Friday, August 31, 2018

US Government Admits To Making Fake Social Media Accounts to Spread Propaganda in Cuba

US Government Admits It’s Making Fake Social Media Accounts to Spread Propaganda in Cuba

By: Ben Norton | August 27, 2018
The United States has repeatedly accused the Russian and Iranian governments of using social media to spread “disinformation” and foment chaos. Under US government pressure, Big Tech corporations have banned large numbers of accounts accused (in some cases falsely) of being Russian and Iranian “troll” accounts.
At the same time, however, the US government is doing exactly what it is accusing its enemies of: the US Office of Cuba Broadcasting is secretly creating fake social media accounts to inspire dissent and to spread right-wing pro-US, pro-capitalist propaganda in Cuba.
During the Cold War, the US government tried to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro more than 600 times. Washington also simultaneously waged an information war. For decades, the US has maintained an elaborate propaganda apparatus committed to toppling Cuba’s socialist government.
In its 2019 congressional budget justification report — which was first reported on by the Miami New Times — the US government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) disclosed that it “is establishing on island digital teams to create non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information.”
The US government body noted that these “native pages increase the chances of appearing on Cuban Facebook users newsfeeds.”
And it is not just Facebook where the US government will be creating these accounts. “The same strategy will be replicated on other preferred social media networks,” the BBG added.
The propaganda office said it “will continue to engage audiences on the internet using Facebook Live and YouTube as distribution channels into Cuba as the Communist regime has been wary of blocking these popular channels.”
Put more directly, the US government is creating fake accounts on Facebook and YouTube inside Cuba and going out of its way to portray these profiles as “local,” to more effectively spread this propaganda among Cubans as if it were somehow organic.
“Working with Cuban independent journalists and encouraging citizens to create user generated content on the island for OCB’s platforms continues to be a top priority,” the US government body continued in its report. “As Wi-Fi service has expanded in Cuba and with substantial numbers of Cubans now using Facebook and other social networking sites, OCB’s social media presence has increased.”

Propaganda broadcast to 11 percent of Cubans on a weekly basis

The US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) presently has 117 employees and an annual budget of $28.1 million. It estimates its audience at 1 million.
The OCB, which is headquartered in Miami, Florida, runs the broadcaster Radio y TelevisiΓ³n MartΓ­, along with the website MartΓ­ These outlets publish extremely partisan reports that have a very clear conservative bias, and give large platforms to right-wing leaders in Latin America — not just from Cuba, but also from Venezuela and beyond.
The OCB also holds the annual Cuba Internet Freedom Conference in Miami.
The US government body claims that its propaganda broadcasts “currently reach 11.1% of Cubans on a weekly basis with audio, video, and digital content delivered by radio, satellite TV, online, and on distinctly Cuban digital ‘packages’ (paquetes).”
It also claims that 96 percent of its audience say the US government propaganda “helps them form opinions about current events and most users both share information they get from MartΓ­ and would recommend it to others.”

Distributing propaganda on DVDs and flash drives inside Cuba

The US Broadcasting Board of Governors furthermore reveals in its 2019 report that its Office of Cuba Broadcasting distributes propaganda on DVDs and flash drives inside Cuba, for those who do not have internet access.
“To circumvent the blockage of TV Marti signals, OCB is dramatically increasing the distribution of DVD’s and USB drives with Marti content, radically altering its distribution strategy to avoid dealing with bulk amounts of content entrance into the island,” the report noted.
“The content is now downloaded once inside the island, copied on the island and distributed immediately. Previously, the information was downloaded elsewhere and carried onto the island. Much of it was intercepted at the border before reaching its intended audience,” the OCB continued. “This optimization of OCB’s content supply chain will increase its availability on the island tenfold at the same cost level.”

A long history of US government propaganda campaigns worldwide

This is far from the first time the US government has been exposed for manipulating social media to spread propaganda. And these US propaganda operations are by no means limited to China.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors noted in its report that its propaganda efforts are targeting audiences “in Russia and its periphery, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, and Cuba.”
The US government has long used social media to sow discord in Cuba in particular. In 2014, it was revealed that the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the government’s ostensibly “humanitarian” soft-power arm, had created a fake Twitter-like app called ZunZuneo to stir unrest inside Cuba.
In January 2018, the US State Department announced the creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force to try to undermine the socialist government in Havana.
Cuban state media condemned this new institution as an attempt “to subvert Cuba’s internal order.” The Cuban government’s newspaper Granma wrote, “In the past, Washington has used phrases like ‘working for freedom of expression’ and ‘expanding access to internet in Cuba’ to cover up destabilizing plans.”
And back in 2011, The Guardian likewise revealed that the US government was creating fake “sock puppet” accounts on social media to spread propaganda and manipulate public opinion.



Peace activists in St. Charles, Missouri blocked the entrance to a weapons facility run by the arms manufacturer Boeing on Monday, August 27, in protest of the joint US-Saudi war on Yemen.
The anti-war demonstrators barricaded the street with a bus, on which they wrote “Boeing gains from Yemen’s pain.”
They used a bus as a symbol of Saudi Arabia’s August 9 bombing of a school bus in Yemen, in which at least 40 children and 11 adults were killed and another 79 civilians were wounded with a US-made bomb.
The Earth Defense Coalition said in a press release that the “action was done in solidarity with the people of Yemen as they are murdered by Saudi Arabia using weapons supplied by Boeing and other weapons manufacturers.”
The group noted that the St. Charles Boeing office manufactures “smart bomb” kits like those used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The “lockdown” protest began at 6 am EST and lasted for more than five hours.
Phillip Flagg, one of the protesters on the bus, said in a statement:
To the people of Yemen I’d like to say that we have heard your cries and that you are not alone. On the contrary, it seems clear to me that both the Yemeni and American people share a common enemy in the United States government and the corporations that control it. The same corporate state that is responsible for your suffering in Yemen is responsible for our suffering from Flint to Ferguson to the bayous of Louisiana.
Activist Amber Mae said two protesters were arrested in the action and charged with obstructing and resisting and are being held on $600 cash bond. “One will post bail, the other has chosen to remain incarcerated awaiting time with a judge,” Mae said.
Heather De Mian, a citizen journalist who uses the handle @MissJupiter1957, livestreamed video footage and reported from the site of the protest:

De Mian said the police parked their cars around the bus to prevent reporters from filming it.

Protesters using a bus to block the entrance to the Boeing Plant in St Charles, MO.
I'm told there are protesters chained together & the bus represents the school bus bombed in Yemen.

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The St Charles Police have decided to violate the First Amendment Freedom of the Press & have strategically parked their vehicles to prevent filming of their handling of the protesters.
cc @aclu_mo

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Yemeni journalist Ahmad Algohbary wrote in support of the protest, “As one of the Yemeni people, I express my deep gratitude for those activists for standing in solidarity with us and for blocking both entrances to Boeing Defense Building 598 in St. Charles facility today morning.”
“The bus represents the school bus crime by #US bomb in #Yemen,” Algohbary said.

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As one of the Yemeni people, I express my deep gratitude for those activists for standing in solidarity with us and for blocking both entrances to Boeing Defense Building 598 in St. Charles facility today morning.
The bus represents the school bus crime by bomb in .

“Thank you so much, from Yemen, wrote journalist Nasser Morshid Arrabyee. “Yemen bus will remain spot of shame and disgrace on killers. Your bus will remain symbol of love in our debt.”