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MintPress News: How the CIA has Infiltrated Social Media Companies, with Alan MacLeod

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The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

It is a story that is straight out of a dystopian science fiction novel. Big social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, have gone on a hiring spree, recruiting dozens of CIA officers to run their most important, politically sensitive departments – and almost no one is talking about it.

On episode 39 of “The Watchdog” podcast, Lowkey speaks to Alan MacLeod, an investigative journalist who has spent months painstakingly combing through employment databases and corporate social media sites like LinkedIn to catalog this national security state infiltration of many of the largest social media platforms.

One of these platforms is Facebook, the world’s most influential news distributor. Recently, the Silicon Valley giant released a PR video featuring a man they identify as “Aaron” – the company’s Senior Product Policy Manager for Misinformation. Aaron informs viewers that he and his team think deeply about how to balance their commitment to freedom of speech with their duty to protect users from harm and violence, and underlines that “transparency is incredibly important in the work I do.”

There is one problem with this, as MacLeod explained:

Aaron is, in fact, a senior CIA agent. Or at least he was until a couple of years ago, when he left his post at the agency, where he was a senior analytic manager, to take a job at Facebook. As Facebook itself describes, he is basically the person in charge of the team that is deciding what gets zapped off the platform and what gets promoted.”

Nor was he a minor pen pusher at the CIA. In fact, he was so high up that he wrote the President’s Daily Brief, a document read out to the commander-in-chief in the Oval Office every day. The fact that a former high-ranking CIA member is now influencing content moderation on Facebook should concern everyone, MacLeod notes, telling Lowkey that,

This has huge consequences, not just for media organizations who live and die by the amount of clicks they get on Facebook…but it also affects what 3 billion people see in their news feeds. Because that’s how many people actually get their news from Facebook.”

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer and Podcast Producer for MintPress News. He has worked at the company since 2019. Before joining MintPress, he was an academic and a freelance journalist specializing in Latin America and in analyzing media and propaganda.

His series of articles for MintPress News has highlighted the connections between the national security state and big social media outlets like Reddit, Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter. To understand more about this worrying trend, follow the links above or watch the interview exclusively at MintPress News.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.

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