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The Corporate Media Pretends Like They Didn't Report on the U.S. Government Threatening Social Media Companies After 2016 Election
The New York Times uncritically quotes an "expert" who suggests that the U.S. government was merely having a friendly dialogue with social media companies like Twitter about content moderation
Steven Lee Myers and David McCabe wrote an article for The New York Times which begs more questions than it answers, in my opinion. They’re discussing an injunction from a federal judge on the Biden regime from contacting social media companies about their content moderation practices.
In the ruling, Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana said that parts of the government, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, could not talk to social media companies for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
Judge Doughty said in granting a preliminary injunction that the agencies could not flag specific posts to the social media platforms or requests reports about their efforts to take down content. The ruling said that the government could still notify the platforms about posts detailing crimes, national security threats or foreign attempts to influence elections.
Myers and McCabe are certainly on the side of the U.S. government on this issue, and they make it clear throughout the article. At one point they try to paint the judge in this case as partisan Republican who is out to get President Biden.
Judge Doughty, who was appointed to the federal court by President Donald J. Trump in 2017, has made the court a sympathetic venue for conservative cases, having previously blocked the Biden administration’s national vaccination mandate for health care workers and overturned its ban on new federal leases for oil and gas drilling.
They attempt to cast doubt on the integrity of journalists like Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and others who reported on the Twitter Files, not to mention that reporting itself.
Since acquiring Twitter last year, Elon Musk has pushed a similar argument, releasing internal company documents to chosen journalists suggesting what they claimed was collusion between company and government officials. Though that remains far from proven, some of the documents Mr. Musk disclosed ended up in the lawsuit’s arguments.
And they simply take it as a given that the Biden regime’s claim that only accounts that peddled so-called “disinformation” were targeted on social media, despite the fact that the aforementioned Twitter Files reporting proves beyond a shadow of doubt that that is an outright lie.
At the same time, emails and text messages made public in the case that Judge Doughty ruled on have shown instances where officials complained to social media executives when influential users spread disinformation, especially involving the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the general insanity of this article, itself a bit of a masterpiece of disinformation, the best part comes near the end.
Some experts in First Amendment law and misinformation criticized the Tuesday ruling.
“It can’t be that the government violates the First Amendment simply by engaging with the platforms about their content-moderation decisions and policies,” said Jameel Jaffer, the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “If that’s what the court is saying here, it’s a pretty radical proposition that isn’t supported by the case law.”
It’s interesting to me that the Knight First Amendment Institute doesn’t see the problem with the FBI or other security agencies reaching out to social media companies with ideas on who they should block for what they say on the platform, but did see a problem with Donald Trump simply blocking people on Twitter from seeing his tweets while he was president. From The New York Times, again:
But Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which represented a group of Twitter users who were blocked by Mr. Trump and filed the lawsuit, praised the ruling. He said that public officials’ social-media accounts are among the most significant forums for the public to discuss government policy.
“The ruling will ensure that people aren’t excluded from these forums simply because of their viewpoints and that public officials don’t transform these digital spaces into echo chambers,” Mr. Jaffer said. “It will help ensure the integrity and vitality of digital spaces that are increasingly important to our democracy.”
So, on the one hand, according to Jaffer, it’s a violation of the freedom of speech for the sitting president to block people from seeing or interacting with his profile on a social media platform, but not for the security-intelligence apparatus of the United States government to convince social media companies to ban people from those platforms entirely. You’d think the cognitive dissonance there would make it hard to function in daily life but apparently not.
Regardless, it’s not the case, as Jaffer puts it, that the U.S. government simply engages “with the platforms about their content-moderation decisions and policies.” They “simply engage” with these platforms with the understanding that the platforms will do what they want or face consequences. Consequences like, say, Congressional hearings.
After the Mueller and now Durham reports, we know that the claim that the Russian government somehow interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton is entirely false, but that didn’t stop Congress from dragging tech executives into Capitol Hill to beg their forgiveness for not doing enough to stop Russia’s imaginary plot. Note that Senator Amy Klobuchar threatens these companies with regulation for their failure to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, said the legislation was essential before the midterm elections in 2018.
“Our midterms are 370 days away, and we don’t have time to mess around with dialogue anymore,” Ms. Klobuchar said in an interview after the hearing. Ms. Klobuchar introduced the bill with Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.
So, as I said, we’re not dealing with a simple dialogue here as Jaffer wants us to believe: This was the U.S. government making demands of social media companies under threat of increased regulation or worse. Don’t forget that Representative Stacey Plaskett threatened journalist Matt Taibbi with imprisonment for his reporting on the Twitter Files or that the IRS just so happened to open up an investigation on his 2018 tax return on Christmas Eve 2022 while he was in the midst of that reporting.
Is it really hard to believe that they would target people like Mark Zuckerberg or Parag Agrawal if they had refused to work with the FBI? You would have to be insane to believe Jaffer’s idea that the government was simply making requests that these companies were free to ignore. The threats to these companies had already been publicly made to force their cooperation, but The New York Times wants you to forget about that.