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The Daily Caller on Tuesday published a propaganda piece from a Koch-funded contributor painting social media censorship as a myth and hailing Big Tech and Mark Zuckerberg specifically as “champion[s] of free speech.”
Article originally published at Information Liberation.
From The Daily Caller:
RINEHART: Big Tech May Become The Next Champion Of Free Speech
by WILL RINEHART
December 08, 2020 | 11:33 AM ET
Occam’s Razor needs to be applied more broadly in the debate over free speech online. If you think your political position is being suppressed by Facebook or Google or Twitter, it probably isn’t. More likely, your post was taken down because you violated a rule and then interpreted the takedown as a nefarious attempt at censorship.
While there are some notable exceptions, large platforms have a much stronger incentive to keep the content flowing uninterrupted. More content leads to more interaction, which, in turn, means more advertiser revenue.
The heightened risk of regulation is also cajoling platforms to limit their content moderation. On three separate occasions this year, Congress hauled tech leaders into hearings to account for content removal on their platforms. A range of legislative reform packages were proposed by both sides of the aisle that would fundamentally alter Section 230. Meanwhile, Federal Trade Commissioner Christine Wilson wondered aloud if coordination among Facebook, Google and Twitter to take down content might violate antitrust laws.
Yet, the pressures faced by social media companies don’t always align with openness. If users see more content and spam than they want, they tune out. Thus begins a dance where openness leads and content moderation follows.
The real problem comes in interpreting those moments when content is taken down. People have a terrible habit of trying to make sense of the world. We see patterns where they might not exist, which psychologists call pareidolia or apophenia. We also give simple inanimate objects their own intentions and internal motivations. Similarly, every action by a platform is taken as meaningful even if it is not.
[…] Around this time last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg stood before a packed crowd in Georgetown and extolled the virtues of free speech. Although his company may fail to live up to everyone’s standard, Zuckerberg is at least committed to free speech as an ideal.
[…] The incentives for openness are already in place, and as the threat of regulation grows, social media sites will feel even more pressure to keep things open. Sadly, content moderation will always be seen as an ideological choice and not the output of what it is: a bureaucratized institutional process.
Just a few months ago, after meeting with the World Jewish Congress, Mark Zuckerberg announced he was banning all content which depicts “Jewish people running the world or controlling major institutions such as media networks, the economy or the government,” as well as all Holocaust denial.
In September, Zuckerberg announced he was banning all “praise” or “support” for Kyle Rittenhouse (which included deleting a video from a lawyer presenting an impartial case that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense).
Zuckerberg last year started working with the government of France to rat out dissidents on Facebook for “hate speech.”
Facebook has even worked with The Daily Beast to dox a working class Trump supporter for sharing a meme video of Nancy Pelosi.
This is what a “commitment to free speech” looks like, according to The Daily Caller.
None of this censorship was the product of “a bureaucratized institutional process,” it was the product of deliberate actions by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, most of which he personally announced in public statements.
According to The Daily Caller, none of this is happening and it’s all just in our heads. As Rinehart said, we’re simply suffering from “pareidolia” or “apophenia.”
Readers will no doubt be shocked to learn that the organization that Rinehart works for, the Center for Growth and Opportunity, is a Koch funded operation at Utah State University (pdf) which is constantly shilling for Big Tech.
“The Center for Growth and Opportunity was launched, on paper, in 2017 with a $25 million pledge from the Charles Koch Foundation and a matching gift from the Huntsman Foundation,” The Center for Biological Diversity reported in 2018.
“The Koch donation, to be dispersed over 10 years, is contingent on Utah State agreeing that the Center would be overseen by a pre-installed board, according to the affiliation agreement. The board controls the Center’s staffing, and the Koch Foundation can pull its donation and close the Center with 30 days’ notice if it decides the Center is not ‘advancing the purpose’ of the Koch gift agreement. The Center’s founding board includes representatives from Koch and Huntsman-associated programs, such as the Charles Koch Institute, the Kochfunded Mercatus Center and the Huntsman School of Business National Advisory Board.”
In case you're wondering, "The Center for Growth and Opportunity" that Will Rinehart works for was funded with $25 million of Koch brothers money in 2017 and another $25 million from the Huntsman Foundation.
I wonder how much they paid The Daily Caller to run this garbage? pic.twitter.com/DpT1myMg2u
— Chris Menahan 🇺🇸 (@infolibnews) December 9, 2020
Lest anyone think Rinehart is some sort of committed libertarian, Tuesday on Twitter he railed against the Trump administration for not buying 500 million doses of Pfizer’s experimental CV vaccine.
What a shameful act. https://t.co/qZsHdE6iZr
— Will Rinehart (@WillRinehart) December 8, 2020
The Trump Administration had the chance to buy *500 million* doses and they declined it.
— Will Rinehart (@WillRinehart) December 8, 2020
Judging by his bio, his only commitment appears to be to taking Koch money.
Was The Daily Caller paid to run this piece on behalf of Big Tech in the same way the National Review was paid to run propaganda to revive Jeffrey Epstein’s image after his child solicitation conviction?
Did they run it just for “good boy points” from Big Tech?
Their revenue relies on social media distribution, as do most media outlets, so it looks like they don’t want to anger the Tech Gods, and they're going to play along.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) December 8, 2020
Regardless, The Daily Caller — which used to rail against Big Tech censorship when Tucker Carlson was still a part of the publication — is now doing Big Tech’s bidding.
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