It’s always nice when we learn concrete facts that back up our darkest suspicions about media companies – including social media companies. This is one of those stories. Middle East Eye uncovered a big scoop this week about a Twitter executive in Britain. And this story should make all of us perk up and pay attention here in America.
Gordon MacMillan is the British Twitter executive with “editorial responsibility for the Middle East.” And in a fact that was hiding in plain sight, Gordon MacMillan also happens to be a reservist in a secretive military psy-ops group called the 77th Brigade.
The 77th Brigade was formed in 2015, when the British military decided to fold two separate psychological warfare groups into a single unit. Those prior groups were the UK’s Media Operations Group and the 15 Psychological Operations Group. The commander of the 77th Brigade said in a speech last year that the unit grants the British government “the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level.” So, that’s not creepy at all!
As near as we can tell, the 77th Brigade has about 1,500 reservist members. Most, if not all of them, have day jobs in Britain working for news media outlets such as the BBC, SkyNews, the Daily Mail, the Guardian and others.
The unit was actually described as a group of “Facebook warriors” when it launched, so it’s very likely that many of them are employed at the European branches of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media companies. You know, so they can compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level!
The British military has even been brazenly approaching mainstream journalists in recent months, asking them to join the 77th Brigade. You won’t have to go off to war in the 77th Brigade. You can simply help to compete in the war of narratives!
Gordon MacMillan just happens to be the highest-ranking member of the group that has been exposed. There are lots of spooks out there just like him, in every news source and social media company where the public goes to find out about what’s going on in the world.
MacMillan had this information right out in the open. His LinkedIn page stated that he was a reserve officer in the 77th Brigade. Well, it did until Middle East Eye finally connected the dots and noticed that one of Twitter’s highest-ranking executives in Britain is a psychological warfare specialist.
Why should this concern us as Americans? Obviously, if Twitter and Facebook are hiring military psy-ops spooks to manipulate the public and shape the narrative in Britain, what do you suppose the odds are that they’re doing that to us already right here in America?
Especially when you look at the mainstream media’s direct ties to the CIA. CNN and MSNBC are chock full of former spooks and intelligence officials, who are on the air every single day:
- John Brennan, Fmr. CIA Director
- Michael Hayden, Fmr. CIA Director
- James Clapper, Fmr. Director of National Intelligence
- Chuck Rosenberg, Fmr. chief of staff to James Comey and attorney for Robert Mueller
- Frank Figliuzzi, Fmr. chief of FBI counterintelligence
- Asha Rangappa, Fmr. FBI agent
- James Gagliano, Frm. FBI agent
- Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser
- Samantha Vinograd, Obama’s senior advisor to the National Security Council
- Steven Hall, retired CIA operative
- Philip Mudd, retired CIA operative
Those folks are all employed at MSNBC and CNN. I’ve probably left several off the list. And of course, there’s the biggest CIA spook of all, CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Cooper was recruited into the CIA when he was in college, which is where the agency gets a lot of its recruits. Hilarious side note: The CIA tried to recruit me at university in Oregon years ago, and my wife at her school in North Carolina. We both turned them down but didn’t realize we had that shared experience until we’d been married for several years and compared notes. Back to Anderson Cooper, though.
A few years ago, an independent journalist asked Cooper why he’s a big anchor on CNN when he’s had not journalism training whatsoever, but he has had CIA training. Cooper chuckled at the guy and walked away. He didn’t deny it. He just laughed and walked away.
The story about Twitter and Facebook hiring military psy-ops specialists to manipulate the narrative and shape public opinion is not surprising. But it’s a good confirmation to have and a good reminder that there’s an awful lot of… oh, what’s the term? Oh, right. There’s a lot more “fake news” out there than we realize.