Category Archives: Media Issues

In Effort to ‘Cultivate Hopelessness,’ Trump 2016 Campaign Used Facebook for Deterrence Operation Targeting Millions of Black Voters

The social media giant, said one critic, “is the newest frontier in a long history of suppression of the Black vote.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-28-2020

Photo by Ben Combee from Austin, TX, USA (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign sought to persuade 3.5 million Black voters in key battleground states to stay home on Election Day by targeting them with negative Facebook ads about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a Monday report on Britain’s Channel 4 News.

A massive data leak obtained by the U.K. outlet shows that four years ago Trump’s digital campaign team compiled files on 198 million American voters, which included information about their domestic and economic status obtained from market research companies. An algorithm then divided the voters into eight categories, called “audiences,” so they could be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other social media platforms. Continue reading

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‘These Are the Actions of a Fascist’: Press, Rights Advocates Warn of Dangerous Pattern as Trump Again Lauds Violence Against Journalists

“An American president does not praise violence against a reporter for doing his job. That is what an ugly, insecure two-bit dictator does.”

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-23-2020

Ali Velshi was hit by a rubber bullet while covering the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. Screenshot: MSNBC

Free speech advocates warned against President Donald Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric demonizing journalists following a speech at a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday in which the commander-in-chief celebrated violence against members of the press.

“Trump has been inciting hatred of reporters for years,” Mark Follman, national affairs editor for Mother Jones, tweeted. “As a result, American journalists have faced many violent threats… Trump veils it with mockery—but this behavior is no joke. It’s fascist, and it’s dangerous.” Continue reading

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Israel Launches Week-Long Bombing Campaign in Gaza Amid Ongoing War Crimes Investigation

Israeli leaders have characterized the latest bombardment as retaliatory, citing “incendiary balloons” and “riots” as justification.

By Kathryn Shihadah   Published 8-18-2020 by MintPress News

Israeli bombing of Gaza on 8-12-2020. Photo: Sucheta/Twitter

Last Monday night Israeli fighter jets executed airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip for the ninth night in a row in an act that may be another on Israel’s long list of possible war crimes.

Israeli leaders characterized the actions as retaliatory, naming Gazan “incendiary balloons” and “riots” as justification. Continue reading

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Watchdog Calls on Authorities to Drop ‘Absurd’ Charges Against Journalists Covering Black Lives Matter Protests

More than 600 attacks against members of the press covering the ongoing protests have been reported to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-18-2020

BLM protest in California – June 2020. Photo: Jackie Speier/Twitter

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday called for authorities to drop charges against members of the news media who were arrested while covering Black Lives Matter protests across the United States.

“It is absurd that law enforcement officials around the country continue to pursue charges against journalists who were doing their jobs at the time they were arrested,” Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ program director, said in a statement. “It’s high time for authorities to drop this pursuit, which is frivolous and wasteful.” Continue reading

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‘An Outrage’: Trump-Appointed Head of Global News Agency Won’t Extend Visas for Foreign Journalists

“It is appalling that the VOA’s new boss could be so reckless about the safety of journalists,” said PEN America.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-10-2020

Photo: Voice of America (Public Domain)

Dozens of foreign journalists are expected to be sent back to their home countries from the U.S. following a decision on Thursday by the newly appointed head of the federal government’s global news agency to not renew their visas.

As Common Dreams reported, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) was taken over last month by Michael Pack, a close ally of Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Staffer Outrage, Sickout Spurred by NYT Publication of Sen. Cotton ‘Send in the Troops’ Op-Ed

“Running this puts @nytimes’ Black staff in danger.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-4-2020

The New York Times’s decision to publish Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for U.S. military to quell the nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd has drawn sharp rebuke, including from the newspaper’s own writers. (Photo: Ajay Suresh/Wikimedia Commons/cc)

The New York Times‘s Wednesday publication of Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for the U.S. military to respond to ongoing protests across the nation with an “overwhelming show of force” sparked outcry from the newspaper’s own staffers and a “sickout” protest Thursday.

Among the staff critics was 2020 Pulitzer Prizer winner Nikole Hannah-Jones. “I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but to not say something would be immoral,” she tweeted Wednesday. “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.” Continue reading

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What ACLU Says Was Trump Call to “Literally Murder Protesters,” Facebook Says Doesn’t Violate Standards

“Facebook has once again failed to act against an explicit violation of its own rules and has allowed the violent and racist post to remain up.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-30-2020

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr/CC

Civil rights advocates are condemning Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg over a decision announced late Friday to let stand a post by President Donald Trump that threatened to have the U.S. National Guard open fire on demonstrators in Minneapolis enraged over the police killing of George Floyd.

While the ACLU earlier on Friday condemned the social media post by Trump—a message that was shared on both Twitter and Facebook—as “hypocritical, immoral, and illegal” and nothing less than a call to “literally murder protesters,” Zuckerberg in his statement said Facebook “decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.” Continue reading

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Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public’s view of protest

Protesters outside of a burning Minneapolis police precinct. AP Photo/John Minchillo

Danielle K. Kilgo, Indiana University

A teenager held her phone steady enough
to capture the final moments of George Perry Floyd’s life as he apparently suffocated under the weight of a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck. The video went viral.

What happened next has played out time and again in American cities after high-profile cases of alleged police brutality.

Vigils and protests were organized in Minneapolis and around the United States to demand police accountability. But while investigators and officials called for patience, unrest boiled over. News reports soon carried images of property destruction and police in riot gear. Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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40 Privacy Groups Warn That Facial Recognition is Threatening Democracy

We must take action and guard what little privacy remains before it’s too late.

By Derrick Broze. Published 1-31-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

On Monday, forty organizations signed a letter calling on an independent government watchdog to recommend a ban on U.S. government use of facial recognition technology.

The letter was drafted by the digital privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and signed by organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Color of Change, Fight for the Future, Popular Resistance, and the Consumer Federation of America. The letter calls on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to “recommend to the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security the suspension of facial recognition systems, pending further review.Continue reading

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