Things got pretty weird, pretty quickly in the wake of Elon Musk’s trial balloon about buying Twitter, a deal that went through Monday, much to the chagrin of the progressive chattering class who were super duper certain the Tesla and SpaceX boy genius was just foolin’ for fun.
Poor NPR had to, at least, aggregate Musk’s new toys (and they did so using his public statements), but it still describes the sale as follows:
“[T]he world’s richest person who has a penchant for theatrics and erratic behavior is about to have the power to reshape discourse on a social network used by more than 200 million people every day.”
They’re not handling it very well.
Thus, Homeland Security brings you the federally-run Truth Commission.
The Biden administration and progressive activists (including former President Obama) sprang into action following Monday’s announcement and — quite literally — began the process of defining disinformation and calling for its regulation to make sure bad speech was addressed and eliminated from the collective safe space.
I know the “1984” references are a little stale but the government creating an actual Ministry of Truth is a little too on the nose for me.
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) April 28, 2022
Not without notice, the hypocrisy and desperation were not hidden.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., ripped the Department of Homeland Security over its creation of a so-called “disinformation board” that he says will be policing free speech instead of the border.
In a letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday, Hawley voiced “deep concern” over the department’s decision to create a new “Disinformation Governance Board.”
“I confess, I at first thought this announcement was satire. Surely, no American administration would ever use the power of government to sit in judgment on the First Amendment speech of its own citizens,” Hawley wrote. “Sadly, I was mistaken. Rather than protecting our border or the American homeland, you have chosen to make policing Americans’ speech your priority. This new board is most certainly unconstitutional and should be dissolved immediately.”
Hawley argued that while Democrats for years have “controlled the public square through Big Tech allies,” Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter “has shown just how tenuous that control is.” The senator said it can be assumed the sole purpose of the disinformation board “will be to marshal the power of the federal government to censor conservative and dissenting speech.”
But the Biden administration, feeble as it is, was just doing the hard job laid out for it by former president Barack Obama; who was just doing the job laid out for him by the Aspen Institute’s disinformation commission.
Obama spoke at Stanford University, April 21st. He highlighted the dangers of online disinformation and how free speech can be a threat. Musk was well aware of how Twitter could convince it to buy by that point. The former president painted an extremely frightening picture. One that ultimately pointed a finger back at “companies that have come to dominate the internet generally, and social media platforms in particular.”
(Very odd that helping introduce Obama at Stanford was Tiana Epps-Johnson, Stanford alum and Obama Foundation fellow, who is also the founder and executive director of the Center for Tech and Civic Life, an ostensibly nonpartisan nonprofit that took in hundreds of millions in funding from one Mark Zuckerberg to help “fortify” the 2020 election.)
Obama gave an hour-long speech in which he described the threats that online disinformation, including AI-powered deepfake tech, pose to democracy and suggested ways the United States might address them.
“This is an opportunity, it’s a chance that we should welcome for governments to take on a big important problem and prove that democracy and innovation can coexist,” Obama said.
There are facts that compete with conspiracy theories and fiction, as well as opinions. “For more and more of us, search and social media platforms aren’t just our window into the internet. They serve as our primary source of news and information,” Obama said. “No one tells us that the window is blurred, subject to unseen distortions, and subtle manipulations.”
The splintering of news sources has also made all of us more prone to what psychologists call “confirmation bias,” Obama said. “Inside our personal information bubbles, our assumptions, our blind spots, our prejudices aren’t challenged, they are reinforced and naturally, we’re more likely to react negatively to those consuming different facts and opinions – all of which deepens existing racial and religious and cultural divides.”
But the problem is not just that our brains can’t keep up with the growing amount of information online, Obama argued. “They’re also the result of very specific choices made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet generally, and social media platforms in particular.”
But Obama didn’t come up with these ideas on his own. Oh no, he had help from a notable think tank called The Aspen Institute, who created a disinformation commission in 2021 and presumably inspired Obama’s “disinformation and democracy” reading list.
He is attempting to fight disinformation, threats to democracy and the internet age. @BarackObamaNominated @AspenDigital’s final Commission on Information Disorder report as the first of his recommended readings. More: https://t.co/ob8ipMhFIZ
— The Aspen Institute (@AspenInstitute) April 22, 2022
Which brings us back to Twitter because Aspen’s commission has a tiny, little problem. There are lots of problems.
Commission members include Katie Couric, who recently acknowledged that she edited comments on National Anthem protests out of a 2016 interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg to preserve the justice’s reputation with liberals. Another commissioner, Rashad Robinson, helped fuel actor Jussie Smollett’s hate crime hoax.
[Yoel] Roth, the head of site integrity at Twitter, blocked access to an Oct. 14, 2020, New York Post article regarding emails from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. Roth claimed to have blocked the article because Roth was informed by the intelligence agency that hackers might be released from foreign countries. No evidence has emerged that Biden’s laptop was stolen or hacked, and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has since acknowledged that the company should not have blocked links to the story.
The Aspen Commission report criticizes Twitter and other social media companies for failures to rein in disinformation but does not cite Twitter’s censorship of the Biden article.
To make it even more bizarre, the same thing happened Thursday.
Uh oh. pic.twitter.com/LSrFCt8KZg
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) April 28, 2022
Yes, it is a mirror of the Declaration of Independence.
It looks like progressive wing of Democrat Party thought they were finally in control of social media. Musk then kinda upset their apple cart. Or, you can stop the transmission of their data packets.
As the progressives adapt, expect some weird moments. You might even cry. The freakout could be a sign that good things are coming.