Google Bans Iran's Press TV; What's Next?

 

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Introduction: Guest columnists J. Michael Springmann, right, and Edward C. Corrigan, share below a column about the dangerous increase in self-censorship by media aggregators like Google that work closely with U.S. political authorities to censor political communications under the guise of "national security," opposition to michael springmann"fake news" or other buzzwords.

In this instance, Google and several other web platforms closely connected with the U.S. political and financial establishment disabled unilaterally a month ago the platforms of Iran's Press TV and its affiliate HispanTV. The latter interviewed this editor on May 8 about political developments in the U.S. capital regarding the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr.

As in the past with this outlet, the on-camera interview was conducted by an experienced and capable producer, Alfredo Miranda, formerly of the prominent mainstream network Univision. Aside from questions from an experienced producer with more historical knowledge than most, the content was little different than that voiced by this editor in any other venue (including politically conservative U.S. broadcast outlets) or coverage provided by commentators on many other U.S.-based media throughout the same day.

The main difference is that someone decided for unknown reasons — presumably because of ramped-up U.S. government sanctions against Iran — that U.S. media should march in mohammad mossadeqlockstep to suppress the outlets. Google and similar high-tech companies are tightly connected with elite intelligence and Wall Street circles.

Current news coverage (excerpted in an appendix below) might be similar among outlets. But only global, independent or alternative voices are likely to mention the CIA's covert 1953 role in the coup overthrowing Iran's democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadeq, left, which led to current crises.

The 1953 coup installed a repressive pro-American shah who protected Anglo-American oil interests until his ouster during the 1979 Islamic rebellion. Another result of coup was the Iran-Contra Affair, whereby members of the Reagan-Bush Administation during the 1980s illegally facilitated the secret sale of arms to Iran in order to use the proceeds to fund the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua.

William Barr, the current U.S. attorney general, was a high-ranking Justice Department official (shown as attorney general in 1992) during those years who helped the administration cover up the scandals, including by thwarting then Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh and by assisting President william barr o 1992George H. W. Bush in arranging 1992 pardons for six leading administration officials implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal.

The authors below tell the Google censorship story in more detail.

By J. Michael Springmann and Edward C. Corrigan

What? On April 19, 2019 (the date of the original Patriots' Day in New England), American tech giant Google disabled the accounts of Press TV, an Iranian news service, and its sister channel HispanTV, an outlet in Spain. Google denied their access to all its services, including its popular video streaming platform YouTube and its E-mail service Gmail. The google logo customcompany's move took place without prior notice or subsequent explanation.

The action's date is particularly significant to Americans. That day marked the beginning of the American Revolution. It saw the first armed engagement between British soldiers and colonial militiamen at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. Patriots' Day was intended to commemorate the colonists' fight to win freedom from British rule.

But, nearly 250 years later, it observes the loss of that freedom to invisible, uncontrollable organizations.

Google and Facebook, and other social media giants, have been accused of altering search algorithms to slant or even hide information that departs from the government or corporate agenda. Independent media sources on the right and on the left have complained that searched results are tainted and being secretly manipulated on a grand scale. Now the censorship is being imposed openly in the name of political correctness and social harmony.

Target: Iran. According to the April 22, 2019 edition of MintPress, "Iran has been on the receiving end of more than its share of censorship. Facebook has repeatedly banned facebook logo“networks” it believes are “tied to Iran.” Meanwhile, both Press TV and HispanTV have faced prior crackdowns from Google. Recently, Instagram banned a number of Iranian officials following the U.S. designation of Iran’s military as a foreign terrorist organization. In some cases, Facebook has even worked with CIA-funded cybersecurity firms to target accounts.

The State Department later trumpeted those findings in a report on Iran’s cybersecurity threat to the U.S., but opted to omit the source of the evidence."

Additionally, MintPress noted: "Google’s crackdown on Iran is multifaceted, not just singling out its media for censorship, but also shutting down the accounts of its officials. Indeed, Google is on a path to destroy Iran’s ability to independently communicate its message to the world."

What's the issue? Quoting Yasha Levine, journalist and author of Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet: “American Internet companies,” such as Google and Facebook, “are not abstract global platforms, but privatized instruments of American geopolitical power.”

And that's the real issue.

iran world mapAnd it's not only Press TV, the "Voice of the Voiceless" that's censored.

The American Herald Tribune has been under attack, it says, by radically pro-Israel gatekeepers. In August 2018, it wrote one of the authors; "Dear Michael, Google has disabled all of the services we were using." Then, the next month, it wrote: "Dear Friends/Colleagues: We were unable to retrieve our Facebook page after it was taken down without any prior notice. We have created a new Facebook page."

Protection from bigots?

The attacks on Press TV, The American Herald Tribune, and others are always couched in terms of suppressing the malign influence of the "far-right" and/or "anti-Semitic figures and organizations."

On May 3, 2019, the Washington Post used those words to headline an article celebrating Facebook's action in permanently banning "several far-right and anti-Semitic figures and organizations, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos [a former Breitbart editor] and Laura Loomer [a right-wing American political activist] , for being 'dangerous'..." The paper saw this as "a sign that the social network is more aggressively enforcing its hate-speech policies at a moment when bigoted violence is on the rise around the world."

While the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law ...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...."

It seems that “The People” can do as they please, as long as they have large Internet organizations behind them and lots of money. And if there is pressure from supposedly liberal governments influencing them.

The Post went on to say, "Governments around the world are pushing Facebook to take town [sic] bigoted and other harmful content more quickly — or risk being banned themselves." Germany fines social media heavily if they run afoul of The Enforcement on Social Networks Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz). Although the act came into force October 1, 2017, social networks were given a three-month grace period to change their policies. If criminal content, which can include hate speech, defamation, and fake news, isn’t removed within 24 hours of its being reported, social networks can face fines reaching €50 million (US $60 million).

Like in the United States, "hate speech" is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, especially if it deals with illegal aliens, a sore subject in some countries. This concept is probably the reason why Facebook and Twitter refused to advertise co-author J. Michael Springmann's book, Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel's Migrant Bomb, an analysis of forced migration into Europe from American wars in the Middle East.

This all boils down to “political correctness” and lack of common sense. And governmental power. Allegedly liberal societies now engage in censorship — in the name of freedom of speech and political correctness. But it's really censorship and control of information that is the real objective.

The Encyclopedia Britannica notes "our perception of reality is determined by our thought processes, which are influenced by the language we use. In this way language shapes our reality and tells us how to think about and respond to that reality. Language also reveals and promotes our biases. Therefore, according to the [Sapir-Whorf] hypothesis, using sexist language promotes sexism and using racial language promotes racism."

Clever people in well-placed governmental positions and their cats-paws in large corporations evidently have taken note of this linguistic mind control and are now implementing it on a grand scale.

Edward C. Corrigan is certified as a specialist by the Law Society of Ontario (formerly the Law Society of Upper Canada) in Citizenship, Immigration and Immigration and Refugee Law. He is based in London, Ontario, Canada and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 519-439-4015.

J. Michael Springmann is a lawyer, author, political commentator, and former diplomat based in Washington, D.C. While abroad with the U.S. Department of State, he served in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 202-256-3878.

 

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Related News Coverage

Media / Press Freedom

May 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, Chris Hughes, May 9, 2019. Mark Zuckerberg (right) is a good guy. But the company I helped him build is a threat to our mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville weconomy and democracy. The last time I saw Mark Zuckerberg was in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We met at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., office and drove to his house, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. We spent an hour or two together while his toddler daughter cruised around. We talked politics mostly, a little about Facebook, a bit about our families. When the shadows grew long, I had to head out. I hugged his wife, Priscilla, and said goodbye to Mark.

Since then, Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility.

facebook logoMark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.

May 8

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion, The White House revoked my press pass. It’s not just me — it’s curtailing access for all journalists, Dana Milbank, right, May 8, 2019. For the past 21 years, I have had the high privilege of holding a White House press pass, a magical ticket that gives the bearer a front-row seat to history.

I was in the White House the night Bill Clinton admitted his affair with Monica Lewinsky, and the day he was impeached. I was there on Sept. 11, 2001, and the fearful days thereafter, when we were trained to use escape hoods. I watched George W. Bush make the case for the Iraq War and Barack Obama pitch his remedies for the market crash. There, too, I have witnessed the carnival-like briefings and high histrionics of Donald Trump’s presidency.

But no more. The White House eliminated most briefings and severely restricted access to official events. And this week came the coup de grace: After covering four presidents, I received an email informing me that Trump’s press office had revoked my White House credential.

I’m not the only one. It was part of a mass purge of “hard pass” holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all six of The Post’s White House correspondents. White House officials then chose which journalists would be granted “exceptions.” It did this over objections from news organizations and the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The Post requested exceptions for its six White House reporters and for me, saying that this access is essential to our work (in my case, I often write “sketches” describing the White House scene). The White House press office granted exceptions to the other six, but not to me. I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic. The move is perfectly in line with Trump’s banning of certain news organizations, including The Post, from his campaign events, and his threats to revoke White House credentials of journalists he doesn’t like.

White House officials provided me no comment for the record.

May 8

 

HispanTV, Declaran “en desacato” a fiscal general de EEUU por un informe, Alfredo Miranda, May 8, 2019.

May 7

kyaw soe ooo left wa lone jorge silva reuters photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Myanmar Releases Reuters Journalists Jailed for Reporting on Rohingya Crackdown, Russell Goldman and Mike Ives, May 7, 2019 (print ed.). Two prizewinning Reuters journalists were released from prison in Myanmar on Tuesday after more than a year in detention for covering the country’s deadly crackdown on the Rohingya minority group, ending a drama that had brought global scrutiny upon the country’s de facto civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

myanmar mapThe two reporters, U Wa Lone, 33 (above rigth), and U Kyaw Soe Oo, 29 (above left, shown in file photos), were arrested in December 2017. They were sentenced in September to seven years in prison under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act for receiving documents from a police officer as part of their investigation into a 2017 massacre of 10 Rohingya villagers.

The men, along with their Reuters colleagues, were awarded in April the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, one of journalism’s most coveted and prestigious honors.

On Tuesday morning, they were mobbed by reporters as they emerged from Insein Prison in Yangon, the country’s largest city. They were both smiling as they walked away from the prison’s gates in the sunshine.

Mr. Wa Lone flashed a thumbs-up sign. “I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues,” he told reporters. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom.”

 

U.S.-Iran Recent Relations

May 8

ny times logoiran flag mapNew York Times, The European Union finds itself trapped between the U.S. and Iran, with no easy way to respond, Steven Erlanger, May 8, 2019.  As the divide widens between the United States and Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, the European Union finds itself trapped between them, with no easy or quick way to respond to its dilemma.

President Trump pulled out of the deal, which the European Union championed and which three key European allies of the United States — Britain, Germany and France — all continue to support. The United States has reinstated punishing sanctions intended to disrupt Iranian oil exports and trade.

May 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Officials Cite Iranian Threat to U.S. Troops in Iraq, Edward Wong and Eric Schmitt, May 6, 2019. The Pentagon said it deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the region after seeing intelligence that showed new activity on the part of Iranian forces.

NBC News, Officials: U.S. carrier group, bombers going to Mideast due to multiple Iran threats, Courtney Kube and Dan De Luce, May 6, 2019. The U.S. military nbc news logodecision to surge a carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Middle East was based on Iranian threats to U.S. military forces and civilians at multiple locations in the region, according to U.S. officials and a defense official.

Recent intelligence showed Iran and its proxies are re-positioning forces and may be planning for attacks, both at land and at sea, the officials said.

The troubling new intelligence caused the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, to request more assets to his area of responsibility. Acting Secretary of Defense approved the request to re-direct the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf and to move a bomber task force to the region.

Shanahan tweeted Monday afternoon that he approved the deployment Sunday afternoon, calling it "a prudent repositioning of assets in response to indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces." Shanahan called on the Iranians to "cease all provocation," warning that the U.S. "will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on U.S. forces or our interests."

The officials warned Iran has proxy forces operating in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other parts of the region who could rise up and target Americans. "We are taking this threat reporting very seriously," one U.S. official said.