Bokhari: When Will Big Tech Stop Amplifying NewsGuard-Approved Conspiracy Theories?

Google is becoming a publisher, not a platform
David Silverman/Getty Images

Big tech has long since caved to the power of big journalism. The spread of the Russia collusion hoax, fully approved of by Microsoft partner NewsGuard, is only the latest example.

At the behest of left-wing activist writers from mainstream sources, YouTube deliberately suppressed pro-life videos in its search results. After months of hitpieces from the likes of CNN and BuzzFeed, Silicon Valley united to ban Alex Jones and InfoWars across every major social media platform.

Facebook is even funding mainstream journalism now. So are YouTube and its parent Google. Microsoft is in bed with NewsGuard, an establishment project that purports to “rate” quality journalism, but in reality just puts a green “trustworthy” tick next to links to mainstream news websites and stories as you browse the web, regardless of whether the stories are true or false.

The impetus behind the abandonment of the old ideal of cyberspace as an equal playing field was the panic whipped up by the mainstream media about the proliferation of “conspiracy theories” online. “YouTube unleashed a conspiracy theory boom,” howls the New York Times. Tech’s biggest companies are spreading conspiracy theories,” thunders CNN. “Why your Facebook feed is full of conspiracy theories,” explains the Washington Post. 

A leaked briefing from Google, published exclusively by Breitbart News last year, showed similar concerns inside the tech companies themselves. Chillingly titled “The Good Censor,” it complained that the level playing field of cyberspace allows “have-a-go commenters” to compete with “authoritative sources” like the New York Times. 
The mainstream media is right — over the past two years, big tech has been promoting conspiracy theorists. They give them algorithmic perks, promote their content, and even fund them. But the conspiracy theorists aren’t the “have-a-go commenters” that Google is now determined to suppress. It’s the mainstream media themselves.

Silicon Valley, which has dutifully complied with the legacy media’s demands to suppress its competitors, has at the same time knowingly and deliberately the people responsible for one of the greatest conspiracy theories perpetrated on the American people: the Russian collusion hoax.

This now proven conspiracy theory, the impetus behind an achingly long, multi-million dollar investigation that achieved little beyond the indictment of largely decent people for process crimes, was largely the product of fantasies from deranged Trumpophobes in the left-wing and conservative establishment who believed that only a foreign power could be responsible for what was, in their minds, the inexplicable Trump election.

This narrative was taken up by the corporate-owned press, which did everything they could to promote the fiction that President Trump and his team colluded with a foreign power. It included BuzzFeed and CNN promoting a fake story about Trump using Russian prostitutes. It included a fake story from CNN about Wikileaks passing emails to Donald Trump Jr. It included a fake story from BuzzFeed about Trump directing his lawyer to lie to Congress.

The stories were fake, fake, fake. “Russiagate,” as those outside the liberal bubble have long known, was driven largely by a collective delusion.

And yet, the media outlets which trumpeted the misinformation for two years are today given a privileged position on the web’s most powerful tech platforms. Every journalist who pushed the Russiagate hoax has a blue checkmark on Twitter. The media outlets who published fake stories purportedly linking Trump to Russia, now totally debunked, are artificially boosted in YouTube and Google and Facebook’s algorithms. And with the NewsGuard browser plugin installed and activated (it comes pre-installed on Microsoft Edge mobile browsers only requiring activation), just watch as your web browser adds a green “trustworthy” tick next to these demonstrably false stories.


Silicon Valley is also pouring money into the likes of CNN to prop them up, while banning their competitors. All the while insisting that it is clamping down on “conspiracy theories” and “misinformation.”

Do conspiracy theories exist in alternative media? Sure. But are any of them as damaging as the regular collective catastrophes wrought by the mainstream media? That’s debatable.

Just a few months ago, the media nearly ruined the lives of innocent high school kids from Covington Catholic with unfounded smears asserting their “bigotry”. Only a concerted pushback by alternative media and Trump supporters was able to kill the narrative. NewsGuard still rates those sites as “trustworthy” of course.

And in 2012-14, a media panic about a wholly fabricated rape epidemic on America’s campuses contributed to miscarriages of justice up and down the country.

More disastrously, in 2003, fake news about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs pulled America into one of the costliest wars in its history.

Beyond these high-magnitude fake news incidents are a host of smaller, regular lies. The constant smears about Breitbart News and other conservative media and personalities, for example — the false charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, and allegiance to the “alt-right.”

And along with the big lie of Russian collusion were a host of smaller made-up scare stories about Russia. The Intercept recently collected them in a list. They include Fortune’s claim that Russia hacked C-SPAN (later rebutted by C-SPAN), the Washington Post’s claim that they hacked the Vermont power grid (later retracted), CNN’s claim that Anthony Scaramucci was involved in a Russian hedge fund and under Senate investigation (retracted, with three resignations from CNN).

Think of anyone who has been attacked as a “conspiracy theorist” in the past two years. Have the paranoid fantasies of the mainstream media really been any better? Has anyone in the alternative media released anything as ridiculous as “Bin Laden’s Mountain Fortress,” a farcical image of a Bond-villain style hideout published by no less than The Times of London? 

How many mainstream journalists apologized for the panic they caused during the George W. Bush era, which led to one of America’s most disastrous wars? How many mainstream journalists will apologize today for their two-year deception of the American public over Russiagate?

And don’t think they didn’t know what they were doing. Over a year ago, Project Veritas caught some of their leading lights — including Van Jones — on camera, admitting that Russiagate was likely a “nothingburger.”

It wasn’t just deception, then — it was willful deception. Here is a case where the word “misinformation” truly applies.

And hasn’t Silicon Valley promised to stamp out misinformation?

Well, we’re waiting!

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to


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