How Capitalism—Not a Few Bad Actors—Destroyed the Internet

3 August, 2022 — Boston Review

Twenty-five years of neoliberal political economy are to blame for today’s regime of surveillance advertising, and only public policy can undo it.

AP Sandberg Facebook

The race to commercialize the Internet is over, and advertising is the big winner. This is excellent news if you are an executive or major shareholder of one of the handful of companies that dominate the $600 billion global digital advertising economy. For almost everyone else, advertising’s good fortunes have meant the erosion of privacy, autonomy, and security, as well as a weakening of the collective means to hold power accountable.

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Media Lens: Rebranding The Conquistadors As Social Justice Warriors – The Guardian, Corporate Sponsorship And ‘Branded Content’

7 February 2016 — Media Lens

Rebranding The Conquistadors As Social Justice Warriors – The Guardian, Corporate Sponsorship And ‘Branded Content’

Even a progressive journalist like Glenn Greenwald can’t shake off a rose-tinted view of the paper he once wrote for:

‘Like everything, it’s very imperfect, but survival of the @Guardian as a large, vibrant media outlet is important’

But in what sense is the Guardian’s survival actually ‘important?’ Our response:

‘Important for the hawking of Perpetual War as “humanitarian intervention” and corporate tyranny as “democracy”.’

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Media Lens: ‘Corrosive, Shallow, Herd-Like And Gross’ – Peter Oborne And The Corporate Media

25 February 2015 — Media Lens

Last week, Peter Oborne resigned as chief political commentator at the Telegraph, writing:

‘The Telegraph’s recent coverage of HSBC amounts to a form of fraud on its readers.’

And yet Oborne is no radical. He describes how, five years ago, he was invited to join the newspaper:

‘It was a job I was very proud to accept. The Telegraph has long been the most important conservative-leaning newspaper in Britain, admired as much for its integrity as for its superb news coverage.’

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The 'Isn't Capitalism Wonderful’ Page: Video-Most Facebook “Likes” Are Fake or, 'I got plenty of nothing,'

12 February 2014 — WashingtonsBlog

[Click farms? It’s all smoke and mirrors. Facebook, like the handful of giant Internet-based corporations, had an initial ‘value’ based on nothing more than it’s potential to monopolise ‘social space’ on the Internet (as opposed to, for example, Murdoch’s MySpace). In turn investors, bought shares based on nothing more than potential future revenue that would be generated largely from advertising. In turn, Facebook used this real cash to buy companies that produced real products that addressed Facebook’s corporate desires. Google, and of course Microsoft and a handful of others, have all operated in this way.

This video shows not only how Facebook creates value out of thin air, but how super-cheap labour in the Third World makes it all possible in the first place. WB]

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Media Lens: Heading For A Different Planet By David Cromwell

26 March 2013 — Media Lens

Global Warming, Propaganda-Journalism And The Definition Of Insanity

The systematic propaganda of the corporate media – its deep-rooted antipathy towards upholding proper journalistic standards in the public interest – extends to its coverage of human-induced climate change. The Independent recently delivered a masterpiece of headline obfuscation with: ‘World cools on global warming as green fatigue sets in.’

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Media Lens: Jousting With Toothpicks – The Case For Challenging Corporate Journalism By David Edwards

7 February 2013 — Media Lens

Jousting With Toothpicks – The Case For Challenging Corporate Journalism 

A critic responding to a recent alert, objected to our use of the term ‘corporate journalist’:

‘The problem is it has no clear meaning. Chomsky regularly writes for “corporate media”, as does Pilger, Klein, and Michael Moore. Pilger has had his documentaries aired by “corporate media”. Klein promotes her books through the “corporate media”. I could go on…’

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Media Lens: Game Over For The Climate?

19 June, 2012 — Media Lens

Whatever happened to the green movement? It’s been 50 years since the publication of Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring, a powerful book about the environmental devastation wreaked by chemical pesticides. Since then we’ve had the rise and fall – or at least the compromised assimilation – of green groups such as Friends of the EarthGreenpeace and Forum For the Future.

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Media Lens: Postcard From The Precipice – An Appeal For Support

29 March, 2012 Media Lens

Erich Fromm understood that ‘selective inattention’ was at the heart of the problem. He devoted his life to exposing man’s capacity for ‘not observing what he does not want to observe; hence, that he may be sincere in denying a knowledge which he would have, if he wanted only to have it’. (Fromm, Beyond The Chains Of Illusion, Abacus, 1989, p.94)

Media Lens Cogitation: Free to be Human – An Interview with David Edwards

18 November 2011 — Media Lens


The aim of Richard Capes’ More Thought blog is ‘to provide detailed audio/video/written interviews with authors of non-fiction social, political, philosophical and environmental books that I consider essential reading’. Here is Richard’s November 10 interview with Media Lens co-editor David Edwards about his book Free to be Human. The interview is quite long, we urge readers to ensure a steady supply of tea/coffee and biscuits.

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Statewatch News Online, No 1 of 2: 13 July 2011 (18/11)

  1. EU: Statewatch Analysis: The Frontex Regulation – Consolidated text after 2011 amendments
  2. EU “SMART BORDERS”?: Frontex Call for Tender: “Rapid Deployment Unattended Ground Sensor systems for Land border surveillance”
  3. EU: Council of the European Union: ECRIS and Prum
  4. EU: Member States to be bound by new security rules, Parliament adopts same restrictions
  5. UPDATED: EU: Council of the European Union: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council
  6. EU: Appeal: A flotilla to stop deaths in the Mediterranean
  7. EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: EDPS safeguards for online behavioural advertising
  8. EU: European Arrest Warrant (EAWs): Updated figures
  9. EU: Council of the European Union: Classified information, COSI (Internal Security), IMS, JAI-EX, Pirates, Customs, JHA Presdiencies
  10. European Parliament Study: EU Bodies Competent in the Area of Police and Judicial Cooperation
  11. EU: European Commission: Progress Report on the development of the Second Generation SIS II
  12. EU: Statewatch Briefing: ECRE Call for a harmonised and upgraded Common European Asylum System
  13. UK-ECHR: United Kingdom required to investigate deaths of six civilians killed in Iraq in 2003

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Media: The Spreading of False Ideologies into our Culture By Steven J. M. Jones

11 June, 2011 — Global

“Propaganda Steers our Opinion Exactly where it is Intended to Go.”

By its own definition it is media’s job to tell us about ourselves and the world around us, to enable us to make informed decisions in a democratic society. That’s the theory.

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Media Lens: Ten Years Of Media Lens – Operation Rheinübung

9 June, 2011 — Media Lens

Or: Our Problem With Mainstream Dissidents

Working on Media Lens has given us ten years of first-hand experience of just how tightly discussion can be controlled in an ostensibly democratic society. No matter how carefully we have formulated our questions, no matter how politely we have delivered them, we have been branded angry, irrational, unworthy of attention.

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MEDIA LENS ALERT: TECTONIC TILTING – Unlevel Playing Fields And The Rise Of Climate Scepticism

14 July, 2010 — MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

English football’s Premier League is a farce. Year in, year out, the same ‘Big Four’ super-teams – Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool – fight for the same top four spots they have dominated since the 1996-97 season. Even for casual consumers of football news, the truth is hard to miss: at the end of every season, the teams that have most of the money – supplied by tycoons, TV rights and participation in Europe’s even more glamorous Champions League – simply buy off the best players from the lesser teams that have been causing them trouble. And if the super-team managers fail to deliver, then the best managers and trainers are brought in to put things right.

Quality is bolstered by quantity to further reduce the risk of failure – the super-teams are actually multi-teams. If an inspired lesser team manages to compete with one of the Big Four, the latter can always bring on fresh-legged, world class substitutes with whom the lesser teams, with no superstars on the bench, are unable to compete. The reality is that, over the course of a season, super-teams compete against lesser squads with the equivalent of two, three or more squads of their own. The cards – the credit cards, cash, lucre – are totally stacked in favour of the Big Four.

Week after week, Big Four fans look on breathlessly to see if a ton of money will once again allow the big business machine they call ‘us’ to overwhelm teams with a fraction of ‘our’ resources. No one seems to notice, or care, that every match is begun on a playing field mechanically tilted by giant under-pitch cogs towards the goal of the lesser team.

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Media Lens: The Cockroach Test

22 September, 2009 — MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

Alain de Botton, “Branded Conversations”, and Runaway Climate Change

News that philosopher Alain de Botton had been hired as Heathrow’s “writer in residence” generated minor ripples across the media pond, including occasional murmurs of disapproval. Journalists momentarily failed to repress their awareness that truth into corporate profit-maximising does not go, although without perceiving the implications for themselves.

Thus Dan Milmo, writer in residence at the Guardian, noted that de Botton was “the latest artistic figure to tread the precarious line between creative independence and commerce after signing a publishing deal with the financial support of Heathrow’s owner, BAA.” (Milmo, ‘High minded: Heathrow hires De Botton: Philosophical author begins work as airport’s writer-in-residence,’ The Guardian, August 19, 2009)

Milmo recalled how novelist Fay Weldon had been found to be responsible for “one of the most notorious sell-outs of recent times” when it emerged that her latest novel had been sponsored by the Italian jewellery firm Bulgari. Weldon explained last month:

“I was accused of defiling the novel. The deal was that I must mention Bulgari 12 times in a novel I wrote for them as a giveaway. My agent was terribly good and knocked them down to nine and a half mentions. In the end I mentioned them 46 times.” (

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GUEST MEDIA LENS ALERT: Turning Children Into Consumers By Sharon Beder

29 June, 2009 – MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media


Sharon Beder, visiting professor at the University of Wollongong, Australia, is one of our favourite political analysts. Her book ‘Global Spin’ (Green Books, 1997), is a devastating exposé of corporate, including corporate media, manipulation of politics and culture. Like Mark Curtis’s ‘The Ambiguities of Power,’ it is a book that defies attempts to underline the interesting bits – it’s all interesting!

The title of Beder’s new book is self-explanatory: ‘This Little Kiddy Went To Market – The Corporate Capture Of Childhood.’ (Pluto Press, 2009) Once again, this is a must-read analysis explaining how people and planet are being systematically subordinated to profit. We were so impressed by the second chapter, ‘Turning Children Into Consumers,’ that even before finishing the book we wrote to Beder asking if we could use some of it in a guest media alert. She has very kindly agreed. You can order a copy of ‘This Little Kiddy Went To Market’ at a specially discounted price from Pluto Press here:

Sincere thanks to Sharon Beder and Pluto Press for letting us publish this tremendous material. We invite you to imagine a world in which Beder’s work was “on every school curriculum”, as John Pilger recommends. Imagine if children were provided with tools of intellectual self-defence to counter the relentless campaigns of corporate manipulation. It is simultaneously depressing and heartening to consider how much happier, healthier, more compassionate our society would be as a result.

David Edwards and David Cromwell
Media Lens

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Media Lens: The Guardian, Climate And Advertising – An Open Email To George Monbiot

15 June, 2009 – MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

Dear George,

In a recent blog you rightly insist that: ‘Newspapers must stop taking advertising from environmental villains.’ (

On July 2, 2007 we wrote to you suggesting a possible first step:

“Could newspapers begin by refusing the worst fossil fuel advertising – SUVs [sports utility vehicles], for example?” (

In your blog, you call for similar action:

“What I am asking is for the newspapers to refine their view of which advertisements are and are not acceptable. Specifically, I am calling on them in the first instance to drop ads for cars which produce more than 150g of CO2/km, and to drop direct advertising for flights, on the grounds that both these products cause unequivocal and unnecessary harm to the environment.”

To even raise this possibility is an achievement in the current corporate media context. But that context is important. In his film, The Corporation, Canadian lawyer Joel Bakan assessed the corporate ‘personality’ using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organisation. Bakan’s conclusion:

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Media Lens: ‘Living Our Values’: Guardian News & Media And The Climate – Part 1

MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

November 25, 2008


Last week, Guardian News & Media (GNM) published ‘Living Our Values’, an independently audited account of the company’s annual performance on sustainability issues. GNM, which encompasses the Guardian, the Observer and, claims to have strong environmental ambitions. Its ongoing mission: to seek out and “explore subjects like climate change, environmental degradation and social inequality” in ever greater depth.

The Guardian’s ultimate aim is to be nothing less than “the world’s leading liberal voice”. (Siobhain Butterworth, ‘Open door. The readers’ editor on… the Guardian’s green and global mission,’ November 17, 2008)

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