Wednesday 14 March 2018

Big UK Left Independent Media Censors Small Left Independent Media Sites

Some of the biggest names in the UK independent left media have joined forces to promote their very own news narrative. Skwarkbox, The Canary, Evolve Politics, Another Angry Voice, Media Lens and Real Media are amongst them. This consortium has recently set up a Facebook group titled ‘Independent Media UK’ which has grown quickly in members. I was aware of this initiative from reading a post on Skwarkbox, but later in the day someone ‘joined’ me into this group.

I assumed that this person thought it was worthwhile me joining the group, as an independent left blogger, and posting links to my blog posts. I did indeed post a link into the group, but a day later a new rule was introduced that only the admins could now post on the group. I think these admins are connected to the above mentioned media outlets.

With not the slightest trace of irony, a pinned post from The Canary introduces the group thus:

Welcome, to what will become the largest progressive FB group in the UK. Facebook is making changes that reduce the amount of truly independent media and campaigning journalism you see in your news feed. So we have come together to ensure you never miss breaking news, analysis and opinion on the issues that matter to you.

Spread the word!

They then immediately shut down any posts from outside of their consortium, blaming this on Facebook, then set up err… a Facebook group which censors outside postings. One commenter did call it ‘controlling the narrative,’ and I think this is right. Another way of describing it is censorship for those not in the gang. There were a few more comments against the move but most group members appeared to be in favour. They may have been friends of the admins though, I don’t know.

One of these comments was ‘we are all in this together, that’s for sure….filthy rotten platform it is, Facebook.’ I’ve had my own problems posting onto Facebook, mainly because of too many posts, or posts too quickly added to various groups. They don’t seem to like you getting something for nothing, but it is not as though I make any money from my posts. The irony of the situation, banning other independent media in the group, was again lost on this commenter.

This consortium of large media sites are to a greater or lesser extent commercial sites, they earn money through advertising and reader donations, whereas my blog, and many mostly quite small outlets are non-commercial, and operate on a share a like commons licence, which is the most ethical way for independent left media to operate.  

I twice posted a link to my blog in the comments thread, but both times they were quickly removed, with no explanation offered as to why. Obviously the people who have set up this group can do what like in terms who can post and what, but then to claim that this is a truly independent media site is disingenuous. It is filtered media, and exclusive to the biggest independent left media sites.   

I think it also very arrogant of these big sites to insist on being the only on-line word of truth and interest, and rather un-comradely. The Green Left Facebook group for example allows posts from all of these left media sites, but maybe in light of what they are doing on their group, perhaps we should respond in kind, and ban them? Maybe other groups would follow suit?

It is not as though these big sites need much extra publicity and feeds as they are available on many feeds, many of which I subscribe to, so apart from anything else it just looks greedy and vindictive. I intend to boycott these sites in future.

Maybe us smaller left media outlets should get together and start our own media Facebook group? But I would suggest that it is not exclusive like Independent Media UK, but encourages other small outlets to join and post into the group? It is worth thinking about I think. What do other bloggers think?

I’ve quit the Independent Media UK Facebook group now, and will leave them to their echo chamber discussions. How quickly these alternative media outlets turned into an establishment of their own. Some independent media sites are more equal than others, it seems.    


  1. As somebody who edits a magazine and runs a web-site that is routinely ‘denied reference’ and has been for years, this comes as no surprise, particularly the fact Media-Lens are involved. As you say, in true Orwellian fashion, some sites are more equal than others. As to what to do about it: difficult. Copying their tactics not advisable, so I suppose the only thing is to keep on as you have been doing, and post links to sites who don’t censor.

  2. A lot of the FB groups I post into censored this post too!