Red Pill or Red Herring - The Full Debunk

Red Pill or Red Herring - The Full Debunk

If you're reading this you probably ended up here by mistake. This is the extended edition of this much shorter post and unlike the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings, this post isn't better than the other one just three times as long. It's still not a complete debunking of the r/the_donald post because I didn't have the time or energy to cover everything but it is pretty thorough.

I'll say something here that I don't say anywhere else: I honestly still don't know if the author of the post was trying to mislead people but he certainly ended up doing so.


The Trump hype camp that is the /r/The_Donald subreddit is hardly a bastion of intellectual prowess though they sometimes pretend to be. Getting banned or having a comment removed from the subreddit is laughably easy - I know from experience.

It is rare for a post on /r/The_Donald to seriously make me reconsider my position on... well anything really so imagine my surprise when I came across a post that after a first read left me thinking “ok maybe there is a nugget of truth here?”

This is the post in question and with a title like "[DISTURBING REDPILL] The Day Obama Nationalized the Internet... and you didn't even notice" you'd expect it to be filled with angry fear-mongering, conspiracy theories and several barely disguised anti-semitic dog whistles... and it is. But if you leave that aside for a moment the overall story that emerges seems at least a little compelling. Therefore, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that the post is also full of bullshit and misinformation.

The way language is deployed throughout the post is nothing short of masterful – the author has the misdirection of a master illusionist. If you don’t give the post your full attention and read it without a critical eye you’ll miss crucial details that are quietly glossed over.

Because I don’t want to use the guys Reddit name in this post I’ll refer to him as 'Vladimir.' Not because I actually think he's Russian or Russian sponsored but because it was in the draft.

Vladimir attempts to increase the legitimacy of the post by adding links to copious sources to confer some of the validity of a well-sourced news article or scientific paper to his writing. Although linking to sources is admirable it doesn't increase the validity of an argument if your argument doesn't stay based in reality.  The links Vladimir chooses to include are far less telling than the ones he chooses to leave out. I’ll try my best to include links where he did not.

Before I start I want to make one thing clear: Vladimir and his friends may very well find a couple factual errors in this post and debunk them (as they should) but this does not mean their overall message is right. Vladimir’s message is fundamentally and irreparably flawed as you’re about to see so though he can argue against me he can’t argue with objective reality.

Vladimirs Argument Summarised

I've tried to summarise the argument the post makes as fairly as possible. Here it is:

  1. Obama and the FCC fought for net neutrality so that the FCC could revoke ISPs broadcasting licenses if the ISPs didn't remove Conservative content.

  2. The globalists used the 'Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016' and 'National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017' to create legislation allowing the president to classify anything he wanted as propaganda and then censor this content (which would have impacted the right/anti-globalists the most).

  3. The Global Engagement Center was a ploy to gain absolute power over the internet and help the globalists to promote propaganda and lies to the American people while crushing the right.

  4. Trump and the current FCC helped save America from the evil globalists.

The Debate Came Out of Nowhere... Right? (Wrong)

Vladimir starts by asking:

 Ask yourself why N.N. came out of nowhere.

I’m not entirely sure what he means by “came out of nowhere.” The net neutrality issue stretches back quite some time.

You could even argue it goes back to the days of the telegraph where, in an act to ‘facilitate communication between the Atlantic and Pacific states by electric telegraph it was written on June 16, 1860:

..messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini, shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting that the dispatches of the government shall have priority.

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, who coined the term ‘net neutrality’ in 2003, wrote way back in 2006 that:

The Net Neutrality debate grew out of the concerns in the late 1990s about possible threats to the end-to-end nature of the internet […]  The actual term "network neutrality," new or not, has a lot in common with a lot of old ideas.   The concept of a “common carrier,” dating from 16th century English common law, captures many similar concepts.  A common carrier, in its original meaning, is a private entity that performs a public function (the law was first developed around port authorities).

In fact, back in 2006 the conservative organisation the ‘Christian Coalition of America’ was a staunch defender of net neutrality.  They had some talking points that will be familiar to the right:

Conservatives had made many gains in recent years thanks to the power of the Internet. In terms of organization, it has become an indispensable tool. In political communications, it allows us to finally bypass the liberal media and to get our message out more effectively. These gains must be preserved!

They also made a case that seems all too familiar:

  • The new FCC regulations set the cable and phone companies up to become the equivalent of the mafia to the Internet. Today, consumers dictate the evolution of the Internet. Under the new regulations, cable and phone companies will be making the decisions. And their decisions will not be made based on quality, but rather on who pays the most "protection money" to be protected from the competition of a truly free marketplace.

  • Given that most Americans have just one (or at most, two) companies through which they can get broadband access, the free market principle of competition for consumer dollars doesn't enter the picture, just like the old "Ma-Bell" monopoly. Much like the trade-off involved in allowing a telephone monopoly was that the company had to provide equality of service, so too should it be with the Internet duopoly.

  • Consumers that are already paying monthly fees for broadband access will soon find out they don't actually have what they thought they were paying for. Americans won't have broadband access to the entire Internet, just the part that the cable and phone companies allow them to see

In fact, the ‘Christian Coalition of America’ remained staunchly in favour of net neutrality in the lead up to the net neutrality decision in 2015 and teamed up with an unlikely partner the progressive organisation

Others defending net neutrality in 2006 included the American Association of librarians.

In 2010 the now disgraced Democratic senator Al Franken wrote about net neutrality:

telecommunications companies want to be able to set up a special high-speed lane just for the corporations that can pay for it. [….] Maybe the gatekeepers will discriminate based on who pays them more. Maybe they will discriminate based on whose political point of view conforms to their bottom line. […] This isn't a liberal or conservative issue. Everyone has a stake in protecting the First Amendment. And it isn't even strictly a political issue. The internet's freedom and openness has made it a hotbed for innovations that change our lives. It's been an incredible engine of job creation.

Who Benefited?

Vladimir continues:

Why was it [net neutrality] so heavily advertised? Who paid for the advertising? And who benefited from it?

I’ll give a couple answers to this question. The more cynical answer is that if you go take a look at a 2005 article about net neutrality you’ll notice it says:

A bill expected early next year in the U.S. House of Representatives, coupled with recent comments made by executives from BellSouth and the newly merged AT&T and SBC Communications, has raised the prospect of a two-tiered Internet in which some services--especially video--would be favored over others.

No broadband provider has proposed to block certain Web sites. But they have said Yahoo, for instance, could pay a fee to have its search site load faster than Google. Other possibilities include restricting bandwidth-hogging file-swapping applications, or delivering their own video content faster than a similar service provided by rivals.

That prospect has dismayed e-commerce and Internet companies including, eBay, Google and Microsoft, which are lobbying to maintain what they call the principle of "network neutrality"--namely, that network owners must not pick favorites among the myriad technologies, applications and users that travel across their pipes.

"We're trying to ensure that our customers are able to get to us without impairments along the way," said Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy at Amazon.

Tim Wu who we met just now commented in 2006 that ‘network neutrality’ is “Washington's current obsession.”

The bump in Google searches for “net neutrality” in 2006 provides further evidence for this obsession.

So clearly there was a heated debate going at the time. I wouldn’t know though. I was several thousand miles away in primary school in the UK.

Anyway, my first answer (to Vladimir's question) would be that the tech giants like Amazon and Google had a special interest in this net neutrality – they would likely be among the earliest proponents of net neutrality purely for business reasons, no globalist conspiracy needed.

Digital liberty groups would also have joined them in promoting the net neutrality debate. After the 2014 court ruling in Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC (more on that later) net neutrality suddenly gains wide attention. 105,000 people signed a petition on the Whitehouse website to express their desire for net neutrality – they can’t all have been corporate shills. This led to Obama coming out strongly in favour of NN.

Later in 2014 “A group of 86 organizations, with the support of more than one million signatures from online petitions, asked the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday to stand up for net neutrality.”

All of these people can’t have been brainwashed by Amazon et al., people did have real concerns.

As for who benefited? All of us or at least everyone who uses the internet. I’m sure the tech giants benefited too it helped them innovate and grow – I thought that’s what we wanted?

Thanks, Obama

On Obama's final month in office, the internet was quietly nationalized by legislation he signed the day before Christmas Eve.

I’ll come back to this point later but I want you to know that that it’s really dumb.

I’ll skip over the next section of the post all about the history of the 'globalist plot' for now for my sanity (and yours) though I will say I agree with Vladimirs criticisms of the policies that led to the 6 media conglomerates we have today.

Attack of the Jew- I mean (((Globalists)))

Vladimir notes:

The globalists, having solidified their control over banks, education, civil society, media, and social media, now turn their gaze to the crown jewel of their decades-long pursuit: the internet itself.

Who are the globalists? Probably just a more sophisticated way of saying "Jews." Saying “globalist” is just a way to hide the true meaning. I won’t bother debunking the whole Jewish conspiracy here. Others have done it far better.

You Can't Handle the Truth

Vladimir continues:

Before Verizon v. FCC, the FCC classified ISPs under Title I of Clinton's 1996 Telecommunications Act, meaning they acted as private entities with minimal regulation from the government.

This is true. The next bit is half true but see the "The FCC can’t revoke a license that doesn’t exist" to get the real story. Here's what Vladimir has to say:

Separate and unrelated to that classification, the FCC held ISPs accountable to the Open-Internet Rules (no throttling, no blocking, no paid-prioritization). Verizon v. FCC changed that, ruling that if the FCC wanted to enforce Open-Internet Rules they need to re-classify ISPs under Title II as quasi-utilities strictly regulated as "common carriers", effectively a state-licensed monopoly. The most critical factor here is that under Title II, ISPs need to apply for Broadcasting Licenses. which give the government massive leverage over them.

It may be that the lawsuit's outcome was sheer coincidence. Regardless, this was a huge win for the globalists, because now they are one step closer to forcing ISPs to apply for Broadcasting Licenses and regularly renew them. Without a license, the ISPs go bankrupt. The government can leverage this over them. Remember this, because Broadcasting Licenses become the globalist's most valuable weapon in just one act more of legislation.

Three judges presided over the case, two Democrats, one Republican:The Clinton-appointee Democrats ruled in favor of the Title II classification ruling. The Reagan-appointee partially dissented. No surprise.

The way this is written makes it sound like the Reagan judge disagreed that the FCC can only regulate ISP if they’re classed as common carriers. That is untrue. The Republican judge wrote:

I am in general agreement with the majority’s conclusion that the Open Internet Order impermissibly subjects broadband providers to treatment as common carriers,

He dissented on another detail.

The FCC Can’t Revoke a License That Doesn’t Exist

Vladimir writes:

Now the FCC is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they want to enforce Open-Internet they have to practically nationalize the internet, and any company that wants to offer access to the internet must receive a Broadcasting License.

This idea that ISPs need a broadcasting license forms an important part of this conspiracy theory so it’s good that it’s complete BS. Just like cable TV ISPs require no broadcast license. How do I know this you may ask?  Well a) ISPs are not broadcasting over airwaves so why would they need one? b) two online forums I asked confirmed ISPs didn't need a broadcast license and c) When I emailed the FCC they said: “an individual broadcaster license is not required to operate as an ISP.”

This is a pretty fundamental point so I want to stress it: an ISP cannot be censored by having its license removed for the simple reason that it doesn’t have a license to be revoked.

Thanks, Obama: The Sequel

Vladimir writes:

The FCC is stumped and can't really figure out what to do next... So Obama comes in to save the day.

…after 105,000 people signed a White House petition and over 1 million signed one to the FCC. Obama wasn’t acting in a vacuum.

Vladimir continues:

Whether by intent or by circumstance, the globalists ended up playing both sides and winning.

Who are these mysterious globalists? Is the Reagen appointee one or is it just a term to describe anyone who supports net neutrality? Or is the Jews?

They revoked Open Internet in *Verizon v. FCC*, repackaged it, and gave it back to us in a box full of red tape.


Repeating a Lie Doesn't Make It True

Vlad continues:

Net Neutrality invokes Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to require all ISPs and any company that provides internet service to register for Broadcasting Licenses from the government and regularly renew them.

This is still not true no matter how many times you say it. Also, this use of a quote is very clever. It makes it sound like he’s not just pulling this out his ass thereby lending him credibility. It's actually genius.

..what if the FCC doesn't want to renew them? Ah but that's crazy talk, the FCC can't just revoke Broadcasting Licenses on a whim. It would be taken to court within seconds!

If the FCC could renew an ISPs broadcast license they would be breaking the very fabric of reality in which case we would have far greater problems. Please consider this point thoroughly debunked.

But imagine what happens when you're appointed by the president as chairman of the FCC, and shortly after you get a call. And that call you get is from whatever said globalist president rules your timeline.

I’m getting bored of the word globalist.

And that globalist president tells you that a particular ISP needs to have its license revoked because it's violating federal law. Well, you'd probably say "fuck you I voted for Trump" and just hang up.

Not to break the immersion but if a globalist president was appointing an FCC chairman to help destroy America he’d probably choose another globalist right? Carry on though…

An Inconvenient Truth

Vladimir continues:

But then the office phones start ringing and you get a little nervous because now other government bodies are calling in, all substantiating that yes, in fact, the ISP really is breaking the law. So you hang up, call your lawyer /u/[redacted], and ask him to look up all the laws they were talking about to see if the ISP really is violating them. After all, what kind of law would justify such an abuse of power? None, in fact, that you know of. The next thing that will happen is your lawyer will walk into your office, looking pale as a ghost, and hand you a legal document titled Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S.2692)

Ok, guys get ready and settle in. I’m about to destroy the case he’s building here but I'll let him dig himself in a little deeper first.

Beads of sweat start to form on your forehead as you begin reading the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S.2692). You put it down and look up at your lawyer, realizing why his face is drained of life. It was drained by the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S.2692). You're about to ask him a question about the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S.2692), but you pause, and another thought strikes you

"Why don't they just call it 'The InfoWars Act'?"

Your lawyer simply closes his eyes, as if with erotic satisfaction, and quickly whispers under his breath "...Bill Clinton is a rapist."

This suddenly got sexual. I’m not sure I like it. Also, this is what counts as comedy on the right. These alt-right memes really are too spicy to handle.

You look back at the InfoWars Act to read its mission statement

A mission statement Vladimir conveniently forgets to link to… I’ll do his work for him. Here’s his source. Why doesn’t Vladimir link to the website? Perhaps because it might upset the narrative.

Vladimir makes it sound like the mission statement is part of the bill itself. It’s not it’s on Rob Portman's website – Rob Portman is the main author and sponsor of the bill which is important.

The argument Vladimir is making is a good one but there’s one flaw and it’s big enough to drive a Trump train through.  You see the main sponsor of the bill Mr Rob Portman a senator from Ohio. Why is this a problem?” I hear you ask: well it’s because Rob Portman is both a Republican and an opponent of net neutrality.

Portman has accepted $421,058 in funding from the telecommunications industry and in a 2015 letter (before net neutrality was enacted) he wrote to a constituent saying:

A free and open internet has flourished for decades with limited government intervention, creating an environment for technological innovation that has impacted lives for the better in countless ways. I am committed to ensuring that the internet remains free.

Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s one of the standard Conservative talking points. Awkward right?

Need I mention that Portman was a huge proponent of Trump’s tax bill? Or that he “has a 100% rating from National Right to Life and has voted 77-0 in favor of the pro-life position on National Right to Life Committee key votes” or that he has voted in line with Trump’s position 92.7% of the time – the same as Ted Cruz. Portman – though a moderate when it comes to marriage equality also opposes Obamacare and has voted against extending unemployment benefits.

Portman is clearly a conservative so why would he write a bill that threatens him and the people he supports? Also even if we pretend for a moment that he does want to censor conservatives why was he such a firm opponent of net neutrality? He could easily have supported it without too much political damage – after all, even 73% of Republican voters favour net neutrality and conservative organisations such as the ‘Christian Coalition of America’ have supported net neutrality vigorously since at least 2006. Anyone with a brain has to admit that Portman is clearly no Democrat/Globalist in disguise.

So, to sum up: the main sponsor of the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 is a pro-Trump Republican who is against net neutrality and dislikes government regulation. Even Vladimir must admit that this significantly weakens his argument. Perhaps fatally so when we remember the FCC doesn’t actually grant ISPs broadcasting licenses.

Addressing Some Confusion

Vladimir spots this goal in the mission statement:

"....counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies by establishing an interagency center housed at the State Department...

"That's so bizarre, you think to yourself. Usually agencies are created independent from other branches of government, specifically to preserve accountability and dissuade corrupting influences. Why would you bother creating a new independent agency if you're literally going to house it in the White House?

But it’s literally not going to be housed in the White House, it’ll be in the State Department. Vladimirs reading comprehension isn't great as it says where it will be housed right in the quote that Vladimir just gave.  In case you think the White House and State Department are in the same place here are their addresses:

White House: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

State Department: 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520

Hope that helps clear up some confusion.

Nit-picking Detail

"interagency center"

Okay so it's a center, of multiple agencies. In the White House...

No... in the State Department... We've been over this now.

Vladimir continues:

"pg 1399 - The head of the Center... shall be appointed by the President."

I am nit-picking here but in the original ‘Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016’ the head of the Center was going to be appointed by the secretary of state. The quote Vladimir provides is from the version of the bill in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 which we’ll meet in a moment.

What's a Non-state?

...that answers directly to the President? Okay? What exactly is it going to do?

Maintain, collect, use, and disseminate records for research and data analysis of foreign state and **non-state propaganda** and disinformation efforts

Wait what? Non-state propaganda? You mean like my evening shitposts on T_D? What the fuck does that mean?

Literally everyone on the planet is not a state

Given that this bill was initially written to help combat ISIS recruitment the “non-state” part is actually pretty fucking important (unless r/the_donald wants to recognise the ISIS caliphate as being legitimate). It’s also a non-issue – just a standard way for the government to cover its ass.

And how exactly is propaganda defined? Huh, that's strange... there's no definition in here. Like they deliberately omitted it so they can just... call it whatever they want. Incredible.

The definition of “propaganda” may very well have been omitted on purpose but that’s not proof of a grand conspiracy – it’s another one of these ass-covering things. Propaganda evolves and has many forms, any single definition would ultimately not work and therefore it’s best just keeping it vague.

Thanks, Obama: Part Three

Vladimir continues:

You look up to your lawyer, "How the fuck did Obama get this through Congress?"

Your lawyer drops another file on your desk. It looks suspiciously familiar.

"He didn't."

The file is titled National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

"He waited until Christmas Eve and hid it inside of the 3,000 page annual military budget so nobody would notice it."

Vladimir is sort of right – though I should note that this bill went through a Republican-controlled Congress. And hey, I agree it is wrong to bundle several things into one bill. Bundling together legislation like this is immoral and bad politics but can we get that message to the GOP too? Having said that in this case, the bundling may have been justified.

"Ohhhh shit yeah this is that fuckin propaganda thing that Obama legalized I always see it get reposted on The_Donald! God, what a Kenyan pedophile thing to do, amirite?"

Combining three conspiracy theories into one sentence is quite an achievement.

"So you've already read through it?"

"Oh... yeah no I'm a simple guy I just see a grey arrow and I make it orange."

I’ll just leave that here…. I won't say anything about brainwashing or mindlessly supporting a person... or anything.

GLOBAL Engagement Center

Finally, we're approaching the one topic where I express some agreement with Vladimir even though his argument is still dumb. Vladimir writes:

"Jesus Christ." The lawyer flips through the 3,076 pages of the NDAA to page 1,396 (or 1,438 in pdf format).


"This is so much more than just propaganda. Look at the original draft of the legislation"

Draft as in not final… Is Vladimir saying teachers should now start marking their student's drafts rather than final papers?

Identifying current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, **and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations** and governments in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation

"Clandestine special operators?? Who wrote this, Tom Clancy?"

No, but thank you for asking, it was Rob Portman. Also, “Clandestine special operators” such as CIA assets within ISIS who’re helping us defeat them.

I think it’s also time to point out that Vladimir is missing something vitally important: the Center is called the Global Engagement Center. It is aimed at countering foreign propaganda. Foreign propaganda like ISIS recruitment drives, China’s political attacks on America and proven Russian propaganda like that of the Internet Research Agency.

If you read the whole proposal you’ll notice it says foreign 11 times. In fact, foreign is the 6th most used word in the whole section and makes up 2% of the words coming after: Center, united, states, secretary and shall. The center is not designed to look at American “non-state” entities or publish propaganda there. The bill makes it clear that:

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to carry out  this section shall be used for purposes other than countering foreign propaganda and misinformation that threatens United States national security.” Pg. 1404 (or 1446 on the PDF)

Now, of course, some of this foreign propaganda may be aimed at a US audience and the government didn’t rule out offering a counter-message back home and that is reprehensible. The US government should not be trying to propagandise its own people and any attempts to do this must be condemned – the government has already abused its powers enough and we must restrict its power to spy on us.

Having said that none of the bill is about censorship. It is about collecting the foreign propaganda (not censoring it) and providing a counter-message (not censoring the original message).

If we want to get rid of governmental overreach there are more important bills/programmes to tear down first.

Additionally, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service the Global Engagement Center is the most recent of several similar initiatives such as the The Counterterrorism Communication Center (2006), The Global Strategic Engagement Center (2008), Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication (2011).

Initially, the Global Engagement Center was:

Similar to the structure and purpose of the CSCC [Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication], the GEC was tasked with leading interagency efforts to carry out U.S.-government-sponsored counterterrorism communications to foreign publics, […] The GEC was designed to lead a whole-of-government approach to countering terrorist messaging, violent extremism, and ideological support to terrorism; better integrating advanced technologies and analysis into U.S. government counterterrorism communications efforts; and leveraging private sector and local foreign communicators, all aided by greater budgetary authority than had been afforded its predecessors.

I’m sure we can all agree that this is a good thing to do unless Vladimir thinks ISIS isn’t actually that bad.

Later the Republican-dominated Congress decided to increase the Global Engagement Centers scope into what it has now become.

Vladimir 'wisely' notes:

"Even Kenyans have never sent secret agents to brainwash their people. Really let that sink in."

Oh no, they just send vigilantes and armed militia

The legislation establishes a fund to help **train local journalists**...

Yes… like setting up a radio station in East Africa which airs:

youth-produced programming that pushes back against the rising volume of violent extremist propaganda in the region. In particular, the content is aimed at local youth living in neighborhoods where violent extremists are known to recruit.


Vladimir continues:

Second, the legislation seeks to **leverage expertise from outside government**... provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government...

He’s quoting from Rob Portman's website again.  As in the net neutrality opposing, ISIS hating Republican Rob Portman.

They call in their globalist friends from some "totally neutral third-party" and together they can call anyone a propagandist.

And I agree this is/would be wrong – it still doesn’t make the rest of the comment true though.

Fake News

Vladimir continues:

They can go after literally anybody who's been flagged by a third-party "fact-checker" without having to take them to court.

If by "go after" you mean "offer a counter-message" then yeah. If you mean "investigate" then possibly yeah. If you mean "murder" or "take down their ISP" then no.

"Those fact-checkers were there all along for a reason. They started by flooding the internet with disinformation and then branding the cute term "fake news" to generate a demand for fact-checkers.

I seem to remember Trump being the main promulgator of the term “fake news.” In fact, he even claimed to have invented the term. Also, I should add that media organisations dislike using the term ‘fake news.’ The AP reporting guideline has this to say about it:

The term fake news may be used in quotes or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon of deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet.

However, do not label as fake news specific or individual news items that are disputed. If fake news is used in a quote, push for specifics about what is meant. Alternative wording includes false reports, erroneous reports, unverified reports, questionable reports, disputed reports or false reporting, depending on the context.

In all cases, the goal of fact-checking is to push back on falsehoods, exaggeration and political spin. Be specific in describing what is false and back up those descriptions with facts

Fact-checking may have gained more prominence recently but it’s far from a new phenomenon dating back to the 1920’s.

"It's brilliant, really. They control the fact-checkers, the enforcers, and with the passage of Title II, the infrastructure to utilize them. Once a propagandist has been targeted, the President can use absolutely anything in the government to stop them."

The President uses the "whole-of-government" to suppress information.

“Whole-of-government” approaches don’t literally mean the whole government will try to do something. It just means that different areas of the government can work together more efficiently to achieve a common goal.

If the ISP refuses [to take down information/websites] their Title II Broadcasting License is **legally revoked**, they can no longer do business, they go bankrupt, and the government inherits their infrastructure. The government can integrate into the ISPs to censor anything, anywhere, at anytime. The ISPs are forced to obey.

Once again… ISPs do not require a broadcasting license.

They can physically shut down your access to the internet without a court order! Just because someone called you a propagandist!

Nope. Even in the worst reading of the situation that is not possible. Even the version of the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 that made it into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 would only allow the government to outcompete the right-wing propaganda sources with their own propaganda and catalogue it. They still wouldn’t be able to take the ‘propaganda’ websites down without a court order. Any propaganda from the US government targeted at US citizens is reprehensible in my view but the way the narrative is being twisted by r/the_donald is misleading, fear-mongering and wrong.

We should all work together to fight the abuse of governments power but we should keep our arguments based on reality – not our worst nightmares.



I’m not even going to debunk this, it’s just too unrealistic.

Vladimir's Last Hurrah:


1446 - "The Center shall terminate on the date that is 8 years after the date of the enactment of this Act."

They thought she would win.

Even in the original act sponsored by net neutrality opponent and staunch Republican Rob Portman the agency was only going to last 10 years. If he thought Hillary was going to win why would he want to give her power to destroy him and his party?


So, there we have it. We’ve finally reached the end of Vladimirs nightmare fuelled conspiracy rant and we’re all better for it. Debunking the whole post has taken me the better part of two days and the lesson I’ve learnt is clear: don’t believe everything you read online, there be dragons lurking everywhere.

Although Vladimir’s post is a good exercise in speculative fiction it fails to stick close enough to reality to be deemed noteworthy. It is a decent attempt at promulgating obfuscation but ultimately it is too flawed to succeed in red pilling anyone.

In my view, it is a red herring designed to stoke fear and confirm biases – when we’re scared we find it difficult to think clearly so I don’t blame people for upvoting it. The post is intellectually dishonest and pushes a misleading narrative – even if Vladimir meant well his feelings don’t matter. Only the truth matters.

May 1st 2018 Daily Digest

May 1st 2018 Daily Digest

Red Pill or Red Herring? | Debunking an Alt-right Conspiracy Theory

Red Pill or Red Herring? | Debunking an Alt-right Conspiracy Theory