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Face Off: Congress v Zuckerberg

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony revealed much about both the social media industry, and our government’s mentality.

First, Zuckerberg. He seemed “in over his head,” repeatedly inserting “run out the clock” words and phrases into his responses to evidently hide his nervousness (do you blame him?). How many times did he say, “Congressman!” and “that’s a great question”? (Well, of course it was a great question, I waited for someone to say, because if it wasn’t so great, I wouldn’t have asked it!) Zuckerberg time and time again seemed to be buying time, running seconds off each elected representative’s four or five minutes of allotted time.

Zuckerberg got buffeted by representatives on privacy, on European regulations, and most notably by Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Steve Scalise on the subject of political bias.

Yet Zuckerberg disappointed before a worldwide audience. He had a chance to tell the world that:

1. no, a private tech company is not an unpaid deputy of the government, acting with the authority and power of the state;
And

2. A private tech company is not acting
in loco parentis when it obtains user information, and

3. Users across the world are free to use, or leave, Facebook and that these freedoms often exceed the freedoms people enjoy under the laws of most nations in the world today. Facebook, warts and all, is one of the most democratic institutions on the planet!

Instead, Zuckerberg came to Capitol Hill, showing contrition over the involvement of Cambridge Analytica (a third party as to which Facebook’s responsibility is unclear and dubious). What we saw — what the world saw — was the United States Congress bullying a private social media company.

Now, Zuckerberg is hardly a sympathetic figure. Many people envy him for his fantastic wealth and profile, and for his youth. Also, Silicon Valley and indeed much of American big business is quite leftist (Zuckerberg acknowledged this). But his beating — which he handled pretty well, all things considered — was both undeserved and likely to backfire.

Some representatives used the hearings to preen, showboat and showcase their “fighting for the common man” bonafides, and any business leader makes for a great whipping boy these days. But almost everyone grilling Zuckerberg showed a zeal for flexing the awesome powers of government.

There are many problems with the operations of major social media platforms. The growing publicity surrounding these problems is already causing reform, and in some cases, boycotts and departures from the platforms, and innovations by new competitors.

All we got from Washington, DC was a group of elected representatives reminding the tech innovators of America of “who’s the boss.”

I can’t help but think that, across the world, innovators and disruptors are heeding that message. So are, I fear, America’s competitors.

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Education

George Washington University students triggered by their mascot

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George Washington University students triggered by their mascot

George Washington University is the home of the Colonials. You know, those people who came to America from Europe and eventually fought against the oppressive government of England in order to win independence for America. These heroes of the American Revolution are now being condemned by the students of George Washington University itself.

While the movement and attached petition haven’t reached a tipping point, the idea of changing the mascot to the “Hippo” is gaining momentum. Why? Well, we’ll let the students themselves tell you what they think.

This video by Campus Reform takes us into the wacky world of triggered college students who are so much in opposition of the people who made this country possible that they’d rather be named after the “river horse” of sub-Saharan Africa.

 


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Media

Trump to Acosta: ‘You have an agenda. You’re CNN. You’re fake news.’

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Trump to Acosta You have an agenda Youre CNN Youre fake news

During President Trump’s press conference announcing his declaration of a national emergency, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked whether the President was concocting the national emergency in order to build his border wall because he couldn’t get it done through Congress. The President responded in standard fashion, attacking Acosta’s question itself as biased.

“You have an agenda. You’re CNN. You’re fake news,” the President said to the reporter.

Acosta has been at the center of controversy throughout President Trump’s term, tussling with members of the administration and the President himself at times. He lost access to the White House in November, 2018, after an altercation with a White House staffer.

This time, the President answered Acosta’s question about whether or not the emergency was manufactured by telling him to ask the Angel moms sitting in the front row if they thought the emergency was manufactured. Acosta did not.

 


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Immigration

President declares national emergency. Now the craziness begins.

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President declares national emergency Now the craziness begins

As expected, President Trump signed the omnibus to keep the government from a second shutdown. Then, as expected, he declared a national emergency at the southern border to allow his administration to free up funds for the building of a wall at our southern border.

Now, the expectations shift to how Democrats will attack this move. During his announcement of the national emergency, the President noted he’s aware of how the process is going to go: lawsuits, appeals, more lawsuits, more appeals… and eventually it will be decided by the Supreme Court.

Reactions on social media were mixed.

My Take

From here, it goes insane. It should be noted the President made what many are considering a mistake when he said he “didn’t have to” declare an emergency but wanted the wall built faster. That seems like grounds to attack the declaration itself.

 


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