Escaping Censorship

July 26, 2019 (The New Atlas at LiveJournalFacebook, Twitter and Google (which includes YouTube) have mobilised to purge their networks of political activists, analysts and anyone in general impeding the special interests these three tech giants represent.

Ironically, despite Washington, London and Brussels accusing Russia of being an authoritarian state, safe havens like VK, Yandex and LiveJournal are giving dissident voices in the West space to say things they are prohibited from saying on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

TheNew Atlas is a blog now on LiveJournal shared by several authors and activists recently targeted by Facebook and Twitter specifically with our accounts purged from their platforms for using “fictitious personas.” A Reuters article titled, “Facebook removes fake accounts from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Honduras,” targeting us claimed: 

Facebook took action based on deceptive behavior and not the nature of the content posted, Gleicher said. 

The accounts removed in Thailand used “fictitious personas” to promote narratives about Thai politics, U.S.-China relations, protests in Hong Kong, and criticism of democracy activists in Thailand, Gleicher said. 

“We were able to determine conclusively that some of the activities of this network was linked to an individual based in Thailand associated with New Eastern Outlook, a Russian government-funded journal based in Moscow,” Gleicher said.

To be clear, we are anonymous authors who choose anonyminity primarily for our own protection. Spun as using “fictitious personas” we wonder whether or not Facebook and Twitter will target The Economist next, which publishes content anonymously as explained in this article by The Economist itself titled, “Why are The Economist’s writers anonymous?” which admits:

Historically, many publications printed articles without bylines or under pseudonyms—a subject worthy of a forthcoming explainer of its own—to give individual writers the freedom to assume different voices and to enable early newspapers to give the impression that their editorial teams were larger than they really were. The first few issues of The Economist were, in fact, written almost entirely by James Wilson, the founding editor, though he wrote in the first-person plural.

The Economist also explains why it publishes content anonymously, noting that:

The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it. In the words of Geoffrey Crowther, our editor from 1938 to 1956, anonymity keeps the editor “not the master but the servant of something far greater than himself…it gives to the paper an astonishing momentum of thought and principle.”

Facebook and Twitter would never consider purging The Economist from their platforms for writing anonymously or for having teams of writers publishing single articles. Why? Because despite claiming they didn’t purge us from their platform because of “the nature of our content,” the only difference between us and The Economist is the nature of our content.

JT/TC