1984 was meant to be a story not an instruction guide.
That’s how it increasingly feels living in the UK today, what with our insane hate speech laws, and our thought police, and the covid neighbourhood snitching.
Now we learn that the government has been watching all of us, and not just through CCTV cameras but through social media under the aegis of special units to counter misinformation.
A new report by Big Brother Watch has highlighted just how deep the rot goes.
This includes anti-fake news units in the Cabinet Office and Counter Disinformation Unit (DCMS) monitoring social media for political dissent, under the so called guise of countering disinformation about Covid. When they found comments that were not in support of the government’s stance, these comments were logged and the people making them were analysed further. Indeed, members of the army’s 77th Brigade, were tasked with keeping a file on those posting dissenting comments and monitoring them for further ‘research.’
Furthermore, the Counter Disinformation Unit curated a special relationship with social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the pandemic. They then used this relationship and the information gathered by the 77th Brigade and their own researchers, to get content it believed went against the government line, removed. With the users who posted such content seeing their accounts restricted, limited or removed entirely.
It wasn’t just the people who were being watched by these units.
Politicians such as Sir Keir Starmer, David Davis and Chris Green and journalists such as Peter Hitchens and Julia Hartley-Brewer, who were critical of the government’s handling of Covid all had files compiled and comments placed within these files.
As more journalists and sceptics started to gain prominence, the Cabinet Office pressured the Department of Health to attack newspapers such as the Daily Mail for daring to question covid modelling, as they were worried this could undermine support for restrictions. This is despite the overwhelming compliance with restrictions.
This report highlights just how easy it is for the government or forces within the government to abuse the power they have. Using the 77th brigade which is meant to monitor foreign threats, on one’s own people seems like something an autocrat scared of their own people would do. The pressure that was applied to the press during the pandemic as highlighted in the report is also alarming, given it is the press that is usually the first to question things. However, given the compliance of the press during the pandemic and their more extreme demands during the period, one wonders what fears the government had.
That the mainstream press has remained quiet on the whole issue suggests that compliance is embedded within them, and they are asleep at the wheel.
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