Facebook muzzled The Cynical Times’ brand of muscular Liberalism today to advance the fiction its long overdue crackdown on the hatemongers of The Right is somehow principled and even-handed.
Instead of the opportunistic business pivot it really is.
A number of Progressive Facebook groups have been similarly targeted, with particular emphasis on those most critical of President Donald Trump. Among them the outspoken “I Hate Donald Trump” Facebook communities.
“This is a sad and tragic day in America,” said Bert Wolfe, who helps run The Cynical Times Facebook Community. “If The Founding Fathers were alive today they would be weeping with shame and rage at the curtailing of America’s vaunted free media.”
The Cynical Times’ 5-year-old Facebook community was unpublished without explanation Friday. Leaving us to speculate that the move is somehow related to the social media giant’s ongoing crackdown on The Right.
We think Facebook held a wet finger aloft in the winds of change and determined America is swinging left again. Ergo, it’s swinging left too. However, it’s doing so in a way that cloaks its naked financial opportunism in the guise of principled public service by shutting down a handful of Liberal groups, too.
We’re one of them.
The Cynical Times is relatively outspoken, which makes us the perfect multiplier effect for Facebook as Trump and his supporters take a nose dive-off the political popularity tree.
“Right Wing crackdown?” Facebook seems to be saying. “What right wing crackdown? We shut down The Cynical Times. We shut down I Hate Donald Trump.”
The mere fact that Facebook is allowing you to see this story, instead of Shadow Banning it, suggests our gagging serves its profit-growth agenda. Because Facebook has repeatedly restricted Cynical’s ability to share its news articles and satirical stories in the past.
Those were spankings. This is assault and battery.
The Cynical Times could have been unpublished for any number of reasons. We have few friends in the rising American police state as a nonpartisan Liberal news organization which opposes political corruption and Profits-Over-People, and condemns both political protection rackets.
“This censoring by Facebook was inevitable, and will continue,” said Tom Garner, a longtime member of The Cynical Times Facebook Community. “Monster Corp can’t assume total control and allow free speech at the same time.”
The Cynical Times is a useful target for a social media network which monetized hate to grow its audience in its early years. Facebook breathed new life into long dormant supremacist movements and progressive movements alike, facilitating the election of the first fascist president in U.S. history in 2016 via fake accounts and misleading posts.
The divisive tactic made propaganda viable again, and highly profitable. It also deeply damaged the social fabric of the world’s foremost democracy. Prompting Americans of every political flavor to begin publicly defending democracy on social media, thereby building Facebook’s enormous user base.
Today, the $499 billion trust has more than 2 billion active users and is abandoning the free thinking ways, unsavory friends and divisive tactics of its revolutionary youth. Facebook is now an integral extension of the official police state apparatus in countries as different as The United States, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Pakistan, Syria, France, The Philippines, and Egypt.
During Facebook’s early days, the proud Liberals of The Cynical Times were the equivalent of the token minority friend who proves you’re not a raging bigot.
When you are.
The social media giant tolerated us because it was a global monopoly intent on avoiding antitrust regulators. And we reveled in the knowledge that cracking down on us in a big way was bad business for Facebook. Even as we endured the occasional Shadow Banning and loss of posting privileges.
Facebook tolerated the insults we hurled at the fascist trolls who habitually bullied our members and hijacked our discussion posts. Unwelcome and uninvited.
Facebook tolerated our condemnation of political corruption and money in politics; our description of the Democratic and Republican parties as political protection rackets for The Fortune 500; and our description of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as “political hookers.”
Facebook tolerated our ridiculing of the U.S. Congress as a modern-day “House of Lords,” which exists solely to serve the new corporate royals.
Facebook tolerated our exposes of the systemic flaws in U.S. economic indicators, which conceal the painful truths that the real unemployment rate is still 40 percent (just as it was when Trump ran for office) and the housing market is selling 20 percent fewer new homes than its historical norm.
Facebook tolerated the egregious insults we hurled at its founder and censors, our scathing stories about its undermining of the free press, and our claim that its hijacking of news industry revenue streams was an attempt to take the benefits of being in the news business without the burdens.
Facebook tolerated our criticism of its practice of hijacking the copyrighted work of others instead of employing its own journalists. And our explanation of how this cynical practice enabled it to place advertising beside offensive articles without accepting responsibility for them.
Facebook tolerated our demonization of the current generation of toxic elites and the damage their “profits over people” and “greed is good” mantras have done to the poor and faltering middle class.
Facebook tolerated our condemnation of the rising American police state and our support of pro-democracy groups like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Redneck Revolt, and the water defenders of Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
Facebook even tolerated our use of profanity to illustrate our service to the blue collar voters abandoned by the wealthy hypocrites who give true Liberals a bad name. Meaning those who think only Americans with money and college degrees may speak in the public forum, and habitually command the rest of us to share our suffering only in ways useful to them politically.
Now, Facebook is tolerating us no more.
As the social media business model has matured, Facebook has found a new and higher use for us as a sacrificial lamb amid its internal crackdown on the hate it seeded and harvested.
Shutting us down is an ancillary benefit of its ongoing crackdown on The Right. One which camouflages its naked self interest in the guise of public service. Just as attacking oil-rich Iraq did for the Bush Administration after 9/11.
The shutdown comes at an odd time for us, because we’ve been comparatively well behaved of late. We haven’t accused Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg of being an opportunistic piece of human garbage for many months now or satirized him as the Antichrist.
It’s hard to say, but it wasn’t intentional and it certainly wasn’t because the world’s third richest man didn’t deserve it.
The timing of this shutdown reeks of the kind of false equivalency Donnie Trust Fund employed after last year’s White Supremacist jamboree in Charlottesville, Va. When he leveled fascists with the Progressive patriots opposing them as if the two could possibly be one and the same in a multi-cultural Republic founded upon the Liberal principles of democracy, equality and freedom.
Today, that is essentially what Facebook has done to us.
The move is reminiscent of a boneheaded policy imposed by a school superintendent I covered in Claxton, Ga., in the early 1990s. Claxton High School still had separate black and white student governments and a policy against interracial dating.
The school district’s aged administrators were having trouble controlling its increasingly Progressive students. So they enacted a policy banning T-shirts with images of both Malcolm X and the Confederate flag. As if to say “the hell with distinguishing between good and evil, let’s just treat everyone like a suspect.”
What better way to tell the world you’re in over your head?
Facebook has suspended my individual posting privileges on a monthly basis the past few years and has tried to muzzle Cynical for some time. But they needed a way to shank us that wouldn’t look like naked self interest for a global trust built on naked self interest.
In their defense, we were overdue. Cynical has been having way too much fun, for way too long, at the expense of the giant trust monetizing America’s freedoms of speech, press and expression. That’s why political and journalism insiders get such a kick out of us.
We say and do all the things they long to say and do, but cannot. Up to and including insulting our own readers and telling the cranky altakakers who dig Donnie Trust Fund to “go eat some green jello and have a nice bowl of shut the fuck up.”
Which is exactly what these fake tough guys need to hear in the prevailing climate of dueling wannabee victims. Especially at a time when traditional Liberal tolerance for other viewpoints is so often intentionally misrepresented as Liberal cowardice by those on the Right.
What’s the one Red Line that Cynical has never crossed?
Threatening violence and/or inciting our followers to revolutionary violence, as Sarah Palin did when she super-imposed cross-hairs over the face of Gabrielle Giffords before the Arizona Congresswoman was shot in 2011. And as Rudy Guiliani did yesterday when he said a Trump impeachment would lead to revolution in the streets.
We possess one quality in great abundance, which the Right has completely abandoned. It’s called “impulse control.”
These shutdowns belie Facebook’s early ambition of becoming the equivalent of a social media “utility.” Just like your electric company, cable provider, cellphone and municipal water.
However, the profit-obsessed social media network has never been willing to shoulder the financial burdens associated with being a utility. Like customer service and political neutrality.
Can you imagine the electric company cutting your power for reading The New York Times on the Internet, or watching Faux News?
The water company giving wealthy customers better drinking water?
The phone company cutting your signal for being critical of their largest corporate customers?
Or the cable company cutting your access to HBO and ESPN because you backed the loser in the last mayoral race?
Is that the new world order you want?
Because that’s the new world order Facebook and its corporate peers are crafting for us. In the guise of policing the Russian puppet accounts that helped them make their revenue targets in 2016.
The Cynical Times Facebook community was never big, because we balk at the kind of craven opportunism Facebook has employed to spur its growth. We don’t stoop to clickbait or identity politics. Instead, we champion the embattled middle class and the concept of the empowered voter, thinking for themselves.
Yet, at some point, a bunch of programming nerds became our judge and jury. As if being good at coding makes them good at everything else. We don’t recall electing them.
Cynical was and is an exercise in journalism quality over quantity.
We’ve fought group bias of almost every stripe. Up to and including the fake Liberalism of The Me Too Movement, and its ludicrous premise that only the rich and famous can be victims of elite exploitation and the rest of us are just so much chattel.
Because true Liberalism is neither Republican nor Democrat. It crosses party lines to support the Liberal principles of democracy, equality and freedom.
That means regicide and attacking social caste systems and group bias. Not the entitled hypocrisy of Limousine Liberals, the current toxic strain of Globalism, the class warfare of Corporate Dems and Republicans, or the comforting supremacist lies of fascism.
Our Facebook group had something like 3,400 core followers and our website has never exceeded more than 30,000 visitors a month. However, many of our admirers are journalists, political staffers, and business leaders – giving us influence well beyond our numbers.
Our Facebook community was small and tight because we didn’t allow everyone to start discussion threads. Although we did allow almost everyone to participate in them.
When the Hillbots and Trumplickers got too thick we banned them. Publicly, proudly and individually.
Because fuck them all.
Political trolls are not about empowering voters to think for themselves. Instead, they’re about manipulating voters via misinformation and sins of omission.
Our most popular stories drew hundreds of thousands of readers; our least popular drew less than 20. Which is about the size of our all-volunteer staff.
This suggests to me they’re being Shadow Banned.
Meaning that Facebook is placing a big fat greasy thumb on the scales of the public forum to make our critical attacks on Donnie Bagadonuts invisible to its members. If true, it’s an inexcusable online cheat and as pure a betrayal of The American Way as most of us will ever see.
We’ve seen evidence before that toxic elites on both sides of the political aisle are being sold some kind of reputation protection by social media networks and search engines. Particularly in the way our devastating articles about Cory Booker have been suppressed.
Links to “Cory Booker: Wall Street’s Newest Political Hooker” are almost impossible to find these days. Even though I helped build the likely Democratic candidate for president in 2020 into a national figure during my time as head of The Associated Press in Northern New Jersey in 2008-09. Same goes for articles about Trump.
This kind of Star Chamber bullshit is becoming increasingly pervasive.
Cynical got its start in 2011. At a time when few Liberals would toe the scratch in the public forum with the boorish jackasses of the Right. We did just that. No apologies. No equivocation.
We’ve been a verbal fist in the teeth for the toxic elites who embrace group bias, political corruption, class warfare, and social caste systems ever since. A proverbial Tom Doniphon to their Liberty Valance, even as many other mainstream journalists have spit the bit.
Now, we’re being sacrificed to advance the lie that what Facebook is doing is somehow principled and even-handed. As if cracking down on fascism, group hate and propaganda needs to be justified in any democracy.
We don’t think it does.
Because we don’t do sins of omission, we don’t mislead, and we don’t work for Wall Street. We work for the faltering middle class.
We’ve appealed the decision to “unpublish” us through Facebook’s internal justice system for such things. Even though the very notion that this publicly traded company is capable of administering justice – much less qualified to serve as our judge and jury – is repugnant to us.
Eff Facebook, as always. Eff them now and eff them after they rule on our appeal.
They have no right to ownership of America’s public forum and news media. No one elected them and they never ran for office.
If Facebook’s latest corporate overreach proves anything, it’s that the social media trust must be broken up. Just as Standard Oil and AT&T once were.
The days when Facebook marketed itself as a source of citizen journalism, are clearly over.
We showed our self-appointed corporate masters zero respect before they unpublished us and we intend to show them zero respect afterward. Regardless of the decision their unqualified censors render in the name of shareholder value.
As for our opponents on the Right, there is no equivalency between us. Never was. Not in a United States of America whose Founding Fathers were all proud Liberals.
Just like us.
Those of you who followed us on Facebook, may continue to follow us via founder Victor Epstein’s LinkedIn page and on The Cynical Times website at www.cynicaltimes.org
We’re going to see if we can get thrown off LinkedIn.
Why the fuck not.
They ain’t paying us neither.
Victor Epstein is the founder, editor and chief bottle-washer at The Cynical Times. He is a distinguished journalism lifer with six national awards, who led the body count inside St. Rita’s Nursing Home after Hurricane Katrina. His count was 17. The final tally was 35.