The Facebook Ban Hurt Trump in Surprising Ways

“Facebook always was hugely important to Trump in his political rise and reign. Twitter, which has booted him forever, tended to be more front and center — it was for Trump a rough, running focus group, and a real-time, utterly un-private diary. But if Twitter was the loudspeaker, Facebook was the less flashy but nonetheless critical organizing, advertising and fundraising infrastructure. Compared to Twitter’s noisy café, Facebook was the underground pipes. It’s hard to see how Trump would have become president without it.

“I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win,” Brad Parscale, the digital media director on Trump’s 2016 campaign who then started as his campaign manager in 2020, said in 2017. “Facebook was the method — it was the highway which his car drove on.”

“… large numbers of conservative voters, ability to broadcast all day, multiple times to the same audience, and the numbers were showing in the consumer side that people were spending more and more hours of their day consuming Facebook content,” he said in 2018. “Being able to show a message directly from President Trump talking… talking directly to camera was very important. I could get it right there not filtered by the media, not filtered by anyone. It was his face. It was the person you wanted to hear from talking directly to you.”

A New Yorker headline in March of 2020 referred to “Trump’s Facebook Juggernaut.”

“He arguably has the best fundraising list in Republican politics right now, which means he has the best email lists and text messaging lists, but there’s a half-life on that — because people change emails, change cell phone providers. So it’s important that he keeps filling that pipeline with new contacts, and that’s where Facebook comes in,” Wilson said, noting that polling he’s done suggests that 60 percent of voters log on to Facebook every day.”

A major battle over free speech on social media is playing out in India during the pandemic

“As the coronavirus pandemic rages in India, claiming thousands of lives, many Indians are turning to social media to demand that the government handle the public health crisis better. And now, the government is silencing these critics in its latest threat to the future of free speech on the internet in the world’s second-most populous country.

In recent weeks, the Indian government has requested that companies like Twitter take down content that it says contains misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic. But critics say that India’s political leadership under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using the premise of misinformation to overreach and suppress criticism of the administration’s handling of the pandemic.”

“under the Modi administration of the past several years, the country has expanded its internet regulation laws, giving it more power to censor and surveil its citizens online. The government has several levers to pressure US-based tech companies into compliance: It could arrest Facebook and Twitter staff in India if their employers don’t follow orders. Even further, India could yank Twitter or Facebook off the local internet in India entirely, as it recently did with TikTok and several major Chinese apps in June. And the government resorted to effectively shutting down the internet in Kashmir in February 2020 when it wanted to quiet political dissent in the region.”

“Facebook confirmed that it temporarily blocked posts with a #ResignModi hashtag in India, but it later said it was a mistake because of content associated with the hashtag that violated its policies. Facebook has since restored access to the hashtag.

Facebook declined to comment on how many or what takedown requests it has received from the Indian government in recent weeks. A source familiar with the company said Facebook only took down a small portion of the total requests it received.”

“Recode reviewed the more than 50 tweets that Twitter blocked or deleted at the request of the Indian government in recent weeks. While some could be considered misleading — including one viral image showing devastation in India supposedly related to the pandemic which Indian fact-checker AltNews reported to be outdated — it wasn’t clear what was misleading about several other posts, which appeared to be straightforward news and political commentary.”

How China’s “wolf warrior” diplomats use Twitter to troll Beijing’s enemies

“China has a new weapon in its global information warfare arsenal: “wolf warriors.”

Named after a popular Chinese nationalistic film franchise, “wolf warriors” are official government diplomats whose duties go beyond the traditional diplomatic functions of closed-door negotiating and hosting fancy embassy soirees — and into the cutthroat world of Twitter.

Armed with 280 characters and access to a platform that has millions of users worldwide but is blocked for most people in China, they fiercely defend China against its foreign critics, ruthlessly taunt countries and leaders who have displeased the Chinese government, and shamelessly spread misinformation that serves Beijing’s interests.

In other words, they’re professional diplomatic trolls.”

Firing Actors for Being Conservative Is Another Hollywood Blacklist

“In the 1950s, Hollywood studios — under pressure from the right — promised they would not “knowingly employ a communist.” This blacklist eventually became notorious, especially in Hollywood, which came to lionize its victims in several films. And yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the blacklist policy from the emerging current treatment of right-wingers.

Earlier this week, Gina Carano, an actor in The Mandalorian, was fired from her job after a controversy over an allegedly anti-Semitic social-media post. In short order, UTSA, her talent agency, dropped her as a client.”

“The post in question, which triggered a social-media firestorm that quickly led to her firing and loss of representation, was not anti-Semitic by any reasonable definition. The post simply argued (uncontroversially) that the Holocaust grew out of a hate campaign against Jews, which it then likened (controversially) to hatred of fellow Americans for their political views”

“I don’t find this post especially insightful. But overheated comparisons to Nazi Germany are quite common, and, more to the point, not anti-Semitic. There is no hint anywhere in this post of sympathy for Nazis or blame for their victims.

Many of the reports of Carano’s termination string together the trumped-up offense of her post about Nazism with a series of controversial posts. The worst of them is a post insinuating elections are rife with voter fraud and should impose photo ID — a claim that, while provably false, is also a standard-issue Republican belief. The second-most controversial post in her history is a very small joke, in which she added “boop/bop/beep” to her Twitter profile, before apologizing for the insensitivity of seeming to mock the practice of including pronouns in social-media biographies.”

“If you think blacklisting is only bad if its targets have sensible views, I have some bad news for you about communism. While some victims of the McCarthy-era blacklist were liberals or progressives who refused to turn in the names of their colleagues, others were bona fide communists. Dalton Trumbo — a Hollywood writer who was blacklisted, then wrote under front names, and whose story was told in a recent hagiographic movie starring Bryan Cranston — followed the Communist Party line in the Stalin era. When many fellow communists dropped out of the movement after Stalin formed an alliance with Hitler, Trumbo followed the new party line.

Trumbo gained some martyrdom when he was hauled to Washington to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. “This is the beginning of the American concentration camp,” he warned. (Fortunately for Trumbo, his antagonists, unlike Carano’s, were not witless enough to confuse hyperbolic Nazi comparisons with anti-Semitism.)”

Parler, the “free speech” Twitter wannabe, explained

“But despite the recent attention, some say the rise of Parler fits into the larger history of American conservatives and their relationship with the media.

“This follows a pattern of what the right wing has done [since] the rise of talk radio in the ’80s, and then through live cable TV, and then the rise of social media,” Lawrence Rosenthal, the chair of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Right-Wing Studies, told Recode. “In each case, what you found is that the right wing gives up on participating in mainstream media and creates an alternative universe.””

“Based in Nevada, the company behind Parler is run primarily by two people: Matze and Jared Thomson, who serves as CTO. Neither of them had a particular public profile before creating the app. Jeffrey Wernick, a bitcoin enthusiast and early Airbnb investor, serves as the company’s chief operating officer. But there are other people funding the app.

Earlier this month, Parler confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer was the company’s lead investor and agreed to fund Parler only if it gave users control over what they saw on the platform.”

Fox News goes to desperate lengths to gin up outrage over clip of Vince Vaughn chatting with Trump

“Fox News’s article about how Vaughn supposedly “faces liberal outrage after he was seen with Trump during national championship game” prominently features a tweet from Washington Examiner staffer Siraj Hashmi, who is hardly a liberal, sarcastically quipping that “Ladies & gentlemen, I regret to inform you Vince Vaughn is CANCELED” — but the tweet is presented in David Aaro’s article as though Hashmi is a liberal who meant it earnestly.

Hashmi later noted on Twitter that the Fox News article caused right-wing trolls to flood his Instagram page with abusive comments. And the few other examples of “liberal outrage” in the piece were gleaned from the far fringes of Twitter. (Fox News still hasn’t figured out that Hashmi isn’t actually liberal as of Tuesday afternoon — his tweet was falsely cited as an example of “liberal cancel culture” on Outnumbered.)”

“a few left-wing accounts did react to Burke’s clip with comments like, “Sad. Vince Vaughn is one of my favorites. I always knew he was Republican but this, so gross … I don’t need a Wedding Crashers sequel anymore.” But the idea that there was some sort of concerted liberal backlash to the clip is make-believe aimed at ginning up outrage.”