Commentary: The Social Media Purge Exposes Net Neutrality’s True Goal

For nearly two decades, Silicon Valley made net neutrality its highest policy priority. Under the banner of a “free and open” internet, Google, Facebook, and Twitter sought regulations to ensure the uninterrupted flow of information by treating every bit equally. Or so they said.

Beginning last Friday night, these firms and others executed an unprecedented digital purge of the social media and video accounts of their political rivals. After several years of accelerating suspensions and suppressions, this time YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter permanently banned a number of high-profile conservatives and deplatformed thousands of others, at least temporarily. Many of these accounts had nothing to do with last Wednesday’s heinous events at the Capitol. Yet their histories are erased.

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Hungary Weighs Big Tech Sanctions over ‘Systemic Abuses’ of Free Speech

Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said Monday that Hungary is considering sanctions against big tech firms over alleged “systemic abuses” of free speech, Reuters reported.

Varga plans to meet with the Hungarian Competition Authority this week to discuss possible penalties for what he says are unfair commercial practices utilized by social media firms including Facebook and Twitter, according to Reuters. In addition, the minister plans to convene a meeting with the state-sponsored Digital Freedom Committee.

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Analysis: The Great Social Silencing

Last week Silicon Valley silenced the president. In unison, the social media giants, with an assist from Amazon and Apple, also eliminated their most popular conservative competitor and announced that their own moderation policies would now extend to other companies. Meanwhile, CNN openly called for Fox News to be banned from cable, while a major talk radio network issued new speech rules to its hosts, extending tech’s moderation policies to the offline world. Beyond all this, Congress and the European Union called for powerful new regulation of online speech.

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Facebook and Instagram Are Eliminating All Posts that Include the Phrase ‘Stop the Steal’

Facebook announced on Monday that it is purging both Instagram and Facebook, two major social media platforms, of all content that includes the phrase “stop the steal.”

“We are now removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook said. “We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence.”

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ACLU Warns of ‘Unchecked Power’ After Facebook, Twitter Suspend Trump

A legislative counsel member from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Friday warned that the suspension of President Donald Trump’s social media accounts wielded “unchecked power” by large tech companies, Breitbart reported.

Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU warned in a statement that the decision to suspend Trump from social media platforms could set a precedent for big tech companies to silence less privileged voices.

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Star News Network Working to Restore Tens of Thousands of Posts Deleted from Facebook

Tens of thousands of posts containing news stories from The Star News Network’s Facebook pages were temporarily deleted Wednesday. 

“Hi, we are currently experiencing an issue with Facebook and because of that the sharing is stopped and your Facebook accounts are paused,” a third party software used by The Star News Network to schedule and post stories to social media said by email.

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Facebook Sued by 48 States, Federal Trade Commission Over Allegations of Monopolistic Practices

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that she is leading a coalition of dozens of states to file a lawsuit against social media giant Facebook.

James, along with the attorneys general of 47 other states and the Federal Trade Commission, accuse Facebook of using its dominant market position to acquire and otherwise crush competitors, tactics that amount to monopolistic abuse that harm users.

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Analysis: USA Today & Facebook Use Slanderous ‘Fact Check’ to Suppress Facts About Illegal Voting by Non-Citizens

A “fact check” by USA Today is defaming a Ph.D.-vetted study by Just Facts that found non-citizens may have cast enough illegal votes for Joe Biden to overturn the lawful election results in some key battleground states. The article, written by USA Today’s Chelsey Cox, contains 10 misrepresentations, unsupported claims, half-truths, and outright falsehoods.

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Commentary: How to Parler

Are you tired of Big Tech deciding what posts you see on social media? Do you feel anxious posting your political opinions online? Do you wish you could exercise your right to free speech without worrying about political correctness or being “cancelled”?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Parler may be the best thing to happen to you in 2020! It’s been a year, we all need some good news, so please read on.

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Biden’s Transition Team Is Stacked with Former Facebook and Zuckerberg Insiders

At least seven former higher-ups of Facebook or the charity run by its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have secured positions in President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, despite Democratic Party officials labeling the social media giant among the biggest threats to American democracy.

Biden announced Friday that former Facebook Director of Public Policy Louisa Terrell would direct his White House Office of Legislative Affairs, which will put her in charge of advancing Biden’s agenda in Congress. Terrell, who lobbied for Facebook from 2011 through 2013, currently oversees legislative affairs for the Biden transition team.

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Six Takeaways as Facebook, Twitter CEOs Testify at Senate Hearing

The CEOs of Twitter and Facebook returned Tuesday to Capitol Hill, this time to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
While focused on Twitter’s blocking of a New York Post story about the Biden family’s business dealings overseas and the social media giants’ immunity from lawsuit under the Communications Decency Act, the hearing veered into other topics as well.

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Democrats Say Facebook, Google Political Ad Bans Will Suppress Voter Turnout During Senate Double Runoff Election in Georgia

Facebook and Google are banning political ads from their platforms with no exceptions allowed, at a time when two U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in a Jan. 5 runoff election in Georgia that could help determine control of that chamber, NBC News reported.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee criticized the decisions, which they said, “amount to unacceptable voter suppression.”

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Conservative Facebook Users Upset Over Censorship Take Alternative Social Media Site Parler Out for a Test Drive

Facebook seems to be presenting a “Catch-22” for conservatives who are fed up with censorship: In order to leave Facebook yet let contacts know how to find them, they must risk Facebook’s censorship to let those contacts know.

Project Veritas has often documented Facebook’s bias against conservatives and its deletions of their posts.

Some who say they are tired of that bias are trying microblogging/social networking site Parler. They say they see Parler as a free-speech alternative to Twitter. Forbes in June ran an interview with Parler founder John Matze and how the site has grown to be a conservative presence in only two years.

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Commentary: Silicon Valley Titans Lie Again as Congress Meekly Looks On

After a series of mishaps involving muted senators, virtual cross-talk, and “connectivity issues” befuddling one of the world’s most tech-savvy men, the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday for what has now become a performative ritual: senators of both parties yell about different aspects of social media, the tech giants respond with bland, vague, noncommittal statements. And nothing substantive happens.

This is exactly where the Senate Commerce Committee found itself on Wednesday, when Big Tech was confronted with a host of critics and without any defenders—but ultimately very little in the way of committed follow-up from legislators.

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Commentary: A DOJ Roadblock to America’s Big Tech Beatdown?

It’s safe to say that Big Tech hasn’t had a great month.

Google received a beating at the Supreme Court for allegedly stealing the coding needed to create Android. Congress subpoenaed Facebook and Twitter for deliberately blocking news coverage potentially damaging to one political party — a move that culminated in a high-profile hearing yesterday. And now, the Department of Justice has charged Google with illegally maintaining its search and advertising monopoly.

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Commentary: How to Restrain Big Tech Immediately

A year ago, University of Georgia professor Cas Mudde took to Twitter and asked: “How do you manage to stay informed about political news and stay mentally balanced?” In his next tweet, he confessed too much time on social media was contributing to anxiety and depression.

With this, Mudde expressed a sentiment many social media users share. As we discuss policy issues tied to social media—tech regulation, free speech, foreign influence—we shouldn’t lose sight of the damaging psychological effects of today’s information environment. You may not want to hear this a week before the election, but social media addiction is a public health issue. Big Tech is the new Big Tobacco.

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Facebook Demands Academics Disable Ad-Targeting Data Tool

Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data showing who is being micro-targeted by political ads on the world’s dominant social media platform.

The researchers say the disputed tool is vital to understanding how Facebook has been used as a conduit for disinformation and manipulation.

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Holocaust Denial Posts Banned on Another Social Media Platform

Twitter will begin removing posts containing Holocaust denial, a Twitter spokeswoman told Bloomberg News just days after Facebook also implemented a policy banning posts that deny the Holocaust. 

“We strongly condemn anti-semitism, and hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service,” the spokeswoman told Bloomberg News in a statement. “We also have a robust ‘glorification of violence’ policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide, including the Holocaust.”

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Commentary: Is Twitter, Facebook Censorship of New York Post Biden-Ukraine Story the Beginning of Social Tyranny?

Twitter and Facebook have both limited distribution of an Oct. 14 report from the New York Post’s Emma-Jo Morris and Gabrielle Fonrouge entitled, “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad” detailing an alleged meeting between former Vice President Joe Biden and Burisma executive Vadym who Biden’s son, Hunter, used to work for, in April 2015.

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Facebook Will Remove ‘Militarized’ Calls for Unauthorized Poll Watchers

Facebook said Wednesday it will remove posts that use “militarized language” to call for people to participate in poll watching or when the intent behind the posts is to intimidate voters, according to a CNN report.

Posts that use the word “army” or “battle” or that are implicitly threatening would fall under the ban, said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, on a call with reporters.

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‘Oil Barons and Railroad Tycoons’: Big Tech Must Be Restructured, House Report Says

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have abused their monopoly power and must undergo significant restructuring, according to a House report released Tuesday.

Lawmakers who wrote the report said the four tech companies had grown into monopolies akin to “oil barons and railroad tycoons” and suggested an overhaul to U.S. antitrust laws, according to The New York Times. The lengthy report, spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler and David Cicilline, is the result of a 15-month House Judiciary Committee investigation into the companies collectively known as Big Tech.

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Leaked Facebook Memo Describes Company’s Underwhelming Response to Global Political Manipulation

A former Facebook data scientist released a 6,600-word memo on her final day at the company detailing what she considers the tech giant’s lackluster response to fake accounts and activities that impacts elections around the globe. 

The employee, Sophie Zhang, was fired this month from Facebook for what she says was ongoing friction between her and management about the platform’s approach to combating extensive, global manipulation, according to a recent Buzzfeed News report.

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Facebook Will Ban New Political Ads One Week Before the Election to Curb Misinformation

Facebook announced Thursday that it would bar any new political ads from its platform in the final week before the election.

The social network also said that it would remove any measures attempting to dissuade people from voting and would block any candidate’s attempts to claim false victories before official results have been reported, The New York Times reported.

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Facebook Stirs Anger, Abandons Drilling Gear on Oregon Coast

Facebook’s effort to build a landing site in a village on the Oregon coast for a fiber optic cable linking Asia and North America has run into serious trouble.

First, a drill pipe snapped under the seabed. Workers left 1,100 feet of pipe, 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid, a drill tip and other materials under the seabed as they closed down the site, aiming to try again next year.

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Facebook Announces Restrictions on Groups Like QAnon and Antifa

Facebook announced Wednesday that it will take further action against pages, groups, and Instagram accounts associated with anarchist groups and other groups “tied to violence.”

The social media website said it will expand their “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy” to censor groups who reportedly pose a “significant risk” to public safety, such as QAnon, the company said in a statement. Facebook is also taking action against “offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests,” the statement said.

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Twitter, Facebook Hit Trump Over Post Suggesting Children Are ‘Almost Immune’ from Coronavirus

Twitter partially suspended President Donald Trump’s campaign Twitter account on Wednesday for posting a tweet containing a video of Trump suggesting children are “almost immune” to coronavirus.

The post contains an interview Trump gave to Fox News Wednesday morning in which the president made the claim relating to children and the ongoing pandemic, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Facebook removed a post Wednesday that contained the same video, marking the first time the social media platform has nixed a Trump post over coronavirus misinformation.

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Zuckerberg Mocks Conspiracy Theory Suggesting He Forged a Secret Deal with Trump as ‘Pretty Ridiculous’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed speculation that he and President Donald Trump have come to an understanding in an interview published Monday.

“I’ve heard this speculation, too, so let me be clear: There’s no deal of any kind,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Axios published Monday.

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Facebook’s Software Kit to Blame for Popular Apps Crashing

Friday’s widespread crashes of popular apps running on the iPhone’s iOS operating system — including Tinder, Spotify and Pinterest — serve as a reminder that Facebook is still tracking you through your phone using sophisticated software, even if you’re not browsing the social network.

Early Friday, users of the apps reported crashes when they tried to open them up. Facebook attributed the problem, which was quickly fixed, to a bug in its software development kit, or SDK, a tool developers use to integrate their apps with Facebook.

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Dave Yost Seeks Public’s Input on Whether Google Uses ‘Deceptive Sales Practices’

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he wants the public to weigh in on the question of whether internet search engines should be “allowed to favor their own products and services in search results.”

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Facebook, Contractor Pass the Buck on Who Fired HR Manager Who Said ‘No One Has the White Man’s Back Anymore’

Leslie Brown, the woman who appeared in a Project Veritas video about Facebook who made incendiary comments that debuted Thursday, has been fired.

That’s according to a text message received by Project Veritas CEO James O’Keefe. Project Veritas made the announcement here.

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Project Veritas Exposes Rampant Anti-Conservative Bias of Facebook’s Content Moderators: ‘I Am Going to Delete Them for Terrorism’

A shocking new undercover video from Project Veritas exposes the rampant anti-conservative bias of Facebook’s content moderators, the employees who are responsible for deciding what posts are censored.

Zach McElroy, a former Facebook employee who worked as a content moderator in Tampa, Florida, told Project Veritas that he’s willing to testify before Congress about Facebook’s bias against Trump supporters and conservative causes.

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Facebook Removes President Trump Campaign Ads Alleging the Use of ‘Symbols of Hateful Ideology’

Facebook has removed ads for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign because they featured an upside-down red triangle.

The tech giant said the ads were removed because the symbol was once used by Nazis to designate political prisoners, but Trump’s campaign has noted that the symbol is widely used by Antifa, which is why it was included in the ad.

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Censorship, Antitrust Probes: Big Tech Is Back to Fighting Familiar Foes After Taking on Coronavirus

Amazon, Twitter, and other major tech companies are facing intense criticism on antitrust issues and censorship claims in the months since government officials reportedly began asking for help from Silicon Valley on ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The president and lawmakers have turned their sights on Twitter and Amazon, respectively, while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other attorneys general are reportedly ratcheting up their antitrust investigation targeting Google’s business model. The White House asked them in March to fight coronavirus disinformation while also assisting the government in its virus response.

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Commentary: Trump Executive Order Strikes at the Heart of Social Media’s Leftist Censorship

President Trump’s long-hoped-for Executive Order on social media censorship is a good first step in dismantling the Left’s dangerous influence over these 21st-century communications vehicles. (You can read the draft that was available online when this article was posted through this link to The National Pulse, edited by Raheem Kassam.)

We particularly agree with this part of the EO’s statement of principles, “In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”

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President Trump Reportedly Considering Forming Panel to Review Anti-Conservative Bias in Big Tech

President Donald Trump is considering forming a commission to review anti-conservative bias on social media platforms, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the idea.

A potential White House-created commission would examine allegations of online bias and censorship, according to the report. The administration will also encourage the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Election Commission to conduct similar reviews, the sources told the WSJ.

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Facebook Offers $100K for Developers Who Create AI to Police ‘Hateful Memes’

Facebook is working to set up an AI meme police.

The social media behemoth said it is creating a contest with a $100,000 prize to encourage developers to create artificial intelligence that can “identify multimodal hate speech.”

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Facebook Is Giving $1,000 to Content Moderators Who Said Online Trolls Turned Them into Conspiracy Theorists

Facebook agreed to pay out a $52 million settlement to thousands of current and former content moderators who said they are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after viewing upsetting content on the job, The Verge reported Tuesday.

Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are exhibiting other trauma due to the kind of content they regularly view, the report noted. The settlement applies to 11,250 moderators, some of whom told The Verge in 2019 that they became conspiracy theorists while moderating content people post online.

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Star Tribune Accepts $150,000 Grant from Facebook

The Star Tribune accepted $150,000 in grant money from Facebook, the tech giant revealed Thursday.

According to a press release from Facebook, the company awarded $10.3 million to 144 local U.S. newsrooms as part of a “COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.” Another $5.4 million was awarded to 59 North American newsrooms that participated in Facebook’s “Local News Accelerator” program, including The Star Tribune.

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Commentary: Big Tech, Privacy, and Power

The ground is shifting quickly beneath our feet when it comes to tech, privacy, and power. And, although tech companies, their advocates, and even some policymakers, would like us to imagine these issues are cut and dried, they are not.

In their book The Sovereign Individual, published on the eve of the year 2000, James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg attempt to grapple with the forthcoming technological changes that the new millennium inevitably would bring. “As technology revolutionizes the tools we use,” they wrote, “it also antiquates our laws, reshapes our morals, and alters our perceptions.”

This is the dynamic that has been unfolding slowly over the last 20 years, as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have transformed how we engage with communications, culture, commerce, and one another.

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Facebook Takes Down Anti-Quarantine Protest Posts That ‘Defy’ Social Distancing Guidelines

Facebook is not allowing anti-quarantine protesters to use the site to organize demonstrations in states that have enacted strict social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The social media giant has already removed promotions for anti-quarantine events in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska in cooperation with those state governments.

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Commentary: Big Tech’s Toadying to Chinese Communists Demands Action

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, China has become infamous for its role in allowing the virus to spread. From misleading the World Health Organization about the virus’s contagious elements, restricting the access of global investigators to infected sites, and lying about their infection numbers, China single-handedly stole months of preparation from other countries that have been savaged by the disease.

China has also hoarded masks and personal protective equipment from desperate countries and threatened to withhold critical medicines relied upon by millions of Americans.

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Zoom Recruits Former Facebook Security Chief as Critics Bash the Tech Firm for Privacy Lapses

An upshot tech company recruited Facebook’s former security chief to help fix glitches in the firm’s video chat app that reports say are leaving customers vulnerable to hackers and spammers.

Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos announced Thursday that he is joining an effort to help Zoom right the ship after reports revealed problems in its security system. Stamos made the decision to help after CEO Eric Yuan contacted him after he tweeted out some advice on the topic.

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Wages War on Price Gouging During Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘My Office and I Are Coming After You’

Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office received more than 500 complaints about price gouging in Minnesota last week alone.

The influx of complaints is part of Ellison’s effort to stop companies from hiking their prices on essential products during the coronavirus pandemic. Doing so is now illegal under an executive order issued by Gov. Tim Walz, which will remain in effect for the duration of Minnesota’s peacetime emergency.

Ellison’s office announced a statewide crackdown on businesses engaged in “pandemic profiteering” last week and encouraged Minnesotans to report instances of price gouging to his office.

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