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Meet the OVERSIGHT BOARD… Ooooooooo scary

Former President Trump and currently Facebook de-platformed Donald J. Trump received a review from the OVERSIGHT BOARD.

Facebook Inc. was justified in banning then-President Donald Trump, the company’s independent oversight board ruled Wednesday, but didn’t appropriately explain if or why the former president should be permanently locked out of the social-media platform.

The board gave Facebook six months to determine whether Mr. Trump should be permanently banned and, if so, to explain that decision more fully.

The decision, which is binding, largely ratifies a choice personally approved by Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in the wake of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot and could have far-reaching implications for how technology companies police political speech.

Wall Street Journal

Who the fuck are these people? If you’re on Facebook and prize your presence there they are your judge, jury, and de-platformer. Please… come meet the OVERSIGHT BOARD.

This is a group of 20 people from all over the world that have the final say on whether or not you can speak your mind on Facebook. My favorite people in this group are the ones with “Freedom of Speech”, “Free Speech”, and “Freedom of Expression” in their backgrounds.

The first chick in the list (I say chick to purposely be sexist) is the founder of the “Digital Rights Foundation”. What the fuck are digital rights? You have rights to zeroes and ones?

Here’s the opening paragraphs from their web site.

As its community grew to more than 2 billion people, it became increasingly clear to the Facebook company that it shouldn’t be making so many decisions about speech and online safety on its own. The Oversight Board was created to help Facebook answer some of the most difficult questions around freedom of expression online: what to take down, what to leave up, and why.

The board uses its independent judgment to support people’s right to free expression and ensure those rights are being adequately respected. The board’s decisions to uphold or reverse Facebook’s content decisions will be binding, meaning Facebook will have to implement them, unless doing so could violate the law.

OVERSIGHT BOARD

The answer to freedom of expression online is to adhere to the principal of legal speech. Nothing President Trump said was illegal. If it were he would have been prosecuted. Lord knows he’s been prosecuted for everything else. If he in fact was promoting the killing of people or destruction of property then they are justified in removing him from their platform. If he is giving his opinion on the 2020 election then the OVERSIGHT BOARD is a bunch of elitist assholes that should themselves be de-platformed.

To make matters even more absurd the OVERSIGHT BOARD, in their ruling today, have this little gem as the opener to their information “about the case”.

Elections are a crucial part of democracy. On January 6, 2021, during the counting of the 2020 electoral votes, a mob forcibly entered the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This violence threatened the constitutional process. Five people died and many more were injured during the violence. During these events, then-President Donald Trump posted two pieces of content.

OVERSIGHT BOARD

This needs to be flagged as fake news. Five people did not die during the January 6th protest. One person, maybe two, died. The rest were maybe only tangentially related to the events of that day. But, other than that their opening description is fake news in and of itself. Therefore, the premise of their entire case is false.

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Thoughts

A very French protest

If there is one thing you can count on from the French people is an entertaining protest. A flash mob at Gard du Nord performed a catchy tune protesting mask wearing and soul crushing lockdowns. Vive la France!

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Thoughts

Liberals lamenting progressives

c

We really are living in dystopian 1984. Progressives are not liberals. They, in fact, are regressives. They are the ones now calling for segregation by race. They want special ceremonies for so-called “marginalized groups” instead of the inclusive ceremony for all. They call exclusion inclusion by shutting Caucasians out. And when an actual liberal calls out progressives those liberals get thrown under the bus.

To say the piece didn’t go over as he expected is an understatement. Although some liked it, he was stunned by the reaction from people he once considered political allies. “People were like, ‘Fuck you, Frank!’” he says, half-laughing.

Matt Taibbi

What did Thomas Frank say that got his own allies riled up?

This is a party that has courted professional-managerial elites for decades, and now they have succeeded in winning them over, along with most of the wealthy areas where such people live. Liberals scold and supervise like an offended ruling class because to a certain extent that’s who they are. More and more, they represent the well-credentialed people who monitor us in the workplace, and more and more do they act like it.

What all this censorship talk really is, though, is a declaration of defeat – defeat before the Biden administration has really begun. To give up on free speech is to despair of reason itself. (Misinformation, we read in the New York Times, is impervious to critical thinking.) The people simply cannot be persuaded; something more forceful is in order; they must be guided by we, the enlightened; and the first step in such a program is to shut off America’s many burbling fountains of bad takes…

… Let me confess: every time I read one of these stories calling on us to get over free speech or calling on Mark Zuckerberg to press that big red “mute” button on our political opponents, I feel a wave of incredulity sweep over me. Liberals believe in liberty, I tell myself. This can’t really be happening here in the USA.

But, folks, it is happening. And the folly of it all is beyond belief. To say that this will give the right an issue to campaign on is almost too obvious. To point out that it will play straight into the right’s class-based grievance-fantasies requires only a little more sophistication. To say that it is a betrayal of everything we were taught liberalism stood for – a betrayal that we will spend years living down – may be too complex a thought for our punditburo to consider, but it is nevertheless true.

Thomas Frank

Liberals over the last 30 years gave rise to the progressives. Classical liberalism is actually today’s conservatism. Liberals coddled too many into believing that equality of outcomes was possible. When the Millennial generation became adults and realized that the world is not a very nice place they started stamping their feet in a massive spoiled brat hissy fit. That’s what we’re living with today.

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Thoughts

They’re coming for the podcasters

It’s time for anyone with a podcast to get listed with podcastindex.org, stop using Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and move to Podcasting 2.0 compliant apps. Traditional media and the government will soon be coming for podcasts and podcasters. If podcasting is going to be a platform for free speech the media silos need to be avoided at all costs. Podcasters are a threat to their dominance of the national narrative.

A New York Times article by Reggie Ugwu starts out talking about a podcaster who was banned from Twitter but still has a podcast that can be found on Google Podcasts. The podcaster reportedly expressed sympathy for the shooter that recently killed 8 people in Atlanta area massage parlors. There was no context. No links to the audio. Not even a link to the podcast. There was no way to verify what the Ugwu was saying.

He had already been banned from Twitter, but on his podcast he could give full voice to his hateful conspiracy theories.

The podcaster argued that the man in Atlanta who had confessed to killing eight people at massage parlors last week, including six women of Asian descent, was the one who had truly been victimized — the casualty of a supposed Jewish plot.

“Your heart goes out to the guy,” he said.

New York Times

Then a few paragraphs down Ugwu talks about Steve Bannon. Is he saying that Bannon is the guy espousing the sympathy for the shooter? He certainly links the two ideas together but never says it outright.

After Twitter last November suspended the account of Steve Bannon, the onetime adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, for suggesting that several officials be beheaded, he continued to enjoy large audiences with his podcast, available on both Apple and Google’s services.

New York Times

What makes me not trust Ugwu further is the lie that Bannon “suggested that several officials be beheaded”. That just did not happen. Anyone with a thinking brain can recognize hyperbole.

There was no e-mail address for Ugwu that I could find so I tweeted at him to see if he could clarify that bit in the article. I have not yet received a reply.

Google, for now, is taking the correct position. They are choosing to not edit their podcast index for so-called “hate speech”. But how long will this last? The pressure is on.

Told of the white supremacist and pro-Nazi content on its platform and asked about its policy, a Google spokeswoman, Charity Mhende, compared Google Podcasts to Google Search. She said that the company did not want to “limit what people are able to find,” and that it only blocks content “in rare circumstances, largely guided by local law.”

That hands-off approach to moderation recalls the original position of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which have become more vigilant in recent years in their attempts to rein in the spread of harmful content.

New York Times

The concept of “harmful content” should be offensive to any American. In fact, I find this New York Times article offensive for promoting the silencing of different opinions. It is repugnant for anyone that calls themselves journalists to promote the de-platforming of any person regardless of opinion.

Ugwu inserts the paragraph below as if the comparison to podcast app features are analogous to search features. This makes zero sense. Who needs to manipulate playback speed of a search?

Though the company likens its podcast platform to search, Google Podcast’s own product description notes significant experiential differences, including the ability to manipulate playback speed, create playlists and download and store content.

New York Times

Ugwu holds up Apple and Stitcher as pillars of virtue for banning Alex Jones and Infowars.

Google Podcasts is also one of the few remaining homes of Alex Jones, the “Infowars” broadcaster, who was banned in 2018 from Apple, Spotify and Stitcher for repeated violations of their policies on hate speech and harassment…

… Many provocative podcasts, including several hosted by fringe and far-right figures, exist on nearly all the platforms. But the decision to ban Mr. Jones signaled a new willingness among leading services to take action against content they consider beyond the pale.

New York Times

If your podcast is about nutrition and your advice goes against the current USDA Dietary Guidelines you should be concerned. If you’re a medical doctor and you give your opinion or experience doesn’t agree with the WHO, CDC, or the NIH you should be concerned. If you’re a libertarian talking about the evils of an ever expansive government you should be concerned. If you are an advocate of differing opinions, regardless of how repugnant you may find them, being necessary for a healthy republic you should be concerned. If your ideas or beliefs are outside what is currently in fashion or “approved” you should be concerned.

How much longer will controversial speech be legal?

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Thoughts

Ad supported media continues to be detrimental to free speech

Watch what you say. Be careful who you offend. Someone is always out there looking to boycott the people that advertise with you. Podcasting, the last bastion of free speech in media, is now going to be under the watchful ears of Madison Avenue and “The Media Roundtable”. They will be the arbiter of what is ad safe. If you have to question if you’re ad safe… well, then, you’re not.

The Media Roundtable, a group of organizations that aims to promote civility and stronger dialogue in media, is launching a chart of what it considers to be the podcasts that display the most and least bias. The debut of the chart, prepared by the research organization Ad Fontes Media, is part of a bid to get advertisers to support content of a better quality in an era when the proliferation of niche outlets makes such stuff more difficult to track.

“Oftentimes, the best performing programs for an advertiser are the ones that have the strongest opinions and often can be very polarizing. It’s very alluring. There are a lot of businesses that have built their companies on the back of polarizing personalities,” says Dan Granger, CEO of Oxford Road, a media buying agency that does a lot of work with podcasters and is a member of the Roundtable. “Then you wake up one day and you see something trending on Twitter because the host of one of these shows said something controversial and all of a sudden, everyone freaks out.”

Variety

These assholes want to be the gatekeeper for your ad dollars. After reading this article I can see a podcast rating system coming down the pike. This will give big advertisers the buffer they’ve been looking for so they can deny advertising without looking discriminatory. Don’t be the equivalent of Rated R or brands won’t touch you with a $10.00 bill. TMR rates you as too polarizing for Proctor & Gamble. No cash for you!

The goal of the organizers is to help advertisers find a way to monitor content and avoid boycotts launched by activists and consumers, who often call out sponsors on Twitter and other social-media outlets. The National Institute for Civil Discourse and the Cambridge Negotiation Institute are also involved in the Roundtable.

Variety

The advertisers already treat podcasters like the red headed step-child of media.

These advertisers include companies that go on to become the next Warby Parker, Purple or Casper and generally graduate to TV and video advertising after spending several years employing direct-response techniques.

Variety

The only way a podcaster will be free is through the Value For Value model pioneered by Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak on the No Agenda Show. They take zero ad dollars. They analyze and cover the news like no other podcast. The money isn’t as big as what’s being pushed through the large podcast networks. But, how much is the freedom to say what they want worth? To the listeners it’s priceless.

Image by Falkenpost from Pixabay
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Thoughts

Amazon canceling books

Market dominance is a big problem. Amazon has the monopoly on book selling. I was behind Amazon when Apple colluded with book publishers on pricing. But, now Amazon has gone too far where they are shadow banning books. It’s a shadow ban because the book is available… just not on Amazon. The publisher should sue them.

Search for it on Amazon and you’re greeted with books that are the opposite of what you want. I’m a long time customer of Amazon. I’ve been buying books from them almost from the beginning. This is just not right.

The book is available at Barnes and Nobel

It’s also available direct from the publisher.

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Why do Democrats abhor free speech?

A girl doesn’t get onto the varsity cheerleading team and is unhappy. She makes a post on Snapchat, while off school grounds, to complain by flipping the school the bird and use some colorful language. The school suspended her and the parents took the school to court alleging the school violated the girl’s first amendment right to free speech. The case makes it up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and she wins. But wait… there’s more!

The Biden Justice Department is now asking the Supreme Court to undo B.L.’s sweeping First Amendment victory at the 3rd Circuit. “The court of appeals incorrectly held that off-campus student speech is categorically immune from discipline by public-school officials,” the government argued in a friend of the court brief filed in support of the Mahanoy Area School District.

According to the Biden Justice Department, while some off-campus speech deserves constitutional protection, the 3rd Circuit went too far, unfairly hamstringing school officials, who, the government maintained, require significant leeway when it comes to regulating and punishing student speech. “When the student’s off-campus speech targets an extracurricular athletic program in which the student participates,” the brief argued, “such speech might properly be regarded as school speech that is potentially subject to discipline by school officials if, for instance, it intentionally targets a feature that is essential to or inherent in the athletic program itself.”

Reason

What is the school afraid of? What is the Biden administration afraid of? What possible harm to the school, the school district, or the Democrat Party does a kid spouting off because she’s unhappy for not making the team?

The heavy hand of government crushes all. Let’s hope the Supreme Court upholds the lower court’s decision. Otherwise there will be no limit to the speech a school district can control.

Image by 3282700 from Pixabay
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There is a serious lack of diversity in Universities

The lack of diversity in Universities is alarming. But, it’s not related to race, gender, religion, or some other label you might think. There is a serious lack of diverse thought and it’s getting worse. If you’re conservative or at least don’t ascribe to any of the woke notions of the day you are silenced and shunned.

Between one-fifth and half of academics and graduate students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning grant applications, journal submissions and promotion cases. On a four-person panel, this virtually guarantees that a conservative will face discrimination.

Meanwhile, only 28% of American academics say they would be comfortable sitting with a gender-critical scholar over lunch, less even than the 41% who would sit with a Trump-voting colleague. Somehow this has become acceptable in a way it never would be for a person from a religious, as opposed to political, minority.

Some 75% of American and British conservative academics in social sciences and humanities say their departments offer a hostile climate for their beliefs. Nearly 4 in 10 American centrist faculty concur. This produces a chilling effect that results in self-censorship: I found that merely 9% of Trump-supporting academics say they would feel comfortable expressing their political beliefs to a colleague. Their progressive counterparts admit as much, with only 14% of all U.S. academics saying a Trump supporter would feel comfortable expressing his beliefs. In Britain, only 18% of Brexit-supporting academics would feel comfortable sharing their views, even though 52% of the British electorate supported Brexit.

Wall Street Journal

If there is no diversity of thought in universities then there is no education. They are suffering from a severe case of groupthink that is detrimental to a well rounded education. No one is thinking critically anymore and no one is free to express it. We’ve moved beyond dangerous.

It’s comic that those demanding diversity are the people forcing policies that promote the opposite.

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Actual government censorship is coming

The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” COVID-19 knocked out religion and the freedom to assemble. The 2020 election knocked out the redress of grievances since the courts refuse to hear the cases Trump brought before them. Now Congress is ready to take the next step and kill off freedom of speech.

Tomorrow there will be a Congressional hearing on free speech… or I should say a hearing against free speech.

Free speech scholars argue that for a democracy to function, informed debates and the marketplace of ideas must be able to work off of a shared set of facts. Many experts agree that dangerous disinformation about the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) and the 2020
presidential election has greatly intensified an already deadly public health crisis, further divided the nation, and fomented an insurrection.
While much of the blame has been placed on the widespread disinformation on social media platforms, industry participants have also noted that broadcast and cable outlets have played a role in the spread of disinformation.

house.gov

What are the “shared set of facts” we’re supposed to be debating? The Russian collusion hoax? The Ukraine impeachment hoax? The Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax? That last one is supposedly the entire reason Joe Biden ran for president.

We all knew that the slippery slope was started when social media companies started de-platforming people for disagreeing with people’s opinion on the 2020 election, COVID-19 lockdowns, COVID-19 treatments, and COVID-19 vaccines. Now Congress is moving into actual censorship territory.

Experts have noted that the right-wing media ecosystem is “much more susceptible…to disinformation, lies, and half-truths.” Right-wing media outlets, like Newsmax, One America News Network (OANN), and Fox News all aired misinformation about the November 2020
elections. For example, both Newsmax and OANN “ran incendiary reports” of false information following the elections and continue to support “an angry and dangerous subculture [that] will continue to operate semi-openly.” As a violent mob was breaching the doors of the Capitol, Newsmax’s coverage called the scene a “sort of a romantic idea.” Fox News, meanwhile, has spent years spewing misinformation about American politics. These same networks also have been key vectors of spreading misinformation related to the pandemic. A media watchdog found over 250 cases of COVID-19 misinformation on Fox News in just one five-day period, and economists demonstrated that Fox News had a demonstrable impact on non-compliance with public health guidelines. One online platform suspended and demonetized OANN’s channel online because it was spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Newsmax has amplified allegations that members of the Chinese Communist Party helped to develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

Letter to AT&T from members of Congress

Hmmm… I see no mention of CNN’s coverage of the “mostly peaceful” protests while cities were literally burning behind the reporter.

Does this qualify as misinformation or disinformation?

What the Democrat majority Congress is doing is very dangerous here. Make absolutely no mistake that no good can come of this intimidation.

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The “N-word” is so toxic you get fired for just debating its use

We’ve reached the point in American society where a single word (we’re talking about the dreaded and oh so powerful “N-word”) is so toxic that not only can you not use it in any context you can’t even debate the IDEA of a legitimate use by non-black people (aka also known as white people).

The online publication Slate has suspended a well-known podcast host after he debated with colleagues over whether people who are not Black should be able to quote a racial slur in some contexts.

Mike Pesca, the host of “The Gist,” a podcast on news and culture, said in an interview that he was suspended indefinitely on Monday after defending the use of the slur in certain contexts. He made his argument during a conversation last week with colleagues on the interoffice messaging platform Slack.

New York Times

To elevate a slur to such heights only serves to give that word more power. It’s just a word. It can’t do anything to anyone. Yes, the word has the nastiest of legacies. But, in 2021, if you have a negative response to its use by people, other than black people, that is really in your control more than anyone else’s.

Mr. Pesca, who has worked at Slate for seven years, said he was “heartsick” over hurting his colleagues but added, “I hate the idea of things that are beyond debate and things that cannot be said.”

New York Times

What’s next? Looking at someone and firing them because they look like they’re thinking it?

Image by 95C from Pixabay