State Attorney Generals Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.

The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

Read More

Missouri Teachers Told ‘White Supremacy’ Includes ‘All Lives Matter,’ Calling Police on Blacks

Sign that reads "What happened to all lives matter?"

Training materials for the Springfield, Mo., school district told teachers they could be engaging in white supremacy simply by insisting the English language be used or calling police on a black suspect, according to records released under a freedom of information request.

The materials, provided to Just the News, include a 40-plus slide training deck that proclaimed its goal was to train teachers on how to address “systemic racism and xenophobia” in the school district and to understand the difference between oppressors and the oppressed. Critics say the slide deck is part of a larger Critical Race Theory curriculum that parents are increasingly rejecting.

It included an “oppression matrix” that identified privileged social groups capable of oppression as including “white people,” “male assigned at birth,” “gender conforming CIS men and women,” “heterosexuals,” “rich, upper-class people” and “Protestants.”

Read More

Virginia Scholar Refuses to Cave to Pressure Over Tweet Criticizing Bisexual Superman

Sophia Nelson

A scholar at a Virginia university is not backing down as students and faculty seek to get her fired for a tweet she posted criticizing DC Comics’ new bisexual Superman character.

“Regrettably, this has all gone too far,” Sophia Nelson, scholar in residence at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, says in an open letter to the university community dated Friday.

“I read the student petition against me in a Fox News article posted on Wednesday, October 27th,” Nelson writes, “and was devastated to read these words: ‘Our community is hurt and disappointed in the way this university has dealt with the homophobic and racist statements of Professor Nelson.’”

Read More

Report: Facebook Lobbyists Are Being Ignored and Banned from Lawmakers’ Offices

Two men in suits shaking hands

Facebook lobbyists are struggling to meet with lawmakers, Politico reported, as the tech giant faces congressional scrutiny and negative press surrounding its business practices.

Several lawmakers’ offices are ignoring Facebook’s policy team and even refusing to meet with lobbyists, Politico reported. Several congressional aides told the outlet that recent news reports on Facebook’s business practices, including its knowledge of how its platform affects teen users and its amplification of “misinformation,” have contributed to lawmakers’ hostile attitudes.

“Mark Zuckerberg has done more to polarize the country probably than anyone else and yet despite that, the antipathy towards him is one of the most bipartisan things that remains in the country,” a Democratic House staffer told Politico.

Read More

Commentary: The Freak-Out over Tucker’s January 6 Documentary Begins

Capitol 6 riots

Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night played a brief trailer for his three-part documentary looking at the events of January 6. “Patriot Purge” will premiere on Fox Nation, the network’s streaming service, on November 1.

Clips hint that the film compares the prosecution of Capitol protesters and anyone associated with the events of January 6 to the initial war on terror, a wholly legitimate comparison that my reporting confirms. For example, as I explained in April, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines issued a report earlier this year warning “domestic violent extremists” pose a heightened threat to the nation. Not one for subtlety, Haines included a sketch of the U.S. Capitol in the document; House Republicans at the time blasted Haines for working outside her legal authority—the intelligence community is supposed to hunt foreign terrorists, not MAGA-supporting meemaws—to target American citizens.

Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware that the Biden regime, with a big assist from the news media, is indeed conducting a domestic war on terror aimed at the political Right.

Read More

Facebook Changes Its Name to ‘Meta’

Illustration of two people looking out on a design of Meta, Facebook's new name

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday the tech giant was changing its name to “Meta.”

Zuckerberg announced the name change at the Facebook Connect 2021 conference. The new name reflects Zuckerberg’s goal to reorient his social media company to a technology conglomerate with several different products beyond the Facebook social network, focusing on “metaverse” technology. 

The “metaverse” is a virtual environment in which individuals can interact with one another through avatars and across multiple platforms and devices. Facebook called it a “new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality” in which people interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person.”

Read More

Commentary: America Gone Mad

After three weeks in Europe and extensive discussions with dozens of well-informed and highly placed individuals from most of the principal Western European countries, including leading members of the British government, I have the unpleasant duty of reporting complete incomprehension and incredulity at what Joe Biden and his collaborators encapsulate in the peppy but misleading phrase, “We’re back.”

As one eminent elected British government official put it, “They are not back in any conventional sense of that word. We have worked closely with the Americans for many decades and we have never seen such a shambles of incompetent administration, diplomatic incoherence, and complete military ineptitude as we have seen in these nine months. We were startled by Trump, but he clearly knew what he was doing, whatever we or anyone else thought about it. This is just a disintegration of the authority of a great nation for no apparent reason.”

Read More

Facebook Employees Actively Censored Conservative Websites, Even in Defiance of Managers

Facebook logo with smartphone showing lock in front

A series of new leaks from Big Tech giant Facebook has revealed even more bias against conservatives from the company’s employees, even to the point of causing internal debates between employees and upper management, according to the New York Post.

The latest leaks come from message board conversations reviewed by the Post, which showed back-and-forth discussions within Facebook about how to deal with conservative news outlets during last year’s race riots by far-left domestic terrorist organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

Some employees expressed their desire to completely remove sites such as Breitbart from Facebook’s “News Tab” feature. When one such employee asked a manager about doing so, the manager responded by pointing out that “we saw drops in trust in CNN 2 years ago,” before rhetorically asking “would we take the same approach for them too?”

Read More

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Stokes ‘Hyperinflation’ Fears

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stirred up more fears around inflation with his comments over the weekend saying that hyperinflation is “happening.”

“Hyperinflation is going to change everything,” the tech leader posted on Twitter. “It’s happening.”

The post sparked a flurry of responses. Replying to comments on his post, Dorsey added, “It will happen in the US soon, and so the world.”

Hyperinflation is defined by Investopedia as “rapid, excessive, and out-of-control general price increases in an economy.”

Read More

Top House Antitrust Lawmakers Held Meeting with Facebook Whistleblower

David Cicilline and Ken Buck

Top lawmakers in the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee met with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the subcommittee, and Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who serves as ranking member, held a meeting with Haugen to discuss Facebook and issues related to social media competition, Politico first reported, citing two sources. A person familiar with the matter confirmed the meeting to the DCNF, and said the lawmakers also discussed potential antitrust reforms, as well as matters related to privacy and social media algorithms.

Buck and Cicilline worked together to advance a series of antitrust bills targeting major tech companies out of the House Judiciary Committee in June, and have both advocated for breaking up Facebook and other large platforms. The antitrust bills are currently set to reach the House floor in November.

Read More

Stock in Trump’s Social Media Venture Soars 190 Percent Following Announcement

Donald Trump

The share price of Digital World Acquisition Corp., the company launching former President Donald Trump’s new social media and entertainment venture, rose nearly 190% following Trump’s announcement of his plans to develop the tech platform.

The company, listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange as DWAC, is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that acts as a public shell corporation to acquire private companies and list them publicly on a stock exchange. The company entered into a merger agreement with Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) in order to raise public funding for Trump’s social media venture, according to a press release.

Trump announced Wednesday that he was launching a new social media platform called TRUTH Social intended to “fight back” against major tech companies that banned the former president earlier this year. The new venture will also include on-demand video entertainment and news services.

Read More

GETTR CEO Jason Miller Welcomes Trump to Social Media World

Despite former President Donald J. Trump’s Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) announcing plans to become a rival of newly-launched social media site GETTR, the CEO of the latter firm welcomed Trump into the social media space.

“Congratulations to President Trump for re-entering the social media fray! Now Facebook and Twitter will lose even more market share. President Trump has always been a great deal-maker, but we just couldn’t come to terms on a deal,” Miller said in a Wednesday statement. “And get ready for the new platform features GETTR has on the way: live-streaming, GVision short videos and our GETTR Pay payments system capabilities. Exciting new additions that will provide our global customer base an even better user experience. Let the downloads begin!”

Read More

Commentary: A Call to Amend Section 230 for Social Media Transparency

Smart phone opened on home screen

Amid growing bipartisan agreement that increased regulation of social media platforms and their content moderation policies is needed, the path forward remains murky. Should Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be discarded or strengthened? Should companies be broken up using antitrust laws? Should government set speech rules for the web? Should users decide them? Or should there be no rules at all?

There is no shortage of solutions being put forth to solve the challenge of social media censorship. The problem is that without a better understanding of how social platforms invisibly shape the public square of democracy today, we don’t know which of these possible solutions might have the greatest impact. In short, to fix social media, we first need a better understanding of its ills: Section 230 must be amended to legislate social platform transparency.

A new RealClearFoundation report, “Transparency Is the First Step Toward Addressing Social Media Censorship,” outlines the public data sets we need to usher in transparency and better understand the challenges we face.

Read More

Poll: A Majority of Americans Think Misinformation Is a Problem

The majority of Americans believe U.S. politicians and social media companies spread more misinformation than any foreign government, including adversaries like China and Russia, according to a new poll.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, released Friday, found that about 75% of Americans believed politicians in the U.S., social media companies and social media users are the biggest drivers of misinformation. Just under half of respondents, however, thought that the U.S. government was responsible for misinformation, while just over half said the same for Russia and China.

Read More

Facebook Whistleblower Says Company ‘Paying for Its Profits with Our Safety’

Facebook knowingly chooses to prioritize its profits over the safety of its users, Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, leaked thousands of internal company documents to The Wall Street Journal last month which detail the inner workings of the company. The leaked documents showed that Facebook employs a separate content review system for high-profile accounts, the company has conducted research into the harms its Instagram platform has on teen users, and it stokes controversy by boosting inflammatory content.

Read More

Big Tech Down: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Experience Widespread Outages

Smartphone with display of social media apps

Platforms owned by Facebook all experienced outages at the same time late Monday morning, and could not be accessed.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all went down Monday morning, according to outage tracking site Downdetector. Facebook was first reported down around 11:15 a.m., with reports peaking around 12 p.m. with over 100,000 reported outages, according to the site.

When users attempted to access Instagram, a message reading “5xx Server Error” appeared. A message reading “Sorry, something went wrong” appeared when users tried to access Facebook.

Read More

Commentary: John Durham’s Vast Conspiracy

John Durham

Special Counsel John Durham’s 27-page false-statement indictment of lawyer Michael Sussmann avers a thus-far uncharged conspiracy by Democrat operatives, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and others to fabricate, leak, and purvey the most successful and destructive political smear in American history.

Judging from the detailed contents of the indictment, Durham appears to be well on his way to exposing the lies and corrupt schemes that were used to kneecap Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president and hamstring his administration for the next four years.

This article is the second in a series regarding the Sussmann indictment which, given its detailed content, strongly indicates that Durham has in hand documentary and supporting evidence to prove how Sussmann and others conspired to impair, obstruct, and defeat the lawful functions of the United States government by dishonest means in order to, among other goals, subvert our political and electoral processes, including the 2016 presidential election.

Read More

Overwhelming Majority Of Voters ‘Very Nervous’ About Social Media’s Impact on Kids, Poll Shows

Almost nine in ten voters are very concerned about the impact social media is having on children, according to a new poll.

When asked whether they were “very nervous about the effects social media is having on kids today,” 84% of registered voters said they at least somewhat agreed, according to the results of a poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and released Thursday by the Future of Tech Commission. Roughly 6 out of 10 parents polled agreed that they felt like they had no control over what their children see online, while 85% of voters overall supported special online privacy measures for children.

Read More

Roger Simon Commentary: The Democrats’ War on Blacks Keeps Growing in the Pandemic

One of the key reasons I left the Democratic Party years ago was the atrocious way they treated black people.

I’m not just talking about “Jim Crow” or LBJ’s well-known patriarchal and racist use of the “n-word” to celebrate blacks voting Democratic forever in gratitude for his ultimately useless early “virtue signaling” called the “War on Poverty.”

(Notice any difference between South Central then and now?)

Read More

Report: Facebook Aware Instagram Makes Teen Girls Feel Bad, Leaked Research Shows

woman with blonde hair in bed on her laptop

Facebook is aware that Instagram, an image-sharing social media platform it owns, has harmful effects on the self-esteem of teen girls, according to leaked research seen by The Wall Street Journal.

Internal research, documents and research reportedly show that Facebook has studied the harmful effects Instagram can have on its users, especially teen girls, according to the WSJ.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” one slide from an internal research report read, with another saying that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.”

Read More

New York Times Quietly Updates Report After Calling Hunter Biden Laptop Story ‘Unsubstantiated’

The New York Times quietly removed its assertion that the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop prior to the 2020 election was “unsubstantiated” from a story published Monday about a Federal Election Commission complaint related to the matter.

The Times reported Monday that the FEC ruled in August that Twitter did not violate any laws by temporarily blocking users from sharing the Post’s Oct. 14 story on a “smoking gun” email from Hunter Biden’s laptop showing that an executive of a Ukrainian gas company had thanked him for an introduction to then-Vice President Joe Biden. The Times called the story “unsubstantiated” when its article on the FEC’s decision was first published early Monday afternoon.

“The Federal Election Commission has dismissed Republican accusations that Twitter violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden, in a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns,” Times reporter Shane Goldmacher stated in its original version of his report Monday.

Read More

Texas Governor Signs Law Preventing Social Media Companies from Banning People for Their Views

Gov. Greg Abbott signs law

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Thursday preventing social media companies from banning users for their political views.

The law, known as HB 20, prohibits social media platforms from banning or suspending users, and removing or suppressing their content, based on political viewpoint. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Bryan Hughes partly in an effort to combat perceived censorship of conservatives by Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube, and other major tech companies.

“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square,” Abbott said in a statement. “They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely — but there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”

Read More

‘Huge Hole’: Congressman Says Feds Aren’t Vetting Social Media Posts of Afghan Refugees

Tom Tiffany

Acongressman from Wisconsin, where thousands of Afghan evacuees are being temporarily resettled, says the Biden administration is creating a significant security risk by failing to aggressively vet refugees’ social media before allowing then to reach U.S. destinations.

Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Republican, told Just the News that the failure to vet social media posts for possible extremism is just one of several byproducts of a chaotic Biden administration exit strategy that has moved immigrants to U.S. installations in third countries before adequate security checks could be completed.

“They said, get them on the planes, and we’ll sort the immigration status out later,” Tiffany said during a wide-ranging interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast. “And Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken acknowledged that this last weekend, on the Sunday news shows that that’s exactly what they did. That is a terrible way to handle national security.”

Read More

Michael Patrick Leahy Explains the ‘Unholy Alliance’ Between Big Tech and Social Media Giants

Thursday morning on First Principles with Phill Kline, host Kline welcomed Michael Patrick Leahy, CEO of The Star News Network and host of The Tennessee Star Report to weigh in on the developing oligopoly of Big Tech and social media giants.

Read More

Calls to Fire Glen Ellyn School District 41 Teacher in Illinois After She ‘Shows Off Book Collection She Uses to Indoctrinate 3rd Grade Students’

D41 Kids Foundation, person reading

Calls to fire Glen Ellyn teacher Lauren Crowe were spreading across social media Thursday night after the D41 educator shared a video on Tik Tok promoting books highlighting LGBTQ+  activism to her grammar school students.

Crowe, who teaches third grade at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School,  posted the video on Tik Tok. It was then shared on Twitter by a user who goes by the name “Libs of Tik Tok.” 

“Activist teacher shows off book collection she uses to indoctrinate 3rd grade students,” the user posted.

Read More

Texas Passes Law Targeting Social Media Companies for Alleged Censorship

The Texas state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that aims to curb perceived political censorship by social media companies.

The bill, introduced in the Texas Senate by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, would prohibit social media platforms from “censoring” users based on their viewpoints. “Censoring” includes actions such as removing content, banning users, demonetizing users, and suppressing posts, according to the bill.

Read More

‘We’re on a Mission’: Advocacy Groups Behind Push to Save Women’s Sports Campaign Against Trans Surgeries for Minors

The battle to “Save Women’s Sports” resulted in a slew of legislation banning biological males from girls’ sports and conversations on the national stage about gender, sex, individual dignity, and much more. Now the advocacy groups behind this push are assembling to battle the next burgeoning culture war issue — transgender sex change surgeries and procedures for minors.

Progressive activists, media, lawmakers, and even some medical professionals call such procedures “gender affirming medical care” and protest that denying an individual this “care” is cruel, regardless of age. Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the state’s SAFE Act in April, arguing that the legislation was a “vast government overreach” and that it shouldn’t jump into every ethical issue.

But advocacy groups like the Family Policy Alliance (FPA) insist these procedures irrevocably hurt children. And backed by a network of about 40 independent, state-based family policy councils, FPA aims to multiply the number of states across the nation that legally protect children from gender transition.

Read More

Big Tech, Woke Finance Crack Down on Flynn, Gateway Pundit, Berenson in Cancel Culture Purge

Person holding phone up in Times Square.

With national attention riveted over the weekend on two major stories — the frantic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan amid its fall to the Taliban and category 4 Hurricane Ida slamming into the Louisiana coast — Big Tech and woke finance dramatically extended the reach of cancel culture with brazen moves to silence and harass three high-profile voices of political and scientific dissent: independent journalist Alex Berenson, popular conservative news and opinion website The Gateway Pundit, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

On Saturday, Twitter permanently banned Alex Berenson, who has built a large social media following challenging public health establishment orthodoxy on COVID issues ranging from lockdown to vaccine mandates.

“The account you referenced has been permanently suspended for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules,” a Twitter spokesperson responded to an inquiry from Fox News.

Read More

Former New York Times Journalist Alex Berenson Permanently Suspended by Twitter

Alex Berenson

Twitter has permanently banned Alex Berenson, a former New York Times journalist who has become a major critic of Big Tech censorship and coronavirus lockdowns and mandates.

Responding to an inquiry from Fox News, where Berenson has been a frequent guest during the pandemic, a spokesperson for Twitter replied that “The account you referenced has been permanently suspended for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules.”

Berenson responded on his Substack page, where he posted a message titled “Goodbye Twitter.”

Read More

January 6 Committee Demands 15 Social Media Companies Hand over Records, Documents Tied to Capitol Riot

The House committee probing the Jan. 6 riots is demanding over a dozen social media companies hand over extensive records related to the events at the Capitol.

The Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot sent letters dated Aug. 26 to Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit, along with Parler, TikTok, 4chan and seven other social media platforms asking them to provide all documents, data and other information related to the Capitol riot since April 2020.

Read More

While Taliban Flourish on Twitter, Social Media Giants Restrict U.S. Conservative Voices

Person holding smartphone

While the Taliban and Iranian mullahs still enjoy Twitter privileges, a growing number of Americans, mostly of conservative persuasion, face a range of restrictions imposed on their accounts by U.S. social media platforms.

The list of Americans who have seen their social media reach limited is topped by former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been banned indefinitely on Twitter and for two years on Facebook. More recently, Georgia GOP Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene was temporarily silenced by Twitter.

The firebrand freshman congresswoman was suspended earlier this month for seven days for what Twitter called “misinformation” for arguing COVID-19 masks and vaccines are “failing,” as more fully vaccinated Americans are contracting the virus’s highly contagious delta strain.

Read More

U.S. Files New Complaint Against Facebook over Monopoly Concerns

The U.S. government amended its antitrust complaint against Facebook on Thursday, bolstering allegations that the tech company illegally maintained a monopoly.

The amended complaint follows the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) dismissed December 2020 complaint which failed to adequately prove the tech giant’s monopoly in the “Personal Social Networking Services” market.

The FTC alleges that Facebook illegally acquired competitors WhatsApp and Instagram in order to stifle competition, maintaining monopoly power by preventing competitors from operating on Facebook software.

Read More

Twitter Enlists Users to Flag ‘Misleading’ Tweets as Part of Misinformation Crackdown

Person holding phone up with Twitter sign up page on smart phone.

Twitter announced Tuesday it will test a feature allowing users to report tweets they believe are misleading, as the company cracks down on alleged misinformation.

Users in the U.S., South Korea, and Australia will be able to select the “It’s Misleading” option when reporting a tweet, the company announced Tuesday. The social media platform said it may not take direct action on each flagged tweet, but will use the reports to identify misinformation trends.

Twitter staff will review certain reported tweets depending on the topic or level of exposure and determine if they violate the company’s misinformation policies, a Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Read More

Facebook Threatens Legal Action Against Group Conducting Research on Algorithm Manipulations

Person looking on Facebook with trending topics

A research group that has been investigating the manipulation of algorithms by Instagram was forced to shut down its research after legal threats from Facebook, according to Breitbart.

The Germany-based group, AlgorithmWatch, was investigating how Instagram favors certain types of content over others, and thus promotes them more heavily on users’ timelines. The group had been utilizing a browser extension that specializes in collecting data from users’ Instagram feeds in order to determine certain trends.

Among other findings, AlgorithmWatch determined that Instagram, a photo-sharing website, more heavily prioritizes images that include faces rather than just text. In May, representatives from Facebook, which owns Instagram, requested a meeting with the project’s leaders; during that meeting, Facebook accused the group, without any evidence, of violating Instagram’s terms of service. They also claimed that the investigation was in violation of the European Union’s GDPR data laws, since the project was allegedly collecting user data without the consent of the users.

Read More

Bipartisan Bill Targets Apple, Google for App Store Tactics

Marsha Blackburn

Senators from both parties introduced a bill Wednesday targeting alleged anticompetitive conduct among Apple and Google app stores.

The Open App Markets Act, introduced Wednesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn along with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would prevent app stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store from requiring developers to use the tech giants’ in-app payment systems as a condition of distribution. The bill would also stop Apple and Google from taking “punitive action” against developers who offer different pricing terms in other app stores.

“This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance,” Blumenthal said in a joint statement.

Read More

Apple Will Scan All U.S. iPhones for Illegal Child Abuse Imagery, Prompting Privacy Concerns

Apple plans to scan all iPhone in the U.S. for potential child abuse imagery.

The move announced Thursday generated shock waves among security experts who say it could allow the company to surveil many millions of phones for reasons unrelated to images of child abuse.

“This sort of tool can be a boon for finding child pornography in people’s phones. But image what it could do in the hands of an authoritarian government,” tweeted Johns Hopkins professor and cryptographer Matthew Green.

Read More

Associated Press and Reuters Team Up with Twitter to Patrol Political Dissent as ‘Misinformation’

Person on phone with Twitter open

Two of the largest news publications in the country, the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters, have teamed up with one of the leading tech giants, Twitter, in a new partnership to crack down on “misinformation” and “elevate credible information,” the Daily Caller reports.

Twitter confirmed the new alliance in a blog post, saying that the two publications would be responsible for identifying “misleading” information, and to help Twitter expand its efforts to mediate trending stories, “especially where facts are in dispute.” The websites will also help Twitter staff whenever they lack “sufficient expertise or access to a high enough volume of reputable reporting.”

“This program is just part of our ongoing efforts to help people understand the conversation happening on our service,” the Twitter blog post continued. “People experience a range of public conversations on Twitter every day, and we’re committed to continuing our work to elevate credible information and context.”

Read More

University Refuses to Rehire Math Professor Who Criticized Slavery Reparations

Saint Joseph’s University will not renew its contract with math Professor Gregory Manco despite the fact that a three-month investigation into his Twitter history found he had not violated any campus policies.

Manco has been a non-tenured assistant professor of math at Saint Joseph’s since 2005 and also a volunteer assistant baseball coach, but tweets in February criticizing slavery reparations and racial bias training had prompted the probe even though he used an anonymous account.

He was put on administrative leave during the probe. Its outcome, announced in May, determined Manco could not be found guilty of violating any policies, citing “insufficient evidence.”

Read More

Twitter Bans Official Arizona Audit Account and Other Audit Accounts

Twitter permanently suspended the account of the official account of the Arizona Legislature’s audit of Maricopa County ballots, along with several other audit accounts on Tuesday. The official account, @ArizonaAudit, is offline, with a message stating it is suspended, as is a second account that appears affiliated with the audit, @AuditWarRoom. 

Four more accounts associated with audits taking place in Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia were suspended, along with some accounts that were fundraising for the audit. One was run by One America News Network’s Christina Bobb. Voices & Votes raised $150,000 for the audit. Bobb tweeted, “They are blocking the release of audit information on Twitter.”

Read More

Democrats Introduce Bill Holding Tech Companies Liable for ‘Health Misinformation’

Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Luján

Senate Democrats introduced legislation Thursday removing liability protections from online platforms that promote content deemed health misinformation.

The bill, proposed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Lujan on Thursday, seeks to carve out an exception from Section 230 liability shields enjoyed by online platforms, such as Facebook or YouTube, if those platforms boost content classified as health misinformation, Vox first reported.

The legislation, known as the Health Misinformation Act, directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a definition of health misinformation, and strips liability protections from platforms “if the provider promotes that health misinformation through an algorithm used by the provider.” HHS defined health misinformation in an advisory last week as “information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence.”

Read More

Commentary: Critical Race Enthusiasts Should Learn the Lesson of ‘Defund the Police’

Crowd of people in the streets, protesting and Black Lives Matter movement

A year ago, “defund the police” activists were having quite a time. Outlets like CNN and Vox were publishing fawning profiles. Social media sensations like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar were leading the parade. Cities like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Austin even approved partial defundings. It was a juggernaut.

Now? A tough-on-crime former cop just won the Democratic mayoral nomination in Bill de Blasio’s New York. Former President Barack Obama is warning fellow Democrats, “You lost a big audience the minute you say [‘defund the police’].” Sen. Bernie Sanders has rejected calls for “no more policing.” And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, a few weeks ago, bizarrely claimed that it was not Democrats but Republicans who wanted to defund the police (because they opposed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill).

What happened? Intoxicated by a few policy wins in deep blue cities, enthusiasm in the left-leaning Twitter echo chamber, and their viselike grip on the national media, “defund” activists overlooked one important detail: Their agenda was deeply unpopular with most Americans. A summer 2020 YouGov poll found that just 16 percent of adults wanted to cut police funding — much less “defund” the police. Indeed, 81 percent of black Americans wanted police to spend as much or more time in their communities. During a year when major American cities saw an unnerving increase in homicides, after years of declines, that reaction was not just understandable, it was wholly predictable.  

Read More

Facebook Faces Lawsuit for Suspending User Who Cited Lack of Evidence for Masking Children

Blonde child wearing hair up, holding journal and wearing a mask

An influential COVID policy skeptic is threatening to sue Facebook for suspending his account based on a graphic he posted Tuesday, titled “Masking Children is Impractical and Not Backed by Research or Real World Data.”

Justin Hart was identified in a recent MIT paper as one of a handful of “anchors” for the anti-mask network on Twitter. He’s also chief data analyst for the COVID contrarian website Rational Ground.

A warning letter to Facebook from Hart’s lawyers at the Liberty Justice Center said the graphic was “science-based and contains footnotes to scientific evidence supporting its claims.” Facebook issued him a three-day suspension the next day, citing the post as misinformation. The page remains live but the post is no longer there.

Read More

Louisiana’s Senator Kennedy Files Bill Targeting Social Media Companies That Promote Divisive Content]

Lousiana Senator John Neely Kennedy

Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has introduced a bill to limit protections for social media companies that secretly leverage user data to promote divisive content.

Kennedy, a Republican, blasted Silicon Valley behemoths such as Facebook and Twitter for “provoking” platform users and blamed the “manipulative” business practice for causing unnecessary social conflict.

“Social media giants are using people’s data to manipulate them into spending more time on their sites, but the price is a more polarized America,” Kennedy said in a statement. “It’s time to stop rewarding platforms that use their algorithms to target users with content that plays on individuals’ emotions without their consent.”

Read More

Commentary: The Battle Against Big Tech Is an Existential Fight for Conservatives

Person holding phone up in Times Square.

For Big Tech billionaires, these are the best of times, and the worst of times.

Why the best? Because the long arm of social media and online commerce has never reached further and deeper into Americans’ culture, spending habits, lifestyles, and worldview. Likewise, the net worth of these billionaires has risen to undreamed-of heights. COVID was, for tech barons, a blessing in disguise: it trapped Americans indoors, where they could do little else but browse the web, consume digital entertainment, and spend their stimulus dollars on imported Chinese doohickeys. Even as the dreaded virus has retreated, Big Tech has successfully locked in its gains.

Why the worst of times, though? The very rise of Big Tech has portended greater scrutiny. The debasement of Big Tech’s competitors and natural enemies—from brick-and-mortar stores to Trump supporters—has ensured that the drumbeat of criticism of social media companies and online retailers has never been more stridently percussive. 

Read More

YouTube Deletes Video on Trump’s Big Tech Lawsuit, Blocks His CPAC Speech from the Platform

YouTube deleted the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) video featuring former President Trump announcing his class-action lawsuit against Big Tech, citing an alleged violation of its COVID-19 terms and conditions.

The ACU, which hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), received “a strike” on their account from YouTube on July 9, preventing them from uploading new content for a week. This includes ACU’s CPAC 2021 Part 2 in Dallas, Texas, and Trump’s CPAC speech scheduled for Sunday, the organization said in a statement.

In the deleted YouTube video of Trump’s announcement of a lawsuit against Big Tech, which includes Google, he also cited a medical study on hydroxychloroquine as a therapeutic for COVID-19.

Read More

Business Insider Compiles Database to Track Former Trump Officials

President Donald Trump meets with (from left) U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price; Vice President Mike Pence; Speaker of the House Paul Ryan; Dr. Zeke Emanuel; and Andrew Bremberg, Dir. Domestic Policy Council, Monday, March 20, 2017, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)

A Business Insider list of former President Donald Trump’s officials tracks where these figures are working since departing the administration, warning that like Trump, these former staffers are “nowhere close to being gone.”

Insider said it combed through the interviews, LinkedIn profiles, and public records of over 327 former Trump staffers and compiled a searchable database “to show where they all landed.”

The publication noted that almost 100 former staffers have obtained “establishment” jobs, that over 40 of these former Trump officials still work in the government or in politics, and that at least 85 have gone “off the grid with no information available about their next move.”

Read More

Amazon Demands Recusal of Federal Trade Commission Chair from Any Antitrust Investigations

Federal Trade Commission

Tech giant Amazon recently demanded that the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission be recused from any antitrust investigations into the company, according to the Daily Caller.

Amazon filed the petition with the FTC on Wednesday, accusing Chairwoman Lina Khan of being biased due to the fact that she “has, on numerous occasions, argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up.” The petition continued by declaring that “these statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.”

The FTC is already conducting several antitrust investigations, including against Amazon; their most recent efforts are focusing on Amazon’s possible acquisition of the film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), a purchase of nearly $9 billion announced last month.

Read More

Facebook Is Spamming Conservative Users With Messages About a Support Group for ‘Extremists’

Facebook users are expressing shock and dismay after being spammed with messages touting a support group for people concerned about “extremists.”

“Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?” the message begins. “We care about preventing extremism on Facebook. Others in your situation have received confidential support,” the message continues.

The Facebook message goes on to suggest that “you can help” by joining their support group. “Hear stories and get help from people who have escaped violent extremist groups,” the message concludes.

Read More

Google ‘Diversity Head’ Posted Anti-Semitic Comments, Will Stay with Company

Phone with Google search engine on screen

Google announced that it will remove its global lead for diversity strategy and research, Kamau Bobb, after a 2007 blog post in which he’d made antisemitic comments surfaced, Fox News reported.  Bobb will be reassigned to a STEM research role.

The reassignment comes after revelations that Bobb had previously authored a blog post that contained antisemitic statements.

In a 2007 blog post by Bobb titled “If I Were a Jew,” he wrote that Jewish people had an “insensitivity” to suffering and stated “If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself.” The post has since been removed, but is recorded here.

Read More