Washington Examiner: How Big Tech Reshaped Politics Through Censorship

From the Washington Examiner, Blacklist Valley: How Big Tech reshapes politics by censoring conservative ideas another tale of internet censorhip.

FEA.BigTech.jpg

For better or worse, social media is the new public square. Of adults, 68% use Facebook, 73% use YouTube, and a quarter use Twitter. The numbers are much higher for adults under 50. Two-thirds of adults and roughly 4 in 5 under 50 use social media to consume news. Three-quarters of Facebook users are on the site every day, and Twitter users have a disproportionate influence on the media because so many journalists are on the service.

The size and scale of social media companies exploded primarily because they presented themselves as open platforms — blank slates. Google, Facebook, and Twitter all characterized their products as engines for social improvement. “We think of Twitter as the global town hall,” said former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. “We are the free speech wing of the free speech party.”

Costolo was Twitter’s chief executive from 2010 until 2015 and the immediate predecessor of current CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter’s general manager in the United Kingdom, Andy Yang, likewise described Twitter as the “free speech wing of the free speech party” in March 2012. Google became a multibillion-dollar company by offering a portal for free, unrestricted information to anyone with access to the internet; famously, its original motto was “Don’t be evil.” An internal Facebook memo circulated in June 2016 stated that at Facebook, “we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good.”

The public has given these three tech companies (and others) enormous power to select the information we read, share, and discuss with our neighbors and friends. We’ve gotten so accustomed to the role they play in our lives that we fail to notice that Big Tech is sifting through the available information and narrowing, and prioritizing, our choices. Although Facebook, Google, and Twitter once touted themselves as bastions of democracy and free speech, they are now openly moving toward direct censorship and media manipulation — and specifically targeting conservative ideas and personalities.

They have already acquiesced to their new censorship fetish. In March 2018, Google circulated an internal memo that instructed employees on the benefits of censorship. In the memo, which was titled “The Good Censor,” Google conceded that while the internet was “founded upon utopian principles of free speech,” free speech is no longer en vogue. “Tech companies are adapting their stance towards censorship” in direct response to “the anxiety of users and governments.” The memo said that “tech firms have gradually shifted away from unmediated free speech and towards censorship and moderation” but framed that shift as a positive development. One major way that tech companies are “stepping into the role of moderator” is by “significantly amping up the number of moderators they employ — in YouTube’s case increasing the number of people on the lookout for inappropriate content to more than 10,000.” It argued that censorship was necessary partly because of users “behaving badly.”

The most alarming part of the missive, however, was that it spoke approvingly of foreign governments that were censoring online speech. Google framed the acts as “taking steps to make online spaces safer, more regulated, and more similar to their offline laws. Protected from hate speech on the street? Now you are on the net too …” Twitter has completely and publicly abandoned its brand as the “free speech wing of the free speech party,” with Dorsey claiming the whole “free speech wing” thing was one giant “joke.” His company, once seemingly devoted to the free expression of its users, now says it is prioritizing making users feel safe from others’ speech. Facebook, too, is openly rebranding itself as a benevolent censor. Here’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees in April 2018 (emphasis added):

Overall, I would say that we’re going through a broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility as a company. For the first 10 or 12 years of the company, I viewed our responsibility as primarily building tools that, if we could put those tools in people’s hands, then that would empower people to do good things. What I think we’ve learned now across a number of issues, not just data privacy, but also fake news and foreign interference in elections, is that we need to take a more proactive role and a broader view of our responsibility. It’s not enough to just build tools. We need to make sure that they’re used for good. And that means that we need to now take a more active view in policing the ecosystem and in watching and kind of looking out and making sure that all of the members in our community are using these tools in a way that’s going to be good and healthy.

Three forces are driving Big Tech’s online censorship. Two are external and related: market pressures and de-platforming campaigns by liberal activists and journalists. The third pressure is internal: Silicon Valley is staggeringly one-sided politically. Profit margins and market pressures are crucial levers that left-wing ideologues use to pull tech giants and other corporations in the direction of censorship. Companies want to avoid controversy, and, in the era of outrage mobs, that means avoiding offending the Left, which controls most of the cultural institutions in America. That’s part of the reason why massive companies are embracing left-wing politics in advertising, such as what Gillette did with its “toxic masculinity” ad. Left-wing activists amplify those pressures with smear campaigns and boycotts intended to rattle advertisers and investors, forcing the hands of tech companies. If you convince corporate marketing agencies that advertising on Facebook is risky, you can be certain that Facebook will take some form of action to shed controversy and reassure investors.

The external pressures of left-wing activists are compounded by the internal pressures of the companies’ employees, who want Big Tech to embrace censorship against nonliberal opinions as a moral and political necessity…

Click here to read the entire article at Washington Examiner.

Washington Examiner: Virginia Rally Proves the Media Hate Gun Owners

Peaceful protesters at the Virginia rally.

22,000 peaceful protesters attended the January 20th second amendment rights rally in Virginia. Much of the media seemed surprised and disappointed that there was no violence as evidenced by various headlines and commentary.

From Timothy Carney at the Washington Examiner:

Reporters and editors at the largest news outlets overwhelmingly dislike and distrust the people demonstrating against Virginia’s proposed gun restrictions. This is clear as day, and every journalist, center-left media critic, and media defender would do well to admit as much.

The media elite hate guns, favor gun control, and bear disdain or at least distrust for those who are passionate about gun rights.

Reporters’ coverage of and reaction to Monday’s Second Amendment demonstration makes that abundantly clear.

For starters, NBC News reporter Ben Collins, again, he’s a reporter, not an opinion writer, flatly and falsely called the demonstration a “white nationalist rally” in a tweet calling on everyone covering it to “verify information” before tweeting it out. Collins has deleted the smear-tweet, but you have to consider the nature of the error.

While deeply thinking about accuracy in tweets, a news reporter falsely called a gun rights rally a “white nationalist rally.”

The simplest explanation here is that Ben Collins considers gun rights activists to be vile and hateful creatures. NBC News, Collins’s outlet, gave the march the Joker treatment, darkly warning everyone it would be a horrible, violent day, truly reflecting their expectations.

It’s not hard to read between the lines of the Washington Post‘s coverage: “Chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ broke out every few minutes, but by 10:15 a.m. there were no signs of violence or conflict with law enforcement officers.”

If you’re a normal person, you probably noticed that “but.” The clear implication is that the sort of folks who get together and chant “U-S-A” are prone to violence.

Bloomberg News has a decent story that gratuitously mentions that the protesters “were mostly white and male.” Those words don’t appear in Bloomberg coverage about Bernie Sanders’s rallies or the Democratic debate stage. Those words are intended to signal disapproval of the pro-gun demonstrators.

We know that the media smear marches they hate. It was one year ago that the Washington Post and other outlets recklessly and falsely cast a crew of Catholic schoolboys in MAGA hats as nasty racists.

Guns, like abortion and all-boys Catholic schools, are a culture war issue. We know what side 90% of the media industry is on. Everyone should admit it.

Washington Examiner: Uprising – 90% of Virginia Counties Gun Sanctuaries and Spreading

This piece talks about how 90% of the counties in Virginia have become Second Amendment sanctuaries in just 43 days after draconian anti-gun rights bills were introduced by the new Democrat majorities in the state’s legislature. The movement is also spreading to other states.

Washington Examiner: Uprising: 90% of Virginia counties become gun ‘sanctuaries,’ expanding movement to nine states

Stirred awake by Democratic proposals to take, register, and possibly seize their legally obtained weapons, Virginia gun owners in just 43 days have pushed 90% of the state’s counties to become gun “sanctuaries,” the latest three on Monday night.

Since the Nov. 5 election that gave Democrats control of Richmond, an “organic,” pro-gun movement has prompted the governments of 86 of Virginia’s 95 counties, as well as 15 towns and cities, to adopt some type of sanctuary language, putting Gov. Ralph Northam and other liberals on notice that their gun control plans aren’t welcome.

“I did not think it would be that high of a number,” said sanctuary advocate and Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins.

“It’s an organic thing that just took off after Election Day. Elections have consequences, and this is the result. This has truly rocked the conservative, libertarian group’s core. It has really shook a lot of them awake. They are fully awake,” he told Secrets.

Remarkably, the effort has not seen a big push from the National Rifle Association. Local groups, notably the Virginia Citizens Defense League, have led the campaign that has brought thousands of gun-rights advocates to county board meetings.

It has also become the national model for the movement that has now reached Illinois, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, and Tennessee. Illinois is credited with starting the movement…

Click here to read the entire article.