Modern Monsters

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot      October 30, 2020

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Modern Monsters
I knew this year was going to be tough because of the election. But it is a horror show to actually see communities, friendships and families ripped apart by the constant trolling that is purposely pitting Americans against each other with lie after lie (most of the time this kind of content is coming from out of the country.) People are acting like fanatic idiots, like puppets, while the puppet masters accumulate more money than has ever been made in the history of the world. It seems as if people have surrendered their brains and their humanity to the sinister, collective Halloween monsters Big Tech and Social Media. THE MONSTERS ARE OUT OF THE CLOSET The censoring of the New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s emails by Twitter and Facebook is a chilling action no matter what side of the aisle you support. And I mean no matter what side of the aisle you support! It is vitally important, in a free society, for ideas to intersect, as uncomfortable as that may be. When ideas interface, they grind against each other to form synthesis. This is how we grow. This atrocious censorship by the tech giants is a blatant abuse of the power they have accumulated. It is completely without ethics or balance. You think you know if this story is truth or fiction? You don’t. I don’t. If the story has legs, it will stand. If it is a lie, it will be exposed. Good investigative reporting is what is needed, not a censoring spike. It’s all about money. Tech companies have monetized their platforms and sold their users out to marketers who sell their products or their ideologies here in the United States. They have grown into international monsters with long tentacles reaching around the world. They have billions… billions… of users they serve, manipulate, and exploit. We have watched them cooperate with a sinister, totalitarian government to surveil and censor citizens and news in China for a lousy “piece of the 1.4 billion population market.” Now, they are censoring here. According to Sara Joseph of the Castan Center for Human Rights Law, “While the influence of money in politics is pervasive, and probably inherently undemocratic, it seems unlikely that spending money to deploy social media to boost an electoral message is any more a breach of human rights than other overt political uses of money. Yet the extraordinary scale and precision of its manipulative reach might justify differential treatment of social media compared to other advertising, as its manipulative political effects arguably undermine democratic choices.” RESISTANCE TO BIG TECH MAKES FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS I worked on a documentary about the Resistance Movements of World War II. Groups that had nothing to do with each other, groups that would have nothing to do with each other, came together to fight Nazi monsters. I see the early stages of this as people who put ethics above ideologies begin to coalesce around the travesty of the censoring of the New York Post. From conservative sources like Breitbart to alternative sources like Glen Greenwald and The Intercept to employees of Facebook and Twitter themselves, people of conscience recognize the danger to freedom inherent in this blatant abuse of power. Roger McNamee, who mentored Zuckerberg, calls Facebook a catastrophe. “Bad actors have had a field day exploiting Facebook and Google, leveraging user trust to spread disinformation and hate speech, to suppress voting and to polarize citizens in many countries. They will continue to do so until we, in our role as citizens, reclaim our right to self-determination.” SECTION 230 Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects tech giants like Twitter, Facbook, Instagram and YouTube from being held liable for the content their users post, and how the tech companies themselves moderate it. In other words, they can’t be sued for what users post or for censoring information. The recent executive order challenging this protection states, “Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see…. We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms, and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and openness of American discourse and freedom of expression.” If the Big Tech companies start editing what is able to be seen on their platforms, they become publishers. Ajit Pai, head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), stated, “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.” If the social media platforms are completely neutral, that is one thing. The New York Post censorship situation has crossed a line that even Jack Dorsey, head of Twitter, claimed was unacceptable. BE STRONG, ENCOURAGE EMPATHY, BE HUMAN Jamie Zaki, writing for Scientific American, states, “…[W]hile apparently serving us, technology quietly poisoned the connections that keep us human.” If you, dear reader, have lost friends, fought with family, felt alone, felt frightened during this insane year, you are not alone. There has been a concerted effort by bad actors within our country and outside to profit in money and power, no matter what the human cost. With the election only a few days away, I urge you to rise above ideologies. Treasure diversity among family, friends and neighbors. Remember you can disagree and still love each other. As Nietzsche said, “Be careful when you fight the monsters lest you become one.” Happy Halloween! Vamos a ver.
Paula Labrot
      October 30, 2020

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