While NATO was busy setting up a vast network with which to accuse Russia of perpetuating propaganda from the Soviet era, Washington was suddenly swamped by a wave of hysteria. In an attempt to discredit the new US President, the dominant media accuse him of talking rubbish – in response, the President accuses them of propagating fake news. This cacophony is amplified by the swift development of the social media, which had once been intended for use as weapons of the State Department against nationalist regimes, but which today are popular forums used to combat abuse by all kinds of elites – with Washington at the top of the list.
By Thierry Meyssan
Source: Voltaire Network
As soon as the announcement of his surprise election was made public, and even before he had access to the White House, the immense majority of US and NATO media began screaming about the negligence and insanity of President Trump. Battle was joined between the media class and the new President, with each side accusing the other of propagating fake news.
Almost everywhere in the NATO countries – and only in these countries – political representatives began denouncing fake news. This was intended to reveal the supposed influence of Russian propaganda within the « Western democracies ». The State which has been the most seriously impacted by this campaign is France, whose President Emmanuel Macron recently announced the drafting of a law specifically aimed at fighting these « attacks on democracy », but only during « an electoral period ».
The fact that the English expression fake news is maintained in all the languages of the NATO countries attests to the Anglo-Saxon origin of the problem, when in fact the phrase designates a phenomenon as old as the world – false information.
At the origin of the campaign against « fake news » – NATO
In 2009, at the NATO summit in Strasbourg-Kehl, President Obama announçed his intention of creating an Alliance « Strategic Communication » service . It took six years to implement, using elements of the 77th Brigade of the British Land Army and the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade of the United States Land Army (based in Germany and Italy).
At first, their mission was to counter communications accusing the US deep state of having itself organised the attacks of 9/11, then those accusing the Anglo-Saxons of having planned the « Arab Springs » and the war against Syria — such communications were termed « conspiracy theories ». However, the situation evolved rapidly in such a way as to convince the populations of the Alliance that Russia was continuing to apply propaganda from the Soviet era – and thus that NATO was still useful.
Finally, in April 2015, the European Union created a « Work Group for Strategic Communications – East » (East StratCom Task Force). Every week, this group addresses a report on Russian propaganda to thousands of journalists. For example, its last edition (dated 11 January 2018) accuses Sputnik of pretending that the Copenhagen zoo feeds its predators with abandoned household pets. Lord help us, the « democracies » are under attack ! Clearly, it is difficult for these specialists to find meaningful examples of Russian interference. In August of the same year, NATO inaugurated its « Centre for Strategic Communication » in Riga (Latvia). The following year, the US State Department created a Global Engagement Center which works on the same principles.
How Facebook, Hillary Clinton’s pet obsession, turned against her
In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at the instigation of Jared Cohen (leading member of the Policy Planning Staff ), persuaded herself that it was possible to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran by manipulating the social media. This theory did not have the desired affect. However, two years later, in 2011, the same Jared Cohen — since become the the CEO of Google Ideas — managed to mobilise the youth of Cairo. Although the « revolution » of Tahrir Square had not swayed the opinion of the Egyptian people, the myth of the extension of the American way of life via Facebook was born. As a result, the State Department sponsored a number of associations and assemblies to promote Facebook.
However, the US Presidential election of 2016 was a shock. An outsider, real estate promoter Donald Trump, eliminated all his rivals one by one, including Hillary Clinton, and was swept into the White House, having benefited from the advice of Facebook. For the first time, the dream of the Muse of professional politicians became reality, but worked against her. Overnight, Facebook was demonised by the dominant Press.
It became evident on this occasion that it is possible to artificially create crowd movements with the social media, but that after a few days, media users regain their senses. This is the constant fact for all systems of information manipulation — they are fleeting. The only form of lie which makes it possible to create long-term behaviour patterns supposes that one has forced the citizens into a form of minor engagement, in other words, that one has brainwashed them .
Indeed, Facebook understood this very well, creating its « Politics & Government Outreach Program » and handing it over to the care of Katie Harbath. It was intended to create collective emotions in favour of one client or another, but does not seek to organise lasting campaigns . This is why President Macron proposes to legislate the social media only during electoral periods. He was himself elected thanks to a brief disorder created jointly by a weekly newspaper and Facebook against his rival François Fillon — an operation orchestrated by Jean-Pierre Jouyet . Furthermore, Emmanuel Macron’s fear that next time the social media may be used against him fits with NATO’s desire to demonstrate the continuity of USSR-Russia propaganda. As an example of manipulation, Macron therefore cites an interview with Sputnik concerning his private life and the publishing of an allegation concerning a foreign bank account.
The Christopher Steele Report
During the US Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s team ordered an inquiry on Donald Trump from an ex-agent of the British Secret Services, Christopher Steele. Ex-chief of MI6’s « Russia House », he was known for his scandalous and always unverifiable allegations. After having accused Vladimir Putin, without proof, of having commanded the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko by Polonium 210, he accused him of having caught Donald Trump in a sex trap and blackmailing him. The Steele Report was then discretely handed to various journalists, politicians and master spies, and finally published .
This is the source of the hypothesis according to which, seeking to get his puppet elected and hamper the election of Hillary Clinton, the lord of the Kremlin had ordered « his » media to buy publicity on Facebook and spread lies about the ex-Secretary of State – a hypothesis which may be supported by a conversation between the Australian ambassador in London with one of Donald trump’s advisors . It doesn’t matter that Russia Today and Sputnik only spent a total of a few thousand dollars for publicity which rarely concerned Mrs. Clinton, the US ruling class is persuaded that they turned back the popular tide in favour of the Democrat candidate and her 1.2 billion dollar campaign. In Washington, people persist in believing that technological inventions can be used to manipulate the human race.
It is no longer a question of noting that Donald Trump and his partisans ran their campaign on Facebook because the totality of the written and audiovisual Press was hostile to them, but pretending that Facebook was manipulated by Russia in order to prevent the election of the Muse of Washington.
The legal privilege of Google, Facebook and Twitter
By seeking to prove the interference of Moscow, the US Press underlined the exorbitant privilege enjoyed by Google, Facebook and Twitter — these three companies are not considered responsible for their content. From the point of view of US law, they are no more than transporters of information (common carrier).
The experiments carried out by Facebook, which demonstrated the possibility of creating collective emotions on one hand, and the legal non-responsibility of this company on the other, attest to an anomaly in the system.
Particularly since the privilege enjoyed by Google, Facebook and Twitter is clearly undue. Indeed, these three companies act in at least two different ways to modify the content they transport. First of all, they unilaterally censor certain messages, either via the direct intervention of their personnel, or mechanically, via hidden algorithms. Then they promote their vision of the truth to the detriment of other points of view (fact-checking).
For example, in 2012, Qatar ordered from Google Ideas, already directed by Jared Cohen, the creation of software which would make it possible to follow the progression of defections in the Syrian Arab Army. The point was to show that Syria was indeed a dictatorship, and that the people were beginning to revolt. But it very quickly became clear that this vision of affairs was false. The number of soldiers who defected never rose above 25,000 in an army of 450,000 men. This is why, after having promoted the software, Google discretely retired it.
Conversely, for seven years, Google promoted articles which relayed communiqués from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHD). Day after day, they gave the exact count of the number of victims in both camps. Of course, these figures are imaginary – it is impossible for anyone to count them. Never, in a time of war, has a state been able to determine, on a daily basis, the number of soldiers killed in combat and the civilians killed behind the lines. And yet, in the United Kingdom, the SOHD claims to know what the people who live there, in Syria, cannot know.
Far from being just the common carriers, Google, Facebook and Twitter are the forgers of the information they transport, and as such, they ought to be counted legally responsible for their content.
The rules of the freedom of expression
Let’s imagine that the efforts of NATO and those of President Macron against Russia in terms of audiovisual Internet traffic meet with failure. It is nonetheless necessary to enter these new medias into general law.
The principles which regulate the freedom of expression are only legitimate if they are identical for all citizens and for all media. This is not the case today. While the general law applies, there is no specific rule concerning denial or the right to reply for the messages on Internet and the social media.
As always in the history of information, the old medias attempt to sabotage the new. Thus I remember the violent editorial that the French daily Le Monde dedicated in 2002 to my work on the Internet concerning the responsibility for the attacks of 9/11. What shocked the newspaper just as much as my conclusions was that the Voltaire Network was free from the financial obligations of which it felt prisoner . This is the same corporatist attitude that it demonstrates again, fifteen years later, with its service, Le Decodex. Rather than developing a critique of the articles or videos of the new medias, Le Monde proposes to note the reliability of its rival Internet sites. Of course, only the sites issued by their paper colleagues find grace in their eyes, all the others are judged less trustworthy.
To shore up the campaign against the social media, the Fondation Jean-Jaures (that is to say the foundation of the Socialist Party linked to the National Endowment for Democracy) has published an imaginary poll . With a display of numbers, it aims to demonstrate that unsophisticated people – the working classes and the partisans of the National Front – are gullible. It claims that 79 % of French people believe in one conspiracy theory or another. As proof of their naïveté, it points out that 9 % of them are convinced that the Earth is flat.
However, neither myself nor any of my French friends consulted by Internet have ever met any of our compatriots who believe that the Earth is flat. The figure is obviously invented and discredits the entire study. As it happens, although it is linked to the Socialist Party, the Fondation Jean-Jaures still has Gerard Collomb as its general secretary – Collomb has since become President Macron’s Minister for the Interior. This same foundation had already published, two years ago, a study aimed at discrediting the political opponents of the system that it already qualified as « conspiracy theorists » .