How Did Someone Like Me Get Shadow-Banned?

How did someone like me get shadow-banned? There is no way to know, and that’s a problem for our society and our ability to solve the polycrisis we now face.

It seems there are many reasons to get shadow-banned, but unfortunately we’re never told what “crime” we committed nor are we given a chance to defend ourselves from the “indictment” in whatever “court” found us “guilty.” As in a nightmarish tale right out of Kafka, the powers making the charges, declaring the verdict “guilty as charged” and imposing the penalty are completely obscured.

Those found “guilty” discover their secret “conviction” and “sentence” when their livelihood is destroyed (i.e. they’re demonetized) and their online presence suddenly diminishes or vanishes.

I call this being sent to Digital Siberia. As with the real gulag, most of those convicted in the secret digital Star Chamber are innocent of any real crime; their “crime” was challenging the approved narratives.

Which leads to my question: why was little old marginalized-blogger me shadow-banned? Those responsible are under no obligation to reveal my “crime,” the evidence used against me, or offer me an opportunity to defend myself against the charges, much less file an appeal.

My astonishment at being shadow-banned (everyone in Digital Siberia claims to be innocent, heh) is based on my relatively restrained online presence, as I stick to the journalistic standards I learned as a free-lancer for mainstream print media: source data, excerpts and charts from mainstream / institutional sources and raise the questions / build the thesis on those links / data.

I avoid conspiracy-related topics (not my interest, not my expertise) and hot-button ideological / political cleavages (us vs. them is also not my interest). My go-to source for charts and data is the Federal Reserve database (FRED) and government agencies such as the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, IRS, etc., and respected non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Pew Research Center, RAND, investment banks, etc.

Given my adherence to journalistic standards, I wonder: how did someone like me get shadow-banned?

The standard cause (or excuse) for being overtly banned is “distributing misinformation.” This charge is never specific; something you posted “violates our community standards,” or equivalent broad-brush language.

Shadow-banning is even more pernicious because you’re not even notified that your visibility to others has been restricted or dropped to zero. You see your post, but nobody else does.

What are the precise standards for declaring a link or statement as “misinformation?” As the twitter files revealed, what qualifies as “misinformation” is constantly shifting as a sprawling ecosystem of censors share information and blacklists. This report is well worth reading:

The Censorship-Industrial Complex: Top 50 Organizations To Know
(Zero Hedge).

Not only do we not know what qualifies as “misinformation,” we also don’t know what Big Tech algorithms are flagging and what their response is to whatever’s been flagged. My colleague Nate Hagens, who is equally scrupulous about using authoritative sources, posted this comment last year:

“It’s both funny and scary. It was explained to me today that the new Facebook/Meta algorithm downrates users who have cookies w evidence of visiting non-mainstream news sources/blogs. Even when one uses proxy servers and incognito mode, if you frequent e.g. Aljazeera or other news sites instead of CNN or FOX the algorithms categorizes your FB content (even if it’s a chicken soup recipe) as ‘non-mainstream’.
Big brother is watching (and not even thinking).
Those ideas/voices outside the status quo aren’t on equal footing- and the status quo (material growth/cultural values) is what’s leading us down the current path, without a map or plan.”

The systems that shadow-ban us are completely opaque. Who’s to say that a knowledgeable human reviews who’s been banned or shadow-banned? Given the scale of these Big Tech platforms and Search Engines, is that even possible?

It’s well known that YouTube constantly changes its ranking algorithms so they are harder to game, i.e. manipulate to advance one’s visibility.

It’s also known that simply posting a link to a site flagged as “misinformation” is enough to get your post excommunicated and your site flagged in unknown ways with unknown consequences.

What I do know is that Of Two Minds was publicly identified as “Russian Propaganda” by a bogus organization with no supporting data, PropOrNot in 2016. This front’s blacklist was prominently promoted by the Washington Post on page one in 2016, more or less giving it the authority of a major MSM outlet.

One might ask how a respected, trusted newspaper could publish a list from a shadowy front without specifying the exact links that were identified as “Russian Propaganda.” Standard journalistic protocol requires listing sources, not just publishing unverified blacklists.

Clearly, the Washington Post should have, at a minimum, demanded a list of links from each site on the blacklist that were labeled as “Russian Propaganda” so the Post journalists could check for themselves. At a minimum, the Post should have included inks as examples of “Russian Propaganda” for each site on the list. They did neither, a catastrophic failure of the most fundamental journalistic standards. Yet no one in the media other than those wrongfully blacklisted even noted or questioned this abject failure.

In effect, the real propaganda was the unsourced, un-investigated blacklist on the front page of the Washington Post.

How did I get on a list of “Russian Propaganda” when I never wrote about Russia or anything related to Russia?

There are two plausible possibilities. One is “guilt by association.” I’ve been interviewed by Max Keiser since 2011, and Max and his partner Stacy Herbert posted their videos on RT (Russia Today) and an Iranian media outlet. Needless to say, these sources were flagged, as was anyone associated with them. So perhaps merely having a link to an interview I did with Max and Stacy was enough to get me shadow-banned. (Shout-out to Max and Stacy in El Salvador.)

Alternatively, perhaps questioning the coronation of Queen Hillary in any way also got me on the blacklist.

Once on the blacklist, then the damage was already done, as the network of censors share blacklists without verifying the “crime”–a shadowy “crime” without any indictment, hearing or recourse, right out of Kafka.

Shadow-banning manifests in a number of ways. Readers reported that they couldn’t re-tweet any of my tweets. Another reader said the Department of Commerce wouldn’t load a page from my site, declaring it “dangerous,” perhaps with the implication that it was a platform for computer viruses and worms–laughable because there is nothing interactive on my sites and thus no potential source for viruses other than links to legitimate sources and adverts served by Investing Channel.

Users of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have probably noticed that your feed is populated by the same “friends” or “folks you follow.” In other words, the feed you’re presented with is curated by algorithms which sort and display posts / tweets / search results according to parameters that are invisible to users and regulators.

It’s easy to send flagged accounts to Digital Siberia, and trouble-free to leave them there until the trouble-maker goes broke.

It’s impossible to chart the extent of the shadow-banning, or who’s doing it, sharing blacklists, etc. This entire ecosystem of censorship is invisible. Recall that in the Soviet gulag, having an “anti-Soviet dream” was enough to get you a tenner (10-year sentence) in the gulag. Here, posting a flagged link will get you a tenner in Digital Siberia.

When Your Own Government Confirms It Paid Censors To Silence You…

In today’s zeitgeist, merely mentioning the possibility that the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab resulted in an instant ban in 2020. How could the possibility that it escaped from a nearby lab dedicated to viral research be labeled as “disinformation” when the facts were not yet known?

The answer is of course that the lab-escape theory was “politically sensitive” and therefore verboten.

You see the problem: what’s deemed “politically sensitive” changes with the wind, and so the boundaries of what qualifies as “misinformation” have no visible or definable edge. Virtually anything consequential can suddenly become “politically sensitive” and then declared “misinformation.” When the guidelines of what’s a “crime” and the processes of “conviction” are all opaque, and there is no hearing or recourse to being “convicted” of a shadow-“crime,” we’ve truly entered a Kafkaesque world.

How did someone like me get shadow-banned? There is no way to know, and that’s a problem for our society and our ability to solve the polycrisis we now face.

I joke that what got me shadow-banned was using Federal Reserve charts. Perhaps that’s not that far from reality.


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