Anonymous Sources: Facebook and YouTube suppressing important questions and discussion | A Pragmatist's Take | Douglas Moran | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

By Douglas Moran

Anonymous Sources: Facebook and YouTube suppressing important questions and discussion

Uploaded: Nov 12, 2019

On Friday night (11/8), Facebook and YouTube announced that they would suppress any postings that included the name of the person widely believed to be the "whistleblower" on Trump's call with the new President of the Ukraine. Facebook and YouTube are not protecting his identity because it is already public, and their actions provided additional confirmation of that identification. So exactly what are FB and YT trying to censor? What is so extraordinary about this one person that, unlike many other whistleblowers, legitimate news stories from reputable journalists are being suppressed?

I don't have answers to those questions -- that would be to attribute motivation to Facebook and YouTube, which would be bad journalism (if I were a journalist). I think it is important for citizens to watch what happens in this particular case. First, within the mainstream media, there are increasing calls for censorship and attacks on the alternative media that has been a crucial counterbalance to the narratives being pushed by the mainstream (corporate, elite, partisan) media. And there is an expanding group that could be labeled "News outlets and reporters for censorship". Second, some see this as another early signal of Facebook and Google/YouTube having decided to play major partisan roles in the 2020 elections. Others, in contrast, suspect that this may simply be FB and G/YT responding to "squeaky wheels" without considering the policy implications.

There is also speculation that FB and YT are doing this out of fear of litigation. But this goes against the social media companies' claim that they are not legally responsible for what their users post because they are platforms, not publishers: This censorship adds to the evidence that they see themselves as controlling -- or responsible for -- what they distribute, and thus making them publishers.
Note: The platform/publisher argument/discussion is off-topic here. It is a long-running one that is easily accessible via web search.

I am self-censoring here: I will not cite the whistleblower's name to reduce the risk of Facebook and Google/YouTube applying sanctions on the overall PAOnline website and related social media accounts. Instead, I will used the name "HewnIpBuSnobem" -- "He whose name is public but shall not be mentioned". Others have used names like "Voldemort" as placeholders, but that carries additional implications. Others are using misspellings of the name hoping that it is enough to be outside the fuzzy matching capabilities of FB and G/YT.

Other media outlets may have similar bans. That Fox News has banned its hosts and personalities from mentioning HewnIpBuSnobem's name, and this has made the news because several guests have mentioned that name on-air. Example: "^Mollie Hemingway names alleged whistleblower ((HewnIpBuSnobem)) on-air despite Fox News ban^" (2019-11-10).

HewnIpBuSnobem's actual name became openly public on 2019-10-30 with the article "^The Beltway's 'Whistleblower' Furor Obsesses Over One Name^" by ^RealClearInvestigations^ (RCI) of the highly regarded news site ^RealClearPolitics^. Since then, my news feeds have suggested multiple articles that gave HewnIpBuSnobem's name. According to the RCI article and others, HewnIpBuSnobem's identity was been widely known in Washington political and press circles since September, with it appearing in tweets since early October.

Note: Discussion about the decision to publish the name is off-topic here -- the topic here is the attempt to prevent public information from reaching the general public. Discussion of whether the name should have been revealed is well represented in media articles that are easily found by web search. Unfortunately, most of them are little more than reiterations of partisan talking points, and very few rise to the level of argumentation found in the RealClearInvestigations article cited above.

Over the weekend, reports of legitimate news articles being suppressed have been popping up. One such is from noted reporter/commentator Tim Pool -- his YouTube video "^Facebook Has SUSPENDED Me For Reporting on CIA Whistleblower Calling It 'Crime Activity' ^ " (23:55) describes his suppressed posting and shows the messages received from FB and YT. Warning: Pool tends to ramble and mildly rant. He also doesn't give links to the articles he talks about.
His suppressed Facebook post (^@5:34^) references the Politico article "^Opinion: The New York Times Was Right to Unmask the Whistleblower: Journalists are supposed to report the news, not suppress it^" by Jack Shafer, Senior Media Writer.
Note: The cited NY Times article didn't provide a name, but compiled a list of things publicly disclosed about HewnIpBuSnobem, from which his identity could be easily determined by building the (often short) lists of people meeting each criteria and then seeing who is in the set intersection.

There are claims that additional public mention of HewnIpBuSnobem's identity will put him in danger unnecessarily. I am in no position to judge this. On the other hand, substantial questions have been raised that seem to warrant public examination. From the publicly available information, HewnIpBuSnobem continues to be heavily involved in partisan electoral politics (see the RCI article cited above). This included the Democratic National Committee's connection to the Ukrainian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Aside: The Ukrainians projected and feared that Trump wouldn't support them against Russia, -- it turned out that Trump's administration provided "lethal aid" (weaponry) -- especially anti-tank missiles (the FGM-148 Javelin) -- that Obama refused to provide.

Aside: Some of this concern for consequences for someone suspected of being a whistleblower may not be simple partisan posturing. In the next section, ABC and CBS fired a producer (wrongly?) suspected of being a whistleblower within their own organizations with little investigation. Their advocating for protecting whistleblowers is sheer hypocrisy.

These circumstances had already raised serious questions about HewnIpBuSnobem's motives, credibility and potential collaborators. The decision by Facebook and YouTube effectively suppresses most discussion of these questions. If you try to find this discussion using web search on "whistleblower" there are just too many irrelevant results hiding what you are seeking, and either far too many or too few when using the workaround phrases or names (e.g., "Voldemort" and "HewnIpBuSnobem"-equivalents).

----Suppressed reporting on now-deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his "rich and powerful friends" by ABC: 3 years and counting----

If you want to further raise your cynicism about the national news media, a ^video^ of anchor/reporter Amy Robach expressing her frustration ("pissed") was leaked by an ABC insider to ^Project Veritas^. According to this video, ABC was worried that they would lose an interview with the British royals (William and Kate) -- that was more important than stopping a prolific pedophile. However, the various rich and powerful men who were involved might have been a factor. Commentary can be found with web search.
Important: With such videos, you need to be wary about edits that distort what was being said.

^ABC's press release^ claimed that "not all of our reporting met our standards to air". This resulted in a torrent of social media posts of lists of stories that ABC had broadcast that demonstrated few, if any, journalistic standards: use in conflict with context, continuing to report information well after it had been shown to be false, no fact-checking, no sanity-checking, rank speculation and opinion presented as news, second/third/... hand information, ...

A broader account is provided in NPR's "^ABC News Defends Its Epstein Coverage After Leaked Video Of Anchor^". However, there seem to be more discrepancies between this and the Project Veritas video than one would attribute to Robach's speaking off-the-cuff.

ABC decided they knew who was the leaker -- a producer who had just moved to CBS -- and communicated with CBS, which immediately fired her. She has denied being responsible, and Project Veritas has posted ^a statement that is claimed to be from the actual leaker^, who is still at ABC. Who got the ^exclusive on the firing^? ^Page Six^, a website covering celebrities, entertainment, fashion, ...
Video: ^The MK Interview: Megyn ((Kelly)) sits down with Ashley Bianco who was fired by CBS^ (7:18).

Most interesting for me is that the media insiders didn't trust the mainstream media with these stories and instead went to alternative media.


With the seeming increase in suppression of legitimate news by the media companies, including the social media giants, you need to be listening to news from "the other side". You may be shocked -- and educated -- by what news is you start seeing that is ignored by your current media outlets. My strategy is to select a few outlets from the other side and view them (read/watch) for long enough for the Google News, YouTube, -- algorithm to start recommending similar publishers. You may well find that you can't stand the initial choices and early recommendations. Just unsubscribe or stop viewing and let the recommendation algorithm adjust.

----Appendix: Anticipating requests for recommendations on media outlets----

I'm going to focus on YouTube because, although you get a lot of "talking heads", some include photos, videos, and graphics related to the story being discussed.

On YouTube, channels have lists of other channels, similar to a list of who you follow on Facebook. These channels listed under "HOME" and "CHANNELS". Be especially on the lookout for channels that are on the lists of multiple channels representing different perspectives.

I am at a loss to make good recommendations. For many of my subscriptions, I am rarely viewing their articles/videos because their headlines/titles alert me that they want to sell me outrage or that they have a distorted perspective on reality that may verge on the delusional. For me as the viewer, it makes no difference whether this is what they believe and how they think, or if it is just clickbait.

That said, if you are a Conservative looking for Progressive channels on YouTube, ^The Young Turks^ (TYT) will likely kick-start recommendations, after which you are almost certain to unsubscribe.

In the reverse direction, the YouTube channel of ^Ben Shapiro^ of the ^The Daily Wire^ channel is probably good for pump-priming, but little more. I find him off-putting, seeing him as primarily a debater trying to score points, rather than someone trying to inform and persuade. The Daily Wire also has a website and podcasts.

The YouTube channel of Conservative comedian ^StevenCrowder^, aka Louder with Crowder, has occasional digressions from its advertised format of "late night comedy show". Videos labeled ==I "^Change My Mind^"== can be interesting. Crowder sets up a table on a college campus or similar setting and invites passersby to try to convince him that his stated position is wrong (e.g., "Hate Speech Isn't Real"). He often helps them formulate their argument, with both facts and argumentation. Some of the sessions are duds because none of the volunteers know enough about their position to get started. Other sessions reveal that the volunteers haven't had to seriously argue their positions, but were unaware of how little they knew (^Dunning-Kruger effect^). If viewed as representative of the larger student body, this can be disturbing.

Another potential source is Tim Pool. A few years ago, his politics would have been regarded as Center-Left, if not Left (he supported Bernie Sanders in 2016). However, with Progressives shifting so much further to the Left, he likely comes across as Center-Right. He has two related channels -- ^Tim Pool^ and ^Timcast^. There also is a related, but separate, ^Subverse News^ that is ramping up. Pool typically puts out four 10-25 minute videos per day, and achieves this by going without a script and no editing for each video. Be highly skeptical of his statements on economics and the history behind current events: He dropped out of high school and most of his knowledge in such areas seems to come from the mainstream media, which is increasingly populated by the uninformed and the ill-informed.

One of the problems with trying to view news from a Conservative perspective is that there is so little of it. The observation is that Conservatives are focused on commentary and the repackaging of news from other sources, and do proportionately little original reporting. This becomes a fundamental problem with the ongoing decline of the mainstream media, where a so-called news story is what, not many years ago, would have been labeled commentary or opinion. And commentary is now heavily biased opinion, and opinion is unpaid advertisements (books, businesses, politicians ...).

An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.

----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The ^Guidelines^ for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.
A slur is not an argument. Neither are other forms of vilification of other participants.

If you behave like a ^Troll^, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.