by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
Until the American public ceases bickering amongst itself along Democratic and Republican or “left” vs. “right” lines, we’ll continue to be divided and conquered by authoritarians who wield tremendous power throughout both sides of the traditional political spectrum. This isn’t to say there aren’t real, meaningful differences between those who classify themselves on the “left” or the “right,” but it is to say there’s a much bigger battle afoot and nothing’s going to get better until we frame the new political reality for what it is. The most significant, existential struggle at play in these modern United States is a battle between Liberty and Authoritarianism, and it’s extremely important you know where you stand.
While the entire Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution is crucial to our civil liberties, no right is more significant than the First Amendment. If we lose freedom of speech, it’s game over for our society, and we have to understand that authoritarians on both the “right” and “left” are taking shots at freedom of speech as I write this. As such, differences between “right” and “left” should be deemphasized because if we lose the First Amendment, we lose everything.
A major political realignment is not simply a good idea, it’s absolutely crucial to the survival of a thriving civilization here in the U.S. The historical struggle we face today is not Democrat vs. Republican, or right vs. left, but Liberty vs. Authoritarianism.
Let’s get started by highlighting an extremely creepy proposal recently published, titled, Fool Me Once: The Case for Government Regulation of “Fake News.” One of the authors is Ann M. Ravel, who was previously a Democratic Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
For the most part, the proposal outlines how social media should be regulated in order to track and categorize how advertisements on the platforms are created and distributed. It’s not until the end that the authors’ more Orwellian objectives become apparent. They write:
Government regulations to help voters avoid spreading disinformation
Educate social media users. Social media users can unintentionally spread disinformation when they interact with it in their newsfeeds. Depending on their security settings, their entire online social network can see items that they interact with (by “liking” or commenting), even if they are expressing their opposition to the content. Social media users should not interact with disinformation in their feeds at all (aside from flagging it for review by third party fact checkers). Government should require platforms to regularly remind social media users about not interacting with disinformation.
Similarly, after a social media user clicks “share” on a disputed item (if the platforms do not remove them and only label them as disputed), government can require that the user be reminded of the definition of libel against a public figure. Libel of public figures requires “actual malice”, defined as knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. Sharing an item that has been flagged as untrue might trigger liability under libel laws.
Nudge social media users to not view disputed content. Lawmakers should require platforms to provide an opt-in (or, more weakly, opt-out) system for viewing disputed content and periodically remind users of their options. We think the courts should uphold this as a constitutional regulation of political speech, but we acknowledge that it is a closer question than the more straightforward disclosure regulations above. The most analogous cases are to commercial speech cases (AdChoices and Do Not Call Registry, which was upheld). Commercial speech receives less protection than political speech.
Think about how creepy all of that is. They want social media companies to warn its users when they’re apparently interacting with “disinformation,” which I assume government will enthusiastically define at a later date. Even worse, a simple warning isn’t enough for them, the authors actually want social media companies to warn citizens they might be exposed to libel laws if they share a particular piece of content.
As such, it becomes crystal clear that when it comes to libel laws some Democrats have a lot more in common with Donald Trump than they’d like you to believe. Which basically proves my point — there’s a lot more agreement between authoritarians on the “right” and the “left” than meets the eye. Both types want the power to control what you see, what you read and how you think. Don’t let political labels fool you, anti-free speech is anti-free speech whether it comes from a Democrat or a Republican. The real battle is Liberty vs. Authoritarianism.
If that’s not creepy enough, let’s take a look at what’s currently happening at Facebook. From the Bloomberg article, Facebook Is Looking for Employees With National Security Clearances:
Facebook Inc. is looking to hire people who have national security clearances, a move the company thinks is necessary to prevent foreign powers from manipulating future elections through its social network, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Workers with such clearance can access information classified by the U.S. government. Facebook plans to use these people — and their ability to receive government information about potential threats — to search more proactively for questionable social media campaigns ahead of elections, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is sensitive. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment.
Job candidates like this are often former government and intelligence officials or contractors. The status can carry over to private-sector jobs, as long as the position still requires access to sensitive information. Previously granted clearances become inactive when intelligence workers leave government employment, but they can be reactivated on Facebook’s behalf, the person said.
Facebook is about to be swarming with CIA personnel, assuming it isn’t already.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said last month that Facebook plans to add more than 250 people across its teams that deal with security and safety for the social network and to more than double the team working on election integrity. He also said the company would seek to work more closely with government officials to get information on what to investigate ahead of elections.
It’s common for private companies, such as military contractors, information technology and engineering firms, to hire employees with U.S. government-issued security clearance. Candidates with top-secret clearance have been in high demand for years.
These types of employees are needed when private companies interact and share information back and forth with government agencies. If Facebook is going to cooperate with intelligence agencies to identify potentially problematic ads and share that information with the government, it will likely need workers with security clearance.
I’m not sure how to describe the above, but free market capitalism it’s definitely not.
Moving along, this post wouldn’t be complete without pointing out how much Donald Trump, and in particular his deranged Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despises the First Amendment. Here’s some of what he had to say on the topic yesterday.
From The Hill:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday said he could not make a “blanket commitment” to not putting journalists in jail.
During testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked Sessions if he could pledge to not place “reporters in jail for doing their jobs.”
“Well, I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect. But I will say this, we have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point,” Sessions replied.
“But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues that put our country at risk,” he said, “and we will utilize the authorities that we have legally and constitutionally if we have to.”
The comments from Sessions come after President Trump, unhappy with a story published by NBC News, said last week that network licenses should be challenged. While the major networks do not have licenses themselves, their local affiliates do.
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