HomeArticleHow To Make A Solid, Customized News Stream That Isn’t Manipulated By Silicon Valley

How To Make A Solid, Customized News Stream That Isn’t Manipulated By Silicon Valley

It can be hard to find a supply of information about what’s going on in the world that isn’t being manipulated by power. You find a news outlet you like, then you start to notice them hiring reporters who regurgitate the establishment line on WikiLeaks or Syria. You shift to trying to get your news from the voices you follow on social media, and you find that the good stuff gets (A) diluted by dopey social media drama and (B) actively hidden from your view by shadowbans and algorithmic shenanigans. Googling the news is the same as turning on CNN since they hide all voices which share unauthorized narratives, and alternative search engines often aren’t much better, so what’s a truth seeker to do?

I’ve been at this job for a while, and there’s a basic trick I’ve been using for a long time to stay informed about what’s going on in the world enough to write about it lucidly. Anywhere information is centralized you’ll find the fingers of power doing everything possible to manipulate it, so rather than relying on centralized outlets or Silicon Valley algorithms to find out what’s going on, I use a private Twitter list which I’ve filled with the handles of individual journalists and commentators I’ve come to trust as reliable sources of information and insight. It bypasses shadowbans and algorithms, it’s the first thing I check online every morning, and it’s the most frequently used bookmark on my browser.

I’ve found Twitter ideal because most journalists and commentators have a presence there for sharing their ideas and material. To make a private list there you’ll need a Twitter account, but you don’t ever need to post anything or participate in Jack Dorsey’s endless ego masturbation orgy to any extent if that’s not your thing; you’re only using it for news here. If you already use Twitter, a customized news list is a perfect way to cut out all the gibberish from the accounts you’ve followed over the years who don’t provide consistently useful information on what’s going on in the world. Here’s how:

After you’ve got a Twitter account, use the search bar to find the individual voices you trust. I’ll use WikiLeaks and a desktop browser as an example. Go to their page and click the three vertical dots on the far right near the top:

Select “Add or remove from lists” from the menu that pops up:

If you don’t already have any lists on your account a box will pop up that looks like this:

Click “Create a list” and name it whatever you want. I’ll call it “news”, and since I’m just making a custom news stream for my own personal use I’m going to set my list to private in the options. I don’t need a description for the list since it’s for my use only.

I check the box to include WikiLeaks in my list, close the box, and now I’ve got a list with one member in it which I can access by selecting “lists” from the Twitter menu. The little lock symbol indicates that it’s a private list. I can remove WikiLeaks from my list at any time by going to their page, selecting “Add or remove from lists” again, and simply un-checking the blue box.

Repeat this with as many trusted Twitter accounts as you like, adding them to your “news” list one by one as you find more voices you respect. Add your list to the bookmarks on your browser, and hit that bookmark whenever you want updates on what’s going on in the world.

I’ve got 71 accounts in my list now, and when I click on it I get a straightforward, chronologically ordered feed of only sharers of quality information:

Your mileage may vary, but I encourage you to give it a try. It’s a good technique for taking the confusing chaotic white noise of information and streamlining it into something reliable and informative. Decentralization is where the real revolution is at, since wherever things are centralized you’ll find the fingers of power working to herd us all into supporting the oppression machine. Custom, decentralized information feeds are a good way to keep those fingers out of your mind and help you stay informed.


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Latest comments

  • For anyone who’s interested, I have been curating for a while, a page of useful people and organisations, who are, one way or another, “fighting the good fight” (for want of a better description). So it might be useful for those who are looking for good Twitter-list inclusion ideas.


  • PLEASE SHARE YOUR LISTS HERE, (or somewhere we can agree upon).

    I haven’t approached news in this way, and hence don’t have such a list. I would greatly appreciate starting my list with ideas from other people’s lists. If you are comfortable making some of your sources available to the world, just offer them in a REPLY.

    I am surmising that Caitlin has decided not to share her list, possibly because she wants us to retain our intellectual independence. To the extent that that or something similar is the case, let me invite Caitlin to create a dummy comment identity and share whatever part of her list she feels appropriate anonymously.

    On a more general note, Chomsky has commented on the matter of getting reliable news. Chomsky starts his day with the Wall Street Journal — he maintains that business people need accurate information to base their decisions on, and hence demand financial newspapers offer factually correct news. More generally, he observes that there is a lot of good reporting out there. The corruption most often happens at the editor level. By no means is this perfectly reliable news screen, but on the other hand summarily dismissing every investigative piece from, say, The New York Times, unnecessarily limits our useful information. My rule of thumb is to consider the publication’s owners, ideological slant, advertisers, and sources. (The government is the de facto editor of a lot of news by virtue of being a primary provider of news not practicably available elsewhere.) When the publication “has no dog in the fight,” the reporter’s work can stand on her or his own merits.

    Keep in mind reliable news is different from the selection of news you are presented — which is the topic of Caitlin’s article. Both are important. I applaud Caitlin’s approach to getting an unedited presentation of current events and analysis.

  • What happened to my comment about encouraging readers and consumers alike to migrate to Retroshare, GNUnet, or perhaps similar decentralized, secure social software? It appeared to be published but then disappeared.

    Get off the oligarchs’ platforms! Don’t make it easy for them.

  • These are the primary websites I go to for breaking news, including only those I consider better than 50-50 reliable:
    This one (Caitlin Johnstone)
    The Intercept (Glen Greenwald)
    Current Affairs (Nathan Robinson)
    Inequality.org (Chuck Collins and Sam Pizzigati)
    Institute for Policy Studies.org
    Peter Apps
    Media Matters for America

    • Thank you, Ozzie. I appreciate it.

      • Media Matters for America is David Brock’s propaganda outfit/pro-DNC troll farm.

  • Will this work even if Twitter subsequently bans the sources in question?

    My own way to follow news sources I trust is to use an RSS aggregator (Feedreader Online). Very simple to use, free, and keeps me off social media.

  • At least Caitlin is helping us to help ourselves, a step further than the usual talk at us stuff journos and bloggers do. I might struggle with (and simply not go along with) some of what she suggests – feeling that the usual suspects in Silicon Valley need to be shut out, not legitimized, for example – I like Caitlin’s impulse to be genuinely helpful.

  • Great and very practical article, however, I sure do wish you would have listed your curated 71 twitter followers in your news list. Sorry, I guess I’m just lazy and I trust you enough to just take your list and go with it.

  • It’s a bit odd to try and find customized, decentralized information using a monopoly such as Twitter. Your article may simply look like a Twitter marketing department’s article addressed to people who don’t trust Twitter’s monopoly. But I guess we may accept a certain amount of contradictions may be an essential part of the world we live in.
    For one I already did, like you, my own lists, but NOT on Twitter, simply bookmarking under “news” the news sites I trust and deem independent and reliable enough, according to my experience and my own standards,which are not different of yours or someone like John Pilger, I discover. You can also bookmark that way and follow individual accounts on Twitter WITHOUT having a Twitter account. Up to now at least as far as I know… (Maybe now “they” ‘ll read your article and change that?! That’s how a monopoly works anyway…;-)

  • Thanks!

  • Thanks! I’ve had a Twitter account for years that I never used. It was real easy to start a list.
    Bill, Fujimino Japan

  • Hi Caitlin. If this works well for you, swell. i’m of the No Social Media School. No faceborg, twitwitless, instaban, et al. They’re all traps that distract. Love your work regardless. rc

  • Comment removed for posting hateful material about Jewish people. Keep your dopey medieval superstitions the fuck off my page.
    – Caitlin

  • I see I might have to reconsider my decision ages ago to close Facebook and Twitter accounts because I choose not to be part of or to facilitate their global surveillance and censorship programs.

    But if Twitter can be useful to me it might be the way to go. On the other hand, they will have my list and therefore deduce and record my political leanings which is the reason I closed my account in the first place.

  • This is a great idea explained very well indeed. Thank you, Caitlin.

    So many people in their profiles say “no lists,” so I never really thought about whom I might safely include on a list, nor did it occur to me that a list might be a very valuable way to cut through the chaos my TL has become. This is a real change in my thinking, and it will increase my twitter efficiency tremendously.

    Thanks again.

  • But that means you’re only hearing vices you agree with, right? Echo chamber?

    • No. Not right. You equate sources she trusts with ones she “agrees with.” And you seem to be forgetting the ones that can’t be trusted *are* the echo chamber. I don’t think you even read the instruction article. You’re one of them aren’t you.

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