Tag Archives: Media

Come nasce una teoria del complotto e come affrontarla, seconda parte

Seconda puntata di un’inchiesta in due parti sulle teorie del complotto. La prima si può leggere qui.

QAnon alla Casa bianca
Il 31 luglio 2018 una folla entusiasta ha accolto Trump a Tampa, Florida, indossando magliette di QAnon e alzando cartelli con scritto “Noi siamo Q”. Hanno rubato la scena al presidente, e i giornalisti hanno parlato solo di loro. È stata la definitiva irruzione di QAnon nelle cronache nazionali e, di lì a poco, internazionali. Su 8chan, Q ha commentato: “Benvenuti nel mainstream. Sapevamo che questo giorno sarebbe arrivato”.

Se prima di Tampa il presidente poteva aver ammiccato ai “fornai” scrivendo “17” in un paio di tweet, ora gioca col complotto in modo scoperto. Il 24 agosto 2018 Trump riceve nello studio ovale Lionel Lebron, sessant’anni, conduttore radiofonico e apostolo di QAnon. Lebron pubblica subito la foto in cui appare, gongolante, in posa col suo eroe.

In pratica, Trump ha accolto alla Casa Bianca un tale che accusa due suoi predecessori – Obama e Clinton – di capeggiare una setta satanica di pedofili. Accusa estesa all’intera opposizione e ad alcuni repubblicani, come il senatore John McCain, che proprio in quelle ore sta morendo.


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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Reportages


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Come nasce una teoria del complotto e come affrontarla

Prima puntata di un’inchiesta in due parti sulle teorie del complotto.

Fuoco sul quartier generale (di YouTube)
Il 20 settembre 2018 l’Fbi arriva a Cave Junction, un piccolo centro dell’Oregon occidentale che ha poco più di mille abitanti. Gli agenti cercano uno di loro, William Douglas, 35 anni. Non lo trovano a casa, ma lo intercettano davanti a un emporio, lo arrestano, lo portano via.

Douglas è accusato di aver minacciato di morte su Twitter l’amministratrice delegata e i dipendenti di YouTube, il terzo sito più visitato al mondo. “Vengo a beccarti, #prega”, ha scritto a Susan Wojcicki, poi ha annunciato di voler andare alla sede centrale dell’azienda per fare una strage: “Se volete più vittime, aka #sparatoria, vedrò quel che posso fare”.

Scrivendo “più vittime”, Douglas si riferiva a un episodio di qualche mese prima.

San Bruno, California, 3 aprile 2018. Una donna entra nel cortile della sede di YouTube durante la pausa pranzo e apre il fuoco con una pistola semiautomatica. Ferisce tre persone, una in modo grave, poi si uccide sparandosi al cuore. Si chiamava Nasim Aghdam. Due giorni dopo avrebbe compiuto 39 anni.

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Posted by on October 18, 2018 in Reportages, Uncategorized


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Our cult of personality is leaving real life in the shade

What kind of people would you expect the newspapers to interview most? Those with the most to say, perhaps, or maybe those with the richest and weirdest experiences. Might it be philosophers, or detectives, or doctors working in war zones, refugees, polar scientists, street children, firefighters, base jumpers, activists, writers or free divers? No. It’s actors. I haven’t conducted an empirical study, but I would guess that between a third and a half of the major interviews in the newspapers feature people who make their living by adopting someone else’s persona and speaking someone else’s words.

This is such a bizarre phenomenon that, if it hadn’t crept up on us slowly, we would surely find it astounding. But it seems to me symbolic of the way the media works. Its problem runs deeper than fake news. What it offers is news about a fake world.

I am not proposing that the papers should never interview actors, or that they have no wisdom of their own to impart. But the remarkable obsession with this trade blots out other voices. One result is that an issue is not an issue until it has been voiced by an actor. Climate breakdown, refugees, human rights, sexual assault: none of these issues, it seems, can surface until they go Hollywood.

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Posted by on October 3, 2018 in Uncategorized


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The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Uncategorized


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The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences

Every day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse and oppression. And it’s not just the headlines we’re talking about; it’s the op-eds and long-form stories as well. Magazine covers warn us of coming anarchies, plagues, epidemics, collapses, and so many “crises” (farm, health, retirement, welfare, energy, deficit) that copywriters have had to escalate to the redundant “serious crisis.”

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.

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Posted by on September 12, 2018 in Reportages


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The real scandal isn’t Cambridge Analytica. It’s Facebook’s whole business model.

The plot was made for front-page headlines and cable-news chyrons: A scientist-turned-political-operative reportedly hoodwinked Facebook users into giving up personal data on both themselves and all their friends for research purposes, then used it to develop “psychographic” profiles on tens of millions of voters—which in turn may have helped the Trump campaign manipulate its way to a historic victory.

No wonder Facebook is in deep trouble, right? Investigations are being opened; calls for regulation are mounting; Facebook’s stock plunged 7 percent Monday.

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Posted by on April 7, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Thought Police for the 21st Century

The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it. And for that reason I traveled last week to Detroit to join David North, the chairperson of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, in a live-stream event calling for the formation of a broad front to block an escalating censorship while we still have a voice.

“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans,” Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a statement issued in support of the event. “Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence. While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities.”

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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in North America


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The Biggest Secret

Bundled against the freezing wind, my lawyers and I were about to reach the courthouse door when two news photographers launched into a perp-walk shoot. As a reporter, I had witnessed this classic scene dozens of times, watching in bemusement from the sidelines while frenetic photographers and TV crews did their business. I never thought I would be the perp, facing those whirring cameras.

As I walked past the photographers into the courthouse that morning in January 2015, I saw a group of reporters, some of whom I knew personally. They were here to cover my case, and now they were waiting and watching me. I felt isolated and alone.

My lawyers and I took over a cramped conference room just outside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, where we waited for her to begin the pretrial hearing that would determine my fate. My lawyers had been working with me on this case for so many years that they now felt more like friends. We often engaged in gallows humor about what it was going to be like for me once I went to jail. But they had used all their skills to make sure that didn’t happen and had even managed to keep me out of a courtroom and away from any questioning by federal prosecutors.

Until now.

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Posted by on January 17, 2018 in North America


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First France, Now Brazil Unveils Plan to Empower the Government to Censor the Internet in the Name of Stopping “Fake News”

Yesterday afternoon, the official Twitter account of Brazil’s Federal Police (its FBI equivalent) posted an extraordinary announcement. The bureaucratically nonchalant tone it used belied its significance. The tweet, at its core, purports to vest in the federal police and the federal government that oversees it the power to regulate, control, and outright censor political content on the internet that is assessed to be “false,” and to “punish” those who disseminate it. The new power would cover both social media posts and entire websites devoted to politics.

“In the next few days, the Federal Police will begin activities in Brasília [the nation’s capital] by a specially formed group to combat false news during the [upcoming 2018 presidential] election process,” the official police tweet stated. It added: “The measures are intended to identify and punish the authors of ‘fake news’ for or against candidates.” Top police officials told media outlets that their working group would include representatives of the judiciary’s election branch and leading prosecutors, though one of the key judicial figures involved is the highly controversial right-wing Supreme Court judge, Gilmar Mendes, who has long blurred judicial authority with his political activism.


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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in European Union, South America


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Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments

In September of last year, we noted that Facebook representatives were meeting with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts of Palestinians should be deleted on the ground that they constituted “incitement.” The meetings — called for and presided over by one of the most extremist and authoritarian Israeli officials, pro-settlement Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — came after Israel threatened Facebook that its failure to voluntarily comply with Israeli deletion orders would result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.

The predictable results of those meetings are now clear and well-documented. Ever since, Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists who protest the decades-long, illegal Israeli occupation, all directed and determined by Israeli officials. Indeed, Israeli officials have been publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders:

Shortly after news broke earlier this month of the agreement between the Israeli government and Facebook, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Tel Aviv had submitted 158 requests to the social media giant over the previous four months asking it to remove content it deemed “incitement.” She said Facebook had granted 95 percent of the requests.

She’s right. The submission to Israeli dictates is hard to overstate: As the New York Times put it in December of last year, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.”

What makes this censorship particularly consequential is that “96 percent of Palestinians said their primary use of Facebook was for following news.” That means that Israeli officials have virtually unfettered control over a key communications forum of Palestinians.

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Uncategorized


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