Laura Loomer

Twitter’s Looming Censorship Problem

Laura LoomerThe way some Silicon Valley giants have behaved of late leads me to wonder whether they’re spectacularly short sighted, or whether they’re so convinced of their own invulnerability that they believe they can act with impunity and never be challenged. Their politically driven editorialising must surely stem from either hubris or foolishness.

Social media and its fellow travellers have a long and well documented history of highly partisan political interference which doesn’t need to be regurgitated here. However, something’s just happened which has left the tech titans in a very precarious position.

Last night, conservative campaigner Laura Loomer won the Republican nomination for Florida’s 21st Congressional District. In fact, she won just over of 40% of votes cast, which is a remarkable achievement considering that she’s been handed indefinite bans by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as being blacklisted by PayPal and GoFundMe. Despite this serious communication and fundraising handicap, she’s managed to amass way over half a million followers on Parler and the backing of one of the United States’ biggest political parties.

Now that Laura Loomer is an official, bona fide political candidate, will Twitter, Facebook and the rest let her speak freely?

In fairness, I’m not the only one asking that question, but I’m actually surprised that more people aren’t making a fuss about this in the blogosphere. Oh wait a minute; Laura Loomer is Jewish and critical of Islam…so of course I’m not surprised.

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Donald Trump

Did Twitter Just Re-elect Trump?

Donald TrumpIt’s finally happened.

President Trump has finally issued the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. This hasn’t come a moment too soon and by the looks of this very detailed document, Trump’s had it ready in his desk for some time. All he had to do was wait patiently for someone to cock up massively like Twitter just did.

At this early stage it’s not clear whether the social media giants will respond by feigning shock and ignorance, loudly protesting their innocence or just carrying on like nothing’s actually happened. None of those responses would surprise me but if I had to guess, I’d say they’ll just carry on, while maybe announcing some kind of internal review which is far too little and way too late. Nobody would believe the findings of such an enquiry anyway. Not now.

Whilst this isn’t an actual change in the law, the executive order does explicitly state what everyone in the world, and his dog, has known for many years; namely that the tech giants have been wantonly abusing Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act with impunity for decades. Worse than that, they’ve been using the legal protections of Section 230(c) to censor law abiding platform users for no good reason other than their will to dominate discourse and control information.

“Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.”

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Alien balloons

Conspiracy Theories are a Product of Freedom

Alien balloonsAt first reading, Instagram’s decision to slap a “false information” label on Jelena Djokovic’s post sharing a 5G coronavirus conspiracy video seems eminently sensible and responsible. After all, the news media is awash with stories of people attacking 5G masts and in some instances even threatening engineers in the belief that there’s some connection between the new communications system and the spread of the coronavirus.

At present there is no credible reason to think that any causal connection exists between a high-frequency communications system and a novel virus variant that attacks the respiratory systems of its victims. I for one am not expecting any such information to emerge any time soon.

Be that as it may, Instagram have made a big mistake in this instance and it’s a decision they will one day come to regret. The social media giants have been under increasing scrutiny over the past couple of years, especially when it comes to their arbitrary and politically motivated decisions to suppress some users while allowing others to continue using their platforms. Facebook has already tied itself in knots trying to explain its decision to remove completely legal posts by some users and not others; and the US Senate is starting to take the matter of online censorship much more seriously.

By deciding to effectively pass a value judgement on Jelena Djokovic’s personal opinion, Instagram has followed Facebook’s lead and started to assume the role of an editor as opposed to that of a neutral platform.

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Protest banner

Why this Statue’s Fall should Concern us all

Protest bannerFollowing the bloody events in Charlottesville over the weekend, the Durham (North Carolina) branch of the Workers World Party (WWP) held a rally of solidarity in support of those “anti-fascist” protesters who clashed with Unite the Right marchers on that tragic day.

The WWP website reports that there were over 100 protesters present at this solidarity rally, during which a statue dedicated to the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War was pulled off its plinth and onto the ground. Video of the incident was uploaded to the internet and has since become worldwide news, clocking up well in excess of 100,000 views.

To the credit of local law enforcement, one of the main instigators of this illegal act has since been arrested and charged with various offences such as incitement to riot and damage to property.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the merits of Confederacy monuments, the County Sheriff’s office were absolutely right to take action against the main instigator of this event, WWP member Takiya Fatima Thompson. She remains predictably unrepentant, and she has amassed an army of online cheerleaders to help fight her cause.

This glaring example of highly selective and conditional support for the rule of law is indicative of a growing and disturbing trend within Western civilisation generally and the US in particular.

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