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Tags: burisma | cefc | doj | dorsey | twitter

Curbing Silicon Valley Control Over Free Speech Long Overdue

twitter versus facebook

(Natalia Vasilenko/Dreamstime)

Larry Bell By Friday, 23 October 2020 04:53 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Actions on the part of Twitter, and to a somewhat lesser extent Facebook, to immediately block subscribers from personal communications regarding an Oct. 14 bombshell New York Post report have likely created far more circulation interest and political blowback than they counted on.

The laptop was purpoterdly one of three left and abandoned at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019 which is now in FBI custody in connection with a money-laundering investigation which may or may not involve the Biden family.

Among the huge tranche of documents revealed by the Post was an email from an executive of Burisma, a large Ukrainian oil company facing corruption charges, thanking Hunter for "giving an opportunity to meet" his father who was then serving as the Obama administration lead for Ukraine policy.

Such a report contradicted repeated claims by Joe Biden that he knew nothing of Hunter’s foreign business dealings because he "trusted his son."

Twitter pre-emptively sprang to the defense of the now Democratic presidential nominee, taking extraordinary steps to sop Americans from reading it.

Users who tried to share the link to the Post story were shown a message that they couldn’t do so.

Included in the shutdowns were Twitter accounts of the entire New York Post’s 1.8 million followers, White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, the "Team Trump" campaign, and even that of Politico.com journalist Jake Sherman.

Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying, "We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful."

Although published by the oldest and fourth largest U.S. newspaper, users clicking or retweeting a link already posted to Twitter were shown a warning that the "link may be unsafe."

Twitter later said it had limited the article’s spread due to questions about "the origins of the materials."

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, later admitted that the company’s decision to limit the article’s spread was "not great."

Facebook placed restrictions on linking to the article, saying there were questions about its validity.

Company spokesperson, Andy Stone later explained, "This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation."

Notably, neither Joe Biden nor his campaign have since denied the authenticity of the materials.

On Oct. 15, the day after its first explosive report, the Post published a second article detailing other alleged emails.

One involving a since-defunct Shanghai-based China Energy Company (CEFC) proposed equity breakdowns between Hunter, his associates, and a share to be held by Hunter Biden for "the big guy."

Fox News claims to have conclusively verified that the "big guy’s" identity is Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, as its Twitter account remained blocked, the New York Post blasted the social media companies, saying they were trying to help Biden’s election campaign and falsely claiming no one had disputed the story’s veracity.

The newspaper ran an editorial stating, "Facebook and Twitter are not media platforms. They’re propaganda machines."

That unprecedented free speech suppression occurred at a time when Big Tech monopolies are already under fire from conservatives for exercising excessive, arbitrary and biased control over information content they allow on their platforms.

The accusations of ideological preference are not merely illusory.

Dick Costolo, Twitter’s previous CEO recently tweeted that "me-first capitalists who think you can separate society from business are going to be the first people lined up against the wall and shot in the revolution. I’ll happily provide video commentary."

This prejudice is ironic considering that Twitter and other Silicon Valley titans are hardly anti-profit where it comes to their own economic self-interests.

As for objective company vetting of "unsafe" or "authentic" information, consider that countless Trump administration leaks about sensitive national security matters, salacious falsehoods about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s moral character and other rumor-mongering assaults on responsible discourse have been allowed to freely circulate unchallenged.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously 12-0 on Oct. 22 to issue subpoenas that compel Twitter and Facebook CEOs Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg to testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias as exemplified by their companies’ stifling of communications regarding alleged controversial ties between Joe Biden and his son’s foreign business affairs.

A draft motion for a Senate hearing to receive the CEO testimonies called for "any other content-moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office" as well as "any other recent determinations to temporarily reduce distribution of material pending fact-checker review and/or block and mark material as potentially unsafe."

Flames of fury stirred by Twitter and Facebook over their censorship targeting of conservative messaging comes at a time when Big Tech monopolies have come under bipartisan scrutiny for unfair competitive practices.

A particularly consequential risk to them is for Congress to repeal liability protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that would treat interactive computer service providers as information publishers that are legally responsible for the content of what others say or do.

On Oct. 20, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Google uses anticompetitive tactics to preserve a monopoly for its flagship search engine and related advertising business.

The case alleges that the company’s Alphabet Inc. unit maintains its status as gatekeeper to the internet through an unlawful web of exclusionary and interlocking business agreements that shut down competitors.

Although Joe Biden has declined to comment on the DOJ's (U.S. Department of Justice) Google suit, he has previously said that "growing economic concentration and monopoly power in our nation today threatens our American values of competition, choice and shared prosperity."

Nearly all U.S. attorneys general are separately investigating Google, while three other tech giants — Facebook Inc., Apple and Amazon.com Inc. — likewise face close antitrust scrutiny.

Such attention to curbing Silicon Valley control over what we can say or know is critically overdue. Such partisan and agenda-driven interference violates American principles of democracy, fair play, and our First Amendment foundation of free speech.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. Larry has written more than 700 articles for Newsmax and Forbes and is the author of several books. Included are: "How Everything Happened, Including Us" (2020), "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports More Here.

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Partisan and agenda-driven interference violates American principles of democracy, fair play, and our First Amendment foundation of free speech.
burisma, cefc, doj, dorsey, twitter
Friday, 23 October 2020 04:53 PM
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