2019 was a landmark year for controversial decisions by Google, YouTube (owned by Google), and Facebook, where their power to snuff out political free expression became more publicly known. More and more evidence is surfacing that suggests efforts from the Big Three to minimize, or stifle, conservative voices.
And with the 2020 presidential election not so far away, the question remains: what effect will these Internet behemoths have on voters?
American actor and conservative commentator James Woods has returned to Twitter, the censorious social media platform that suspended him last year.
The occasion for his return? Woods claims that he was inspired by a recent soundbite by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Woods tweeted: “I’ve tried so hard this past year to live without the wealth of knowledge available on Twitter, but this kind of blazing insight can be found nowhere else, so… I’m back!”
Woods shared a clip of AOC ruminating on the metaphor of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” that went viral earlier today.
AOC said, “This idea of a bootstrap—you know this idea, this metaphor of a bootstrap started off as a joke because it’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces. It’s physically impossible!”
Many prominent conservative Twitter voices rejoiced at the news that Woods was back.
At the time of his suspension last year, Woods said, “Until free speech is allowed on Twitter, I will not be permitted to participate in our democracy with my voice. As long as Jack Dorsey remains the coward he seems to be, my Twitter days are in the past.”
it’s clear from the instant reaction on Twitter that many are glad that Woods changed his mind and came back to speak his mind.
Update: On Thursday, Facebook accepted our appeal and reversed its decision. Our article and post were restored and it was determined that The Post Millennial and our author, Libby Emmons, were not in violation of Facebook policy.
Facebook has flagged The Post Millennial for hate speech … against “white women.” In an article entitled “Why are white women signing up for workshops that tell them they suck?” Our senior contributor Libby Emmons explored the phenomenon of white women self-flagellating over issues of race. The story was widely shared and written about workshops that affluent white women partake in to better learn about their own unconscious bias.
Emmons is a white woman, and by the rules of identity politics, a person of a given group is allowed to tell hard truths about that group, even if they’re not always easy to digest. Unless the rules of identity politics don’t apply to white women. Which was, in part, the point of the article.
Hate speech is a serious charge, one that we don’t take lightly. Bashing a group based on their race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity is not an acceptable means of discourse. But that’s not what this article does. Instead, the article points out that a person’s race does not determine their perspective or their worth. The article advocates against racial stereotypes and assumptions based on background.
Additionally, the article lists several articles that call out white people for being racist, based entirely on the colour of their skin. None of these articles were flagged for removal by Facebook. These pieces that specifically target white women for their complicity in racism were featured in The Washington Post, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, AlterNet, and other sites, and some of them were written by writers of colour. Why were these articles acceptable but Emmons’ wasn’t?
This is what identity politics does to people. Some algorithm or some staffer at Facebook saw “white women” and “suck” and came to the wrong conclusion about our content. It was a provocative headline, but the meaning of the piece is that no one should be made to believe that they are lesser because of the colour of their skin.
This is our first “strike” and of course we are appealing. These allegations are simply unfounded. Social media platforms are an essential part of information dissemination, and those who patrol the feeds know this. When they flag items for content violation, much of what they are doing is interpreting user complaints. But social media users who complain about content are not neutral, objective observers. In fact, most of them have larger axes to grind that we do, and they take the job of deplatforming as a means to remove views that they disagree with very seriously.
Facebook should reverse their ridiculous decision. Our post and our article were not in any way hateful and did not violate any community standards. Exploring cultural phenomena is not “hate speech.” If Facebook doesn’t come to its senses, then it’s just a propaganda machine for identity politics apologists. It’s pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg is actively trying to avoid this by hearing views from across the political spectrum, and refusing to police free speech. Perhaps his staff should try to limit their own bias by being more tolerant of a wide range of perspectives.
On Tuesday evening, journalist and Project Veritas firebrand James O’Keefe was temporarily suspended by Twitter for reporting on the radical activities of Bernie Sanders campaign staff.
The tweet that garnered the suspension was a retraction request directed at Dave Weigel of Washington Post, asking him to retract factually inaccurate information about disgraced Sanders staffers Kyle Jurek and Martin Weissberger.
“To prove the inaccuracy our tweet linked to a page found on the Federal Election Commission website showing the ‘volunteer’ was, in fact, a paid staffer of the Sanders campaign. The Post reporter retracted his story. The information we reported is in the public domain, there is nothing ‘private’ about it,” O’Keefe told The Daily Wire.
O’Keefe’s Project Veritas’ #Expose2020 project has been highlighting the radical activities of various Democratic candidates’ staffers throughout America.
Many of these staffers have links to the violent far-left group antifa.
The Post Millennial has reached out to Twitter for comment but has not heard back by the time of publication.
As images and videos depicting President Trump and his political rivals in Congress come under increasing scrutiny by the likes of BuzzFeed and CNN, Twitter has announced its latest effort: cracking down on “manipulated photos or videos that can cause people harm.” In other words, the platform will be tackling political memes it determines to be harmful.
Do memes poking fun at Joe Biden’s bleeding eyes, his confused demeanour, and concerning predilection towards non-consensual touching constitute as harm—particularly if they only affect his reputation as a serious Democratic candidate for President? Perhaps so. To limit this so-called “harm,” Twitter revealed today that it is introducing a new rule and a label to address and “give people more context” around tweets the platform determines requires a closer look.
According to Twitter, which released a video on the matter, altered videos will be labelled as “manipulated media.” Users are encouraged to tap the label, which will be present beneath an edited video or image, “to view info from reputable sources.” One can assume that Fox News, the Daily Caller and other conservative and independent outlets will not be given the privilege of being “reputable,” which is code for the progressive media. As an example, the platform shows how users will be given an “inside look” at how the video has been altered with details on the nature of the edits.
It brings to mind CNN’s investigation into a meme produced by a Reddit user that depicted CNN as Vince McMahon being beaten down by President Trump in a wrestling match. The video, which was shared by the President himself, prompted the cable news organization to dig into the user’s private identity—and even threatened to expose him unless he apologized for producing the meme. As the New York Times reported, “CNN declined to name the user, but said, somewhat mysteriously, that it ‘reserves the right’ to publish his identity in the future if he continued to create offensive content.”
The video was very much in line with the content regularly produced by pro-Trump Twitter users like Carpe Donktum, who BuzzFeed News referred to as “Trump’s favourite meme maker.” For no other discernible reason than to silence him, the news organization doxed the meme maker for his efforts—to no avail. He continues to produce viral videos and has since launched Meme World, a conglomerate of political meme producers.
On a less meme-related note, a video uploaded by Paul Joseph Watson that depicted CNN’s Jim Acosta during his sensationalized physical altercation (if you want to call it that) with a White House staffer became the subject of national conversation after it was shared by the White House’s Sarah Sanders. Members of the press accused Watson of altering the video, speeding it up and adding several frames, per the Wall Street Journal. Given that the video itself was ripped from a livestream and re-encoded for Twitter, it remains to be determined if any of the supposed alterations were deliberate. Whatever the case, it was blown out of proportion.
Twitter claims that this new feature is part of an effort to make the platform “a safer place for conversations.” Well, given their Pravda-like approach to the issue, Twitter will most certainly be less safe for memes and those who make them.