Three attorneys general whose states are among 19 combatting Big Tech censorship contended at a news conference Wednesday they can gain traction in their fight through state consumer-protection laws.
Article by Art Moore from WND.
Ken Paxton of Texas, who has sued Google and is the target of a Twitter lawsuit to block his investigation of the social-media platform, said now is the time to act.
“These companies are extremely powerful, extremely wealthy, some of them are larger than most countries,” he said in a Zoom conference call organized by the Media Research Center attended by WND.
“Unless we start addressing this very soon, we may lose our opportunity to address some of the wrongs that are occurring.”
Paxton said that as soon as he was re-elected, his office began researching the issue, consulting with scholars, experts and attorneys with anti-trust experience. He concluded Texas needed to begin with a case against Google for monopolistic behavior.
He said Google’s near “absolute” control of advertising – representing the buyers, sellers and the exchange – is like a baseball game in which the pitcher, catcher, batter and umpire are all playing for the same team.
Paxton’s office also is probing the actions of Twitter, Amazon, Apple and Google in shutting down Parler. He’s sent out inquiries, called civil investigative demands, about the companies’ policies.
Most of the companies have cooperated, he said, but he was sued by Twitter this week in California court. Twitter claims the banning of certain conservative voices is protected by the First Amendment.
Paxton said Twitter apparently “has some fear of disclosing what they are actually doing, and they are asking a California judge to rule on a Texas law.”
“So, it’s going to be a very interesting couple of months as we continue to pursue finding out the truth about these companies and holding them accountable,” he said.
WND asked Paxton his response to critics who argue that the tactic of fines means little to companies worth $1 trillion that make more than $100 billion a year.
Paxton acknowledged that the European Union has tried massive fines that amount to pocket change for the tech giants. After a decade pursuing antitrust charges, Google, which made $160 billion last year, was fined $10 billion.
But he argued that some states have passed deceptive trade practice acts, including Texas, that issue fines of $10,000 per violation, which he said “can add up, even for a company like Google.”
“Additionaly, I think there needs to be more discussion of structural change and allowing state AGs to focus on redirecting some of these companies and maybe potentially breaking off parts of them so there is more competition,” he said.
Paxton said he is all for “free markets and the opportunity for businesses to grow and to innovate.”
“But when you have monopolistic behavior, consumers are disadvantaged by higher costs, less innovation and fewer choices,” he said.
“So, we want to make sure that our markets are fair and competitive. One competitor can’t dominate a particular niche in the market, especially when you’re talking about techn com that are controlling extremely important parts of our economy and parts of our discourse.”
‘Growing preponderance of evidence’
Brent Bozell, the founder of the Media Research Center, added that every single fine is one more piece of evidence “to show that these aren’t impartial platforms, but they are subjective publishers.”
“And every single time there’s a fine of that nature, it’s going to be our intention to take it to Congress and to show it as yet another piece of evidence to show that they shouldn’t be afforded Section 230 protections,” he said.
His reference is to the federal law that grants immunity from libel lawsuits to the tech giants based on the premise that they are neutral platforms, allowing a free flow of information and viewpoints, rather than publishers that control content.
“So it’s not just fines, it is the growing preponderance of evidence to show that these Big Tech companies are violating their terms of service with the American people,” Bozell said. “They aren’t what they say they are.”
Last month, as WND reported, a coalition of conservative leaders organized by Bozell launched a petition drive urging citizens to ask their state attorneys general to investigate whether or not Big Tech companies are violating their state’s consumer protection statute.
On Wednesday, Bozell cited a poll that found 81% of Americans believe the Big Tech monopolies should be broken up.
He said 19 states are taking action to “reign in Big Tech on the state level,” with more to come.
The tech giants, he said are “deciding winners and losers and interfering in the most sacred right of Americans, the right of free speech.”
Bozell’s MRC has set up a website compiling cases of censorship called CensorTrack. It invites any victim’s of tech censorship to submit their story.
‘Putting a human face on censorship’
At the Wednesday news conference, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said her office is conducting investigations of antitrust behavior and filing lawsuits.
She offers an email address – [email protected] – to which residents of her state can send their stories of censorship.
“This is putting a human face on all this censorship,” she said.
Fitch said she was a victim just last week when Twitter removed a video raising awareness of the crime of human trafficking. The video was removed within 37 seconds, she said, which meant Twitter censors didn’t even have time to watch it.
There was nothing in the video, she said, that violated Twitter’s standard of “sensitive content,” which normally refers to sexual content or graphic violence.
“If Twitter or any of these platforms can be so cavalier that they can take down an attorney general … they’re going to take all of us down,” she said.
Calling the tech platforms the “new town squares,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she recently introduced the Arkansas Unfair Social Media Censorship Act, which would fine tech companies up to $10,000 per incident.
The bill, she said, targets any effort to “censor, delete or label speech, including religious or political language.”
Last Friday, warning that the “First Amendment is under assault,” Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new bill that “prohibits social media companies from censoring Texans” based upon their “viewpoints” and enables people who have been “canceled, censored or deplatformed” to sue the tech companies.
He said a “dangerous movement” is spreading nationwide aiming to “silence conservative ideas [and] religious beliefs.”
Social media is “the new public square,” Abbott said, but Facebook, Twitter and others are “controlling” the flow of information, choosing winning and losing “viewpoints.”
“Texas is taking a stand against Big Tech political censorship,” he said “We are not going to allow it in the Lone Star State.”
In February, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced legislation to prevent Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Amazon and Apple from censoring content or selling users’ data.
“The core issue here,” DeSantis said, “is this: are consumers going to have the choice to consume the information they choose, or are oligarchs in Silicon Valley going to make those choices for us? No group of people should exercise such power, especially not tech billionaires in Northern California.”
Twitter permanently banned the account of President Trump and other conservatives after the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January. Paxton then announced an investigation into Twitter and four other Big Tech companies for what he called “the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President.”
Paxton is seeking a variety of information from the companies, including their content moderation policies and internal communications. But Bloomberg reported Twitter is resisting investigators’ demands for “highly confidential documents”
Twitter claims Paxton is retaliating against the company for banning Trump’s account.
“Paxton made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees,” Twitter said in its complaint.
Paxton led a lawsuit that challenged the 2020 election results in six states based on evidence of fraud and irregularities. Attorneys general from 17 other states joined in the complaint, which was rejected by the Supreme Court. The high court reasoned that fraud in an election in one state would not impact the results of the election in another state.
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report has appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. One of our YouTube accounts was banned and another has been suspended. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancelation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects. These questions are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting cancelled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ Report readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are on track to be short by about $5300 per month in order to maintain operations.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. We had 5,657,724 sessions on our website from November, 2020, through February, 2021. Our intention is to elevate that to higher levels this year by focusing on a strategy that relies on free speech rather than being beholden to progressive Big Tech companies.
During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
We’re heading in the right direction and we believe we’re ready talk to patriotic investors who want to not only “get in on the action” but more importantly who want to help America hear the truth. Interested investors should contact me directly with the contact button above.
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