Disobedient Media previously reported the tightening stranglehold of censorship across social media. Unfortunately, events that have taken place since the publication of this writer’s opinion that Julian Assange was the first domino to fall in a series of increasingly draconian censorship measures have far exceeded even this author’s worst expectations.

The crackdown has seen the involvement of organizations that have a documented history of pay to play behavior and are backed by groups including the Chinese Communist Party in collaboration with Western establishment organizations including NATO. In this way, renewed drives for censorship represent a strange new cooperation between transatlantic internationalist groups and China, as the former reacted negatively to the rise of populist and nationalist movements in the West which have disrupted their control.

Before we discuss the details of the latest social media purge, though, we ask: Is the unabashed, coordinated censorship of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms an illegal affront to freedom of speech?

In the case of Twitter, at least, we do appear to have an affirmative answer to the question. As CNBC reported earlier this year, a Federal judge ruled that Donald Trump could not legally block Twitter users. The judgment in effect defined the platform as a “public forum” which may be regulated by government to defend First Amendment-protected free speech. CNBC wrote:

“Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said in her ruling that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a “designated public forum” from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his “associational freedoms.” [Emphasis added]

Buchwald’s ruling states in part: “Our inquiry into whether the speech at issue is protected by the First Amendment is straightforward. The individual plaintiffs seek to engage in political speech, Stip. 46-52, and such “speech on matters of public concern” “fall within the core of First Amendment protection,” Engquist v. Ore. Dep’t of Agric., 553 U.S. 591, 600… We readily conclude the speech in which individual plaintiffs seek to engage is protected speech.”

Over the months following Buchwald’s decision, we have witnessed the mass-banning of Twitter users who, like those designated to be engaging in political speech regarding Trump, were focused on political issues.

The focus of the latest Twitter and Facebook purge of domestic, politically oriented content raises the specter of silencing of dissent that, at least in theory, should enjoy First Amendment protection.

Even worse, the banned accounts were often provided with little or no description of their alleged infractions in Twitter’s notice of suspension. Among others, Occupy NZ was given no reason whatsoever for the ban:

Another journalistic outlet, The Anti-Media, was almost simultaneously banned from both Twitter and Facebook, with many of its editors also suspended permanently.

Stunningly, the CEO of The Anti-Media alleged that Facebook had actively worked with the outlet’s Facebook account prior to their sudden multi-platform suspension. The Anti-Media represents just one of the hundreds of accounts and pages banned by Facebook as well as Twitter in this latest crackdown on anti-establishment thought.

Notably, the social media purge targeted both left-wing and right-wing pages. This suggests that the bans were not so much based on political bias, but instead stemmed from the establishment’s overwhelming paranoia towards the success of all varieties of anti-establishment news and discussion. The efforts seemed geared less towards supporting a particular political side ahead of midterms, than it was geared towards protecting the overall status-quo.

This latest witch-hunt involved marked coordination between Facebook and Twitter, with evidence emerging that the latter has become involved to some extent with the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab. The DFRLab announced its controversial partnership with Facebook earlier this year. At the time, MintPress News wrote of the marriage between militaristic interests and social media:

“The new partnership will effectively ensure that Atlantic Council will serve as Facebook’s “eyes and ears,” according to a company press statement. With its leadership comprised of retired military officers, former policymakers, and top figures from the U.S. National Security State and Western business elites, the Atlantic Council’s role policing the social network should be viewed as a virtual takeover of Facebook by the imperialist state and the council’s extensive list of ultra-wealthy and corporate donors.”

News of the Atlantic Council’s alliance with Facebook came on the heels of reports that Google has developed a censored search engine in collaboration with the Chinese government and has begun a new program to assist China with the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

Disobedient Media previously reported on the NATO-backed Atlantic Council’s history of pay to play behavior, as well as their DFRLab’s direct attack against this outlet.

The Atlantic Council’s supporters include the foundation of Ukranian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, The Open Society Foundation, the United Arab Emirates, Bahaa Hariri, the billionaire brother of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., NATO, the United States Department of State, Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Chinese Communist Party and the Turkish Ministry of Energy & National Resources. The latter of whose head, Berat Albayrak, was the subject of leaks released by publishing giant Wikileaks exposing increasing political oppression in Turkey as well as collaboration with the terror organization ISIS.

In August, Disobedient Media wrote of the partnership between DFRLab and Facebook: “A former editor of Time Magazine who advocates nations using propaganda on their citizens is a distinguished fellow of the same Atlantic Council lab that “collaborates” with Facebook on censorship policy.” To see an organization whose supporters include many foreign donors and advocates of extreme censorship such as China engaged in the process of undermining the spirit and aim of Constitutional protections of free speech is disheartening.

As to the most recent round of censorship on Facebook, the LA Times: “Facebook said Thursday that it has purged more than 800 U.S publishers and accounts for flooding users with politically oriented content that violated the company’s spam policies, a move that could reignite accusations of political censorship.”

In other words, in the name of “protecting” the democratic process ahead of the midterm elections, it is this writer’s opinion that the actions of Facebook and Twitter represent a direct attack on the First Amendment.

In a truly Orwellian fashion, the battle cry of “protecting democracy” is invoked in an attack on one of its most fundamental supporting principals: the ability to express dissent.

Journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who recently survived Twitter’s attempt to suspend her Twitter account, described the suspension-spree, noting: “In a corporatist system, corporate censorship is state censorship.”

In documenting the drastically escalating, politically-motivated censorship of independent journalists, it is impossible not to confront the reality that it is no longer a matter of “if” one will be silenced, but a matter of when.

Co-Founder and Editor in Chief at Disobedient Media.