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If Congress Doesn’t Rein In Big Tech, Censors Will Eliminate The Right From Public Discourse

This week Twitter revealed it will not tolerate dissent from trans ideology. But that will be just the beginning.

By John Daniel DavidsonThe Federalist

Rachel Levine
GOVERNOR TOM WOLF

Something both convoluted and disturbing happened on Twitter this week that illustrates why it’s not enough for lawmakers in Washington to haul Big Tech executives before congressional committees every now and then and give them a good talking to.

Congress actually has to do something about this. Regulating social media giants like Twitter and Facebook as common carriers, prohibiting them from censoring under the absurd pretext that speech they don’t like is “harmful” or “abusive,” would be a good place to start. If that doesn’t happen, Twitter will eventually ban every conservative voice and every media outlet that dares to challenge left-wing pieties about race, gender, and a host of other issues.

Here’s what happened. On Wednesday evening, around the time Twitter began censoring Federalist articles by appending a warning they “may be unsafe” and their contents could be “violent or misleading,” I got a notice from Twitter support letting me know that someone had complained about a tweet of mine noting that Rachel Levine, the U.S. assistant secretary for health, is a man.

As a result, my tweet would be banned, but only in Germany, where, according to Twitter’s explanation of what it calls, “country withheld content,” an “authorized entity” issued a “valid legal demand” to block my tweet. 

I had written the tweet in response to news this week that Twitter locked the account of Charlie Kirk for saying Levine is a man. Banning Kirk made no sense, I wrote, because Levine “is obviously a man — a man who dresses like a woman, but a man nonetheless.”

To be clear, Levine is a 64-year-old man who spent the first 54 years of his life “presenting” or living publicly as a man. He was married and fathered two children. In 2011, he decided to “transition” and began dressing and presenting as a woman, changing his name to Rachel Levine (previously, he went by Richard, his given name). He divorced his wife of 25 years in 2013.

Levine is and will always be a man. His story is a sad one, and far from mocking or berating him, conservatives should pray for him and hope that he gets the help he obviously needs.

But none of this is really about Levine. It’s about Twitter. Twitter locked Kirk’s account after it locked the account of The Babylon Bee earlier this week for posting an article headlined, “The Babylon Bee’s Man of the Year is Rachel Levine,” riffing on an actual USA Today piece naming Levine as one of its 2022 women of the year, despite the fact that Levine is a man.

After Twitter locked out the Bee, which is a satirical publication, its Editor in Chief Kyle Mann tweeted, “Maybe they’ll let us back into our @TheBabylonBee Twitter account if we throw a few thousand Uighurs in a concentration camp,” which prompted Twitter to lock Mann’s account for “hatful conduct.” Later, the Bee’s founder Adam Ford was locked out of Twitter for retweeting Mann. 

While all this was going on, articles at The Federalist suddenly started getting blocked by Twitter. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the handful of articles that were blocked, but it started with an article by Libby Emmons published Wednesday morning entitled, “Everybody Knows Rachel Levine Is Truly A Man, Including Rachel Levine.”

When my colleague Tristan Justice asked Twitter about it, a spokesperson told him, “the URLs referenced were mistakenly marked under our unsafe links policy — this action has been reversed.” Nothing to see here, it was all just a big mistake! 

But we all know it wasn’t. It was no more a mistake than my tweet getting flagged in Germany, of all places, or Kirk and Mann and Ford and the Bee all getting locked out of their accounts. This kind of behavior from social media companies has become all too common for anyone to believe that getting locked out of your account or getting an article taken down is ever a mistake, and certainly not when the tweet or article in question is asserting the plain truth that a man does not become a woman simply by growing his hair out and putting on a skirt. When you’re account is locked over that, it’s on purpose, and the point is to shut you up.

And it’s not just Twitter. This week, YouTube removed a bunch of videos from the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, including a speech by J.D. Vance and a panel discussion with Federalist CEO Sean Davis, Rachel Bovard, and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. — a panel discussion that happened to be about the harms of Big Tech and how federal law protects them from liability.

It’s obvious that these firms will eventually silence everyone who dissents from their woke ideology. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. If you say that Rachel Levine is a man, or that Lia Thomas, the University of Pennsylvania swimmer who just won an NCAA Division I national championship, is a man, they will come after you. It doesn’t matter that Levine and Thomas are in fact men. Truth is no defense against censorship by Big Tech.

So until Congress — under what would have to be a Republican majority, given Democrats’ enthusiasm for online censorship — acts to put an end to this, it will continue. And the list of things you can’t say will grow. Before long, you won’t be able to say, for example, that abortion is the taking of a human life, that gay marriage is not the same as marriage between a man and a woman, or that children should not be taught that America is systemically racist.

In such an environment, the only way to ensure the censors don’t come after you is to follow the extraordinary example of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was asked by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Tuesday during the confirmation hearing to define the word “woman.” Jackson replied, infamously, “I’m not a biologist.”


Shareholders Press Google and YouTube To Disclose White House Requests To Scrub COVID-19 Videos

Big Tech under fire for removing content that questions Biden administration COVID policies

By Alana GoodmanThe Washington Free Beacon

Shareholders in Google and YouTube are pressing the tech giants to disclose any requests they have received from the Biden administration to scrub politically “problematic” information from the platforms, according to a copy of a shareholder proposal obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group that holds a voting stake in Google and YouTube’s parent corporation Alphabet, submitted the shareholder proposal to the company this week, following a string of controversies over Google and YouTube’s removal of videos that question the Biden administration’s COVID-19 policies.

The proposed disclosure requirement could shed light on whether the administration has directed tech companies to remove information that it deems misleading, a scenario that raises concerns about government censorship. In July, the White House said it was “in regular touch” with social media platforms to discuss ways to combat “misinformation” online.

“The case for this kind of disclosure is double barreled. All citizens should be aware when the government engages in censorship, even if it is through a private-sector company, and shareholders of that company should know when they become a party to it,” said NLPC chairman Peter Flaherty.

“The administration keeps labeling certain information about the pandemic ‘disinformation,’ and gets it yanked off social media, only to later embrace the same information. Alphabet should not be contributing to such a farce.”

If the proposal is approved by a shareholder vote—a significant hurdle since the company’s voting shares are largely controlled by its founders and insiders—Alphabet would be required to “provide a report, published on the company’s website and updated semi-annually—and omitting proprietary information and at reasonable cost—that specifies the Company’s policy in responding to requests to remove or take down material from its platforms by the Executive Office of the President, Centers for Disease Control, or any other agency or entity of the United States Government,” according to a copy of the NLPC’s submission.

Alphabet would also have to disclose “an itemized listing of such take-down requests, including the name and title of the official making the request, the nature and scope of the request, the date of the request, the outcome of the request, and a reason or rationale for the Company’s response, or lack thereof.”

The NLPC said coordination between Alphabet and the Biden administration could amount to “unconstitutional censorship, opening the Company to liability claims by victims,” citing Supreme Court rulings “that private entities may not engage in suppression of speech at the behest of government, as it has the same effect as direct government censorship.”

YouTube faced criticism this week after deleting a controversial but widely shared video of Joe Rogan’s interview with virologist Robert Malone that criticized the COVID-19 vaccine. Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R.), Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R., N.Y.) have blasted Google and YouTube for scrubbing their videos that questioned certain Democratic policies, such as mask mandates and vaccine passports.

Google has also acknowledged manipulating its autofill feature to discourage users from searching for claims that COVID-19 originated from a lab in Wuhan—a theory that was later determined to be credible by intelligence officials.

In July, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the administration was “in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as [Surgeon General] Dr. [Vivek] Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.”

Psaki said the administration flagged “problematic” posts for social media companies and urged the platforms to “take faster action against harmful posts.”

Alphabet is likely to seek a waiver from the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid bringing up the NLPC’s proposal for consideration. Under the Biden administration, the SEC has taken a supportive stance toward left-leaning activist shareholders. In November, the administration expanded the type of proposals that companies are required to consider to include “certain proposals that raise significant social policy issues.”

In 2021, progressive shareholder activists successfully installed three fossil fuel opponents on the Exxon Mobil board, after forcing the company to disclose its impact on carbon emissions in 2017. The past year also saw a record number of corporate board diversity proposals from activist shareholders.


Right Responds To Cancel Culture By Building Its Own Infrastructure, And The Left Goes Nuts

By Margot ClevelandThe Federalist

White House Devin Nunes and Donald Trump

Last week the corrupt media’s penchant for spinning all things conservative caused a near-fatal case of whiplash.

The left began by chastising conservatives for supposedly building “its own echo chamber,” but by the next day, when news broke that Devin Nunes was resigning from Congress to serve as the CEO of Donald Trump’s new media company, the complained-of conservative ecosystem merely represented grift. Both narratives are false, however, which is precisely why leftists peddled them so hard.

Axios launched the “echo chamber” accusation with its article titled, “Right wing builds its own echo chamber.” “Conservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses in an attempt to circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem,” the Axios article began.

The article then highlighted plans for the YouTube alternative Rumble and Trump’s social media company, Truth Social, to expand their reach by taking the companies public. Also highlighted was the social app Gettr that former-Trump aide Jason Miller launched, as well as conservative efforts to compete in cryptocurrency, phones, cloud storage, and book publishing.

“The bottom line,” Axios closed, was that, “Conservative media has been a powerhouse for a long time, but this phase of its expansion isn’t just about more or louder conservative voices — it’s about building an entire conservative ecosystem.”

The refusal by conservatives to continue “to consume” the product of the increasingly “deranged and unaccountable lefty media” is not about building an echo chamber, however: It is about competition and choice. And branding these new business ventures an “ecosystem” and “echo chamber” merely reveal the left’s panic over their inability to control the narrative.

The corrupt media quickly put a brake on the echo-chamber attack when the day after Axios bemoaned the loosening of the left’s stranglehold over corporate America came news that Nunes would retire in January to serve as the new CEO of Trump’s Truth Social company. No longer was the story about an “ecosystem,” it was now about “grift.”

“How Devin Nunes’s new media job for Trump explains the GOP grift machine,” the Washington Post headlined an op-ed by columnist Paul Waldman. Waldman supported his thesis by pointing out that “with Republicans poised to win the House, Nunes was in line to become the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which writes the nation’s tax laws.”

“There was a time when the Ways and Means chair was considered second only to House Speaker in prestige and power,” the Post opinion piece continued. Leaving behind that likelihood, Waldman reasoned, showed Nunes’s supposed desire to “get in on the grift.”

Leave it to a liberal to think grift is foregoing the second most powerful position in the U.S. House of Representatives to accept a position in the private sector in a fledgling organization.

In reporting on Nunes’s announcement, The New York Times’s Jonathan Weisman likewise focused on the fact that if the California representative continued his congressional career, he would “assume the help of the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Republicans took control of the House, as they are favored to do.” This move, Weisman declared, represented a signal by Nunes to “where he thinks power lies in the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Nunes’s decision to leave Congress to become Truth Social’s CEO does represent a signal—just not the one Weisman claims. To see the reason behind the move, the Times’ congressional correspondent need only have re-read his article, where a handful of paragraphs later, Weisman wrote:

From his perch on the Intelligence Committee, he ran interference for Mr. Trump against accusations that his 2016 campaign had collaborated with Russian intelligence. Mr. Nunes also organized a united Republican front opposing the first impeachment of the president for withholding military assistance to Ukraine to pressure its government to dig up dirt on Mr. Biden.

That a longtime congressional correspondent could pen those lines and The New York Times could unironically publish them shows exactly why Nunes left Congress to lead Truth Social.

Having lived through the heyday of the Russia-collusion hoax, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Nunes fought to expose the truth of the Crossfire Hurricane disaster to the American public. Yet the corporate press fed the lies of the Democrat ranking member to the country instead. The California Republican saw a repeat of this ploy with the Ukraine impeachment proceedings. Hatred for Trump proved the breaking straw to the already biased establishment press.

Then came the censorship, limiting conservatives’ ability to counter the corrupt media. Again, Nunes experienced that firsthand, being shadow-banned by Twitter in 2018.

And if any more proof were needed of corporate cronies’ ability to control information, the burying of the Hunter Biden laptop story that implicated then-candidate Joe Biden in a pay-to-play scandal right before the 2020 election handed Nunes—and our country—the final piece of evidence.

So Nunes had a choice: Stay in Congress and chair the House’s most powerful committee as a Republican, limited by the Democrat-controlled executive branch, or surrender the cozy conclave and create an enterprise to counter the slant and censorship that over the last five years has grown exponentially. The left might not understand Nunes’s decision, but here’s hoping it learns his reason soon—and the hard way.


Twitter Spies and Foreign Lies: Is Social Media Safe for Democracy?

By Peter RoffNewsmax

Social media has become an essential lifeline to the outside world for protestors courageous enough to stand up against repressive regimes. Platforms like Twitter have kept attention focused on the struggle for liberty and, in a few cases, even helped bring down a few dictators.

What the protestors don’t know is how their oppressors may have been using these platforms to collect information about their allies and informants. And they probably won’t know unless Judge Valerie Caproni, a Barack Obama appointee to the Southern District of New York, allows a suit filed by a Saudi dissident to proceed.

The facts as alleged by the plaintiff—Ali al-Ahmed, who fled Saudi Arabia and received political asylum here in 1998—seem plain enough but Judge Caproni, who served as the FBI‘s general counsel under Director Robert Mueller, is unconscionably dragging her heels as she decides if the suit can go to trial.

What al-Ahmed alleges began after the Saudi secret police arrested Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, a 27-year-old aid worker employed in the Riyadh office of the Red Crescent (the Islamic version of the International Red Cross) in March 2018 for operating a Twitter account used to mock Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and the government.

Some, including al-Sadhan’s sister Areej—a U.S. citizen who works in the tech industry outside San Francisco—have said the actions taken against her brother are a deliberate test by MBS of President Joe Biden‘s resolve regarding his campaign promise to crack down on human rights abusers, including U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia.

After al-Sadhan was convicted and sentenced to 20 years, al-Ahmed took up his cause, calling the penalty egregious and the crime nonsensical.

On his Twitter account, al-Ahmed has criticized the ruling family for repressing women, suppressing dissent and being intolerant of other religions. That made him a target of the regime. He claims the government tried to silence him, arrested his friends and members of his family, and tried to lure him to meetings outside the United States, where he’d be unprotected and probably arrested or worse. His refusal to bow to the regime’s intimidation efforts also led him to file suit against Twitter for what his lawyers claim is “a blatant tortious invasion of privacy.”

This photograph taken on October 26, 2020
This photograph taken on October 26, 2020 shows the logo of US social network Twitter displayed on the screen of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southern France.LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Al-Ahmed’s Arabic-language Twitter account had nearly 36,000 followers, mostly in Saudi Arabia. It functioned as a major communications link, allowing sources inside the country to send him tips and news and allowing him to spread information about what the U.S. and other Western media were reporting in order to “mobilize action at home and abroad.”

That account was hacked in 2016 and, in 2018, was mysteriously shut down. He applied to Twitter for reinstatement but received no answer. Then, in July 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice accused two Saudi nationals employed by Twitter of hacking accounts critical of the Kingdom and passing personal information about account holders to Saudi intelligence agencies.

“All of a sudden,” al-Ahmed said in an interview, “everything made sense. Saudi police and intelligence services had somehow infiltrated Twitter to get information about the people following my account, many of whom would be classified as dissidents. They had—at the direction of the Saudi government—stolen my user information and the information of my followers and gave it to the security services in Riyadh.”

Based on what we know about how MBS handles dissidents, this shouldn’t be a shock. In fact, Twitter’s second-largest shareholder, Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, is MBS’ cousin. That stock may now be controlled by MBS, who reportedly forced Prince Al Waleed to divest himself of his assets during a prolonged 2018 detention inside the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.

Is Twitter a platform for free speech or a tool of repressive regimes and secret police operatives? It’s a question worth exploring. Al-Ahmed’s charges are compelling enough to be heard in court. Unfortunately, Ali al-Ahmed’s case has been languishing in pretrial motions for over a year. This delay is a blow to informed debate and smart public policy. As social media sites have grown in importance and market cap to become “Big Tech,” the public deserves a fuller understanding of whether and how they have sacrificed their noble free speech principles in exchange for cash and cozy relationships with autocrats who want to use their technology to spy on dissidents and shut them down.


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