An employee of a leading Washington DC think tank has reportedly taken credit for the resent purge of alternative media by Facebook and Twitter, claiming it to be necessary to fight against ‘fake news’ from Russia and China.
In the latest act of apparent censorship of political speech online, US-based tech giants this month shut down hundreds of user accounts. Some belonged to well-established alternative media outlets with hundreds of thousands of followers, like The Free Thought Project or The Anti Media. A senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a leading think tank advocating US global supremacy, seems to have at least partially taken credit for this.
“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” Jamie Fly said.
“They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”
Having the chance to speak recently with a major neo-con official in the German Marshal Fund,I felt compelled to write here& expose the collusion taking place between Facebook & leading DC think tanks in censoring alternative media voices.See article,co-authored w/@MaxBlumenthal https://t.co/zIDumxs2pc
— Jeb Sprague (@JebSprague) October 23, 2018
The remarks were cited by Jeb Sprague, a visiting faculty member in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, in a story he co-authored for The Gray Zone Project, an outlet known for criticism of online censorship.
Sprague said Fly made the comments to him during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany.
According to the account, Fly complained that any person with an email can set up an account on social media and potentially reach a wide audience. He predicted a long, global struggle to fix the situation.
Fly started his career in US political circles as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration. He was also a foreign policy and national security consultant for Senator Marco Rubio, when he was trying to secure the 2016 presidential nomination from the Republican Party. For four years he headed the Foreign Policy Initiative, a pro-Israeli think tank founded by neoconservative figures Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, and Robert Kagan.
In the last few years, Fly showed up as an expert on social media and ‘Russian disinformation’ on various outlets to speak about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the US. Among other things he teamed up with Laura Rosenberger, the head of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the organization behind the Hamilton 68 dashboard, a tool that purports to show Russian online interference on Twitter, based on monitoring a number of undisclosed accounts and applying a secret methodology to analyze the data.
According to Sprague, Fly also stated that he was working with the Atlantic Council in the campaign to purge alternative media from social media platforms like Facebook. The social media network has partnered with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to root out ‘fake news’ on its platform. The think tank is not unlike the German Marshall Fund in terms of the policies it furthers, with some commenters simply calling it ‘NATO’s PR branch’.