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Op-Ed: The Government Will Become Vastly More Dangerous if Facebook Becomes a Utility

Western Journal

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It seemed inevitable that one day I would see a Facebook “whistleblower” like Frances Haugen testifying before Congress.

I was born at the turn of the century, a 2000s baby. We were the first generation to grow up in two worlds, our own one and one that exists on social media. Social media has become central to our lives, for worse or for better. At its best, it allows us to connect with one another and engage in public discourse. At its worst, it drives us further into our ever-deepening rabbit holes, blurs our notion of the truth and divides us.

As Facebook grew, the company’s impact on public discourse began to outweigh that of its competitors. The mammoth company now accounts for 72 percent of visits to social media sites. Throughout American history, companies that grew large and provided a public service, like transportation and electricity, became subject to special regulation from the federal government. Facebook views itself as a company warranting this status.

Haugen, a former Facebook employee, simultaneously argues that Facebook has too much influence and that the best remedy for that is to allow the government to treat it essentially as a public utility, having the ability to regulate and censor “harmful” content.

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In reality, treating the tech platform as a public utility would monopolize the power of Facebook by reducing competition among other platforms, grant Facebook and the government the ultimate power to deem undesirable speech “misinformation,” and threaten Fourth Amendment rights by providing intelligence agencies with a centralized database full of private information.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Facebook advocates internet regulations, as it wants to be the only social networking site given a stamp of approval by the state.

Haugen admits that Facebook is a profit-driven network, using algorithms that amplify sensationalized content that she believes is “harming children and weakening democracy.” Giving Facebook status as a public utility would make the company appear safer, potentially bringing in even more users and driving up ad revenue.

The label would also weaken other media platforms’ ability to compete and potentially offer better alternatives to Facebook. Since a government commission would regulate Facebook, the platform would be granted extreme legal protections. The legal burden would make it too expensive for smaller, non-regulated platforms to compete with Facebook.

The answer to dismantling Facebook’s monopoly is not taking out the competitors. The solution is allowing the competitors to pull Facebook users away, which they are already doing. According to a Pew Research study, Facebook was used by roughly 71 percent of American teens in 2014-2015. That dropped to 51 percent in 2018 and continues to fall.

If Haugen’s wishes are granted, the government and Facebook would be able to work in tandem to censor undesirable speech and create a society that looks more Orwellian than democratic.

On its face, Haugen’s argument is very compelling. She argues that Facebook generates profit by promoting unhealthy imagery that targets young people, anything from photoshopped models to anorexia content. Young girls were at the center of her concerns.

Nobody wants teenagers to feel bad about their bodies. Republicans don’t, Democrats don’t and parents definitely don’t. Haugen has not yet provided an outline of how the government might decide to censor this “harmful content.” Would it remove posts that are filtered or photoshopped? That might put a dent in ad revenue.

In reality, Facebook is exploiting body image issues in a greater effort to gain public utility status. As a public utility, the political regime in power would work alongside Facebook to censor content that may counter its narrative — stories that paint certain political actors in a negative light, political ads for opposing candidates, or health information that doesn’t support their agenda.

Previous whistleblowers, less relevant in the news cycle, have already released internal documents allegedly detailing the company’s effort to censor vaccine concerns on a global scale. The policy aimed to “drastically reduce user exposure” to vaccine-hesitant comments as well as to force a “decrease in other engagement of [vaccine-hesitant] comments including create, likes, reports [and] replies.”

Increased government oversight and censorship is the last thing Facebook needs. Media platforms are a whirlwind of ideas and beliefs, and there is no way to ensure that everyone receives accurate information. The responsibility falls on the individual to do their own outside research and make an informed decision. Quieting unpopular opinions only drives more outrage and extremism.

Finally, treating Facebook as a public utility would conveniently provide the government with a central database full of private information.

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. Legitimate whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have already revealed how the government has crippled this constitutional promise by spying on U.S citizens without a warrant.

If Facebook were to be considered a public utility, the government would no longer have to go through the hassle of breaking into companies’ firewalls. Facebook would provide intelligence agencies with a pre-existing database. And this time, the information would be even more expansive — everything from a person’s favorite lunch spot to where their child goes to school.

Facebook might not be listening to conversations through your phone, but it knows who you are interacting with and when. The platform keeps a record of what files or audio messages you are sending, and it has access to all the contacts on your phone. It even monitors your online browsing to serve personalized ad offerings.

Countries that allow the government to regulate the media are violating human rights and persecuting minorities. In China, state-regulated programs evaluate personal media usage to assign citizens social credit scores. In Russia, the government requires companies that possess personnel data to store the information on local servers. The United States could be next.

Haugen’s argument that Facebook has too much influence is antithetical to her argument that the government should regulate Facebook. The power of the media platform would only expand under its new public utility status. She has not sacrificed her position to curb Facebook’s influence, but rather to grow it under the protection of the government.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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Covering for Kaepernick: Couric Edited Anti-Kneeling Comments Due to RBG’s Racial Justice ‘Blind Spot’

Western Journal

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Employment apparently isn’t a very appealing prospect to former “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric.

After bouncing around the nether regions of the media landscape since she left CBS in 2011 — her last major gig was with Yahoo’s streaming division, which is the mainstream media’s version of the direct-to-video movie — Couric has decided to write a tell-all called “Going There.” It manages to earn the title.

In the book, Couric admits to sabotaging the careers of other female journalists and anchors because she felt threatened.

She said Martha Stewart needed “some healthy humbling (prison will do that … ) to develop a sense of humor.”

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She jokingly implied Diane Sawyer, former host of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” would trade sexual favors for interviews. (But don’t worry, Couric didn’t really mean it: “I’m pretty sure I speak for Diane when I say neither of us ever resorted to actual fellatio to land an interview,” she wrote, “but we both engaged in the metaphoric kind — flattering gatekeepers, family members, and whoever else stood in the way of a big get.” Who said ethics in journalism was dead?)

In short, “Going There” has taken Couric from unemployed to very unemployable, and the book hasn’t even come out yet.

As if to put a finer point on the matter, the latest leaked anecdote from the forthcoming tome regarding an interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg manages the impressive feat of infuriating both the right and the left simultaneously.

According to a Monday piece from the Daily Mail, Couric said she selectively edited her 2016 sit-down interview with Ginsburg to omit the liberal icon’s scathing remarks directed at athletes who knelt during the national anthem, ostensibly in the name of “protecting” her.

The interview was done for Yahoo News in October 2016. At that point, two careers were in the process of terminal decline.

One was Couric’s, as she had gone from CBS News to ABC News to the news division of the MySpace of search engines.

The other was that of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who’d placed himself in the midst of a media maelstrom by choosing to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of American-centric injustice; it didn’t help that the controversy this created occurred concurrently with a precipitous decline in the quality of Kaepernick’s play.

However, other athletes joined Kaepernick and anthem-kneeling became A Thing™ in the fall of 2016, albeit as a phenomenon far more controversial than it is five years later. It was against this backdrop that Couric asked RBG what she thought of the athletes kneeling for the anthem.

The interview as published made it clear that Ginsburg wasn’t a fan. “I think it’s really dumb of them,” she said.

“Would I arrest them for doing it? No,” the justice continued. “I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

Couric went further, asking: “But when it comes to these football players, you may find their actions offensive, but what you’re saying is, it’s within their rights to exercise those actions?”

“Yes,” she said. “If they want to be stupid, there’s no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”

However, according to the Daily Mail, Couric revealed in “Going There” that Ginsburg — the most far-left justice to have ever sat on the high court bench by almost any metric — went even further, saying athletes like Kaepernick were showing “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.”

“Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from … as they became older they realize that this was youthful folly. And that’s why education is important,” Ginsburg said.

Do you agree with Ginsburg's comments on anthem protests?

Couric said that while she tried to keep her “personal politics” out of her journalism (do try to stifle your laughter as you read that), she was a “big RBG fan” and felt the remarks were “unworthy of a crusader for equality” like Ginsburg.

She decided to leave the remarks out, obviously. Couric’s reasoning? Ginsburg was “elderly and probably didn’t fully understand the question” and racial justice was a “blind spot” for her. The justice was 83 at the time and died four years later.

Much like every other anecdote we’ve heard Couric share in her upcoming memoir, this makes the former “CBS Nightly News” anchor look nowhere near as good as one imagines she thinks it does.

First, yes — in 2021, the suggestion that athletes kneeling for the national anthem to protest vague notions of injustice is disrespectful to the country, to those who have sacrificed for it and to the fans whose expenditures pay their salaries is widely considered heretical and reactionary. In 2016, however, that was not the case.

In fact, as late as 2018, 54 percent of respondents to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said kneeling for “The Star-Spangled Banner” was “not appropriate.”

Couric’s memory, one might say, is as selective as her editing; it’s not too much of a leap to assume she wasn’t “protecting” Ginsburg so much as she was protecting her own opinion. If one of the country’s leftist heroines was willing to go as far as to say anthem protests show “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life,” maybe it wasn’t Ginsburg who had the “blind spot.”

It’s also worth noting that nowhere in the Yahoo interview (or other contemporaneous sit-downs) did the justice come across as unduly “elderly” — and her response made clear the excuse Ginsburg “probably didn’t fully understand the question” is silly. For that matter, if RBG really were in such a state of decline that she couldn’t properly comprehend the question and Couric was “protecting” her, why was the interview published at all?

The likely answer is that Couric believes none of her own excuses. In this case, her “personal politics” couldn’t allow her to let conservatives have the pleasure of Ginsburg pointing out the obvious when it comes to anthem protesters. She published a narrative, not the news.

It’s worth noting this revelation will have the added bonus of further enraging progressives still unhappy with Ginsburg for not retiring in 2014 when the Democrats had the White House and the Senate.

Her death in September 2020 led to Amy Coney Barrett’s ascension to the high court. After the Supreme Court refused to block Texas’ abortion law, that led to tweets like this one from writer Nandini Balial:

Hey, speaking of “dumb and disrespectful.”

Whatever the case, Couric’s memoir is shaping up to be one of the great media miscalculations of recent years, a self-sabotaging tell-all that spills plenty of dirt — and almost all of it about Katie Couric.

She killed the careers of other female journalists because she felt threatened by them. She admits to engaging in “metaphoric” sex acts to get scoops. And now we know she selectively edited an interview when RBG made too much sense.

At this rate, by the time “Going There” is released on Oct. 26, Katie Couric might not even be able to get a gig on TikTok.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Employment apparently isn’t a very appealing prospect to former “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric. After bouncing around the nether regions of the media landscape since she left CBS in 2011 — her last major gig was with Yahoo’s streaming division, which is the mainstream media’s version of the direct-to-video movie — Couric has decided to write a tell-all called “Going There.” It manages to earn the title. In the book, Couric admits to sabotaging the careers of other female journalists and anchors because she felt threatened. She said Martha Stewart needed “some healthy humbling (prison will do that … ) to develop a sense of humor.” She jokingly implied Diane Sawyer, former host of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” would trade sexual favors for interviews. (But don’t worry, Couric didn’t really mean it: “I’m pretty sure I speak for Diane when I say neither of us ever resorted to actual fellatio to land an interview,” she wrote, “but we both engaged in the metaphoric kind — flattering gatekeepers, family members, and whoever else stood in the way of a big get.” Who said ethics in journalism was dead?) In short, “Going There” has taken Couric from unemployed to very unemployable, and the book hasn’t even come out yet. As if to put a finer point on the matter, the latest leaked anecdote from the forthcoming tome regarding an interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg manages the impressive feat of infuriating both the right and the left simultaneously. According to a Monday piece from the Daily Mail, Couric said she selectively edited her 2016 sit-down interview with Ginsburg to omit the liberal icon’s scathing remarks directed at athletes who knelt during the national anthem, ostensibly in the name of “protecting” her. The interview was done for Yahoo News in…

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Aaron Lewis Unleashes on Dems: They’re ‘Responsible for Every F***ing Scar That Exists’ on America

Western Journal

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Musician Aaron Lewis shredded the Democratic Party as he performed a new country anthem during an acoustic set in Texas last week.

Lewis played his most recent single, “Am I the Only One,” a ballad about the state of the nation in the coronavirus era.

In doing so, he shared his thoughts on what Democrats are doing to life and liberty, going so far as to tell the crowd that they are responsible for every “scar” on our battered country.

The Staind frontman and popular solo artist, known for his poetic and reflective music, broke into a long diatribe that was not fit for radio as he ripped Democrats for dividing and destroying America.

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“I really look back on this timeframe in history and wonder how we were allowed — how we allowed such ridiculousness to happen in this country,” he said during an Oct. 7 show in Grand Prairie, Texas. “We’ve allowed a virus that was created by man to destroy the entire fabric of mankind.”

WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.


Strumming his guitar, Lewis told the raucous crowd, “See, I liked American history at school. I paid close attention in that class. Yeah, but did we all pay attention? Because if we all paid attention in our f***ing history classes, we would know that the Democrats are responsible for every f***ing scar that exists on this country.

“Let’s go through history, shall we, real quick? Every American Indian massacre. Every f***ing slave aside from eight that was ever owned in this f***ing country was owned by f***ing Democrats.

“Every segregational law, every racist law, every Jim Crow law, every f***ing KKK meeting was done by the g*****n Democrats,” he said, to wild cheers from the audience.

“Can we please embrace history so we don’t f***ing repeat it? Please! Go look it up yourself. Please, I’m begging you, do not take my word for it. Get off Google and go look it the f*** up yourself.

“The Democrats are responsible for every f***ing scar that exists on this country. Period. The f***ing end. I implore all of you, please go look it up yourself. I don’t want you to believe me,” he said.

“I don’t want you to think that just because I have this microphone what I’m saying is true. I want you to go and look it the f*** up yourself. Find out for yourself. Wake up.”

After concluding a verse of the song, Lewis asked his audience to recall the riots that overtook America last year. He obliterated the leftist activists who used the unrest to go after cultural landmarks and lit up those who supported and enabled them.

“So last year during those riots that the Democrats sponsored, that the Democrats supported, that the Democrats bailed criminals out of jail for, that our vice president created a fund to bail out the people that were committing crimes during riots — those statues they were tearing down? … They’re all Democrats,” he said.

“Every statue they just tore down, all of them, they’re all Democrats. Isn’t that something? Ain’t that something? Just think about that for a second,” he said before continuing the song.

Lewis has gravitated toward country music in recent years. He has also clearly gravitated toward politics.

His music has endeared him to rock fans for its sincerity and beauty. Lewis isn’t done being sincere, even if he’s not always so eloquent.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Musician Aaron Lewis shredded the Democratic Party as he performed a new country anthem during an acoustic set in Texas last week. Lewis played his most recent single, “Am I the Only One,” a ballad about the state of the nation in the coronavirus era. In doing so, he shared his thoughts on what Democrats are doing to life and liberty, going so far as to tell the crowd that they are responsible for every “scar” on our battered country. The Staind frontman and popular solo artist, known for his poetic and reflective music, broke into a long diatribe that was not fit for radio as he ripped Democrats for dividing and destroying America. “I really look back on this timeframe in history and wonder how we were allowed — how we allowed such ridiculousness to happen in this country,” he said during an Oct. 7 show in Grand Prairie, Texas. “We’ve allowed a virus that was created by man to destroy the entire fabric of mankind.” WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive. Strumming his guitar, Lewis told the raucous crowd, “See, I liked American history at school. I paid close attention in that class. Yeah, but did we all pay attention? Because if we all paid attention in our f***ing history classes, we would know that the Democrats are responsible for every f***ing scar that exists on this country. “Let’s go through history, shall we, real quick? Every American Indian massacre. Every f***ing slave aside from eight that was ever owned in this f***ing country was owned by f***ing Democrats. “Every segregational law, every racist law, every Jim Crow law, every f***ing KKK meeting was done by the g*****n Democrats,” he said, to wild cheers from the audience. “Can we please embrace…

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