This is not “fake news.” This is an opinion piece for an independent news site. Do we have to start writing disclaimers to defend press freedom? The neoliberal assault on free press continues. The New York Times reports Facebook and Google announced the companies will combat allegedly “fake news” by denying independent media advertising revenues. It is certainly true that there are fake news stories online, such as satire or click bait for advertisers, but make no mistake, the real target is independent media. Who determines what is “fake news?” If someone writes an op-ed piece critiquing oppressive neoliberal policies, is this “fake news?” If a whistleblower reveals abuses of state power by corrupt politicians working with powerful corporate interests, is this also “fake news?” If the multinational corporate giants at Google and Facebook have their way, that is a definite possibility.
The social media dictatorship
Assange once characterized Facebook as an online society controlled by “the Facebook dictatorship.” Users do not vote on its policies, they are decided by corporate interests. Privacy advocates show that Facebook is a dream for agents of the national security state. Despite assertions to the contrary, indigenous water protectors assert that state and federal law enforcement use social media sites like Facebook to monitor their activity. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Google is on board with the continuing neoliberal assault on freedom of the press. Assange has in the past alleged the company's collusion with the national security state to carry out the massive surveillance of American citizens revealed to us by the courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden. The real purpose of these allegations of fake news is to silence political dissent.
There is no freedom of the press in mainstream media
Notice that none of the giant multinational news corporations are being accused of putting “fake news” on the internet and social media. That's because the mainstream media supports the status quo. There are no truly independent voices on corporate media because that would cause them to lose advertising dollars. Freedom of the press no longer exists in corporate owned television and mainstream corporate owned newspapers. The Intercept once reported that the US ranked 49th in an international investigation on press freedom. This low ranking is the direct result of limited corporate ownership. But then, The Intercept is probably just “fake news” anyway. The status quo would love to discredit this publication because of Glenn Greenwald's role in assisting with Edward Snowden's revelations of the NSA's unconstitutional abuses of state power. The establishment hates social media because of its role in helping humanity oppose injustice.
Internet freedom of the press is critical to social justice in the 21st Century
Facebook was critical to the 2009 Arab Spring, Twitter was used by dissidents in China to oppose the unjust imprisonment of Chinese Artist Ai Wei Wei in 2011. Social media continues to be used to expose injustices that would otherwise not be reported, such as the vicious #Police Brutality committed against the water protectors opposing the Dakota Access pipeline. Were it not for internet freedom the US, in collusion with the fossil fuel industry, could have easily crushed the indigenous resistance fighting #Climate Change. Because of social media and the internet the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux Nation) gained international support. Because of social media and the internet we knew how the DNC abused Bernie Sanders to advance the establishment candidate #Hillary Clinton. Thanks to this idiotic decision, Donald Trump has taken the White House. If we thought the neoliberal assault on press freedom was bad, it will pale in comparison to the political repression under Trump's white nationalist neocons. We don't have to accept corporate sponsored political repression, we can continue to turn to independent media for press freedom.