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James Frayne: The BBC’s growing problem isn’t public hostility. It’s apathy. Fewer people see the point of it.

James Frayne is Director of Public First and author of Meet the People, a guide to moving public opinion.

My first focus group was in Watford in 2000. In those days, virtually every other group seemed to take place there. Partly because it was seen as a bell weather seat. But also because it was the nearest vaguely normal place to London that could be reached in an evening.

In those days, people were stuffed full of sandwiches and crisps, beer and wine – unlike now when it’s generally more austere. And every focus group tended to begin with the same ice-breaker: tell us where you get your news from.

The news question provoked a bunch of different answers, depending on the make-up of the group or its location. Older people read the Daily Mail, working class people read The Sun or sometimes the The Daily Mirror, middle class people read The Times or The Daily Telegraph – and yes teachers read The Guardian. Most people in the Midlands and North read a local paper.

But everyone – almost without exception – relied primarily on the BBC1 nightly news bulletins for their daily news. And most supplemented this by dipping into other BBC news sources such as Today, Newsnight or On the Record (the main Sunday interview show, as it then was). For the English, the BBC was ubiquitous.

Over the years that followed, I was often asked to test public trust in the corporation – usually for campaigns that complained bitterly about the BBC’s attitudes towards their cause – on everything from Europe to economic policy. These campaigns hoped that people would share their concerns about BBC bias.

They never did; people almost always said they trusted BBC News in absolute terms, and relatively far more than most political parties and campaigns. Trying to make people question BBC News’ values and motives was a pointless exercise.

It was always hard to say, but the trust the public had in BBC News seemed partly to derive from their wider trust and affection for the BBC as a whole. When you asked people what they thought was so good about the BBC, they generally said wildlife and factual programmes, local programmes (including news) and the fact that there were no ads. Some would talk about the blockbuster shows like Only Fools & Horses. The BBC was interwoven through the lives of ordinary working class and lower middle class life.

Broadly speaking, in my experience, I’d say this was the reality consistently until a couple of years ago. Now, when you ask where people get their news from, it’s almost always Facebook and other social media channels – in turn, directing them to an array of sites (by no means usually the BBC).

Hardly anyone says they make time to watch the main BBC1 news bulletins, and fewer and fewer people say they watch or listen to the main news analysis shows. Furthermore, when you ask people about the shows they watch, they generally reply with an answer about the platform, not the shows themselves. So, they’ll say “Netflix” or “Amazon Prime” or whatever. They never say they “put the telly on” like they did even a decade ago.

Again, in my experience, I have not found that trust has fallen per se – although post the referendum and two brutal election campaigns, there is now a larger minority of people who moan about “BBC bias”. But “trust” has become become less relevant people as the BBC has become less relevant.

By that I mean that they don’t view trust as a negating factor in their views on the decreasing relevance of the institution. This is the big problem that the BBC has: it could always fall back on the trust argument, even as it was getting a kicking from usually right-leaning activists about its output. Now, trust doesn’t cut it because, increasingly, people are saying “so what?”

They’re increasingly saying “so what?” about everything regarding the BBC. When so many people are forking out for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Sky and other niche content on their phones and tablets, more people (but not all, see below) are starting to view the BBC as “just another service” that’s competing for their attention. In my experience, this is particularly true amongst younger audiences – they just don’t see the point of it, and they don’t even share the nostalgia to “better times”.

This is my experience from the focus groups, but what of the polling? The polling bears this out to a significant extent. My agency Public First polled directly on the question as to whether the licence fee should exist, which got a bit of attention at Christmas.

It showed a clear majority overall favouring its abolition – by 74 per cent to 14 per cent overall – and this was true across all the key demographics. And the poll also showed that people favour decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee.

But it also showed that people were unsure about how the BBC should be funded in the future. Younger people were quite positive about the idea of the BBC being funded like Netflix, through subscriptions, but older people were hostile. More people liked the idea, they said, of the BBC being funded commercially, like ITV. Interestingly, the poll also showed that more people disagreed that the BBC was “neutral”, than agreed with it. Either way, the lesson is clear: very few people support the status quo.

The BBC’s perfectly reasonable pushback to this poll was that it didn’t give sufficient context – that it didn’t present enough alternatives, essentially. Their view is that the BBC always looks better when people are confronted with the alternatives or with the prospect of no BBC at all.

We had never intended this to be any sort of detailed look at public attitudes to the BBC; we ran it because one of our staff was being interviewed about the future of the BBC, and we wanted to have something to say about it. But the problem with the BBC’s pushback is that it almost acknowledges that the status quo is, at best, just the least worst option. They seem to be waiting for the future to make them entirely irrelevant.

So what does all this mean for Number Ten’s future combat with the BBC? My sense is that the BBC is extremely vulnerable to massive change if Downing Street simply and narrowly questions whether its relevance to people’s lives justifies the licence fee. This is where people are. On the other hand, if Number Ten tries to turn change into an ideological battle, it would leave most people cold but probably light up metropolitan lefties in ways that would be problematic.

Which takes us back to the BBC. As I note above, the it was interwoven in the lives of the English working class and lower middle class. This is no longer true – practically or culturally – and the Corporation will struggle to mobilise these people.

All the BBC has probably got left is the hope that at some point the public will view this Government as “just another set of politicians” who mess everything up. And of course the Corporation should seek to mobilise metropolitan lefties who aren’t terribly influential in Number Ten’s thinking. You have to start somewhere. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Matt Kilcoyne: Giving Ofcom power over the internet will hurt the Conservatives

Matt Kilcoyne is Head Of Communications at the Adam Smith Institute.

The plan announced yesterday to give Ofcom the power to censor the internet will hurt Conservatives: it will mean woke bureaucrats censoring Tory activists, undermining entrepreneurs, and threatening our free press.

Terrorist activity and child pornography are universally recognised as unacceptable both online and offline. These are already illegal, prosecutable, and must be removed from websites.

Nicky Morgan’s last act would empower Ofcom to address material that “is not illegal but has the potential to cause harm.” This is dangerous and should be either dropped entirely or rethought thoroughly by her successor. Ofcom must never be allowed to become a state censor.

Free speech is under threat from Civil Service work that doesn’t understand the Tory legacy of liberty. The powers that are going to be granted to this unelected and unaccountable body will endanger our status as a free democracy. It will further entrench the power of the tech giants, and shut out challengers who are trying to create the next generation of British tech businesses.

The Conservative Party also needs the activists who fight the good fight. They are the ones who challenge an agenda that belittles voters. They are the ones who remind people that they are not alone in having concerns about the European Union and Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist policies.

Conservatives need the rest of the voting public too. Do not underestimate just how sick, tired, and fed up and angry people are up and down the country of being told what to think. They don’t care about what is deemed ‘problematic’ or not. They don’t deserve to be talked down to just because they have different opinions than the ones heard spouted with righteous authority in the gilded corridors that we all have the privilege to walk down in Westminster.

The documents released yesterday reveal that civil servants are trying to hide their real intentions. Don’t be fooled. The ‘Online Harms’ model will require Ofcom to enforce a ‘duty of care’ and require companies to remove broad swaths of legal and illegal speech.

It’s true that the Government won’t individually remove posts. They will require tech companies to have policies that require such removal on a blanket basis. A civil servant has called this having “wider systems and processes”. Ofcom won’t need an army of censors: they will require tech companies to censor their users, or be fined or face being shut down.

If you remember, there were a few mad months last year when Theresa May decided to try and postpone Brexit again and at the same time block porn and require age verification. The Tories then got eight per cent in an election.

Well, we’ve all got Brexit done, but under yesterday’s announcement the latter proposal is back, but with requirements to age verify practically every single major website. You may need to buy a pass, enter your credit card or passport, or even scan your face to view adult versions of YouTube, Facebook or Twitter — to see a version of the internet that hasn’t been scrubbed of anything that a latter-day Mary Whitehouse of Whitehall has rubber stamped.

That’s a gift to scammers and a lovely bung to companies running age verification schemes (they’re the ones that last month said they would sue the Government because they weren’t going ahead with the porn laws).

In a free country with free and fair elections, where power transfers from one party to another, you have an incentive to keep the competition as fair as possible. Don’t give powers to yourself that you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to have.

A future Corbynista government with a state censor is not just a theoretical risk but a plausible one if this goes ahead. Public campaigns on certain issues will be shot to pieces. Right now it’s just swarms of angry people online shouting ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ that shut down debate. In future there could be a public official requiring tech companies remove ‘hate speech’, such as saying that there is such a thing as illegal immigration or that young white men growing up on council estates are not privileged just because of the colour of their skin.

Just as they’ve shut down the Labour Party and anyone that challenges the mission of comrade Corbyn, so they could castigate – with the full power of the state – anyone that criticises the socialist revolution if they ever come to power.

This is meant to be a government of the people’s priorities. There is no clamour for a state censor living in a London-based left-wing bubble. Certainly, a fair few readers will think we already have one of those in the BBC.

In the end it is tech giants, that are supposedly being targeted, who will benefit. Every piece of legislation you put in the way of a start-up entrenches the big guys’ power. They have the cash to comply and they’re happy to see new competitors wiped out before they can even get going. They’ll have been invited into DCMS to see the legislation as it’s made and had a hand in its creation.

That’s why Facebook has broadly welcomed new online regulations. Is it really the role of the Conservative Party to ensure that Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice-President, gets his bonus for creating barriers to entry for emerging competitors?

This law is badly thought through by a Secretary of State that’s now left cabinet. Time for this plan to censor the internet to go with her.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hamish McFall: Downing Street would be misguided to rely on Social Media to get across its message

Hamish McFall is a public relations and marketing consultant, and is a former Parliamentary candidate.

Andrew Gimson, Boswell for our new Johnson, has written about Number 10’s attitude towards the Lobby. How many of our supporters would understand that opening sentence? I am not being patronising, like Remoaners were, about people being too “thick” to understand the issues. I am, however, trying to draw attention to the fact that people in the Westminster bubble use terms and language that has no resonance with the vast majority of the Electorate.

I am lucky enough to live in a constituency where 33,346 people voted Conservative at the last General Election. I doubt that more than 3,000 of them were influenced by “Social Media”. Number 10 and others within the Party seem to think that getting the message only to those that engage with Social Media is both necessary and sufficient. If you conducted an internet poll then you would probably be able to confirm the interest of the self-selecting audience. This, of course, misses the point that most people are not engaged with Social Media.

You will most likely only be able to read this article if you are online. You are therefore part of the Silo mentality that rules how we get news. The Internet is a marvellous thing but that doesn’t mean that anything that happens on the internet is good. Just because a method of communication is available, for example, Facebook or Twitter, doesn’t mean that you have to use it. Journalists employed by the BBC should be spending their time on the day job. Why do people like Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg constantly tweet? They are both excellent journalists who have plenty of air-time. Why do they feel it necessary to bombard us with their Tweet views? Alastair Stewart might agree that it would be better if broadcast journalists restrained from tweeting.

The danger of the Internet, Twitter and Facebook, is that people within the Silo are just talking to themselves and other like-minded people. At the same time, they think that they are talking to the whole universe.

I would bet a large amount of money that the majority of Conservative voters, and indeed all voters, would have liked to see and hear the message from the Prime Minister on Brexit night. The church bells rang in my local church and people let off fireworks but neither the BBC nor ITN broadcast a word from the Prime Minister. Number 10 thought that they were being terribly clever by releasing the statement on-line. They don’t realise that 95 per cent of the population lives outside the Westminster bubble. We don’t engage in social media. Why should we? If we wanted to do so it would be difficult. We have slow Broadband connections. Downloading a video of the Prime Minister’s speech would be time-consuming and why should we have to do so when a national broadcaster could and should do it for us.

The essential point about all political communications is the message. It is not about the media. The current trend of thinking that Social Media is the most important thing ignores the fact that anyone over the age of 65 is unlikely to engage in the sort of minute by minute Love island social media that its exponents promote.

We have a great opportunity to make a real difference for all of the United Kingdom. Let’s not pretend that London-centric social media is the answer.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Squad Member Ayanna Pressley Discovers Economics and Other Adventures From the Facebook Cryptocurrency Hearing

Westlake Legal Group AP_18019789501804-620x439 Squad Member Ayanna Pressley Discovers Economics and Other Adventures From the Facebook Cryptocurrency Hearing Social Media Politics Maxine Waters Massachusetts Mark Zuckerberg Libra Illinois Front Page Stories Featured Story facebook douchebaggery democrats cryptocurrency Congress California Ayanna Pressley Allow Media Exception Al Green

File-This Nov. 9, 2017, file photo shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meeting with a group of entrepreneurs and innovators during a round-table discussion at Cortex Innovation Community technology hub in St. Louis. Facebook is announcing its second major tweak to its algorithm this month, saying it will prioritize news based on users’ votes. The company said in a blog post and Facebook post from Zuckerberg Friday, jan. 19, 2018, that it will survey users about how familiar they are with a news source and if they trust it. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Yesterday’s hearing on Capitol Hill before the House Committee on Financial Services, was supposed to focus on Libra, a cryptocurrency Facebook is trying to develop. The members had a lot of concerns and rightfully so. The monopoly on the use of deadly force and the monopoly on currency are two things which nearly define the existence of a nation. Give up either and you probably deserve what happens next. But, as happens so often in Nancy Pelosi’s House, a substantive hearing was rapidly turned into something farcical by the lackwits in the Democrat caucus.

The Squad member, Ayanna Pressley probably won the internet for the observation that cryptocurrency isn’t of much use to people with no money.

“This is not about authentication,” she told Zuckerberg. “This is not about banking costs. This is about a tsunami of hurt that millions are experiencing because of a $1.6 trillion student debt crisis, because of rising health care costs and people having to use GoFundMe pages to pay medical bills. This is because of the racial and gender wealth gap.”

Pressley, who often says the “people closest to the pain should be closest to the power,” added that Zuckerberg “represent[s] the power, but I don’t think you understand the pain.”

“There’s underbanking because people are broke,” she said.

Pressley then moved on to ask if Libra would be free to users. Zuckerberg said that was the intention of the initiative, though it is still far from being established.

“So there is no fee?” Pressley asked.

“Congresswoman, that’s the goal, is to make it so that —” Zuckerberg said, as Pressley repeated the question.

“Congresswoman, the goal is to make it —” he began.

“Moving on,” Pressley cut him off.

During her questioning of Marcus over the summer, Pressley made the point that even without fees there would be inherent costs to using Libra, such as needing a smart phone and the fact that, unlike savings accounts, the money stored on the platform would not earn interest.

“If it costs money to buy Libra and cost money to use the Libra money, I fail to see how this helps people with virtually no money,” she told Zuckerberg. “You are attempting to use technology to solve what is inherently an issue of wealth.”

Know what else isn’t of any use to you if you don’t have money? Food. Clothing. Shelter.

Maxine Waters was drumming up business for whatever race hustlers are still in the business (truth be told, I keep expecting Jesse Jackson to come out as a trans-sexual lesbian and kick off another professional shakedown organization like Rainbow-PUSH.

And Al Green got into the crazy-pants act demanding to know how many sexual deviants of various stripes Facebook employed. Zuckerberg should have just answered “a sh**load” and let it go, but then we wouldn’t have this comedy classic.

Are there any members of the LGBTQ+ community associated with this association, Mr. Zuckerberg?

Presumably white, male cryptocurrency works differently from other kinds.

There is a silver lining here. The left has convinced itself that Facebook is a conservative platform because a lot of conservative media use Facebook. The hostility Zuckerberg faced was based on this misconception that because Zuckerberg is at least trying to rein in the Social Justice Warriors that he employs that he is some kind of closeted Proud Boy or something.

Expect to see more of this in the future. Facebook is going to get more interest in Congress as the election gets closer and these assclowns are not going to get even a little bit smarter.

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The post Squad Member Ayanna Pressley Discovers Economics and Other Adventures From the Facebook Cryptocurrency Hearing appeared first on RedState.

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AOC to Zuckerberg: Could I pay for ads on Facebook saying Republicans voted for the Green New Deal?

Westlake Legal Group AOC-Zuckerberg AOC to Zuckerberg: Could I pay for ads on Facebook saying Republicans voted for the Green New Deal? The Blog Mark Zuckerberg Free Speech facebook Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had five minutes to question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today and she did her best to create a gotcha moment but ultimately just came off like a snotty socialist looking to silence other people’s speech. We’ll get back to AOC in a moment but first some backstory. Earlier this month, Zuckerberg gave a speech at Georgetown University in which he said he had considered banning political ads from Facebook but decided to err on the side of free speech:

“From a business perspective the controversy is not worth the very small part of the business that they make up.”

Zuckerberg said that there are issues with political ads no matter how Facebook handles the matter.

“I believe that when its not absolutely clear what to do, we should err on the side of greater expression,” Zuckerberg said.

One problem with banning political ads is that it is not clear where Facebook would have to draw the line, Zuckerberg said.

“There are many more ads about issues than there ads about elections. Do we ban ads about healthcare, immigration or women’s empowerment?” he said. “If you’re not going to ban those, does it really make sense to give everyone else a voice in political debates except for the candidates themselves?”

That all sounds pretty nuanced and rational but even before Zuckerberg’s speech, he was being accused of making a backroom deal with President Trump to allow disingenuous ads to remain on the site. Elizabeth Warren got that ball just over two weeks ago. Here’s how Vox described her unsupported allegations:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused Facebook on Monday of emboldening Donald Trump, even suggesting that the social media company’s leadership struck some deal with Trump behind closed doors that explains why he is allowed to promote misleading ads on its platform.

The ascendant Democratic candidate laid out her argument in a series of tweets on Monday without supplying any concrete evidence for her claim that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had bent to Trump’s wishes after the pair met in Washington two weeks ago. Warren’s implication came as Zuckerberg and Warren are increasingly sniping at one another, both in public and in leaked audio from an internal Facebook meeting earlier this summer, during which Zuckerberg referred to a potential Warren presidency as an “existential” threat to his company.

So to sum up, Zuckerberg warned that, as president, Elizabeth Warren would be a threat to the existence of Facebook (which is true). Warren responded about a week later by suggesting Zuckerberg had made a backroom deal with Trump (which isn’t true). Zuckerberg clarified that the ad policy, which hasn’t changed, is to allow for maximum free expression. Rather than having Facebook make judgments about individual ads or simply removing all political ads, others are free to judge the truth of those ads.

Now we get back to AOC who wants to mine this well-worn territory for all it’s worth.

“You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future,” AOC claimed. She continued, “So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year. Under your policy, using census data as well, could I pay to target predominantly black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date?”

“No, congresswoman, you couldn’t,” Zuckerberg replied. He explained that threats of imminent violence or attempts at voter suppression would be removed from the site. AOC then came up with another hypothetical. Here’s the transcript from Vox:

Ocasio-Cortez: Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal? I mean, if you’re not fact-checking political advertisements, I’m just trying to understand the bounds here, what’s fair game.

Zuckerberg: Congresswoman, I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head, I think probably.

Ocasio-Cortez: You don’t know if I’ll be able to do that.

Zuckerberg: I think probably.

Ocasio-Cortez: Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?

Zuckerberg: Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie in it, that would be bad. That’s different from it being … in our position, the right thing to do to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied.

She’s doing her best to make this sound outrageous and complex but it really isn’t very difficult to understand. “In most cases in a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves,” Zuckerberg said.

So for instance, if some congresswoman wants to compare American border detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps on social media, she can do that. The result will be a lot of people who are experts telling her she shouldn’t make that comparison. But the point is, Facebook (or Twitter) is not going to remove her speech even if it’s incendiary and misleading.

Speaking of false claims, near the end of this clip AOC asks this leading question: “In your ongoing dinner parties with far-right figures, some of who advance the conspiracy theory that white supremacy is a joke, did you discuss so-called media bias against conservatives?” According to Townhall’s Guy Benson who was at one of those dinners, no such discussion took place.

Should Twitter remove all copies of this video of AOC on the grounds that it contains false statements? I would say no, but I wonder if AOC sees how this policy she’s suggesting could quickly be turned against her?

The post AOC to Zuckerberg: Could I pay for ads on Facebook saying Republicans voted for the Green New Deal? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Maxine Waters Just Proved Democrats Want Facebook to Be Their Propaganda Arm

Westlake Legal Group MaxineWatersAPimage-620x317 Maxine Waters Just Proved Democrats Want Facebook to Be Their Propaganda Arm twitter Social Media Regulation Propoganda Politics News Media Maxine Waters Mark Zuckerberg Internet Front Page Stories facebook democrats Allow Media Exception

House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., asks a question of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton, during a committee hearing, Tuesday Sept. 24, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

If you really want to know what the end game is for Democrats, I’ve always found that listening to California Rep. Maxine Waters grill someone during a congressional hearing is a good way to find out. This is the same Waters that told an oil and gas CEO that the end goal was for the government to take over their companies, after all.

In the case of the hearing featuring CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, we learned a few things. For instance, we know that Democrats don’t know what the purpose of a social media network is, but we also know what they want it to be.

Waters was asking Zuckerberg about what kind of fact-checking Facebook does when it comes to political ads. The social media CEO told Waters that they do no fact-checking themselves, and find it important to allow politicians to display their ads because they believe it is important for politicians to be heard plainly.

Waters continuously interrupted, seeming to drive the point home that Facebook does no fact-checking itself. Zuckerberg kept attempting to explain that it does occur thanks to third-party fact-checkers that activate whenever a post is flagged by the Facebook community, or by its technical systems.

Waters didn’t seem to be interested in the answers Zuckerberg was giving and cut him off to say that her time had expired.

What can this tell us?

We know that Democrats view the mainstream media as their territory, and mainstream media tends to agree. Much of what we see from major news networks tend to look more like propaganda than actual news, with an ever-present slant constantly giving the left the high ground.

It’s why ABC News attempted to pass an event at a gun range in Kentucky off as Turkey attacking Kurds in Syria after Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. military out of the region. It’s why they’ll breathlessly report on the heinous racism of a smirking high school student wearing a MAGA hat without looking for any more details.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are some of the most highly trafficked websites in the world, with a constant stream of news and opinion floating through it thanks to its users. Left alone, this could be really bad news for Democrats, who rely on throwing out talking points in a vacuum for a narrative to thrive.

It would behoove people like Waters to ask questions that create a narrative about the nature of Facebook itself. They need to paint it as unreliable and dangerous to the public. This, in turn, does one of two things. It makes people wary of anything they may see on the platform that runs counter to their narrative, and it also sets up the possibility for government regulation with public support.

The end goal is simple. Make Facebook a publisher and not a platform. If they can do that, they can likely make a social media company another propaganda arm.

Judging by the amount of censorship, blacklisting, shadow banning, and punishing that we know occurs on social media platforms against right-leaning people already, they pretty much are publishers already. But it’s much more lucrative and less dicey for Facebook to claim platform status than admit they’re a publisher already. It results in less government oversite and intervention.

Waters wants that intervention. She and the Democrats want to drag Facebook under the control of the state so that they can then decide what is and isn’t proper conduct when it comes to news dissemination. Like she admitted to the oil companies, Waters’s goal is to have the government run the show.

The post Maxine Waters Just Proved Democrats Want Facebook to Be Their Propaganda Arm appeared first on RedState.

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The Left’s Reaction to Mark Zuckerberg’s Comments on Political Speech Shows Their True Agenda Is to Silence Their Opponents

Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was scheduled to give a speech on the future of free speech and free expression at Georgetown University. It was an interesting speech from a number of points of view.

He outlines some of the threats faced by free speech and expression on the internet. While he deserves credit for doing what Google will not do, that is, refuse to cooperate with the Chinese government in developing tools to enforce political conformity on a large population, he backhandedly admits that his own company has a huge issue with free speech and imagines that it has a role as a gatekeeper to keep free speech with acceptable boundaries.

(Read the whole speech)

To me, the contrast between Zuckerberg’s professed respect for free speech and the way Facebook actually operates is simply not reconcilable. In fact, Zuckerberg’s idea of free speech policed by a regime of contracted and highly partisan fact checkers enforcing ambiguous “hate speech” rules is clearly out of Noam Chomsky’s playbook (The Common Good, pg. 43):

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

That is exactly what has been created. While Zuckerberg may have refused to be co-opted by the Chinese, he has created his very own little fascist empire in which there is free speech so long as you agree with the worldview and opinions of the vicious corps of SJW net-nannies that he has chosen to employ. The way the pro-life group Live Action was squashed because Facebook allowed pro-aborts to classify videos as having false information when they were true (there is literally no medical reason for an abortion) but strayed outside the pro-abort orthodoxy required by Facebook shows just how meaningless Zuckerberg’s statements are if they are not read through the lens of Chomsky.

I’ve made no secret of my hope that a brigade of vicious spiteful anti-trust lawyers who are compensated solely on the basis of the damage they inflict shows up at Facebook headquarters with a SWAT team and a 18-wheeler load of subpoenas and blank, signed arrest warrants. So I was taken a bit aback when the major criticism of Zuckerberg came from the left, the people who are net beneficiaries of his scheme.

Oddly enough, of all the problematic concepts that he touts as smoothly as any NewSpeak speech by Big Brother, the one that got the hormones flowing on the left was this:

We recently clarified our policies to ensure people can see primary source speech from political figures that shapes civic discourse. Political advertising is more transparent on Facebook than anywhere else — we keep all political and issue ads in an archive so everyone can scrutinize them, and no TV or print does that. We don’t fact-check political ads. We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. And if content is newsworthy, we also won’t take it down even if it would otherwise conflict with many of our standards.

I know many people disagree, but, in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy. And we’re not an outlier here. The other major internet platforms and the vast majority of media also run these same ads.

This apparently is a new development because in 2018, Facebook censored campaign videos by Elizabeth Heng which referred to her family’s escape from the kind of repressive dictatorship the Democrats are well on their way to establishing in California, see Facebook Blocks Republican Candidate Ad For Daring To Show Horrors Of Communism.

For instance, this is some of the criticism:

In a way this is a stunning level of dumbf***ery. Federal law currently makes it illegal for a broadcast station to alter or censor (that word, ‘censor,’ is in the law, so you libertarians who keep claiming that private business can’t censor, take a seat and be quiet) any ad by a political candidate. So long as the speech in the candidate ad is not illegal, per se, it is required to be run. The very idea that Facebook ever had any authority to police candidate ads is simply balderdash and it is quite an indictment of Department of Justice that they sat idly by and let this go on. The idea that any society, much less an ostensibly free one, should tolerate a corporation with a track record of lying to the public and constructing extremely opaque practices to punish WrongThink to control the speech of candidates for election in abhorrent.

It also gives away the real game. The fascists of the totalitarian left have given up on trying to convince people based on arguments, now they are going straight on to silencing ideas they can’t stand. Even Zuckerberg recognizes this impulse.

Increasingly, we’re seeing people try to define more speech as dangerous because it may lead to political outcomes they see as unacceptable. Some hold the view that since the stakes are so high, they can no longer trust their fellow citizens with the power to communicate and decide what to believe for themselves.

Make no mistake about it, I think that at its core, Facebook is at least as hostile to American values as China but in a different way. I also think the sooner the federal government acts to demolish Facebook the safer our freedoms will be. I also think that Zuckerberg’s change of direction on federal candidate ads is driven by fear of federal government action rather than his love of free speech because I think he’s as much of a SJW as any that he employs. As they say, a fish rots from the head down. What is illustrative about this is that the left is actually showing its true colors. It holds free speech and freedom of religion at least in as much disdain as it does the Second Amendment and the Electoral College and any other part of the Constitution that restricts their ability to impose their worldview on the rest of us.

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Mark Zuckerberg Is Meeting In Secret With Conservatives Discussing Free Speech

Westlake Legal Group AP_18100671669782-300x184 Mark Zuckerberg Is Meeting In Secret With Conservatives Discussing Free Speech white house washington D.C. warren Social Media progressives President Trump Media Mainstream Media Front Page Stories facebook Elizabeth Warren donald trump democrats Cybersecurity Culture & Faith Courts Cory Booker Conservatives Congress California Bipartisanship Allow Media Exception 2019

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Well, what do you know?

Seems that CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has been sitting down in secret with conservative pundits, writers and even a congressperson as of late. Maybe he realizes that Elizabeth Warren and her merry bunch of zealots are worse than dealing with people he opposes politically.

According to Politico this has been going on for a short time…

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to discuss issues like free speech and discuss partnerships.

The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged “bias” against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies. “I’m under no illusions that he’s a conservative but I think he does care about some of our concerns,” said one person familiar with the gatherings, which multiple sources have confirmed.

Some of the people who have been rumored to have attended the meetings are Mary Katharine Ham, Ben Shapiro, Matt Continetti, Guy Benson, and Brent Bozell. Byron York confirmed he attended one of the dinners but refused to discuss what was talked about.

The article does say that this outreach was to try and ease some of the fears of those that might have some influence with the Trump administration in the hope to quiet some of the saber-rattling.

Trump is not your problem Mark.

Elizabeth Warren is on the warpath (PUN FULLY INTENDED) and she is coming for your monopoly buddy.

This is a classic example of liberals wanting to claim the higher ground while shutting down any discussion of any ground under the rules of feelings being hurt. Zuckerberg is part of this mindset no matter how many dinners he holds to try a charm offensive and act otherwise.

All you have to do is treat both sides equally.

In this case, what that means is to let the words fly. Don’t referee to any side and you will not have any issue. The notion that Facebook has been treating all sides fairly is ludicrous. Just go and google how many grievances people that are “right” leaning have been banned as opposed to “left” leaning. The complaints are numerous on the right. If you think the left doesn’t like to complain when they get axed I have a bridge to sell you in Chappaquiddick.

Hopefully, these meetings do show Mark that conservatives are not that scary and these concerns should be dealt with going from the top down.

Otherwise, you will have to deal with Elizabeth Warren and no one rational wants to do that.

Check out my other posts here on Red State and my podcast Bourbon On The Rocks plus like Bourbon On The Rocks on Facebook and follow me on the twitters at IRISHDUKE2 

The post Mark Zuckerberg Is Meeting In Secret With Conservatives Discussing Free Speech appeared first on RedState.

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Why Are the Same People Irate About the NBA’s Hong Kong Stance Silent About the Same Thing Happening to Americans

Westlake Legal Group hong-kong-protesters-620x317 Why Are the Same People Irate About the NBA’s Hong Kong Stance Silent About the Same Thing Happening to Americans twitter Pro-Life Politics North Carolina NBA Hong Kong Google Front Page Stories Featured Story facebook Conservatives Censorship Business & Economy bathroom bill Allow Media Exception

A protester waves a U.S. flag as hundreds of protesters gather outside Kwai Chung police station in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Protesters clashed with police again in Hong Kong on Tuesday night after reports that some of their detained colleagues would be charged with the relatively serious charge of rioting. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

The outrage du jour is over the NBA and a gaming company, Blizzard Entertainment, following the old adage of “money talks and bullsh** walks” and forbidding players or, in the case of the NBA, fans from making any overt gesture of support for the demonstrators in Hong Kong.

I don’t have a particular dog in the geopolitical part of this argument. Hong Kong, since the Brits pulled out in 1997, has been part of Communist China. They may not like it, but there it is and the odds of Beijing just letting it go approaches zero. While I have sympathy for their cause, I don’t have enough sympathy to get Americans killed over it. I’m also doubtful that egging on demonstrators when you have zero intention of doing anything but clucking over the massacre videos streamed into your home is a particularly ethical thing to do (see East Germany 1953 an Hungary 1956 for examples of what that looks like). I certainly don’t fault China for bringing to bear whatever power it has to shut down sympathy for the demonstrators because we, ourselves, are the ones who’ve given them that power and they, like most governments, will act in their own interests.

What I’m sort of at a loss to understand is why I’m supposed to feel outraged by the NBA, a private company, engaging in suppression of speech that it doesn’t like.

For at least three years now, ever since it has become obvious that the large tech companies like Facebook and Twitter and Google were actively suppressing conservative viewpoints and ever since Trump was elected, I’ve been lectured by TrueConservativesWestlake Legal Group 2122 Why Are the Same People Irate About the NBA’s Hong Kong Stance Silent About the Same Thing Happening to Americans twitter Pro-Life Politics North Carolina NBA Hong Kong Google Front Page Stories Featured Story facebook Conservatives Censorship Business & Economy bathroom bill Allow Media Exception   and VichyConsWestlake Legal Group 2122 Why Are the Same People Irate About the NBA’s Hong Kong Stance Silent About the Same Thing Happening to Americans twitter Pro-Life Politics North Carolina NBA Hong Kong Google Front Page Stories Featured Story facebook Conservatives Censorship Business & Economy bathroom bill Allow Media Exception   (though it is getting increasingly hard to separate the two groups in any meaningful way so great is the overlap in that Venn Diagram) on how “muh private company” can’t engage in censorship and how if I don’t like being suspended from Twitter for suggesting some sloppy fat goober laid off from BuzzFeed learn a useful occupation that I could just start my own social media company and my problems would be solved.

Over and over, conservative viewpoints, whether they are pro-biology, pro-traditional-family, or pro-life are being overtly crushed via demonetization or by having access to their materials deliberately restricted. The most recent example of this is Facebook refusing to let the pro-life group Live Action distribute its videos to followers of its Facebook page because professional pro-aborts who double as “fact checkers” for Politifact didn’t like the content. Twitter has forbidden Live Action from showing ultrasound images of babies in utero.

Back in 2016, when the NBA went to war with the state of North Carolina over the “bathroom bill,” a commonsense measure that ensure adult men were not going to be hanging out in women’s bathrooms, outlets, such as National Review, posted articles like A Conservative Defense of Transgender Rights. Few people on the right said boo about the NBA using its economic power to coerce the government of North Carolina into abandoning its defense of common decency and Western Civilization.

Why is it any more odious for the NBA to follow the money their autocratic impulses and shut down support of the Hong Kong demonstrators in their venues than for it to follow the money and their autocratic impulses and shut down opposition to trans activists in North Carolina? In both cases, the NBA is telling people how to live their lives. In both cases, it is refusing to lend its economic support to political causes that it disagrees with on the merits or perceives to be a financial loser. How is security at an NBA game evicting pro-Hong-Kong protesters any different than YouTube or Facebook or Twitter blocking pro-life or pro-actual-marriage or pro-Second-Amendment information? It really isn’t.

The bottom line is that you either believe corporations, particularly large monopolistic ones, either have an obligation to observe what we, in America, perceive to be basic human rights or you don’t. You don’t get to choose what the cause is. It is binary. If your position is that the difference is the Chinese government calling the tune, does that mean you’d only oppose corporate thuggery if the current administration was behind it? If you are trying to shame the NBA into changing policy, then I’d submit the hundreds of millions of dollars they get from China is going to prove more influential that a lot of media saying meany-pants things. In other words, you’re engaging in nothing more than the most grotesque form of virtue signaling. You could take action, like have Congress outlaw this dumbf***ery, but then you’d just be a poseur with very malleable principles.

So, while I have a great deal of sympathy for the people in Hong Kong, I can’t in good conscience sign onto some kind of selective outrage over a corporation silencing speech it dislikes. When all of you folks who are outraged about the NBA and Hong Kong decide you’re outraged by Facebook and Twitter and Google and you’re ready to go to war with them and the NBA to end this bullsh**, well, give me a call. If you want me to get exercised over something happening in China while telling me that the same exact thing directed at conservative causes taking place in the US (and in Europe) is just the private sector at work, sorry, I don’t want to be bothered. I’ll be clipping my toe nails or taking a dump or doing something else that is actually meaningful.

As a parting note, my colleague Brad Slager discussed this topic on KLRNRadio last night in the second half of the show.



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While Policing Fraudulent News Facebook Settles Lawsuit Over Fraudulent Advertising Data

Westlake Legal Group fake-news-620x349 While Policing Fraudulent News Facebook Settles Lawsuit Over Fraudulent Advertising Data lawsuits Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post fake news facebook Allow Media Exception Advertising

 

In a dose of heavy irony the social media outlet paid handsomely once it has been accused of ‘Fake Views’.

A number of separate cases involving a number of advertisers were combined into a class action lawsuit against FaceBook for reporting false viewing data of video views affecting ad rates. After three years the suit, which requested a jury award of $100 million was eventually settled by FaceBook for $40 million.

The case involved the media site manipulating the playback success rates of advertising videos viewed by users. What was in dispute was the choice of FaceBook to not count any video playback that was under 3 seconds. What was discovered to have been the result is by culling these limited views the site could report vastly larger playback times.

What this led to was FaceBook touting playback rates that were estimated to be 900% larger than in actuality. While not a case of overcharging based on playbacks it was accused it led to higher base rates for advertisers. The site made the announcement that it had used these contrived metrics over a period in 2015-16.

What makes this admission so glaring is that FaceBook has taken on a strident stance against what it deems to be false reporting in regards to news sites. At the same time however it was content to issue false reports regarding advertisement playback. This actually follows a pattern of the site following policies based on revenues.

SEE ALSO: “Look at the facts behind the Snopes/FaceBook Divorce

It was this past February when it was announced that the fact-checking outlet Snopes would be severing ties with FaceBook. Snopes had been one of the verification partners that was brought on by FaceBook to vet problematic news reports and decide what was to be flagged or removed from FB over what was considered false reporting. Snopes considered a number of factors in making the decision to break away from the FB mission.

Among those was a claim made by a former Snopes editor that FaceBook was either steering the fact checkers to do work that would favor its advertisers, or even discount fact checks that might adversely affect an advertiser.

This makes the lawsuit settlement all the more revealing. The site that gives lip service to the importance of fact checking will possibly manipulate the news vetting in accordance to benefit advertising, and at the same time it shows a willingness to deliver false reports to deceive advertisers. Then cries of “fake news” will only fall on more deaf ears.

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