Perspectives; Thoughts; Comments; Opinions; Discussions

Posts tagged ‘Instagram’

Why Tech Totalitarianism Threatens To Turn America into Canada or China Unless We Stop It


REPORTED BY: KARA FREDERICK | FEBRUARY 23, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/02/23/why-tech-totalitarianism-threatens-to-turn-america-into-canada-or-china-unless-we-stop-it/

tech people holding phones

Portions of this article were adapted from the author’s recently published paper at The Heritage Foundation, “Combating Big Tech’s Totalitarianism: A Road Map.”

Last week, our Canadian neighbors mobilized their national security apparatus against working-class citizens protesting government overreach. The Biden administration is no doubt taking notes. In fact, the contours of a similar strategy are already emerging in the United States. First, the FBI reportedly tagged parents opposed to critical race theory with a “terrorism” label under the direction of Biden’s Department of Justice. Then, the DOJ revealed plans to stand up a domestic terror unit fixated on “anti-government or anti-authority” ideologies. Now, a new Department of Homeland Security terrorism bulletin classifies Americans as potential violent extremists if they question the administration’s Covid-19 policies or election integrity narrative by spreading “mis- dis- and mal-information” on social media. This should send a chill up Americans’ spines.

The willingness of the U.S. government to classify movements to the right of leftist ideology as “domestic extremism” lays the groundwork for the purging of these citizens from digital platforms — and all of digital life. We are entering a reality in which tech companies target average conservative organizations, users, and speech as part of this push. Just after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, Google co-founder Sergey Brin referred to Trump voters as “extremists” and suggested using Google’s tech incubator, Jigsaw, to shape their opinions. In July 2021, Facebook began testing “extremism” warnings on users who engaged with popular, mainstream conservative accounts. This problem is a small outgrowth of a broader one shaping the new digital atmosphere: the efforts of companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and TikTok to skew the political and cultural environment of this nation and its inheritors.

These corporations interfere in our elections, actively undermine our First Amendment freedoms by silencing speech they don’t like, work together to disadvantage or destroy existing or potential competitors, and partner with government actors to intimidate, surveil, and silence Americans. They’re even purposefully poisoning the next generation, targeting American youth with highly addictive content that has been shown to do legitimate harm. 

Governments are not the only actors capable of encroaching on Americans’ individual liberties. Private, monopolistic corporations should be held accountable if they violate these liberties to the degree Big Tech has in the past two years alone. Efforts to rein them in should reflect an imperative to protect Americans’ natural rights against abuses flowing from the consolidation of power — whether by the government, private corporations, or a combination of the two. Big Tech’s willingness to shut off direct access to digital information, their demonstrated pattern of information manipulation, and their effect on America’s culture of free speech have decisive political and cultural ramifications.

Censorship against viewpoints to the right of center runs across platforms and is pervasive and accelerating. The Media Research Center found in September 2021 that Twitter and Facebook censor Republican members of Congress at a rate of 53-to-1 compared to Democrat lawmakers. By its own admission, Facebook created two internal tools in the aftermath of Trump’s 2016 victory that suppressed “very conservative” media reach on its platform. Google stifled conservative-leaning outlets such as The Daily Caller, Breitbart, and this publication during the 2020 election season, with Breitbart’s Google search visibility reportedly shrinking by 99 percent compared to the 2016 election cycle. Finally, at least 17 digital platforms banned Trump or affiliated accounts within a two-week span in early January 2021 — all while Chinese Communist Party, Iranian, and Taliban spokesmen enjoy a voice on these American-owned platforms.

To contest this imbalance, conservatives attempted to take matters into their own hands and build their owndigital platform. Yet when such a company, Parler, developed an app that reached the top of the Apple store in the early days of January 2021, Apple, Google, and Amazon Web Services acted within approximately 48 hrs of each other to vanquish it. Parler has yet to recover a fraction of the users it gained during January 2021. The “build your own” argument wilted in the face of concerted opposition by these entrenched juggernauts.

Further, the distinction between the coercive power of the government and that of a private company is negated when they work hand-in-glove to achieve the government’s ends. Jen Psaki admitted from the White House podium in July that the government was flagging problematic posts for Facebook to censor. Within a month, the accounts she and the surgeon general surfaced were removed from Facebook. And that’s just what the two Biden officials admitted out loud. In fact, Psaki again took to the podium in February 2022 to declare that media app Spotify could do more regarding comedian Joe Rogan, intimating the private company should expand its censorship of the podcasting star for platforming views that buck the administration’s Covid narrative.

Less than a month earlier, Biden had called on tech companies to police Covid-related speech. Even at the state level, at least one lawsuit alleges that the Office of the Secretary of State for California worked directly with Twitter to flag and scrutinize a conservative commentator over his election skepticism, ultimately resulting in his suspension in February 2021.

Suppression of conservative speech as a response to political pressure is not limited to social media alone. Online payment processors and fundraising platformsemail delivery services, and web hosting services are all taking their cues from and following in Big Tech’s footsteps. What happens in the future when your individual environmental, social, and governance score or level of climate change compliance is unsatisfactory for every online banking service intent on staying in the good graces of the government? In effect, our country is sleepwalking into a CCP-style social credit system.

This type of control also tears at the cultural underpinnings of our society. The disposition toward freedom of expression is central to the American way of life. Supporting an unpopular opinion in the digital public square or donating to political causes should not mean risking your livelihood. These practices erode our culture of free speech, chill open discourse, and engender self-censorship. In a more concrete sense, Big Tech’s practices result in measurable, destructive effects on the next generation of young citizens. Author Abigail Shrier documents social media’s influence on social contagions of the moment, stating that these sites offer an “endless supply of mentors” to fan the flames of gender dissatisfaction among teen girls.

According to Facebook’s own research, 6 percent of teen Instagram users who reported suicidal thoughts traced their emergence directly to Instagram. Teenage girls in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are likely developing verbal and physical tics by watching influencers on TikTok who exhibit the same habits, in addition to being fed eating-disorder videos, according to The Wall Street Journal. (As of early 2021, 25 percent of TikTok users in America were teenagers or younger.)

Big Tech companies have proven themselves irresponsible stewards of their government-enhanced power. A recalibration of their relationship to the American people is warranted. The answer exists in solutions that promote human flourishing and arrest the infringement of God-given rights by private entities, such as freedom of speech. American policymakers and representatives should take on Big Tech as uniquely deleterious to a healthy body politic and invest in a diversity of tactics to meet the moment. The aggregate effect of these measures should be far more scrutiny, pressure, and oversight over Big Tech companies.

comprehensive agenda to end Big Tech’s undue influence over Americans’ daily lives and subversion of their rights is necessary. Measures should confront legitimate anti-competitive behavior by these global oligopolies by enforcing antitrust laws and reforming them where necessary. Lawmakers must also ensure that the government does not continue to use tech companies as their agents to chill speech. The deployment of Big Tech’s ad-tech models — the heart of what allows these companies to manipulate and exploit the data of Americans — merits particular congressional scrutiny.

Additionally, Big Tech executives should be held civilly liable for legitimate instances of fraud and breach of contract, just as GoFundMe’s decision to refund the Freedom Convoy donations instead of dispensing them to charities of their choice was likely influenced by threats of a fraud investigation.

Transparency in content moderation practices, algorithmic impacts, and data use should be non-negotiable for these companies. Americans have a right to know how their data is collected, stored, and shared in plain English. Data privacy and a national data protection framework are also critical to righting Big Tech’s wrongs.

In tandem, Americans should be given new ways to fight back when their rights are infringed upon, as well as obtain prompt and meaningful recourse from Big Tech companies. All companies and tech founders should institute expanded user control mechanisms and design privacy-preserving technologies from the outset in their products.

And finally, these tech companies should no longer be permitted to work directly with our adversaries such as the Chinese Communist Party.

Sovereign citizens of the United States do not exist solely to serve the economy or maximize gross domestic product. Despite their success in the stock market, Big Tech companies are actively eroding citizens’ ability to maintain a self-governing republic. Absent drastic measures to arrest the progress of this march toward totalitarianism with a tech face, we risk the welfare of a nation. It must end here.


Kara Frederick is a Research Fellow in the Center for Technology Policy at The Heritage Foundation. Her research focuses on Big Tech and emerging technology policy. She helped create and lead Facebook’s Global Security Counterterrorism Analysis Program and was the team lead for Facebook Headquarters’ Regional Intelligence Team. Prior to Facebook, she was a Senior Intelligence Analyst for a U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command and spent six years as a counterterrorism analyst at the Department of Defense.

Facebook Loses Teen Sex Trafficking Case, Legal Defeat Puts Social Media Platforms in Crosshairs


Reported by Jack Davis | June 26, 2021

Read more at https://www.westernjournal.com/facebook-loses-teen-sex-trafficking-case-legal-defeat-puts-social-media-platforms-crosshairs/

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled against Facebook as the social media giant tries to use a controversial federal law to dodge liability for its platform being used by human traffickers to recruit victims. The ruling allows three survivors of human trafficking who want to sue Facebook to move forward with their cases, according to Forbes. Facebook had argued it was not responsible for what its users say under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 has become a controversial piece of law, with critics saying it gives social media companies too much power. Forbes reported that in 2018, Congress carved out exceptions to Section 230 so that lawsuits could be brought against companies that violate human trafficking laws. In his opinion, Justice Jimmy Blacklock noted those limits.

“We do not understand section 230 to ‘create a lawless no-man’s-land on the Internet’ in which states are powerless to impose liability on websites that knowingly or intentionally participate in the evil of online human trafficking,” he wrote.

“Holding internet platforms accountable for the words or actions of their users is one thing. … Holding internet platforms accountable for their own misdeeds is quite another thing. This is particularly the case for human trafficking.”

“Section 230, as amended, does not withdraw from the states the authority to protect their citizens from internet companies whose own actions — as opposed to those of their users — amount to knowing or intentional participation in human trafficking,” the ruling said.

The case involved three women who, according to the ruling, “allege they were victims of sex trafficking who became entangled with their abusers through Facebook.” One was 15 years old when she was befriended by a Facebook user who told her he would help her pursue a modeling career.

“Shortly after meeting him, Plaintiff was photographed and her pictures posted to the website Backpage (which has since been shut down due to its role in human trafficking), advertising her for prostitution. As a result, Plaintiff was ‘raped, beaten, and forced into further sex trafficking,’” the ruling said.

YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THIS REPORT AT https://www.westernjournal.com/facebook-loses-teen-sex-trafficking-case-legal-defeat-puts-social-media-platforms-crosshairs/

The Trump Purge Makes Living In America More Like Living In China 


The Trump Purge Makes Living In America More Like Living In China 

After the terrifying ransack of the U.S. capitol Wednesday during a Donald Trump “stop the steal” rally, big tech companies are joining leftist elites in the media and government in their effort to squash the Trump movement once and for all. Seizing on the backlash from the riot, they have seamlessly banned President Trump from TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

What happened at the capitol was an embarrassment for our country. Now, the hypocritical outcries from Democrats, who proudly condoned left-wing Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters as they terrorized American cities all summer, are ushering in a great reckoning.

The Jan. 6 demonstrators, the vast majority of whom were peaceful, were there to protest legitimate claims of election irregularities and voter fraud. But Google-owned YouTube doesn’t want you to know that. They announced Thursday that they will ban all videos about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The one free speech haven, Parler, Apple is keying up to ban from its app store and bar from iOS devices, claiming content on the website contributed to the capitol unrest. Google has already jumped the gun, banning Parler yesterday.

Every corner of the Trump movement is being publicly purged from the internet. Thursday, Shopify stripped all online stores for President Trump, including the Trump Organization and Trump’s affiliated campaign account.

Anyone who has supported the president is in for it, as well. Rick Klein, the political director at ABC News, in a now-deleted tweet said that getting rid of Trump is “the easy part.” The more difficult task will be “cleansing the movement he commands.” Democrats have already created a “Trump Accountability Project,” an enemies list to ban, cancel, or fire anyone who staffed, donated to, endorsed, or supported President Trump and his administration.

Trump subverted the elites who run our country. He took on big pharma and China. He negotiated, renegotiated, and destroyed trade deals in his mission to put America and American workers first. He went to war with critical race theory institutionalized in our schools and in government.

He stood for things that those who run our biggest corporations and hold our highest government positions detest. For virtually his entire presidency, they tried everything to delegitimize his administration, beginning with the now-debunked Russiagate. Trump showed their corruption, and now he will pay.

The man, the administration, and his supporters will likely go down in history books as delusional and dangerous. Why? Because the left has a monopoly on power, so they can control what people see and therefore think.

As the left’s arbiters of “truth,” big tech has been banning users they don’t agree with and suppressing stories like The New York Post’s blockbuster investigation into Hunter Biden‘s laptop and sketchy deals with foreign governments and companies with ties to the Communist Chinese government. With the help of their partisan “independent fact checkers,” big tech and the media made sure average Americans never knew about this before they went to the polls.

Following the riot among Trump supporters in the capitol, Facebook removed President Trump’s video calling for peace and rule of law, claiming it instigated violence. Then Facebook de-platformed him. Trump’s speech didn’t fit the narrative that he was a pro-violence, lawlessness insurrectionist.

This disturbing reality we live in, where one political party now has the power to control the narrative in all aspects of our lives — school, work, social media, and government — might make us feel eerie echoes of living under Chinese Communist Party influence instead of in the United States of America.

Perhaps what’s most troubling, and something that we might not have even considered in the chaos of the last few days, is the long-term impact this will have on American children. Generation Z or Zoomers, aged 13 to 21, may be one of the first generations that is more influenced by what they see and read on social media and the internet than what they hear at the dinner table from mom and dad.

A Business Insider’s poll found that 59 percent of Zoomers listed social media as their top news source. While technology used to serve as a way to make information accessible, a way to have the world at your fingertips with just a quick search, it has become something much different. It is teaching the youngest and most impressionable among us that suppression is normal and personal censorship is an important survival mechanism.

Children are being taught to watch what they say and think, lest they be labeled a racist, white supremacist, homophobe, or xenophobe. Indeed, making a pro-Trump TikTok video can get your college admission rescinded and subject you to intense personal harassment. A three-second insensitive or politically incorrect Snapchat video from 2016 can get you featured in a New York Times article and your college admission rescinded, and subject you to bitter bullying.

For young people today, it’s becoming normal to see political leaders in our country deemed “dangerous” to be ousted from public platforms and ostracized from society. They watch their parents self-censor at work, fearful of backlash from employees or coworkers that could get them fired.

Americans used to support the right of people to hold and express opinions others disagree with. Yet the newest generation believes feelings are more valuable than freedom. Study after study finds that younger people are more supportive of limiting speech than are older generations.

A recent survey found that an overwhelming majority of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison think the government should be able to punish “hate speech.” Of course, “hate speech” is simply the left’s ambiguous term for anything veering from the leftist orthodoxy on issues such as abortion, sex, race, and immigration.

Silicon Valley oligarchs have an agenda. They aren’t platforms, they are publishers, which should nullify the privileges they enjoy under Section 230. Will the Democrats who are now running our government do anything to stop big tech tyranny? Of course not.

This problem is not going away. America’s ethos of free speech and expression is going extinct at the hands of big tech and the leftists controlling media and government.

The U.S. Capitol riots are over, thanks to law enforcement. However, the censorship that followed has created a dangerous precedent.

For young people, their “normal” is beginning to feel increasingly like it’s heading towards life in China. It’s less free and tolerant than the America their parents grew up in. Imagine how much worse things will be when today’s youths are running the country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Evita Duffy is an intern at The Federalist and a junior at the University of Chicago, where she studies American History. She loves the Midwest, lumberjack sports, writing, & her family. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: