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

    Illegals voting in US election far higher than previously estimated

    WashingtonThe number of illegal immigrants that voted in recent US elections was likely far greater than previous estimates, a new study revealed. As many as 5.7 million illegals may have voted in the 2008 election, securing the White House for Barack Obama.

    One in six Americans unhappy about media even before ex-FBI Comey’s hearing

    WashingtonAmericans are not happy with their news media, as almost six in 10 say it makes them angry and dissatisfied in a new poll. It may also be the trending topic from the appearance by ex-FBI director James Comey in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Fake news: New York Times misrepresents Putin’s denial of Russian hacking

    New YorkThis week the New York Times misrepresented Putin's denial Russia that engages in hacking to insinuate an admission of a Russian role in hacking the Democratic campaign to stop Hillary Clinton from being elected.

    Beheading presidents: Chelsea Clinton is not laughing so much now

    WashingtonHillary Clinton once famously said "We came, we saw, he died" cackling about the murder of Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya her country unleashed. But her daughter Chelsea for one, does not appreciate gags about killing presidents:

    America First: Trump pulls out of ‘unfair’ Paris climate agreement

    WashingtonAmerican Senator Rand Paul blasted the Paris climate accord on Thursday for being unfair after President Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

    Kissinger called Zbigniew Brzezinski a ‘total whore’

    WashingtonHenry Kissinger once called Zbigniew Brzezinski a "total whore", the Washington Post revealed. His legacy in Washington's foreign policy lives on after Afghanistan, today in Ukraine.

    FBI’s James Comey was Clinton insider

    WashingtonThe FBI director that was fired by President Trump, James Comey, was a Hillary Clinton insider. His career actually highlights the unhealthy relationship that exists between major corporations and the political elite.

    Another huge cyber attack is underway

    Another huge cyberattack is underway after last week's assault on computers worldwide, according to a global cybersecurity firm, suggesting military-grade cyberweapons are now being deployed for cyber crime.

    Kushner is a ‘massive, massive problem’ for the White House

    WashingtonThe American author of a best-selling book about the Clinton's dark secrets, believes president Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has created "a massive, massive problem " for the White House.

    Anger grows in South Korea over US deployment of THAAD

    SeongjuThe newest, the American anti-ballistic system THAAD, just went operational in South Korea, but both sides of the 38th Parallel and above the Yalu River, that is North as well as South Korea is unhappy about the president Trump's latest move and it could swing the outcome of elections in South Korea.

    Go to archive