Facebook, Twitter And Google Outline Unprecedented Mass Censorship At US Senate Hearing

Behind the backs of the US and world populations, social media companies have built up a massive censorship apparatus staffed by an army of “content reviewers” capable of seamlessly monitoring, tracking, and blocking millions of pieces of content.

The character of this apparatus was detailed in testimony Wednesday from representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by South Dakota Republican John Thune.

The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of political opposition organizations. It represented a significant escalation of the campaign, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to establish unprecedented levels of censorship and control over the Internet.

Armed with increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems, these technology companies are free to remove and block the communications of their users at the behest of the government, in a seamless alliance between Silicon Valley and the major US spy agencies.

Monika Bickert, head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, told lawmakers that the social media giant now employs a security team of 10,000 people, 7,500 of whom “assess potentially violating content,” and that, “by the end of 2018 we will more than double” the security team.

This group includes “a dedicated counterterrorism team” of “former intelligence and law-enforcement officials and prosecutors who worked in the area of counterterrorism.” In other words, there is a revolving door between the technology giants and the state intelligence and police forces, with one increasingly indistinguishable from the other.

Bickert pointed to the growing use of artificial intelligence to flag content, saying Facebook does not “wait for these… bad actors to upload content to Facebook before placing it into our detection systems,” bragging that much of the “propaganda” removed from Facebook “is content that we identify ourselves before anybody” else has a chance to view it.

She added that Facebook has partnered with over a dozen other companies to maintain a blacklist of content, based on “unique digital fingerprints.” This means that if a piece of content, whether a video, image, or written statement, is flagged by any one of these companies, it will be banned from all social media. This database now includes some 50,000 pieces of content and is constantly growing, officials said.

In other words, the technology giants have created an all-pervasive system of censorship in which machines, trained to collaborate with the CIA, FBI, and other US intelligence agencies, are able to flag and block content even before it is posted.

Juniper Downs, global head of Public Policy and Government Relations at YouTube, likewise boasted that Google uses “a mix of technology and humans to remove content,” adding that YouTube relies on a “trusted flagger program” to provide “actionable flags” based on the flaggers’ experience with “issues like hate speech and terrorism,” words that imply that these “trusted flaggers” are connected to US intelligence agencies.

“Machine learning is now helping our human reviewers remove nearly five times as many videos as they were before,” Downs said, adding that Google’s censorship machine is virtually automated. She said that this year there will be “10,000 people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies.”

Downs declared that since June YouTube has “removed 160,000 videos and terminated 30,000 channels for violent extremism.” The company has “reviewed over two million videos” in its collaboration with “law enforcement, government,” and “NGOs.”

Downs stated that Google is actively engaged in promoting what she called “counter-speech,” that is, the promotion of propaganda narratives. She also pointed to Google’s Jigsaw program as deploying “targeted ads and YouTube videos to disrupt online radicalization,” and “redirecting” users to content that Google approves of.

The hearing also featured the testimony of Clint Watts, a former FBI official, former US Army officer, fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and a leading promoter of social media censorship.

Watts presented the hearing with an unhinged justification for what these massive powers might be used for, in a hypothetical scenario he dubbed “Anwar Awlaki meets PizzaGate.”

“The greatest concern moving forward,” he said, “might likely be a foreign intelligence service, posing as Americans on social media, infiltrating one or both political extremes in the US and then recruiting unwitting Americans to undertake violence against a target of the foreign power’s choosing.”

In this formulation, social opposition, what he calls the “political extremes,” including left-wing politics, is the product of foreign intervention and therefore treasonous. It is also defined as “terrorist” in content and therefore criminal.

Watts expressed extreme fear over the widespread growth of opposition to the policies of US imperialism. He arrogantly decried, “Lesser-educated populations around the world predominately arriving in cyberspace via mobile phones will be particularly vulnerable to social media manipulation.”

The content of Thursday’s testimony points the far-advanced preparations for the establishment of police state forms of rule.

The effort to control speech online is driven by a ruling elite that is immensely fearful of social opposition. Amid growing social inequality and the ever-mounting threat of world war, broad sections of the population, and in particular the working class, are increasingly disillusioned with the capitalist system. Having no social reform to offer, the ruling elites see censorship as the only means to prop up their rule.

Given the explosive content of the statements made at Thursday’s hearing, it is extraordinary that they received no significant coverage in either the print or broadcast media.

The hearing took place just one day after the World Socialist Web Site carried its live webinar, “Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship,” featuring WSWS chairperson David North and journalist Chris Hedges.

Note: The source article promotes socialism. Whiskey Tango Texas is anti-communism and socialism

By Andre Damon | World Socialist Web Site

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Skunk Works Exec Hints US Hypersonic Bomber Has “Already Been Made”

Last week, ZeroHedge noted here that “hypersonic aircraft and missiles are being developed and tested by the United States, Russia, and China at an accelerating pace.” The race for hypersonic technologies has flourished among global superpowers, who realize that the first to possess these technologies will revolutionize their civilian and military programs.

Curiously, Lockheed Martin’s mysterious Skunk Works team might have just spilled the beans about a completed hypersonic aircraft ready to upgrade the long-retired Mach 3 SR-71 dubbed the “Son of Blackbird.”

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Jack O’Banion, Vice President of Strategy and Customer Requirements, Advanced Development Programs for Lockheed Martin, spoke at an aerospace conference last week, where he suggested that the hypersonic SR-72 aircraft might already exist.

While speaking at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum, he presented a slide of a digital prototype of the hypersonic aircraft and stated, “ without the digital transformation” from new computing capabilities, the hypersonic aircraft could not have been developed.

“Without the digital transformation the aircraft you see there could not have been made,” O’Banion said, standing on stage. “In fact, five years ago, it could not have been made.”

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O’Banion harped on the fact that computer processing power and new computer-aided design software contributed to the new radical design of the scramjet engine.

We couldn’t have made the engine itself—it would have melted down into slag if we had tried to produce it five years ago,” O’Banion said.

“But now we can digitally print that engine with an incredibly sophisticated cooling system integral into the material of the engine itself, and have that engine survive for multiple firings for routine operation.” The aircraft is also agile at hypersonic speeds, with reliable engine starts, he said.

In the early 2000s, he added, developers “could not have even built it even if we conceived of it.”

Last week, Google Earth found a mysterious “hypersonic aircraft” in the swamps of Florida hiding at a secret airbase, which looks similar to the SR-72. Conveniently, Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation are located just a stone’s throw away from the hidden airbase housing the mysterious aircraft. Interesting to note, Pratt & Whitney manufactures the scramjet engine for the X-51A WaveRider hypersonic vehicle.

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Since the mysterious Skunk Works team resides in Palmdale, California, it is unlikely the hypersonic aircraft in Florida is the SR-72, but more related to the family of Falcon-Hypersonics.

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According to Bloomberg, executives at Skunk Works could not provide further knowledge that “Lockheed Martin is preparing to turn over to the Pentagon a top-secret hypersonic aircraft, nor does it reveal how far the project may have progressed.” It is still a mystery if the aircraft would even be manned or unnamed.

Further, Lockheed failed to confirm any of O’Banion’s comments. The aerospace defense contractor “continues to advance and test technologies which will benefit hypersonic flight,” spokeswoman Melissa Dalton said in an email.

“A Reusable Hypersonic System (RHS) is a far term solution that will be made possible by the path-finding work we are doing today,” she added.

This is not that first time the media has focused on Lockheed’s hypersonic program.

Rob Weiss, Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president and general manager for Advanced Development Programs, previously told Aviation Week.

We’ve been saying hypersonics is two years away for the last 20 years, but all I can say is the technology is mature and we, along with DARPA and the services, are working hard to get that capability into the hands of our warfighters as soon as possible… I can’t give you any timelines or any specifics on the capabilities. It is all very sensitive. Some of our adversaries are moving along these lines pretty quickly and it is important we stay quiet about what is going on. We can acknowledge the general capability that’s out there, but any program specifics are off limits.”  

Simply, Weiss alludes to the hypersonic technology as “mature,” which may indicate the United States is on the verge of a hypersonic revolution.

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Recently, Brad Leland, Lockheed’s program manager for Hypersonics outlines how hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles could be the winning technique for the United States to stay relevant on the global stage.

“Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour… Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades. The technology would be a game-changer in theater, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today.”   

And so the world races towards hypersonic aircraft and weapons before the next global conflict. The good news, for the US, is that Americans via the Lockheed’s hypersonic program appear to have taken a commanding lead. The only question is whether America’s superpower opponents, China and Russia, has been successful in secretly developing their own version of this particular “golden grail” for airborne combat.

Source: ZeroHedge

Ex-CIA Officer Suspected Of Helping China Assassinate US Informants Arrested At JFK

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A former CIA officer suspected of helping China identify the US spy agency’s informants was arrested at JFK International Airport on Monday on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information, according to the Department of Justice.

The arrest of the former agent, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China. Mr. Lee was at the center of a mole hunt in which some intelligence officials believed that he had betrayed the United States but others thought that the Chinese government had hacked the C.I.A.’s covert communications used to talk to foreign sources of information. –NYT

“Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka “Zhen Cheng Li”, 53 – a U.S. Citizen currently living in Hong Kong, began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, where he would spend the next 13 years with a Top Secret clearance and signing “numerous non-disclosure agreements,” according to a DOJ press release.

According to court documents, in August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia. While traveling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia. During each of the hotel stays, FBI agents conducted court-authorized searches of Lee’s room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorized possession of materials relating to the national defense.

Specifically, agents found two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities.

Lee appeared in an New York courtroom Tuesday afternoon where he was ordered held without bail. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Lee, 53, served in the U.S. Army from 1982 through 1986 and worked for the CIA between 1994 and 2007 according to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent. 

The FBI agent wrote that Lee and his family left Hong Kong in August 2012 to travel to northern Virginia. Along the way, they stayed in hotels where the FBI found the books.

The small books were discovered inside Lee’s luggage, sealed in a small clear plastic travel pack.

The handwritten information inside ranged in terms of classification, but the agent said at least one page contained top secret information, “the disclosure of which could cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”Reuters

The FBI agent’s affidavit also noted that classified cables written by Lee while he was a case officer describing his interactions with CIA informants corroborated what was found in the two books. 

Lee was interviewed five times by the FBI according to Reuters, never disclosing that he had the books. He also met with former CIA colleagues around that time without returning the classified materials, said the Justice Department.

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Over a dozen CIA informants were imprisoned or killed by the Chinese government, a serious setback for the agency, as discussed here first last May:

The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.

Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

But there was no disagreement about the damage. From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A. –NYT

By the end of 2011, senior CIA officials realized they had a problem; their assets in China were disappearing. The FBI and CIA opened a joint investigation in response, run by top counterintelligence officials out of an office in Northern Virginia – code named “Honey Badger.” 

As more and more sources vanished, the operation took on increased urgency. Nearly every employee at the American Embassy was scrutinized, no matter how high ranking. Some investigators believed the Chinese had cracked the encrypted method that the C.I.A. used to communicate with its assets. Others suspected a traitor in the C.I.A., a theory that agency officials were at first reluctant to embrace — and that some in both agencies still do not believe. –NYT

Source: ZeroHedge. Read more about the case here.

She’s In

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Chelsea Manning, one of the most well-known US whistleblowers – jailed for leaking military documents on abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan – confirmed her bid for the US Senate, releasing a campaign video and calling for donations.

The whistleblower has shared her campaign vid on Twitter, captioned “yup, we’re running for senate”.

The video shows scenes of violence during several protests and meetings with US officials. “We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, of hate,” the voiceover says.

“We don’t need more – or better leader, we need someone willing to fight. We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won’t support us. They won’t compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves.”

Manning will challenge incumbent two-term Senator Ben Cardin in the primary, who has held the seat since 2007. Cardin has an approval rating of 54 percent, according to the latest statistics by Morning Consult survey company.

Manning received world-wide renown following her arrest in 2010 after an internal US Army investigation. The whistleblower, known then as Bradley Manning, leaked over 700,000 government documents and videos to WikiLeaks and news outlets across the world. The materials exposed abuses committed by the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The whistleblower was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. The day after the sentencing, Manning came out as a transgender woman. Her sentence was commuted in the last days of Barack Obama’s presidency and she was released from a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in May 2017.

Source: InfoWars

Latest O’Keefe (video) Exposes How Creepy Twitter Really Is: “They’re Paid To Look At Your Dick Pics”

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Last week, Project Veritas and James O’Keefe dropped the first two parts of their new undercover series which exposed rampant political bias and generally creepy behavior at Twitter.  We covered both of them here:

O’Keefe Strikes Again: Twitter Engineer Admits Willingness To Share Trump DMs Without A Warrant

Project Veritas Exposes Twitter “Shadow Banning”, Blocking Opposing Views

Now, earlier this morning, O’Keefe dropped part 3 of the series which takes the Twitter creepiness to a whole new level.  Among other things, four Twitter engineers openly talk about a team of 300-400 people working at Twitter whose sole role is to review your “private” direct messages to create a more complete profile of your personal interests which can be sold to advertisers.

Per the exchange below, Clay Haynes, who was featured in part one of the Twitter exposé, admitted in a January 6, 2018 meeting that Twitter has hired hundreds employees with the express purpose of looking at these “d*ck pics,” stating:

“There’s teams dedicated to it. I mean, we’re talking, we’re talking three or four… at least, three or four hundred people… Yes, they’re paid to look at d*ck pics.”

“I’ve seen way more penises than I’ve ever wanted to see in my life.”

“That’s, yeah… You know, actually… This sounds horrible, but I’m actually glad and fortunate it’s just dicks, it’s just blow job pictures, it’s just that type of stuff.”

Meanwhile, Pranay Singh, a Direct Messaging Engineer for Twitter corroborated Haynes claims and even joked about using someone’s private messages for blackmail purposes:

“Everything you send is stored on my server… So all your sex messages and you, like, d*ck pics are on my server now…”

“All your illegitimate wives and, like, all the girls you’ve been f*cking around with, they’re are on my server now… I’m going to send it to your wife, she’s going use it in your divorce.”

“So, what happens is like, you like, write something or post pictures on line, they never go away… Because even after you send them, people are like analyzing them, to see what you are interested in, to see what you are talking about. And they sell that data.”

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So, just how intrusive is Twitter?  Singh continues…

Twitter Engineer:  “So what happens is, like, when you, like, write stuff of when you post pictures online, they never go away.  Like, they’re always on there.”

“Even after you send them, people are analyzing them, to see what you’re interested in, to see what you’re talking about, and they sell that data.”

PV Journalist: “They sell it to who, like advertisers?”

Twitter Engineer: “Advertisers…”

PV Journalist: “Wait, you’re talking about just regular tweets or the DMs? Or both?”

Twitter Engineer:Everything. Anything you post online…”

PV Journalist: “Wow. So even what you think is private, direct message…”

Twitter Engineer:  “Yeah, it’s all analyzed.”

Finally, perhaps no one summarizes this Project Veritas series better than one of Twitter’s own engineers: “It is a creepy Big Brother. It’s like a level… I don’t want to say it freaks me out, but it disturbs me.”

Source: ZeroHedge