FIRST AMENDMENT TRASH TALKING

Trump Propaganda Machine Diversion

Today we see all the hypocritical politicians complaining about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple have slammed the door on those who flame insurrection, post false claims and threaten violence. Their true fear is that the tech CEOs and presidents of social media have more power than they do. Previously, Congress complained that the social media platforms allowed Russians to corrupt our elections with propaganda. Now they are whining about these same platforms taking steps to protect America from domestic terrorist flamers, including soon-to-be-ex-President and certified loser Donald John Trump.

When Twitter threw me off their platform for life, I signed up on Parler, and can now confirm that it’s GONE. Their founder says the shuttering of the service will put them out of business. It’s not hard to get an ISP to serve a website or service. All you must do is pay them. The truth is these billionaire public bulletin board runners are worried about one major thing, liability. If someone were to sue them as a victim of violence or harassment, it could open the whole can of worms surrounding their current protections embodied in what’s known as Section 230.  Let’s take a look.

United States Code Section 230 states that providers or users of “interactive computer services,” which include internet service providers as well as platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Craigslist, cannot be treated as publishers of — and thus held liable for — content produced by others.” It’s like your inability to sue a phone company for something said about you over their phone lines.

The end user license agreements of the social media platforms state they can prevent anyone who violates their policies from using their services. I was banned for life from Twitter for violating two policies, using multiple accounts to promote this very blog site and “interrupting conversations.” Some of my posts to top administration officials were not at all polite, but Twitter has no due process for appeal and they never respond to my letters to delve further into the matter. It’s just how they are.

The executives of these firms testified at public hearings on Capitol Hill, but the main result of those one-sided media circuses was a rise in their stock values. Many of the stodgy members of Congress have no clue how the basic internet works, let alone the operation of the complex and manipulative social media sites.

Section 230 has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment, and anyone going down that alley will soon hit a dead end. Section 230 exists to prevent frivolous lawsuits from gumming up the works of the courts. Without Section 230, there would be little incentive for social platforms to even exist. I am sure the CEO of Parler, John Matze, Jr., will be laying off his thirty employees today, but what about the other companies? Google has 100,000 employees, Facebook provides work for more than 45,000 people and Twitter has about 5,000 workers, so which service has the greatest impact on our economy?

Let me take a diversion here. One of the Parler investors is Rebekah Mercer, heiress, foundation director and major Republican political donor. She is the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager billionaire and oversees the day-to-day operations of philanthropic and political projects for the Mercer family. Rebekah has a master’s degree from Stanford and an internet cookie company named Ruby et Violette. Just placing the words “internet” and “cookie” in the same sentence is funny to me.

Mercer and Bannon

Mercer, along with her father, contributed $25 million to the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump, and they have pumped millions into conservative campaigns through their many Political Action Committees. Mercer and her father were key financial benefactors for Breitbart News, and for a long while they thought Steve Bannon walked on water.

Parler was created to create chaos. Without critical review and management of posted material, a social media website can become a venue for insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists from ANYWHERE! This isn’t funny. My entries on this blog are reviewed before they are posted, not by the government but by a journalist and editor. We all need an angel on one shoulder to counteract that devil on the other. It’s too easy to type dangerous sentiments so a watchdog is needed.

I don’t like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter because they don’t know what they are doing. Their platforms have become so big and vast with squillions of members, that no algorithm or mass of humans can adequately stop the spread of hate and misinformation. On the other hand, those platforms also transmit important safety information, disclose scams, assist with Amber Alerts, help fight crime and enable all of us to reconnect with people we’ve misplaced. There’s a huge upside along with the downside.

Zuckerberg and Dorsey certainly know how to make tons of money. I will leave out Google because they are less a social media platform and more a software development company. Sure, their search results can be manipulated, but spend a week on another search engine and you be will less than satisfied with the results. Has Google also caused harm? Sure, but we’re way too far up the river and without the time to head back to the mouth of the stream to fix things.

I am sure Parler will find some internet provider in Costa Rica or Isle of Man to help them return to the internet, perhaps then the matter of government intervention will become tricky. The US does not block any internet sites, but Trump was close to shutting down his dissenters on social media. Meanwhile, the platforms are just biding time until Joe Biden becomes president, holding onto the naïve belief that all their problems will then go away. They won’t.

Trump’s Possible Ending

Donald Trump doesn’t care about the First Amendment; he just wants an outlet for his pungent propaganda, baseless beliefs and crazy conspiracies. Trump is a drug addict, and he misses his fix of Twitter. He liked slinging his shit and watching the numbers tick up right in front of his eyeballs. Then, he switched on the TV to bask in the glory of everyone talking about him and what he just wrote. That is his high.

We need to have a debate about stabilizing the government and solidifying our security. We must refine the pardon process and power of the executive. It’s time to examine our laws and traditions to see how they stand up in our modern world. Most importantly, we need more accountability and background disclosures of our elected officials. Money is a primary driver, and we have a right to understand how it motivates each of those who serve us. Think about this. We know more about the finances of Rebekah Mercer than we do about those of Donald Trump. Transparency is the only way we can remain free. Hey, that’s good, I should post that on Twitter. Oh, sorry, I can’t.

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One thought on “FIRST AMENDMENT TRASH TALKING

  1. As a Journalism student, one of the earliest lessons was the responsiblity of the power journalism has. The idea behind teaching us this was not to give us an inflated view of our importance or influence, but to make us understand how important it was to handle that “loaded gun” with care. The public would measure truth by what was determined to be lies and manipulation, so it was important to be truthful to protect the First Amendment we so happily labored under. It was a lesson I took to heart and kept in mind throughout my limited career. While the business concerns of social media platforms no doubt come first for these companies viewed as not the same as journalism, I would like to think that, aware of the power they wield and the horror most Americans took away from what happened last week, they are also looking at events through a lense of their users. While they are not held to the standards of publishers, they, for once, are governed by a sense of what their users are willing to tolerate when they log on to look at family pictures. Just as they might find pornographic advertising difficult to justify next to pictures celebrating a straight-A report card, they may also believe that the Credo of the Proud Boys would be distasteful scrolling next to cat cartoons. I don’t care if it is patriotism, a sense of public responsibility or just good business sense, I am glad to see they don’t think they need the money that could be made by making space from sedition.

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