At present, the Atlantic Council and its Digital Forensic Research Lab is working with the German Marshall Fund's Alliance For Securing Democracy to remove various Facebook pages variously defined as "fake news" and "inflammatory" content designed to "sow discord."
The two organisations were hired to be the "eyes and ears" of Facebook in stopping political abuse on the platform. According to reporting done by Max Blumenthal at Consortium News, the groups are also working with Twitter simultaneously.
The Atlantic Council is funded by Google, Exxon-Mobil, the US Chamber of Commerce, and JP Morgan among many other transnational corporations. Similarly, the German Marshall Fund is backed by BusinessEurope, the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, and various funds along with military agencies.
Coordinating efforts between these corporate collectives is the job of Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd, who together wrote a paper in 2016 explaining the necessity of monitoring and censoring social media and the internet broadly under the pretext that it has been flooded with Russian disinformation.
However, an look into the history of Watts and Weisburds' previous efforts and the think tank milieu from which they have emerged shows that their concerns about online content originally arose from a far different source than Vladimir Putin's repressive government.
Before his hiring as pitchman for the Alliance for Securing Democracy's Hamilton68 dashboard - which acts as a monitor for websites later removed by the Digital Forensic Research Lab - Watts was immersed in the life and worldview of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, where he was employed as a senior fellow.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute is an intellectual and policy vehicle for transnational corporate militarism. The organisation was founded in the 1940s by an Austrian far-right noble, Robert Strausz-Hupé, with initial funding from American chemical corporations. Strausz-Hupè, a biological racist and eugenicist, beloved strongly in the necessity of stopping "communism" and promoting transatlantic cooperation along with corporate supremacy. Growing in stature, the FPRI was injected with millions of dollars from the CIA unto the 1970s. Since then, it sits in the centre of interlocks with NATO, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Transatlantic Academy, Brookings, the German Marshall Fund, POLITICO and VICE News, the latter two both well-known propaganda conduits for US state department narratives.
Much of the FPRI's support comes from the Atlantic Council, itself funded by corporations as we have seen above. Boeing and Carnegie also donated substantial sums.
After the fall of the USSR, the FPRI has sought to further the aims of American power and interests abroad. In a significant article published in 2010 in the think tank's academic journal, Orbis, the FPRI defined the main obstacle to untrammelled hegemony as
"The anti-globalization (or ‘‘alter-globalization’’ or ‘‘no-borders’’) movement, eco-socialism, grass-roots globalism, global resistance, global justice movement, global intifada, transnational activism, protest networks, movement of movements, peace and justice movement, and coalition of the oppressed."
This is perhaps the most frank and illuminating description of the modern anticapitalist movement offered anywhere.
The article, which should be read in full, goes on to charge the "global intifada" or "purificationist ideology" with attempts to transcend capitalism and create a non-hierarchical and and harmonious society, "where the earth has been saved from destruction."
Intriguingly, it cites two of the most prominent members of the international faux-left - Bernard-Henri Levy and Nick Cohen - as witnesses to the alleged fact that the "global intifada" has "totalitarian" aims, in addition to being anti-Semitic.
The latter charge is hardly surprising to anyone who has paid attention to the rhetoric used by the establishment against anti-capitalists and socialists. A 2001 article published in the CIA-funded journal Partisan Review first introduced the idea that the global justice or anti-globalisation movement was anti-Semitic in nature as a well as "terrorist" in content. These themes were picked up in Bernard-Henri Levy's book "Against the New Barbarism," reviewed by Nick Cohen in the Journal of Democracy, a print publication of the US-government funded National Endowment for Democracy. Jamie Kirchick, a NATO propagandist, revived the claims in 2010 to attack Occupy Wall Street.
Accurately, and hilariously, the Orbis article, titled "Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For" says that "the ruling elite," in the minds of the "global intifada," intends on doing anything possible to prevent the overthrow of their ecocidal policies. "They will exert military might, ﬁnancial power, and media control to discredit the advocates of purity. They will.....incite fears of sham dangers, such as weapons of mass destruction."
The paper wraps up by describing the "dystopia" attributed to the "totalitarian" opponents of globalisation, which the writer seems not even to try to portray in negative terms, describing it as ecologically sustainable, non-hierarchical, grassroots, and opposed to racism, sexism, and chauvinism, among other things.
It is never adequately explained why any of this is bad, other than the constant use of the word "totalitarian." The Foreign Policy Research Institute this pulls off a historic feat- it shows that corporate-backed thought openly opposes any hope of saving the planet and creating an egalitarian world for no other reason than the fact that they dislike it.
This is the milieu from which the lead censor of Facebook arises.
If Clint Watts's proximity to these financiers and ideas was a one-off factor of the ongoing Facebook censorship enterprise, readers would be forgiven for seeing this as a mere coincidence. However, the work of Andrew Weisburd, who acts to "flag" disputed cites at the German Marshall Fund before they are removed by the Atlantic Council, shows that this is hardly the case.
Andrew Weisburd, much like Bellingcat's Eliot Higgins (also a functionary of NATO-backed institutions), arose out of nowhere as a "citizen" seemingly concerned by online sites praising terrorism after the 9/11 terror attacks, although according to an article in AlterNet, he was really motivated by hatred of Palestinians and anger at Yasser Arafat.
Weisburd's "homegrown" censorship operation, the Internet Haganah, took aim at leftist, pro-Palestinian and "anti-American" websites throughout the early 2000s. "Homegrown" is placed in quotes for the same reason "citizen" is when referring to Weisburd or Higgins.
In any case, you'll probably be unsurprised to find out that Weisburd is also a fellow at the FPRI. The main target of his operations was the famous alter-globalisation anarchist hub Indymedia, self-described as "a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and
passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media’s distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity."
This citation was quoted by the FPRI in the aforementioned Orbis article, alongside web traffic information for websites frequented by "anarchists, radical feminists, deep ecological theories, and world-systems analysis, each calling for global change."
Weisburd's attacks against Indymedia were brutally effective. The website, quoted in March 2010 as having 40,000 daily visitors around the time of the publication of the FPRI article, was chopped to 1500 per day three years later.
According to a post on Indymedia describing Weisburd's operations on that site and others, "he wields the electronic book burning torch passed onto him by “great” men of the past who, like Weisburd, feared the thoughts of ordinary men and led panicked and ignorant mobs to the literary bon-fires."
"Since most of the websites he has targeted have open forums or present news and information, he has denied millions of individuals their right to post views on these websites or read the information contained in them."
"He regularly uses lies, disinformation and threats to accomplish these goals. Weisburd decides what is "threatening.""
The Indymedia users accurately and insightfully observed that Weisburd claimed to be targeting "terroristic" sites, however, his slash-and-burn tactics mostly affected websites critical of globalised neoconservativism and capitalism- in short, websites promoting the views of the "Global Intifada."
Now, Weisburd and Watts have their grasp on the spigot of information at Facebook, as the Atlantic Council and German Marshall Fund work alongside groups like FireEye to remove pages that support Jeremy Corbyn or Palestine.
Recent attacks have removed TeleSur, which reports on US imperialism and the quest for a binding treaty on corporations, AlterNet, which has published countless pieces on anti-fracking, TTIP and Occupy Wall Street, the Free Thought Project, which has covered the YPG and police brutality, and the now completely destroyed Counter Currents News, which featured major exclusives on the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Monsanto's eco-apartheid in Gaza.
Works by renowned critics of global capitalism, such as George Monbiot, Carlos Latuff, Abby Martin, Lee Camp and others have also faced suppression, blocking or removal. The destruction of social movement histories and practical infrastructure is a major coup by those who wish to stop all dissent.
Behind all of this is the shadow of a toxic, openly ecocidal agenda that must be opposed at all costs.