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Medical Journal Hints at Facebook Lawsuit for Throttling Investigation of Covid Vaccine Trial

Greg Piper
February 3rd, 2022 

The fact-checking industry, empowered by the vast resources of social media giants, is under sustained scrutiny amid a possible legal battle among the British Medical Journal, Facebook owner Meta and a contractor it pays to flag purported COVID-19 misinformation.

Facebook stopped some readers from sharing a BMJ investigation of “data integrity” issues in a Pfizer COVID vaccine trial, BMJ editors wrote in an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in November. It also slapped “missing context” labels on posts that went through, warning users they could be penalized for sharing the article.

Contractor Lead Stories seemed more interested, however, in promoting guilt by association and policing political views than checking the facts, the journal’s editors wrote in a blistering New Statesman op-ed last week.

The disputes have major implications for the public’s ability to follow ongoing scientific debates around COVID, especially on masks, vaccines and other treatments. 

Facebook throttled a Reason article questioning a school mask study cited repeatedly by the CDC on the word of a different fact-checker, Science Feedback, which later admitted to falsely attributing claims

Asked about rumors that it was contemplating litigation against Meta or Lead Stories, BMJ spokesperson Emma Dickinson wrote in an email: “The BMJ is considering all available options.” A defamation lawsuit would be easier in the U.K., which unlike the U.S. favors plaintiffs.

Facebook didn’t respond to queries, but Lead Stories editor Alan Duke told Just the News the organization is “very confident about our fact-checking work and stand by everything we’ve written,” including two followup articles in response to the BMJ allegations. “We’ve been very transparent.”

He noted the organization has defeated two fact-check lawsuits in the U.S. by conservative pundits, Candace Owens and Gateway Pundit publisher Jim Hoft.

File: Order on Mtn to dism (11-8-21).pdf

BMJ’s November investigation was based on documents turned over by a whistleblower at Pfizer contractor Ventavia, Brook Jackson, whom BMJ describes as a 15-year veteran of clinical research coordination and management. 

The report was one of the final items tweeted by mRNA vaccine pioneer-turned-critic Robert Malone before Twitter kicked him off the platform in December. Anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also reprinted it, as he had other investigations written by the author, Paul Thacker.

Lead Stories said the flaws identified by Jackson would not “disqualify” the main Pfizer vaccine trial, but it didn’t question the assertions in the report, the BMJ editors wrote Jan. 29. The fact-check contractor also emphasized that Jackson “does not express unreserved support for COVID vaccines” on her Twitter account, and it later minimized her qualifications.

Two days before the New Statesmen op-ed, Lead Stories defended its choices at length in a blog post titled “Context matters.” It faulted BMJ for opening with a quote by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and mentioning the company “24 times by name” even though the problems were at Ventavia.

Facebook users responded by “wildly misinterpreting and overstating what the article said,” the contractor said: “When your headline or article causes a large number of readers to conclude things you didn’t write, you are doing something wrong.”

When BMJ first protested, Duke passed the buck to Facebook for the “missing context” label, which refers to “otherwise true or real” content, but he also noted the BMJ report was being shared by anti-vaccine activists.

It wasn’t the only credible medical source “affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime,” the editors wrote in November, citing a purportedly botched Instagram fact-check of medical research nonprofit Cochrane. 

Thacker, the investigation’s author, previously investigated financial ties between physicians and pharmaceutical companies for the Senate Finance Committee under Republican Chuck Grassley.

“They’re not fact checking facts,” Thacker told the heterodox liberal writer Matt Taibbi this week. “What they’re doing is checking narratives.” 

The significance of the controversy is showing “how easily reporting that is true can be made to look untrue or conspiratorial,” tarring good journalism because controversial figures share it, Taibbi wrote.

BMJ itself was accused of sloppiness with facts shortly before the Pfizer contractor investigation was published. 

It retracted claims about the purported funding source of the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration and its authors’ associations following complaints by one of them, former Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Martin Kuldorff.

Adverse event reports explode

Beyond policing narratives, fact-checkers may seize on one element of a source to discredit or distract from the broader themes of that source.

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler issued “Four Pinocchios” to Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s claim about hearing “story after story” of athletes “dropping dead on the field” after taking COVID vaccines. 

Kessler claimed Johnson was relying on “debunked” foreign sources that lacked or buried disclaimers that correlation does not equal causation, but the fact-checker also buried a counter-example. 

In the 28th of the 42-paragraph article, Kessler noted that a U.S. website’s video “Why Are Healthy Athletes Collapsing?” included a disclaimer that “a causal link has not been established” between the vaccine and athletes’ deaths.

Noting Sen. Johnson routinely cites reports from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, co-run by the CDC and FDA, Kessler said: “Anyone can submit a report to VAERS, and the reports are not verified. The numbers are basically meaningless.”

CDC Vaccine Task Force spokesperson Martha Sharan declined to evaluate Kessler’s characterization, but walked Just the News through VAERS.

More than half the reports for COVID vaccines between Jan. 1, 2021 and Feb. 1, 2022 were filed by manufacturers or healthcare providers, and 35% by patients, she said. COVID vaccine reports (742,007) were about 95% of all vaccine reports (784,483) during that time.

Healthcare providers themselves determine “the cause of serious adverse events,” and the official who completes the death certificate or pathologist who conducts the autopsy determines the cause of death, Sharan said.

File: CDC explains VAERS database.pdf

File: VAERS reports breakdown.pdf

An FDA spokesperson said the VAERS mandatory reporting requirements for vaccine makers and administrators were “highly successful as in 2021, VAERS received over a million reports of adverse events compared to approximately 50,000 reports received in previous years.”

She emphasized reports were required “regardless of the plausibility of the vaccine causing the event” and that it’s “unreliable” to compare COVID vaccine reports to previous years because of this “robust reporting.”

“A more suitable analysis is to use the reporting rate for [a] particular adverse event in VAERS and compare it to the background rate in the general population,” which is how the feds flagged post-vaccine “safety signals” for Guillain Barre Syndrome, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, myocarditis and anaphylaxis.

File: FDA on VAERS reports.pdf

Kessler’s fact-check did not contest the broad theme of Johnson’s “second opinion” COVID panel discussion featuring military doctors. 

Citing medical billing code data captured by the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database, the doctors found sharp spikes in miscarriages, myocarditis, cancer diagnoses, Bell’s palsy and female infertility in the first 10 months of 2021, when COVID vaccines became widely available.

Asked to elaborate on why VAERS numbers are “basically meaningless,” Kessler referred Just the News to Washington Post PR. Director of Communications Molly Gannon Conway wrote in an email that Kessler was referring to “Johnson’s use of the numbers,” not VAERS itself.

Facebook Plummets 20% After Missing Across The Board; US Users Drop, Guidance Disappoints

Heading into today’s earnings from social media giant Facebook Meta (technically, the first quarter since the company changed its name), JPM previews expectations as follows: buy-side is at the top end of Q4 guide (21%reported growth), with the expectation that management steer to a Q1 deceleration q/q (consensus +16%) and reiterate $91-97b FY expense guide. With the new reporting structure, the bank expects RL to represent a LSD% of total revenue and would like to see additional disclosure around VR unit shipments, engagement, developers, etc. The bank also expects FB to have passed 10m active VR units.

If that sounds a bit too arcane, Loup Funds’ Gene Munster simplifies it, tweeting that “the most important metric is MAU/DAU growth. Street is looking for up 5%. If the base is growing, the company can power through IDFA and macro headwinds. If engagement declines, FB will need the metaverse to bail them out.”

As for why FB (not to be confused with META) matters, JPM writes that its earnings along with AMZN, Friday’s Payrolls and the upcoming CPI print, will determine whether the market can sustainable rise from here.

Unfortunately, if it really depends on Facebook then we have a problem because moments ago Facebook reported EPS and DAU which both missed, and while the company beat modestly on revenues, the kicker was the company’s revenue guidance was well below expectations, and as a result the stock is crashing a whopping 16% 23% after hours.

Here is what Facebook reported for Q4:

  • Revenue $33.67B, beating est. $33.43B
    • Advertising revenue $32.64 billion
  • EPS $3.67, missing estimate $3.84
  • Operating margin 37%, missing estimate 38.7%

Some context: earnings were 4% below expectations, and that is enough to make it the company’s biggest miss ever.

And visually:

It was also ugly across the board on the user side:

  • Monthly Active Users 2.91B, missing estimates 2.95B
  • Daily Active Users 1.93B, missing estimates. 1.95B

Digging through the numbers shows that the company’s DAUs in the US and ROW actually declined in Q4!

And then there was guidance which was even worse:

  • Q1 Rev. $27B to $29B, Est. $30.25B: FB expects year-over-year growth in the first quarter “to be impacted by headwinds to both impression and price growth.”
  • Sees 2022 total expenses in the range of $90-95 billion, updated from the prior outlook of $91-97 billion: FB: “Our anticipated expense growth is driven by investments in technical and product talent and infrastructure-related costs.”
  • Sees 2022 capital expenditures, including principal payments on finance leases, in the range of $29-34 billion, unchanged from the prior estimate

As a reminder, starting this quarter, the company reports its financial results based on two reportable segments:

  • Family of Apps (FoA), which includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and other services.
  • Reality Labs (RL), which includes augmented and virtual reality related consumer hardware, software and content

These are shown below:

Commenting on what was a dismal quarter, the CFO had this to say:

  • On the impressions side, we expect continued headwinds from both increased competition for people’s time and a shift of engagement within our apps towards video surfaces like Reels, which monetize at lower rates than Feed and Stories.
  • On the pricing side, we expect growth to be negatively impacted by a few factors:
    • First, we will lap a period in which Apple’s iOS changes were not in effect and we anticipate modestly increasing ad targeting and measurement headwinds from platform and regulatory changes.
    • Second, we will lap a period of strong demand in the prior year and we’re hearing from advertisers that macroeconomic challenges like cost inflation and supply chain disruptions are impacting advertiser budgets.
    • Finally, based on current exchange rates, we expect foreign currency to be a headwind to year-over-year growth.
  • In addition, as previously noted, we also continue to monitor developments regarding the viability of transatlantic data transfers and their potential impact on our European operations.

In kneejerk reaction to this dismal quarter, Facebook is down 23% or $75 to $245, the lowest price since Jan 2021.

The afterhours drop of $70, or about 23%, is the single biggest one-day drop in FB history. In market cap terms, FB has lost $165 billion in market cap, or roughly half the market cap of Ether.

Meanwhile, these guys had literally one job and, yet, 52 out of 62 highly paid Wall Street “professionals” just cost their clients billions…

Source: ZeroHedge

Facebook, Google, and Snapchat Are Bypassing Apple’s APP Tracking Transparency and Still Collecting Data on Users

Downloading “free” apps onto devices more often than not allows app providers to collect personal data on users.  Of course, companies that manufacture and sell devices tend to collect personal data on users too (see 12345).  Having access to this data allows companies and providers to analyze users’ habits and preferences so they can market additional products and services to them.  They can also sell users’ data to 3rd parties.  This practice is sometimes referred to as “Surveillance Capitalism.” 

 As more customers are becoming aware of this, more want to be able to “opt-out” of privacy-invasive data collection.  Companies aren’t necessarily making this easy though.  Recently Verizon was exposed for automatically enrolling its customers into a new program that scans users’ browser histories.  Facebook, Google, and Snapchat are now also being exposed for continuing to collect data on without users’ knowledge or consent.

From Apple Insider:

Snap, Facebook using loopholes to bypass App Tracking Transparency

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

A new report is bringing to light additional details on how platforms like Facebook and Snap are working around Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to collect data.

Following a recent report that Snap and Facebook were skirting App Tracking Transparency (ATT) using a loophole in the feature’s guidelines, The Information on Friday detailed the quiet workarounds that the social media platforms were using.

More specifically, the companies are using a loophole in ATT guidelines to continue collecting aggregated user data. This is because the guidelines bar tracking users and linking “user or device data” between different apps I services, but they don’t specifically define “linking.”

As a result, even though nearly 80% of iOS have opted out of cross-platform tracking, app developers are taking advantage of the “wiggle room” to share data that could be leveraged to identify users later. Snap, for example, is using a workaround that it has dubbed “Advanced Conversions” to receive detailed data from advertising companies about the activities of individual iOS users.

The Information claims that the data allows Snap to gauge ad efficiency, even if a user has asked an app not to send that data to Snap. Although this data — which includes whether a user saw an ad and what they did on an app afterward — is encrypted, Snap can reportedly analyze the results and deliver ad efficiency information to advertisers.

Despite the fact that this is technically tracking users, Snap doesn’t believe that it’s violating App Tracking Transparency.

According to The Information, both Facebook and Google are using similar methods to glean data on iOS users. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment from the outlet, while Google said it uses iOS user data in a way that it believes is compliant with Apple’s guidelines.

Apple has previously warned developers and advertisers from attempting to bypass ATT, stating that companies must comply with the feature’s guidelines or risk expulsion from the App Store.

In a statement, Apple said that its ATT feature has “received strong support from privacy advocates and regulators.” It added that “a user’s data belongs to them and they should get to decide whether to share their data and with whom.”



Facebook, Google, and Snapchat Are Bypassing Apple’s APP Tracking Transparency and Still Collecting Data on Users

Stunning: Facebook Court Filing Admits ‘Fact Checks’ Are Just a Matter of Opinion

EDITORS NOTE: Earlier this year we wrote up a detailed piece on who exactly funds these so-called “Fact-checkers”, you can read that article HERE.


By Thomas Lifson

Surprisingly little attention is being paid to a bombshell admission made by the attorneys representing the corporation formerly known as Facebook, Inc., which has now transitioned into Meta Platforms, Inc.

In a court filing responding to a lawsuit filed by John Stossel claiming that he was defamed by a “fact check” Facebook used to label a video by him as “misleading,” Meta’s attorneys assert that the “fact check” was an “opinion,” not an actual check of facts and declaration of facts.  Under libel law, opinions are protected from liability for libel.

Anthony Watts of Wattsupwiththat explains:

Opinions are not subject to defamation claims, while false assertions of fact can be subject to defamation. The quote in Facebook’s complaint is,

Meta’s attorneys come from the white-shoe law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dore, with over a thousand attorneys and more than a billion dollars a year in revenue.  They obviously checked out the implications of the matter for Section 230 issues, the legal protection Facebook/Meta have from liability for what is posted on their site.  But at a minimum, this is a public relations disaster, revealing that their “fact checks” are not factual at all and should be labeled as “our opinion” or some such language avoiding the word “fact.”

As an amateur, it seems to me that if Facebook inserts its opinions into posts or blocks them because of its opinion, then that does make it a publisher with legal responsibility for what appears on its website.

Technically speaking, Facebook farms out its “fact-checking” to outside organizations, usually left-wing groups.  In the case of Stossel’s video that was defamed, the outside website is called “Climate Feedback,” which is also named a defendant in the lawsuit.

Watts summarizes well the P.R. implications:

Such “fact checks” are now shown to be simply an agenda to supress [sic] free speech and the open discussion of science by disguising liberal media activism as something supposedly factual, noble, neutral, trustworthy, and based on science.

In light of Facebook’s admission, it’s time for the Washington Post to offer a correction to this piece by Ethan Porter and Thomas J. Wood, published less than a month ago, titled “Fact checks actually work, even on Facebook. But not enough people see them.”

So-called “fact-checking” is a fraud used to cover up the censorship of opinions that differ from those of the powerful Silicon Valley oligarchy.  And now we have proof attested to in a court filing by one of the richest companies in the world, represented by some of the most elite lawyers in the world.

200+ Local Newspapers Sue Google and Facebook

More than 200 newspapers across the U.S. have reportedly joined antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook over the past year. The lawsuits claim that Facebook and Google have monopolized the digital ads market, taking revenue that should have gone to local news outlets.

Axios reports that newspapers across the United States have been joining antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, claiming that the tech giants monopolized the online digital ads market and took revenue that would otherwise have gone to local news.

Freshly printed copies of the San Francisco Chronicle move on an overhead conveyor belt November 8, 2009 in Fremont, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The situation began as an effort by small-town local newspapers to take a stand against the tech giants, but has since turned into a national movement with over 200 newspapers across dozens of states joining the cause.

Doug Reynolds, the managing partner of HD Media, a holding company that owns multiple newspapers across West Virginia including the Charleston Gazette-Mail, stated: “The intellectual framework for this developed over the last 3-4 years.”

Reynolds filed the first newspaper lawsuit in January in West Virginia. He worked with a coalition of lawyers to file the first lawsuit; the coalition has since agreed to represent newspapers all over the country that are interested in filing similar lawsuits.

The lawyers include antitrust litigation experts and those with a personal interest in newspapers, such as Farrell and Fuller, Fitzsimmons Law Firm, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Herman Jones LLP. The law firms are working on contingency, meaning that they will only get paid if the newspapers win settlements or verdicts against the Masters of the Universe.
The coalition of lawyers has been retained by over 30 newspaper ownership groups on the behalf of more than 200 publications. Antitrust complaints have been filed by 17 different ownership groups on behalf of around 150 newspapers.

News Media Alliance General Counsel Danielle Coffey said in a statement: “We fully support this litigation.” Clayton Fitzsimmons, one of the lawyers involved in the coalition, stated that the goal of the litigation is “to recover past damages to newspapers” caused by Big Tech firms.

The other aim is to “establish a new system going forward in which newspapers aren’t just competitive again, but can thrive.”

Read more at Axios here.

Report: Facebook Introducing a ‘Virality Circuit Breaker’ to Prevent Spread of Viral Content

Lucas Nolan,
August 21st, 2020

According to a recent report from the Interface newsletter by Verge reporter Casey Newton, Facebook is piloting a new program that will monitor viral posts that gain millions of views to ensure that they don’t violate community standards.

The Verge reporter Casey Newton reports in the newsletter the Interface that social media giant Facebook is developing a new program to fight viral misinformation on the platform. In the newsletter, Newton lists suggestions made by the Center for American Progress (CAP) to prevent the spread of certain content on the platform.

Newton writes:

Still, tech platforms probably have more tools to manage the spread of misinformation than they’re using today. In its report “Fighting Coronavirus Misinformation and Disinformation,” the Center for American Progress lays out a trio of suggestions for doing just that. They are:

Virality circuit breakers. Platforms should detect, label, suspend algorithmic amplification, and prioritize rapid review and fact-checking of trending coronavirus content that displays reliable misinformation markers, which can be drawn from the existing body of coronavirus mis/disinformation.

Scan-and-suggest features. Platforms should develop privacy-sensitive features to scan draft posts, detect drafts discussing the coronavirus, and suggest quality information to users or provide them cues about being thoughtful or aware of trending mis/disinformation prior to publication.

Subject matter context additions. Social media platforms should embed quality information and relevant fact checks around posts on coronavirus topics. Providing in-post context by default can help equip users with the information they need to interpret the post content for themselves.

Newton further states that Facebook said late on Thursday that it is already piloting a program that resembles the “Virality circuit breakers” suggestion from CAP.

In a recent article by the New York Times, it was reported that Facebook is also working on ap political advertising “kill switch” to be activated if President Trump questions the legitimacy of presidential election results in November.

The NYT writes:

In a staff meeting later that week, Mr. Zuckerberg told employees that if political figures or commentators tried declaring victory in an election early, Facebook would consider adding a label to their posts explaining that the results were not final. Of Mr. Trump, Mr. Zuckerberg said the company was “in unprecedented territory with the president saying some of the things that he’s saying that I find quite troubling.” The meeting was reported earlier by BuzzFeed News.

Since then, executives have discussed the “kill switch” for political advertising, according to two employees, which would turn off political ads after Nov. 3 if the election’s outcome was not immediately clear or if Mr. Trump disputed the results.
The discussions remain fluid, and it is unclear if Facebook will follow through with the plan, three people close to the talks said.

In a call with reporters this month, Facebook executives said they had removed more than 110,000 pieces of content between March and July that violated the company’s election-related policies. They also said there was a lot about the election that they didn’t know.

Facebook’s New Terms Of Service Update Sounds A Lot Like Censorship

Joe Martino
September 1, 2020

Facebook users began receiving notifications about updates to FB’s terms of service. The wording has users wondering if this is another move at censorship. Is it clear yet that big tech companies engage in censorship? If they are controlling what content you see, is it important to question why we believe what we believe, and where that information came from?

Many Facebook users have been receiving notifications from Facebook stating that on Oct. 1, 2020, they will be updating their Terms of Service. The new changes will allow Facebook to remove content or restrict access if the company feels it is necessary to avoid legal or regulatory impact.

Desktop and mobile users were receiving notifications that looked like this:

Effective October 1, 2020, section 3.2 of our Terms of Service will be updated to include: “We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.”

Users of social media have been rather critical of the recent updates, feeling that it may lead to more censorship or election meddling from big tech companies. Other users feel this could be a great move to get rid of more fake news.

Before we move on, don’t get me wrong, fake news exists, and is a problem. I have spoken to many other website owners within the independent media community over the years, urging them to take a deeper look at some of the stories they put out and ask whether they are actually true. People can do poor research at times, and they can miss important facts. At other times, some websites seek only to make money and thus they post anything that will get them traffic, even if it’s false.

That said, much of independent media has been falsely lumped in with those unique cases, making us seem guilty by association as opposed to actually creating false news. We have had this experience ourselves.

As a journalist and publisher for the last 11 years who has not been quiet about political corruption, and who has inspired many to transform themselves to transform the world, I can say that here at Collective Evolution we’ve experienced a great deal of Facebook censorship. Since Facebook began censoring Collective Evolution’s content shortly after the 2016 US presidential election, we’ve lost millions in revenue and have had to completely restructure our business as a result. This is not something I’m complaining about per se, it’s more so making you aware of what has happened all while Facebook simply touted that they were trying to stop ‘fake news’ and keep ‘quality content’ on their platform. So why were we affected under those terms?

Facebook’s ‘independent fact-checkers’ have come after our content at least 30+ times. The vast majority of the time perhaps, 95%, fact-checkers are flat out wrong about their classification of our content being “false.” We’ve chronicled our stories about this many times over, you can see an example here.  It takes weeks to speak with them and get the ‘false news’ strikes removed, costing us reach, revenue and reputation. We would argue that this is the primary motivator behind why fact-checkers classify content as false, by the time a strike gets removed, the damage is already done. People believe the story isn’t true, and the company that wrote it loses trust amongst people.

Facebook’s terms have always been misleading and vague, one could argue that in some ways these new ones feel more direct: “We’re going to delete content.” Although that is clear, what’s still vague is what they will delete. This makes it very tough for any user or company to know what to do in order to be ‘safe’ in the eyes of Facebook.

Really looking at it, in plain language, Facebook’s updated terms coming into effect Oct. 1, 2020 essentially read ‘We don’t care if the content is true, false, legal or illegal, we will remove anything that may help us not get caught allowing it on our platform.”

A human rights commenter on Twitter noted:

Disturbing new addition to #Facebook terms of service that could be used to justify online censorship, particularly with govts using restrictive national laws to order social media platforms to censor information critical of the govt or monarchy in violation of #OnlineFreedom

It’s certainly reasonable to think Facebook is giving themselves permission to remove content that governments could come after them for, is this in essence government-driven censorship? It’s hard to say, but I’m sure time will tell.

The challenging part as always is, who decides what is false and is not? Who decides what is dangerous? Can true information that the people should know be claimed as false? Can it be claimed as dangerous?

Are these new changes coming in just in time for the 2020 presidential election in the US? So that any dissenting voices can be removed ‘fairly’ and without reason? Who knows. We don’t write these stories to predict or even make anyone fearful of where we are headed. We write them so people are aware of what is at play so we can make different choices in our lives. Without being aware of something, and choosing to question, how are we supposed to change the world around us?

This would not be the first time efforts have gone into shaping public perception via censoring or hiding information from people. The CIA’s Project Mockingbird was very clear on that, and it’s more than likely that the project was never shut down. The key question is, is what we believe about our world really true? And if it isn’t, how do we find truth when independent media is being shut out on social media platforms? Can we truly trust mainstream media with their long-held reputation of poor journalism and deception?

Facebook Threatens to Pull the Plug on News for Australian Users

August 31, 2020

Facebook is threatening to stop Australian users from sharing news content on its services, including Instagram, in response to laws that will compel the tech giant to pay media companies for content.

The company’s public statement on the matter comes just two weeks after Google launched a public salvo against the mandatory code announced by Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

In the statement released on Sep. 1, Facebook’s Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand, Will Easton, said the code misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and would damage news organisations.

“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” he said.

“This is not our first choice—it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector,” he added.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives the keynote address during the Facebook F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco, Calif., on March 25, 2015. (Eric Risberg/AP Photo)

Treasurer Frydenberg was quick to respond telling AAP on the same day, “Australia makes laws that advance our national interest. We don’t respond to coercion or heavy handed threats wherever they come from.”

“Our reforms to digital platforms are world leading and following a ground breaking 18 month inquiry by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC),” he added.

On July 31, the treasurer announced a new code, or bargaining model, that would compel tech giants Facebook and Google to enter negotiations with media companies to pay for news content. If negotiations fail, an independent arbitrator would mandate a deal.

The code is seeking to address concerns over media companies not being properly compensated for creating content, which is being leveraged for free by Google and Facebook to generate web traffic on their own platforms, which they can then sell advertising for.

According to Frydenberg: “For every $100 spent by advertisers in Australia on online advertising … $47 goes to Google, $24 to Facebook, and $29 to other participants.”

Facebook’s Easton however said it was perplexing for the social media company to have to pay media publishers when they voluntarily place content on the platform and benefit from the reach.

“News organisations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook for this precise reason, and they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories,” he stated.

The logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google on a tablet in Lille, France
The logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google on a tablet in Lille, France, on Oct. 1, 2019. (Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images)

“Over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge—additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers,” he continued. Easton also said news content was not a major revenue generator for the company.

Rob Nicholls, associate professor at the University of New South Wales, disagrees.

He told The Epoch Times on Sep 1: “Although Google and Facebook say that news content is not important, the absence of news will be stark.”

“It seems to me that Facebook has put its whole focus on the financial aspects of the draft code without considering the issues associated with non-discrimination,” he said.

Non-discrimination would mean the tech giants cannot be seen to preference other news content from around the world, over Australian news providers.

“If Facebook publishes any non-Australian news, then this runs the risk of being discriminatory and facing a penalty of 10 percent of Australian revenue,” he said.

Both Google and Facebook have threatened to radically change their business models and withdraw their news services in response to the government’s efforts.

Nicholls believes however that other players will enter the market and take their place.

“It is likely that the news companies will offer a news search function as an alternative to Google. Apple News+ is a paid service, but the newly saved AAP (news wire service) could take on this function with philanthropic support,” he said.

Zuckerberg, Facebook & Three “Fact-Checkers” Sued For Government Sponsored Censorship

Joe Martino
August 18, 2020

Children’s Health Defense sues Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Inc and three different “fact-checkers” for censoring information CHD shares. Is it time to question our perceptions given the fact may have been shaped by false information coming from the mainstream media and fact checkers?

How much of what you believe is going on within the world’s current events is actually true? Do you think you would make different decisions if your perception was missing important bits of information that change any given story? This is an important question right now, as much of what people think is happening comes from mainstream media or “fact-checkers,” and much of the time, it’s only a small piece to the story that doesn’t truly inform people.

Ongoing Facebook censorship is forcing the hand of independent organizations who have had enough of the platform’s allowance of independent “fact-checkers” to decide what is true and not true on Facebook, and also for unjustly destroying the trust these organizations work for years to build.

What Happened: Children’s Health Defense, led by Robert F Kennedy Jr., has sued Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook INC, and three “fact-checkers” (SCIENCE FEEDBACK, POYNTER INSTITUTE, and POLITIFACT) for censoring CHD’s content on Facebook. CHD cited 1) FIRST AND FIFTH AMENDMENTS (BIVENS); 2) LANHAM ACT (15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)); 3) RICO FRAUD (18 U.S.C. § 1962); 4) DECLARATORY RELIEF as their official complaints.

As posted on the CHD website:

Facebook acknowledges that it coordinates its censorship campaign with the WHO and the CDC. While earlier court decisions have upheld Facebook’s right to censor its pages, CHD argues that Facebook’s pervasive government collaborations make its censorship of CHD a First Amendment violation. The government’s role in Facebook’s censorship goes deeper than its close coordination with CDC and WHO. The Facebook censorship began at the suggestion of powerful Democratic Congressman and Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Adam Schiff, who in March 2019 asked Facebook to suppress and purge internet content critical of government vaccine policies. Facebook and Schiff use the term “misinformation” as a euphemism for any statement, whether truthful or not, that contradicts official government pronouncements. The WHO issued a press release commending Facebook for coordinating its ongoing censorship campaign with public health officials. That same day, Facebook published a “warning label” on CHD’s page, which implies that CHD’s content is inaccurate, and directs CHD followers to turn to the CDC for “reliable, up to date information.” This is an important First Amendment case that tests the boundaries of government authority to openly censor unwanted critique of government.

Why It Matters: Many Facebook users are unaware that their perceptions about world events are manufactured by powerful interests and not facts. While people utilize news platforms and social media to get their news, they often don’t have the time nor take the action of verifying the claims from any news source. Mainstream media is often blindly trusted, and anything on Facebook labeled as ‘false’ is filed away in the mental category of “never trust this website or other stories of this same topic.” These perceptions then inform the decisions people make in their lives. Everything from what politicians to support, what products are safe, whether to vaccinate their children, and so on.

Are we allowing powerful corporations, with direct interests in public acceptance and belief in certain ideas to regulate what information is true? Can we honestly say that our beliefs and perceptions around certain current events are grounded in facts? Have we been told all the facts? Or are some left out due to censorship?

The Real World Results of Censorship

The fact that Science Feedback is on this list is somewhat a personal pleasure for me, as here at CE we have dealt a great deal with the ‘fact-checking’ company. They happen to be an organization that all too often uses the ‘strawman claim’ to debunk our material. They look at a piece of content they wish to censor, they then create a claim that isn’t said in the content but relates to the content’s subject, then they proceed to debunk the claim they created. The end result is a grey box on Facebook covering the news content and claiming it’s false. This immediately kills virality and casts a great deal of doubt over our work. Since the vast majority of people don’t read fact-checking ‘debunks’, they never get to see that fact-checkers don’t actually debunk all stories, they simply make it appear that they do.

Fact-checkers have cost our company over a million dollars a year in revenue since 2017, forcing us to have to lay off more than 70% of our staff. They’ve cut traffic to our website by over 90% as well. YouTube did the same on Jan 1st 2018 when they shut off traffic to our videos.

Google also virtually shut off our search engine traffic on May 1, 2020, as seen in the graph below. Prior to this period, they had already been declining our search traffic. This was the most drastic shut-off.

The results of a coordinated effort from major tech companies to censor our work has made it incredibly difficult to provide the trusted high-value service we worked for over a decade to build. Since all of this, we have created our own platform called CETV that is the primary means by which viewers/readers can support our work.

The Takeaway

We will continue to update you with what happens with this court case as it proceeds. The ‘war on consciousness’ and public perception has been ongoing for years, but seems to be culminating as shadow government powers are exposed over the course of time. This public awakening to what happens behind the scenes in our world is a powerful and primary process in the overall evolution of humanity’s consciousness. As we expose and do away with a world built on separation, conflict, and ego, we awaken to a consciousness that wishes to create a world of unity, connection, and thrivability.

Understanding what’s going on here is all part of the process.

Facebook and the Supreme Court of Social Media

Ryan DeLarme
May 10th, 2020

In an earnest attempt to stamp out “Hate Speech”, “Fake News”, and any opinions that do not coincide with the CEO’s and Shareholders agenda; companies like Facebook are creating a “Supreme Court” to decide if what you post is up to snuff with whatever propaganda or psychological operation that the CIA infused mainstream media is propagating at the time.

The list of individuals is public and some watchdogs have been putting in work looking into these folks who will essentially have the ability to decide what the public is allowed to promote and believe, a classic example of thought policing in our modern age. The whole idea of the Supreme Court in the first place was to create a court system where we are tried by our peers and not by those who have an agenda, but this social media court and it’s personnel are far from objective.

So who are these people who inevitably will be judging whether or not your opinion deserves merit? Brendan Carr, Commissioner at the FCC (Federal Communications Commission)tweeted out the following:

Even the briefest overview of these individuals makes it quite clear that this is far from an unbiased group of people despite how they are trying to paint it. Speech Czar’s and partisan animus are more to blame for the spread of false information than a president who is routinely attacked by the most power hungry groups and individuals on the planet. It’s almost as if President Trump is the front for something much bigger and more organized than any of us understand. Regardless, this whole infringement on free speech is grotesque and should cause more people to become aware of our rapidly decreasing rights.