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Gold bitcoin on dark background

COSM Speaker Peter Thiel: The Failures and “Self-Hatred” of Big Tech

Listen to maverick entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s talk from last year’s COSM conference. Thiel discusses his views of artificial intelligence, Big Tech’s monopoly, China, and the future of technology with legendary tech guru George Gilder. You can register now to hear Peter Thiel and George Gilder at this year’s COSM conference in November. Show Notes 00:50 | Introducing Peter Thiel 01:12…

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Social media concept.

Federal Trade Commission Takes Facebook to Court… Again

The FTC hopes to prove in an 80-page complaint that Facebook holds damaging monopoly power over competitors

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an amended complaint against Facebook, trying again for an antitrust lawsuit after a federal judge dismissed their original complaint earlier this summer. The updated complaint alleges that Facebook has violated antitrust laws and garnered monopoly power, namely by buying up rival companies and imposing unfair policies that “neutralize perceived competitive threats.” Facebook is the world’s dominant online social network, with a purported three billion-plus regular users. Facebook has maintained its monopoly position in significant part by pursuing Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy, expressed in 2008: “it is better to buy than compete.” True to that maxim, Facebook has systematically tracked potential rivals and acquired companies that it viewed as serious competitive…

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An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Is “Misinformation” Another Way to Say “Unwelcome Information”?

Cameron English notes that, on social media, major media outlets can botch the science with impunity but the slightest offenses, real or imagined, get others silenced

At American Council on Science and Health (“promoting science and debunking junk since 1978”), Cameron English reflects on the handwringing among social media companies about how to crack down on “misinformation” on COVID-19. Given the number of authoritative statements made and suddenly reversed, tt seems that any such crackdown would largely be driven by politics. For example: Facebook recently announced that it would “no longer take down posts claiming that Covid-19 was man-made or manufactured,” and the company’s new policy nicely underscores this point about credibility. What was the social media platform’s justification for allowing users to discuss the lab-spillover hypothesis? It didn’t hire a team of virologists and foreign policy experts to assess the viability of competing explanations for…

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Big Tech Law

The judge ruled that the law violates the First Amendment rights of social media companies

A federal judge struck down the recent Florida legislation aimed at reigning in the censorship powers of Big Tech, hours before it was set to go into effect. Within days of Governor DeSantis signing the bill into law in May, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a lawsuit, representing the biggest names in social media (such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon). They argued that the new law is a violation of their First Amendment rights as private companies. On June 30, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of NetChoice and CCIA, issuing a preliminary injunction on the law after determining that it violates the First Amendment…

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Behind a clock

Is Technology Running Backward?

Technology isn't adding value anymore. It's adding expense.

I’ve been a computer nerd since I was a young child. My dad bought the family a TI 99/4A before I even went to Kindergarten, and I basically started programming when I learned to read. As I grew up, the thing that fascinated me most about technology was the ability to automate.  Automation, in theory, is supposed to make people’s lives better. It’s supposed to take the drudgery out of work, to leave people to focus on the more creative aspects of their work. With a word processor, I can type, correct, spellcheck, rewrite, and reorganize in an instant. I can even maintain old drafts easily. With a spreadsheet, I can keep track of all my income, expenses, grades, goals,…

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Laptop computer displaying 'we control' sign

Is Facebook Anti-Science or Was That Just a Bad Mood It Was In?

The curious case of the scientist who spoke up about possible misrepresentations of research points up the problem with Big Tech social media today

University of Florida geneticist Kevin Folta recently learned the hard way about the imbalancesof Facebook censorship. On June 19, the company flagged a 2015 post written by University of Florida geneticist Kevin Folta. What was his offense? Folta took two anti-pesticide activists to task for making misleading statements about the weed killer glyphosate. They falsely claimed the herbicide causes cancer and alleged that the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) acknowledged the causal link between the two. Cameron English, “Social Media Censorship: Scientist Corrects Anti-GMO Silliness, Facebook Threatens To Ban Him” at American Council on Science and Health (June 22, 2021) Folta, Cameron tells us, was informed that “his post violated Facebook’s ‘community standards’ and warned that his account may…

Big brother electronic eye concept, technologies for the global surveillance, security of computer systems and networks

A Book Review: The Tyranny of Big Tech

A beautiful defense of the common man and woman against a technological elite

“Our republic has never been more hierarchical, more riven by class, more managed by an elite than it is today,” writes Josh Hawley in The Tyranny of Big Tech. Who might that elite be? According to Hawley, it’s not our politicians, our lawyers, our Ivy League graduates, or our Hollywood celebrities. It’s Big Tech – those big names like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and Google that have embedded themselves in our lives to an almost irreversible degree. Hawley has spent his career as a U.S. Senator, and formerly as Missouri’s Attorney General, holding Big Tech accountable where others don’t dare tread. In investigations, in legislation, and now in this book, Hawley has confronted the antitrust and privacy violations committed by…

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Woman hand using smart phone with lock icon graphic at coffee shop. Technology business concept.

Censoring the Censors? Florida’s Anti-Censorship Law

What exactly does the law do, and why is Big Tech sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it?

Originally published by Dr. Karl Stephan at Engineering Ethics On May 24, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill designed to stop social media firms from censoring free speech. At least that’s what the governor’s website claims it does. Two big-tech industry groups, Netchoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), sued the state of Florida in early June over the legislation, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. What exactly does the law do, and why are organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it? People of certain political persuasions need not look far for motivations to pass such a law. Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year,…

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Judge Holding Documents

Big Tech Sues Florida Over New Censorship Law

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are fighting back against a Florida law that seeks to reign them in

Technology trade companies representing Facebook, Twitter, and Google are suing Florida over its new law regulating the editorial and censorship powers of large social media platforms. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on May 24, the first of its kind in the nation to curb the powers of online companies to remove and censor content and users. NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) – technology trade groups that have been vocal about their opposition to the law – filed the lawsuit against Florida the following Thursday in Tallahassee federal court. DeSantis and other supporters of the new law argue that its purpose is to safeguard the First Amendment rights of ordinary Florida citizens…

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This is the State Capitol building. It has a large concrete stairway leading up to it with large columns holding up the facade.

Florida Governor Signs Bill Reining in Big Tech

The bill Governor DeSantis signed is the first in the nation to ban social media companies from deplatforming political candidates

In the current national battle between Big Tech and Big Government, a new Florida law will punish social media companies for discriminating against political viewpoints and deplatforming political candidates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on Monday. The legislation protects Florida citizens and political candidates from inequitable viewpoint censorship. “Now more than ever, social media has really become the twenty-first century public square,” John Snyder, a Representative in the Florida House, told Mind Matters News. “It’s evolved from what used to be just a platform where people could post thoughts and pictures to now this is a tool that people rely on to communicate with their family, to talk with their friends, to air their grievances, and really to…

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Social media concept.

Fallout From Facebook’s Huge Privacy Hack: A Serious Unfriending

The Big Hack in April, in which even Mark Zuckerberg’s data got scraped, was hardly the first one Facebook faced

We’ll let engineering prof Karl Stephan start the story, comparing Facebook to God: For purposes of discussion, we will compare Facebook to the traditional Judeo-Christian God of the Old and New Testaments. And we will restrict the comparison primarily to two matters: communication and trust (or faith). Users of Facebook communicate with that entity by entering personal information into Facebook’s system. That act of communication is accompanied by a certain level of trust, or faith. Facebook promises to safeguard one’s information and not to reveal it to anyone else without your permission… Karl D. Stephan, “In Facebook we trust” at MercatorNet Safeguard the information? As recent news reports revealed, a month ago today, a hacker released roughly 533 million users’…

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Face recognition and personal identification technologies in street surveillance cameras, law enforcement control.

Canada Orders Facial Recognition App to Cease and Desist

Your face is likely already stored in this app's database

In February, Canada released the findings of a year-long investigation into the US-based facial recognition app, Clearview AI. The investigation declared Clearview’s actions illegal within Canada and ordered the company to cease operations within the country and to remove all Canadian citizens from its database. “What Clearview does is mass surveillance, and it is illegal,” said Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. So what is Clearview AI? And why has it raised the ire of our neighbors to the North? Clearview AI, Inc. Clearview AI is a facial recognition company marketed primarily to law enforcement agencies. It boasts a database of over 3 billion facial images “scraped” from public sources online such as news articles and social media sites. In other…

Texas State Capitol Rotunda
Texas State Capitol Rotunda

Texas Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Big Tech Censorship

The bill seeks to reign in Big Tech power and protect the principle of free speech for Texas citizens

Last week, the Texas Senate passed a measure that would prohibit large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from censoring political and religious viewpoints of Texas citizens. The bill now awaits a vote in the Texas House. Senate Bill 12 was introduced in March by State Senator Bryan Hughes. Titled “Relating to the censorship of users’ expressions by an interactive computer service,” the bill would not only prohibit censorship, but would require social media companies to disclose their moderation policies, publish reports about any blocked content, and create a legal route for people to appeal any censoring or deplatforming decisions. Social media companies currently enjoy legal protections against lawsuit under Section 230 of the U.S. Code, which on the…

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Parler vs. Amazon: Amazon Strikes Back!

Amazon is trying to avoid a state lawsuit through a hardball legal maneuver
Parler, an alternative social networking site, has been in a fierce legal battle with AWS/Amazon since it was removed from Amazon's platforms on January 10. Read More ›
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Heritage Building

Influential Think Tank Declines Big Tech Donations

The Heritage Foundation declined six-figure donations from Big Tech companies Facebook and Google in 2020, citing repeated censorship of conservative views

News website Axios obtained letters signed by Heritage Foundation‘s departing President Kay Coles James (pictured), addressed to the CEOs of both Facebook and Google in October 2020, explaining why Heritage felt compelled to decline the six-figure contributions from the companies. “We cannot in good conscience take money from a company that repeatedly, and blatantly, suppresses conservative speech on your platforms,” reads the letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.  A similar statement is made in the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  Heritage declined $225,000 from Google, and returned $150,000 that came from Facebook. The Heritage Foundation made several accusations against the companies in its letters, including: that Facebook suppressed their reach by blocking referral traffic; that Facebook targeted Heritage with third-party fact-checkers; and that Google…

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Thumbs up on bricks wall

Facebook Exec Admits the Company Has Too Much Power

He worries, talking with an undercover reporter, that Zuckerberg is 36 and is “the ruler” of two billion people

In a video titled “KING ZUCK: Facebook Global Planning Lead Reveals Dire Need For Government Intervention In Facebook” (March 15, 2021), we hear an insider’s view from Benny Thomas, Facebook’s Global Planning Lead— who told what he knew to a Project Veritas undercover reporter. From the undercover interview: Benny Thomas: I’ll make less money but it will be a better thing for the world. Facebook and Google are too powerful and they need to be made less powerful … It needs to be broken up the way the telecom companies were broken up and the oil companies were broken up.” No king in the history of the world has been the ruler of two billion people. And he’s 36. [a…

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Social Media Censorship

Texas Joins Fight Against Big Tech Censorship

Nearly two dozen states have proposed similar legislation in response to the increase of online censorship during the 2020 election period

Last week, Texas joined the growing pushback against Big Tech censorship when Governor Greg Abbott announced his support for a Texas bill that would prohibit the online censorship of political and religious viewpoints. “Silencing conservative views is un-American, it’s un-Texan and it’s about to be illegal in Texas,” Abbott wrote on Twitter last week ahead of a Friday press conference. Speaking alongside Abbott at the press conference was the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Bryan Hughes. Both figures made strong statements about free speech, the current threat of Big Tech, and their understanding of Texas’s role in this national struggle. “Texas is standing against big tech political censorship,” Abbott said. “We’re not going to allow it in the Lone Star State.”…

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Like facebook 3d box with white background. 3d rendering

Who’s Afraid of Facebook? Maybe We Should All Be More Wary

A whistleblower showed that rules are enforced very unevenly. Facebook allows extremist language to flourish in some venues and censors mainstream speech in others

Facebook is, according to Fortune Magazine, the “dominant social media app,” with $84.2 billion in revenue in 2019, especially after acquiring Instagram. So dominant that government hearings into questionable activities offer mere slaps on the wrist. There is a reason for that, as we shall soon see. Facebook is, of course, a censor but at best a clumsy one. It removed a page by international disease experts critical of the COVID lockdowns, as if they were mere health cranks. Recently, Facebook announced that it plans to continue to take down posts whose claims its fact checkers “deem false” (February 8, 2021). To get some sense of what that means, Facebook censored an article at UnHerd that was critical of the…

Seattle, Washington - November 22, 2019: General view of Amazon office building in Seattle, Washington

Little-Known Civil Rights Law Could Bring Big Tech to Its Knees

Many tech giants have considerable assets and many employees in Seattle's jurisdiction

SEATTLE—As state and federal lawmakers consider drafting new legislation to counter big tech censorship of dissenting political voices, few seem to realize that an anti-discrimination law already on the books could spell big trouble for big tech companies that engage in political censorship.  Ironically, the law was enacted by one of the most politically progressive cities in the country: Seattle.  Unlike most political jurisdictions in the United States, Seattle expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of “political ideology.” Seattle defines political ideology expansively as any idea or belief, or coordinated body of ideas or beliefs, relating to the purpose, conduct, organization, function or basis of government and related institutions and activities, whether or not characteristic of any political party or group. This…

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Social media facebook dis-like

Facebook Goes After Research Group Studying Its Ad Policies

The researchers received information from volunteers in order to study apparent violations of ad policies during the recent U.S. election

Facebook, one of the most ambitious companies in modern history—it is, after all, contemplating its own currency—is also trying to shut down an academic research group it doesn’t Like. The Ad Observatory, a project of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, monitors ads on Facebook. In the most recent American election, they studied “Which candidates, super PACS, and dark money groups are spending most on Facebook advertising nationwide? What topics do they emphasize and what objectives do they seek to achieve with ads?” The project asked volunteers to install a plugin, Ad Observer, that automatically scrapes ads presented on Facebook and sends them in. Why does it matter? Because most of us see only a small proportion of the ads that…