Skip to Content

FreeImages

US bill passed to crackdown on ‘Russian propaganda fake news’

One week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against "Russian propaganda fake news", a bill was passed in the US House of Congress with a sweeping majority.

Published: December 3, 2016, 9:13 am

    Read more

    But if and when the bill will arrives in the Senate, it is unclear if it will be used to shut down websites anonymously characterized as “useful idiots” or subversive elements used in disseminating supposed “Russian propaganda”.

    The full “H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017”, was sponsored by California Republican Devin Nunes to deal with a series of intelligence-related issues, including “Russian propaganda”, or in any case what the Obama administration calls “propaganda”, and hints at a potential crackdown on “offenders.”

    Nunes’ third largest donor in 2016 was the Google parent Alphabet, Inc.

    A quick perusal of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”, whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

    The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:

    Establishment or funding of a front group.
    Covert broadcasting.
    Media manipulation.
    Disinformation and forgeries.
    Funding agents of influence.
    Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
    Assassinations.
    Terrorist acts.

    As ActivistPost aptly notes, it is easy to see how this law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the current president, could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, arbitrarily defined as any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media’s proclivity to serve as the Public Relations team of those in power.

    As Zero Hedge reports, curiously, the bill which was passed on November 30, was introduced on November 22, two days before the Washington Post published its November 24 article citing “experts” who claim Russian propaganda helped Donald Trump get elected.

    The Washington Post cited PropOrNot, an anonymous website that posted a hit list of alternative media websites, including Zero Hedge, Drudge Report, Activist Post, Blacklisted News, the Ron Paul Report, and many others, in pushing a conspiracy theory – without any actual proof – that the listed websites have been either used directly or covertly by the Russians to spread propaganda.

    In casting the group behind this website as “experts,” the Post described PropOrNot simply as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds,” but not one group member is named. The executive director is quoted, but only on the condition of anonymity.

    WaPo wrote that “two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack US democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.”

    The most striking fault of PropOrNot, is the overly broad criteria used to identify which outlets spread propaganda. According to PropOrNot’s recounting of its methodology, the third step it uses is to check if a site has a history of “generally echoing the Russian propaganda ‘line’,” which includes praise for Putin, Trump, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Iran, China, and “radical political parties in the US and Europe.”

    When not praising, Russian propaganda includes criticism of the United States, Barack Obama, Clinton, the European Union, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, “Jewish people,” US allies, the mainstream media, Democrats, and “the center-right or center-left, and moderates of all stripes”.

    These criteria, of course, could include not only Russian state-controlled media organizations, such as Russia Today, but nearly every news outlet in the world, including the Post itself. Yet PropOrNot claims to be uninterested in differentiating between organizations that are explicit tools of the Russian state and so-called “useful idiots,” which echo Russian propaganda out of sincerely held beliefs. “We focus on behavior, not motivation,” they maintain.

    So to PropOrNot, simply having beliefs outside the political mainstream is enough to risk being labelled a “Russian propagandist”.

    Yet, when pressed by a journalist from the New Yorker on the technical patterns that led PropOrNot to label the Drudge Report a Russian propaganda outlet, the anonymous spokesperson could point only to a general “perception” of bias in its content. Drudge is a popular conservative, pro-Trump aggregated news website.

    Some have suggested that PropOrNot is an Ukrainian effort to wage a disinformation campaign against Russia. PropOrNot has admitted publicly that the group includes Ukrainian-Americans.

    Meanwhile, a website on the Darknet is collecting donations to allegedly help organize the assassination of both President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

    Launched earlier this week, the website warns of the “political, environmental and social consequences” of a Trump presidency and urges readers to fund their cause.

    “As you are all well aware, the consequences of having Donald Trump and Mike Prence as the leaders of the free world is extremely dangerous,” the webpage states. “The political, environmental and social consequences will change the United States for the worst.”

    karin.bredenkamp@freewestmedia.com

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Americas

    ‘Delusional’ report on Russian hacking in Ukraine

    The cyber-security company Crowdstrike has claimed that "Russia" hacked artillery units of the Ukrainian army, but the claim is completely baseless and false. The Crowdstrike report, released in December, asserted that the hack into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulted in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war against the Donbass.

    US Secretary of State Tillerson to skip NATO meeting and visit Russia instead

    WashingtonWhile NATO is continuing to drag its manpower to Russia's western borders, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is heading to Russia instead.

    Monsanto, EPA colluded to kill cancer findings

    WashingtonThe chemical powerhouse Monsanto's controversial herbicide, Roundup is carcinogenic, court documents revealed.

    WikiLeaks exposes CIA’s global covert hacking program

    The latest WikiLeaks' bombshell of CIA hacking practices, known as Vault 7 has been a wake-up call for computer users and IT giants.

    Trump: ‘Money is pouring into NATO’

    WashingtonPresident Donald Trump told Congress that “money is pouring in” from NATO countries to support the defense alliance.

    Fake news: Blacks are killed by police in US

    It was not factual reporting but once again fake news that blacks are significantly more likely than whites to be killed by law enforcement.

    Trump urges Gulf states to pay for ‘safe zones’ from Syrian conflict

    Melbourne, FloridaPresident Donald Trump told supporters at a rally in Florida that Gulf states should pay for the creation of “safe zones” to resolve the conflict in Syria.

    ‘Americans cannot care more for your children’

    Brussels“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” Defence secretary James Mattis said in his first speech to NATO allies in Brussels.

    Flynn’s political assassination whips up more anti-Russian sentiment

    WashingtonMembers of the unelected, unaccountable US intelligence community have targeted a senior aide to president Donald Trump by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, while whipping up more anti-Russian sentiment.

    Black opposition to Apollo moonlanding hidden in plain sight

    Racial politics in America is not new. In fact, race-baiting dates from the Apollo moonlanding, when NASA was in its heyday.

    Go to archive