Brands Collude To Silence Dissent

This is an excerpt from a Zerohedge article, “It’s That Time Again: MSM Launches ‘Muh Russia’ Election Narrative As Brands Collude To Silence Dissent.” The rest is on a Wall Street Journal article trying to drum up hysteria on Russia interfering in the 2024 election. We’ve heard that story before.

Brands Collude to Silence

While democracy grapples with this new Russia election malarkey, we can’t forget that free speech threatens narrative control efforts.

To that end, the world’s largest brands, owned by elites, are now colluding to control online speech, according to an interim staff report released on Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee.

The report details a coordinated effort by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and its Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) initiative to demonetize and suppress disfavored content across the internet.

The Power Players Behind GARM

The WFA, a global association representing over 150 of the world’s biggest brands and over 60 national advertiser associations, created GARM in 2019. This alliance quickly amassed significant market power, representing roughly 90% of global advertising spend, which amounts to nearly one trillion dollars annually.

GARM’s Steer Team reads like a who’s who of corporate America, including heavyweights such as Unilever, Mars, Diageo, Procter & Gamble (P&G), GroupM, AB InBev, L’Oréal, Nestlé, IBM, Mastercard, and PepsiCo. These corporations not only wield immense economic influence but are now revealed to be leveraging this power to control online discourse under the guise of “brand safety.”

Collusion and Censorship

The Committee report details multiple instances of GARM’s coordinated efforts to influence and censor online content. Perhaps the most notable example is the recommendation for a boycott of Twitter following Elon Musk’s acquisition. GARM members, including Danish energy company Ørsted, were advised to pull their advertising from Twitter, a move that significantly impacted Twitter’s revenue. Internal emails show GARM’s satisfaction with the result, with GARM leader Rob Rakowitz boasting about the impact on Twitter’s financials.

GARM recommended that its members ‘stop all paid advertisement’ on Twitter in response to Mr. Musk’s acquisition of the company. GARM’s internal documents show that GARM was asked by a member to ‘arrange a meeting and hear more about [GARM’s] perspectives about the Twitter situation and a possible boycott from many companies.” -House Judiciary Committee

Unilever was particularly miffed that Musk released internal communications which became known as the Twitter Files, specifically over the Hunter Biden laptop story:

“Unilever, through GARM, also expressed issues with Mr. Musk exposing the truth about how Twitter, prior to Mr. Musk’s acquisition, censored the Hunter Biden laptop story.”

Spotify and its star podcaster, Joe Rogan, also came under GARM’s scrutiny. Despite not placing advertisements on Rogan’s podcast, GARM pressured Spotify to take action against Rogan for his comments on COVID-19. This included threatening to review Spotify’s entire Trust & Safety policies and pushing for a public condemnation of the platform.

“GroupM knew there was no brand safety concern because it did not buy advertisements on Mr. Rogan’s podcast, but it still sought to silence Mr. Rogan’s views anyway.”

Meanwhile, “On February 10, 2022, Coca-Cola emailed Mr. Rakowitz regarding ‘evaluating Spotify to better access the Joe Rogan Experience’ and noting that the ‘particular issue (misinformation) does not exactly fit cleanly into [Coca-Cola’s] policy.”

Political Influence and Targeting Conservative Media

GARM’s influence extends into the political realm as well. The report notes efforts by GARM and its members to flag a Trump campaign advertisement as misinformation during the 2020 presidential election. This advertisement, which questioned Joe Biden’s debate performance, was scrutinized by Unilever and other GARM members, who pushed Facebook to take action against it.

Conservative news outlets have been particular targets of GARM’s exclusion lists, curated with input from biased organizations like the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) and NewsGuard. These exclusion lists disproportionately flag right-leaning sites such as Fox News, The Daily Wire, Breitbart News, New York Post, and The Federalist as purveyors of misinformation, thus cutting off their advertising revenue and limiting their reach.

Actually insidious…

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