What exactly is going on with those “30-50 feral hogs” tweets?
Gun control is in the news again. While our neighbours to the south dealt with one of the bloodiest weekends in recent memory, so did the city of Toronto, as 17 people were shot in only a three-day span.
While the debate over gun control rages on, American singer-songwriter Jason Isbell took to Twitter to let his stance be known, stating that “If you’re on here arguing the definition of “assault weapon” today you are part of the problem. You know what an assault weapon is, and you know you don’t need one.”
This morning, rookie Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) “sincerely apologized” to high-profile Jewish activist, Dov Hikind for blocking him on Twitter.
Hikind, a 35-year former New York State Assemblyman and the founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, filed the lawsuit against AOC after he tried to respond to tweets she had posted comparing immigrant detention centres to concentration camps, and her call to revive the term “Never Again.”
According to the New York Post, AOC said: “I have reconsidered my decision to block Dov Hikind from my Twitter account, Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them.”
She also said in the same statement to the Post that “in retrospect, it was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish. I sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind. Now and in the future, however, I reserve the right to block users who engage in actual harassment or exploit my personal/campaign account, @AOC, for commercial or other improper purposes.”
Mr. Hikind told The Post Millennial that he is “glad she (AOC) did the right thing, not only by unblocking me, but by recognizing that my First Amendment rights were violated, and apologizing for her wrongdoing in blocking me, to begin with, which in fact was totally unwarranted.”
This apology by AOC comes just a day before she was to testify in federal court regarding why she blocked Mr. Hikind on Twitter.
Comparing immigrant detention centres to concentration camps meets the threshold of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of Holocaust distortion, through the claim of “intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany.”
Hikind told The Post Millennial the significance of the settlement to the Jewish community: “It shows that we cannot be silenced when we’re critical of people in power and fighting for our rights, and of course for every citizen whose free speech is proven protected.”
AOC has previously said that she has “blocked less than 20 (accounts) and it’s for harassment, not for political views. While people have a right to say whatever they want, they do not have a right to force me to hear it.”
While less than 20 accounts may not seem like an issue to AOC, the impact it has on the First Amendment is detrimental.
Other accounts that AOC has blocked include Ryan Saavedra, Liz Wheeler, Harry Cherry, all of whom are journalists. Hikind commented on this by saying “she’d be better off doing the right thing in advance (unblocking) without the threat of legal action.”
The First Amendment safeguards both in-person and online (social media) compromises to free speech, which may include being blocked on Twitter by a politician.
Hikind won’t say that the block by AOC was due to his Jewish heritage or pro-Israel views entirely, but he said that “She saw that my posts were getting high engagement and it bothered her, so she blocked me. Clearly, she didn’t like a sharp critic getting views on her page, but that’s part of the free speech protected by the legal precedent used in this case.”
It should be known that both Hikind’s and AOC’s Twitter accounts are verified by Twitter. Both accounts have a large following in their perspective audiences, such as Hikind with the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community, as does AOC with many Democrats and the progressive community at large.
Hikind served as a New York State Assemblyman under the Democratic banner, however, he has been known for his conservative views. AOC, on the other hand, is also a Democrat serving in the House of Representatives, with well-known and documented democratic socialist views.
Both parties’ lawyers will still be going to court to close the case.
AOC’s representatives did not respond to The Post Millennial in time of publication.
For years, conservatives have claimed that Twitter censors their views; that Twitter has a “left-wing bias” and purposely blocks opinions on the right.
They are only partially correct, however.
Twitter does censor, suspend, and ban users and their tweets. Yes, this is prevalent on the right-wing.
However, Twitter is not a leftist haven either. In fact, Twitter has increased censorship leftist opinions, especially those that are on the more populist brand.
For example, a “Democratic Socialist” candidate for Congress, Joshua Collins, saw a one-week ban on Twitter after quarrelling with Republican congressional candidate Joey Saladino.
What this demonstrates is that Twitter does not have an explicit or implicit bias against the right-wing. Nor does it have a similar bias against the left-wing.
Twitter censors anyone that challenges the status quo from either side of the political spectrum.
The bias against the right
In a discussion on the Joe Rogan podcast, Tim Pool sat down with Jack Dorsey (Twitter CEO) and Vijaya Gadde (Twitter head for legal, policy, and trust and safety).
Pool described the platform as heavily favouring the “left” by enforcing rules such as misgendering. He said many Conservatives do not believe in this, and hence, there exists bias.
So Pool is right, but only partially.
Slavoj Zizek, the most prominent leftist philosopher alive today, is one of the fiercest critics of political correctness. He has, in fact, labelled it as one of the “most dangerous forms of authoritarianism.”
This form of radical liberalism, according to Zizek, has no real place on the actual left-wing. It is a form of liberal political discourse that is used by the establishment to divide people into competing identity camps.
Pool further claims that holding such an immense monopoly over online information, and enforcing its own biased set of vague rules, as Twitter does, are not conducive to free speech.
Gadde responded that Twitter “doesn’t look at the political spectrum of people when looking at their tweets.”
She may be right. However, when your platform already has an inherent bias, anyone who doesn’t wish to conform to this bias is at risk of being expunged.
And according to Pool, that is wrong.
The bias against the left
Leftists on the more populist side of the argument, such as Berniecrats and Marxists, have faced explicit censorship and bias on Twitter.
Joshua Collins, a socialist candidate running for the Democratic nomination for Congress (WA-10), personally faced the wrath of Twitter’s censorship.
Collins has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter. His fame has resulted in numerous fake accounts popping up using his name.
“I attempted to get verification because there were, at one time, five people pretending to be me, with my same display name and profile picture,” Collins told The Post Millennial.
According to him, he should thus be verified. But Twitter changed its rules fairly recently.
The Intercept mentions that “Twitter’s government relations team has been telling candidates seeking verification that they won’t be giving any new contenders a blue checkmark until after they win the state’s primary.”
Mckayla Wilkes, another socialist candidate for Congress, told The Post Millennial, “This leaves unverified candidates who are clearly public figures, like Cory Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin, and gives yet another advantage to incumbents.”
Rebecca Parson, a third socialist candidate for Congress, informed The Post Millennial that this decision by Twitter has, “made it harder to get found by media and to raise money through organic online traffic.” She says this is important for grassroots campaigns like hers.
Collins, Parson, and Wilkes mentioned that Twitter, “seems to make exceptions to their own policy, in opaque and arbitrary ways.”
In another instance, many Berniecrats were unable to check replies to a tweet by the Working Families Party. The WFP chose to endorse Warren over Bernie, and Twitter blocked Berniecrats from viewing replies to the tweet (and hence replying), but others were able to freely reply.
Parson also confirmed she couldn’t see the replies on the tweet.
In a more recent case, Joshua Collins was suspended from Twitter for proving that Joey Saladino, a YouTuber running for Congress as a Republican, drank his own piss in a video and used black people as a prop to propagate racist views.
Censorship affects populists, on the left and right
With the cases highlighted above, it is clear that Twitter’s arbitrary policies and lack of transparency is hindering discourse on its website.
As many on the right and left notice the challenges big-tech poses to discourse and politics in general, they are raising their voices.
It seems like it will only be a matter of time until these voices reach the doors of Congress.
A father on Twitter managed to get his son Kade thousands of birthday wishes, including some from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster, after his son held a birthday party that nobody turned up to.
To save Kade’s birthday, the father asked his “Twitter friends” to show Kade some love, requesting that they send him a happy birthday wish. Soon after posting, the tweet and accompanying image went viral. Within hours, thousands of people had wished Kade a happy birthday, alongside some famous Canadian personalities.
On Twitter, captain John Tavares said, “Happy 11th birthday Kade! All your friends on the team look forward to celebrating with you. I’m hearing it’s going to be quite the surprise.”
Fellow Maple Leaf, Mitchell Marner, also wished Kade a happy birthday, telling his 169 thousand followers “[I] wanted to wish my friend Kade a Happy 11th Birthday! Your friends from the Maple Leafs have a surprise gift coming your way!”
What was perhaps more exciting for young Kade was Doug Ford’s birthday wish. The premier of Ontario wished kade a happy birthday on behalf of the province.
At the end of the day, Kade’s father notified everyone on Twitter about the impact their wishes had made on the eleven-year-old.
“We can’t comprehend what has happened today. Kade and the rest of us are just amazed. To EVERYONE who sent Kade a message – thank you from the bottom of our hearts. He is an amazing son and he will never forget this day,” said Foster to 19 thousand supporters.
One of Canada’s largest oil companies, Encana Corp., has announced its plans to move its headquarters to the U.S. and drop links to Canada from its name, rebranding as Ovintiv Inc.
According to the Financial Post, this latest announcement will surely intensify uncertainty surrounding Canada’s energy sector, which has been “choked off [of] prospects for growth, prompting foreign companies to ditch more than US$30 billion of assets in the past three years.”
In a conference call, CEO Doug Suttles said that he does not believe that the move to the U.S. will impact the Canadian workforce, as the company will continue to do business in Canada.
Following the announcement, shares of the company fell as low as 9.2 percent in Toronto.
Sonya Savage, the Minster of Energy for Alberta, says she’s “troubled” by Encana’s decision to relocate to the U.S., but “cannot say [she’s] surprised” by the move or that they waited until after the federal election to make the announcement.
Savage says that the company has been progressively shifting its efforts towards the U.S. in large part due to harmful climate policies which make it more difficult for oil companies to operate in Canada. She says that she hopes that this company’s decision to leave the country for greener pastures in the U.S. serves as a wake-up call for politicians in Ottawa.
Indeed, few are shocked by the decision, and many have justified it as entirely logical after Texan Doug Suttles took over as Chief Executive Officer for the company in 2013. Upon acquiring the position, Suttles aggressively began selling Canadian assets and building up the company’s position in the U.S. by purchasing Permian driller Athlon Energy and Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s Eagle Ford shale assets.
Last December, Suttles relocated to Denver and announced that the company would be “headquarterless”, a move indicative of his determination to distance himself from the toxic Canadian climate besieging the energy sector in the country.
“A domicile in the United States will expose our company to increasingly larger pools of investment in U.S. index funds and passively managed accounts, as well as better align us with our U.S. peers,” Suttles said in a statement Thursday.