others have defrauded the American people of a vast sum, and have gone on this stupefying campaign for gun control that’s completely one-hundred-percent the opposite of the interests of the American people. Louis, go right ahead.

Leo: I should start by saying that the reason Dr. Tracy lost in this trial is because of deception and fraud in the court, and it’s something that the court sanctioned, using the rules of evidence. This is outlined in our motion that the court made the grave error in excluding from trial evidence that showed just how blatant and pretextual the use of this policy was to terminate a tenured professorship.

Continue reading TracyvFAU: “A Very Dangerous Precedent”

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #76

Phillip and Katharine Graham, circa 1953

In 1988 Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, the central character in Steven Spielberg’s 2017 film, The Post, declared to CIA staffers during a speech at the organization’s Langley Virginia headquarters that government agencies should employ the doctrine of prior restraint whenever they deem it necessary and appropriate.

We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.

Steven L. Vaughn, Encyclopedia of American Journalism, New York: Routledge, 2008, 201. Cited in Janney, Mary’s Mosaic, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 269.

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Pozner v. Halbig’s Phantom Plaintiff (Video)

MemoryHoleBlog Video Series

The following is an overview of current developments in the Florida District Court lawsuit brought by one of the most prolific Sandy Hook victims’ families against former school safety expert Wolfgang Halbig. In March 2018 after having withdrawn the case the plaintiff motioned to reopen the matter with a most curious set of actions.

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Outcry in Germany As Rap Group Accused of Anti-Semitism Wins Award

Popular culture is often a field upon which political issues manifest and play out. In Germany and several other countries historiographic activity on certain events that may shed light on or contradict official narratives is verboten and can result in imprisonment. The purview of today’s censors using outrage to suppress utterances with which they disagree or take offense knows no limits.

If not for the First Amendment the United States such authoritarian maneuvers to silence debate on a host of issues and events would have already come to pass. Major corporations are only too happy to appease and abet such efforts, as the report below suggests. Internet behemoths such as Google, YouTube, and Amazon have already exhibited their censorial prowess to silence sociopolitical and cultural exchange.

As reported in The Guardian:

Big businesses have joined growing criticism in Germany over the awarding of an annual music prize to a pair of rappers accused of antisemitic lyrics, with Airbus chief executive Tom Enders adding his condemnation of the decision.

German executive Enders told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper he was shocked by what he considered widespread ambivalence about the Echo award given to rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang on Thursday, which coincided with HolocaustRemembrance Day. The rappers deny they are antisemitic.

German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang’s lyrics have been criticised by Jewish groups. Photograph: Axel Schmidt/AP

“That hurts Germany’s international reputation. Is antisemitism becoming acceptable in Germany?” Enders told the newspaper, adding it was his belief that an anti-Muslim text would have generated far more outrage.

The BVMI German music industry association had drawn increasing criticism in recent days for honouring the rappers’ album, which sold more than 200,000 copies despite lyrics considered offensive by many Jewish groups and others because of lyrics that refer to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.

In the song “0815“, the rappers talk about their bodies being “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners” while another says, “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with a Molotov.”

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Infowars and the Lawsuits: A Pincer Movement on Free Speech? (Video)

In this debut of the MemoryHoleBlog’s news analysis and commentary video series we examine the lawsuits filed against Alex Jones and Infowars’ parent company on April 16, 2018.

In 2017 when Jones was sued by James Alefantis over “Pizzagate” the broadcaster settled out of court and agreed to never use the term again, thus leading the way in chilling investigation and commentary on the scandal. Will the public witness the same tactic used in responding to suits filed by Sandy Hook massacre victims’ families?

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Alex Jones Sued By Sandy Hook Parents

Broadcaster’s Comments Prompted Death Threats, “Torment”

Editor’s Note: In an ongoing war against free speech the popular media personality has been sued in Austin Texas by two families of Sandy Hook massacre event victims.  The legal actions are significant because if they are allowed to proceed Jones’ defense team will have the opportunity to proceed through discovery with the parties, requiring information and sworn testimony pertinent to plaintiffs’ claims be provided before proceeding to trial.


Sebastian Murdock
Huffungton Post
(April 17, 2018)

NBC’s Megan Kelly and Radio Host Alex Jones. Image Credit: AlexJonesChannel/YouTube

Alex Jones has spent years claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ― where a shooter killed 20 small children and six adults ― was faked. He has claimed the parents of these dead children are liars and “crisis actors.”

Now, those parents are coming after him.

Radio host Alex Jones commenting on Sandy Hook massacre in January 2013

In a pair of lawsuits filed late Monday, the parents of two children who died in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, say Jones’ repeated lies and conspiratorial ravings have led to death threats. The suits join at least two other recent cases accusing the Infowars host of defamation.

I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.Neil Heslin, father of a 6-year-old boy killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.

Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the shooting, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their own little boy, filed the suits in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ conspiracy-minded media outlet is based. Each suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, Infowars and a related company, Free Speech Systems LLC. Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer is also named in one of the suits.

“Even after these folks had to experience this trauma, for the next five years they were tormented by Alex Jones with vicious lies about them,” Mark Bankston, the lawyer handling the cases for the parents, told HuffPost. “And these lies were meant to convince his audience that the Sandy Hook parents are frauds and have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people.”

More…

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FAU Faculty Support Academic Freedom (Restrictions Apply)

By James F. Tracy

Are faculty at FAU and universities across America pristine embodiments of integrity and truth? Do they support a flourishing of scholarly perspectives, or are they political ideologues who carefully police their own ranks?

Flashback to Spring 2013: A liberal instructor and Democratic Party activist is under fire by conservative groups for a classroom exercise that at least one student claimed was offensive to his religious faith. He put in a kick and local media leapt on the event. After an outcry in the blogosphere FAU administrators responded apologetically to the student and public, stating instructors would never repeat such an experiment with students. Even Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, ever the opportunist, responded by chiding FAU administrators.

This was the famous, “Stomp on Jesus” incident, where FAU instructor Deandre Poole, an African American, was carrying out an exercise published in a widely-circulated communication studies textbook that asked students to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then see if they could draw themselves to drop the paper to the ground and place their foot over it.

After the incident was called out by conservative groups and Poole received death threats there was an outpouring by progressive left faculty members, students and community members, who placed pressure on the administration to defend Poole by publicly demonstrating in defense of  “academic freedom.”

Continue reading FAU Faculty Support Academic Freedom (Restrictions Apply)

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Miami Police Officer Under Attack For Questioning Parkland Narrative

Second Law Enforcement Officer in Disbelief Over School Shooting

North Miami Police Officer Ericson Harrell

By James F. Tracy

Alongside the Facebook posts and unusual death of Broward County Deputy Jason Fitzsimons a second South Florida law enforcement officer is using social media to publicly question the February 14, 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Over the past several weeks Ericson Harrell of the North Miami Police Department has taken to Facebook to share ideas and insights with like-minded critical thinkers on complex issues and events. He’s been asking important questions about the Parkland massacre that are making corporate media heavily invested in the narrative increasingly uncomfortable. As a result several regional news outlets have lashed out at the skeptic, prompting his employer to open an internal investigation of Harrell’s potential “thought crimes.”

Ericson Harrell and daughter attend South Florida anti-GMO rally in 2016

The day after the Valentine’s Day shooting, for example, the North Miami police officer pondered in one post,

“What if the cops went into school and shot and kill[ed] some students?! Would they be forthcoming? Lawsuits would help to find out.”

Elsewhere Harrell observes the more-than-subtle psychological warfare being waged on the public through the prevalent use of terms like “active shooter,” to gear individuals toward anticipating an increasingly militarized society.

Continue reading Miami Police Officer Under Attack For Questioning Parkland Narrative

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