China’s failed attempt to erase the Tiananmen square massacre

On Jun 4, 1989, Chinese troops stormed through Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, killing and arresting thousands of pro-democracy protesters in what would become known as the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Tiananmen massacre was precipitated by the peaceful gatherings of students, workers, and others in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and other cities in April 1989 calling for freedom of expression, accountability, and an end to corruption. The government responded to the intensifying protests in late May 1989 by declaring martial law. This was but a prelude the the planned crackdown the Chinese Communist party unleased on the unsuspecting pro democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.

Between June 3 and 4, 1989, the tanks rolled into the square and the military opened fire and killed untold numbers of peaceful protesters and bystanders. China’s statement at the end of June 1989 said that 200 civilians and several dozen security personnel had died in Beijing following the suppression of “counter-revolutionary riots” on 4 June 1989. Outside sources has put the number of at least several thousands, and up to 10,000 people who were massacred by the Chinese security forces, according to recently declassified documents. Following the killings, the government implemented a national crackdown and arrested thousands of people for “counter-revolution” and other criminal charges, including disrupting social order and arson.

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China Launches Massive Online Censorship Sweep Ahead of Tiananmen Square Anniversary

The Chinese Communist government is ramping up online censorship ahead of the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, massacre of student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square – an event that is illegal to commemorate or discuss in China.

Beijing scrubs China’s heavily sealed, policed, and censored backwater of the Internet of Tiananmen content every year, but this time they, scrubbed a bridge right off the digital map. Users of China’s Baidu search engine – which, like Google and other search providers, has a mapping feature – suddenly found themselves unable to locate Sitong Bridge in Beijing. Early this week, Baidu began claiming “no related places found” when the bridge is searched for, although some intrepid users were able to get around the clumsy censorship by using different versions of the Chinese alphabet.

Sitong Bridge became a political topic last October when a man began hanging banners from the bridge criticizing dictator Xi Jinping and his heavy-handed coronavirus lockdown policies.

“No PCR tests, but food; no lockdowns, but freedom; no lies, but respect; no Cultural Revolution, but reform; no dictator, but vote; no [to being] slaves, but we the people,” one of the banners read.

The Sitong Bridge banners helped to inspire the massive nationwide protests that ultimately prompted Xi to abandon his lockdown policies, even though the Chinese government had long insisted the lockdowns were perfectly conceived, deftly executed, and highly effective at restraining the Wuhan coronavirus.

The protesters adopted white sheets of paper as a symbol of defiance, borrowing a (literal) page from the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement of 2019, which taunted the island’s Beijing-controlled government by daring the police to arrest them for waving papers that bore no message at all. Protesters waving blank paper assembled on other bridges as a tribute to the Sitong Bridge dissident, and they chanted a slogan from one of his banners: “Freedom, Not Lockdown.”

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Banned by Major Social Media Site, Campaign Pages Blocked

Twitter owner Elon Musk invited Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for a discussion on his Twitter Spaces after Kennedy said his campaign was suspended by Meta-owned Instagram.

“Interesting… when we use our TeamKennedy email address to set up @instagram accounts we get an automatic 180-day ban. Can anyone guess why that’s happening?” he wrote on Twitter. An accompanying image shows that Instagram said it “suspended” his “Team Kennedy” account and that there “are 180 days remaining to disagree” with the company’s decision.

In response to his post, Musk wrote: “Would you like to do a Spaces discussion with me next week?” Kennedy agreed, saying he would do it Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

Hours later, Kennedy wrote that Instagram “still hasn’t reinstated my account, which was banned years ago with more than 900k followers.” He argued that “to silence a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic.”

“Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square,” the candidate, who is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, wrote. “How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?”

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When Your Own Government CONFIRMS It Paid Censors to Silence You…

It’s hard to believe that I’m writing this about the government of the United States of America, but here we are in 2023 with our own government striving to make at least half the country out to be terrorists and second-class citizens. An exclusive report by the Washington Examiner states:

The State Department “stands by” its widely scrutinized grant to a group the Washington Examiner revealed is blacklisting conservative media outlets, according to a letter to Congress.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) put the State Department’s Global Engagement Center on blast in a March letter to the agency and demanded an investigation into its $100,000 grant in 2021 to the Global Disinformation Index, which has fed conservative website blacklists to advertisers to defund disfavored speech. The agency issued a response to the congressman on Friday, telling him in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner that it has no regrets over the taxpayer-backed award…

…As the Washington Examiner has reported since February 2022, the GDI was awarded $100,000 through the government’s U.S.-Paris Tech Challenge, which sought to “advance the development of promising and innovative technologies against disinformation and propaganda across the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom,” according to the Atlantic Council, a think tank that partnered for the challenge.

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Govt. Nudge Units Find the “BEST” Ways to Manipulate the Public

Freedom of speech means a lot to us at the OP.  However, that’s been fading fast, as Daisy has documented, and as though speech restrictions aren’t bad enough, most of us have been lab rats for central planners’ behavioral experiments longer than we probably care to realize.  And now there are Nudge Units.

Huge amounts of money have been poured into “nudge research,” determining the best ways to get populations to change their behaviors without passing laws or using force.

What are Nudge Units?

Let’s look at how these “Nudge Units” got started, what they’ve been used for most recently, and what they’re likely to focus on next.

The concept of “nudging” people into making better choices became popular with the book Nudge—Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, authored by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, and published in 2008. Their book defines a nudge as:

. . .any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.  To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid.  Nudges are not mandates.  Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge.  Banning junk food does not.  (p.6)

(You may be interested to note that author Sunstein is married to Samantha Power, the administrator of Biden’s US Agency for International Development and previously Obama’s ambassador to the UN. Forbes listed Ms. Power as the 63rd most powerful woman in the world in 2014. Do you think she’s Nudging? ~ Daisy )

Individuals in government and industry quickly realized that the authors’ insights into the decision-making process could be used to manipulate that process in the minds of the general public, many of whom don’t have the time or mental energy for NYT bestsellers.

The British government established its first Behavioural Insights Team in 2010.  It began as a seven-person team within a Cabinet Office nicknamed the “Nudge Unit” then became an independent social purpose company in 2014 before being purchased by Nesta, a larger social purpose company, in 2021.

These social purpose companies employ experts in promoting desirable behaviors.  So in Britain, for example, they want to cut obesity rates in half and reduce household carbon emissions by 28% by 2030.

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Kyiv Residents Who Posted Footage of Russian Air Attack on Social Media Threatened With Jail

Six Kyiv residents who posted shocking night-time footage of missiles flying through the air which quickly went viral could face up to eight years in prison if charged with breaking wartime censorship rules.

While in an age of social media saturation, it may seem natural to record and post something extraordinary happening outside your bedroom window, that is presently illegal in Ukraine, as six locals — including a locally famous Instagram model — are finding out.

Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency, The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said the Kyiv City Prosecutor’s Office have launched “comprehensive measures” to “establish all the circumstances of the crime and bring the guilty to justice” after footage showing the night-time sky of Kyiv during Tuesday’s “exceptional ” air raid was published online. Russian ‘hypersonic’ missiles and suicide drones were among the 18 incoming shot down in the raid, according to the Ukrainian government.

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LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman Spreads Misinformation While Calling For Misinformation Regulation

In a recent conversation with The Washington Post on the implications of the First Amendment and freedom of speech, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman expressed his perspective on what he thinks is the need for modern restrictions on speech to combat “misinformation.” But even his own call to action contained misinformation.

Hoffman’s argument revolves around two main points: freedom of speech and freedom of reach. He says the amplification and discovery of content, especially AI-generated content, can impact the socio-political landscape.

“We don’t really have the right discourse mechanisms for doing that. And you know, one of them obviously is freedom of speech and freedom of reach. And that’s again, within the AI content is, you know, well what gets amplified and, how is that all discovered is one of the things that will matter within the electoral context.”

Hoffman referenced a commonly misunderstood idea. He mentioned the proverbial concept of “yelling fire in a crowded movie theater,” hinting at the existence of restrictions on free speech.

However, this analogy does not accurately represent the actual US law and therefore gives an incorrect impression of the nature of free speech. The idea that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater is one of the most erroneous statements regarding free speech.

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Sen. Rand Paul Warns RESTRICT Act Would Allow Feds to Nullify First Amendment

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been a major critic of the RESTRICT Act, which has been sold to Congress and the public as a ban on TikTok.

He warned that it would authorize the federal government to censor any online communications it deems subversive and would nullify the First Amendment.

The popular social media app, which is controlled by a Chinese company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party, has more than 150 million monthly users in the United States alone and is used mainly by people under 30.

The app has been controversial for years, as concerns over security have led to several statewide bans of the app on government devices.

Legislation Faces More Opposition

Former President Donald Trump failed in his attempt to ban TikTok in the United States during his presidency, but momentum has been building ever since.

In April, President Joe Biden demanded that TikTok’s owners divest their stakes in the company or face a nationwide ban.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) co-sponsored the RESTRICT Act, which now has the support of over 20 senators, to give the Commerce Department the power to impose restrictions—up to and including outright bans—on TikTok and other technologies that may pose a national security risk.

It would mainly apply to foreign apps and software from countries deemed hostile to the United States, like China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba.

The legislation also empowers the Secretary of Commerce to unilaterally add any other country to the list.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the House would draw up a bill to address the Chinese app, but the timeline is unclear.

On May 5, Paul published a column on conservative news website Townhall, warning that the bill “bestows an astonishing amount of power to the Executive branch in a manner that the Chinese Communist Party would approve of.”

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“Consider it a fake, even if it’s not” – FBI accused of assisting Ukraine with Facebook censorship

The FBI has been pressuring Facebook and other platforms to censor misinformation on behalf of Ukraine, even when the information is not necessarily untrue, according to a report by independent journalist Lee Fang.

Fang learned about the FBI’s alleged role in the censorship after interviewing the head of the Department of Cyber Information Security of Ukraine, Illia Vitiuk.

“Once we have a trace or evidence of disinformation campaigns via Facebook or other resources that are from the US, we pass this information to the FBI, along with writing directly to Facebook,” said Vitiuk.

“We asked FBI for support to help us with Meta, to help us with others, and sometimes we get good results with that.”

They also flag information that might be true.

“When people ask me, ‘How do you differentiate whether it is fake or true?’ Indeed it is very difficult in such an informational flow,” said Vitiuk. “I say, ‘Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not.’ Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding, not to be fooled.”

From the report:

“During the panel, Vitiuk thanked the Ukrainian government’s many public and private sector allies in the United States, including Mandiant, Cisco, CrowdStrike, Clearview, Google, Amazon, and Starlink, among others. Cyber security support from American partners has helped thwart Russian cyber attacks on civilian and military infrastructure and have been a “psychological game changer,” Vitiuk said. He emphasized that the FBI has been his agency’s ‘top partner.’”

While such tactics are a common, but controversial, warfare practice, the FBI is supposed to have the First Amendment to think about.

The allegations that the FBI continue to be involved in online censorship is concerning, especially given that the FBI’s censorship efforts have already been exposed by Matt Taibbi and other journalists who released the Twitter Files.

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