The Fading of a Democracy- Information Suppression

By 莫黎, 舒凡

There are five values that every journalist should follow, they are the principles and ethics that set the threshold of journalism. The five values represent honesty, independence and objectivity, fairness, diligence, and accountability”.

However, many of the dominant media nowadays failed to live up to any of those moral codes. They are dishonest, unfair, and absolutely not objective. Journalism is in an epoch of disinformation, repression, corruption, and excessive censorship, from the conservative newspapers to modern Big Tech, many of them are compromised. The media’s deprivation has especially manifested in its handling of the 2020 presidential election, which is repleted with irrationalities and lies.

How the Big Tech Influenced the Election

With Big Tech, we are referring to the dominant information technology companies of the United States, which are Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft. But we are mainly focusing on Facebook, Google, and Twitter in this article.

According to Pew Research, two-thirds of American adults obtain news from social media sites, with Facebook covering up 43 % of the sources, YouTube which is owned by Google 21%, and Twitter 12%. This information gives us an insight into how significant social media are, in the majority’s news and information obtaining process.

Everything would have been reasonable as long as the media kept its objectiveness and only filtered out obscene and illegal contents. But what if the media betrayed its moral codes of honesty, fairness, and objectiveness? What happens if the judging standard was instead based on Big Tech’s own interest, or even on someone else’s interest?

Since most people receive information via Twitter, Facebook, or Google, these companies can therefore very easily influence people’s opinions by manipulating the input of news and information. The Big Tech can easily choose what kind of information they want their users to see, what to censor, and what to disseminate.

When reading on a news website, most people should have their critical thinking-radar activated since we cannot be completely certain about the authors’ objectiveness and political views. On the opposite, the radar is deactivated when it turns to use Google. However, Google filters all searching results, it can easily manipulate the acquisition of different information.

How does Big Tech manipulate the information? The answer is through quality ranking. Mr. Bokhari said on American Thought Lead that the quality ranking is something that everything people post on social media like Twitter or Facebook, and every website on Google has been given a secret score. And this score is how the algorithms of these platforms determine what’s going to appear at the top of search results, people’s Facebook feed, YouTube feed, and Twitter feed.

Over the past few years, the media have added more political criteria to the score, such as whether it contains misinformation or hate speech. Since the criteria of misinformation or hate speech accord with certain companies or government, Mr. Bokhari thinks that it’s quite similar to the Chinese social credit system, and unfortunately, that’s what Silicon Valley is moving towards.

How the quality ranking influence people have already been confirmed to psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein’s research. On Google’s side, the quality ranking has especially influenced people’s voting decisions by rearranging the order of political candidates.

So, have the tech companies been impartial and objective on the 2020 presidential election?

During this chaotic election, Twitter and Facebook kept flagging President Donald Trump’s tweets but did nothing to Joe Biden’s tweets, not a single one. It is not that difficult for people to understand the reason behind that reckless behavior.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, about 98% of political contributions from internet companies went to Democrats. Tech executives were among the top political donors in the 2020 cycle, and the majority of their money was used to help Democrats in the election. Asana CEO Dustin Moskovitz, who once was a Facebook co-founder, contributed about $24 million, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, donated about $6 million, and they’re among those leading contributors to Future Forward USA, a super PAC (Political Action Committee) behind Joe Biden’s presidential effort. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman contributed about $14 million, Google’s Schmidt, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer are among the biggest contributors of the retired industry executives.

Apart from the quality ranking, there are two other methods. Namely, network analysis and language analysis. Language analysis recognizes speeches that violate the criteria Twitter or Facebook has set to censor, like misinformation, hate speech, and conspiracy theory, according to them. Network analysis recognizes instead the digital connection between people who are using a social platform, like between a person’s followers and those that this person is following.

When language analysis detects a problematic account and directly suspends it, while network analysis examines the account’s followers, Twitter and Facebook might thus lower those followers’ quality ranking. This is a complete and intricate set of the system which can be dangerous if it was not used correctly, and as a matter of a fact, it was not. According to an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, there were at least 6 million voters have had their decisions changed by social media.

As we have seen, there is a huge amount of evidence indicating voter fraud in this election. If the mainstream media had done any research or stood for its values, the Democrats would have been exposed at the very beginning or they might never have done such large-scale fraud in the election. Regardless of the evidence and affidavits, the mainstream media and Big Tech have tried everything necessary to cover up this national fraud.

Big Tech Shields Hunter and Joe Biden

When some contents from Hunter Biden’s laptop leaked out, Twitter and Facebook have suspended accounts that published and shared the information about the laptop.

New York Post wrote that Twitter suspended the accounts of the White House press secretary, Republicans, and the Trump campaign for sharing the news of Hunter Biden’s corruption, which came from his own laptop. Facebook also restricted the story for sharing.

Clearly, they are setting rules about what misinformation is.

They even went around their intricate system of censorship which they have developed for years and got condemned by Poynter Institute, the third-party fact-checker. What has made them so uneasy about the stories of Hunter Biden?

A media should conform to fairness and independence, but obviously, they failed to deliver these values. In addition, many lawyers have assured the credibility of Hunter’s crime evidence, even if the verifications are not official, all the information should be conserved for people to judge, until solid evidence speaks against it. Apparently, the media are trying to protect Hunter and Joe Biden with censorship and information censorship.

The mainstream media has made itself to become biased and partisan by abandoning objectiveness and truth, and they have gone far further on that irrational road since Donald Trump took the office. The media has discarded its fundamental values in every possible way just to take down President Donald Trump.

Section 230

Section 230 was enacted in 1996 as part of a law called the Communications Decency Act, which says that “interactive computer service” can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content. Although, most of that law was overruled by courts as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech, Section 230 remains. In practice, the law protects websites or services from lawsuits over illegal content posted by users. According to the law, as long as sites act in “good faith,” they can remove content that is offensive or otherwise objectionable.

In August 2019, President Donald Trump drafted an executive order that would require the Federal Communications Commission to develop rules that could limit Section 230 protections. In May 2020 Twitter’s bias made the order into active consideration.

Basically, the order provides a pathway to remove platforms of the protections granted by Section 230, users would be directed to file complaints of bias and the Federal Communications Commission would follow up on those complaints to see if they justify removing a platform’s “good faith” provision under the law.

President Trump has tweeted that Section 230 should be revoked, as a beginning process that could fundamentally change how the internet works. Democrats and Republicans agree that the law that shields large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits must be changed, though they see the problem differently.

Republicans opposed Big Tech companies for their bias against conservative views and even censor conservatives but giving liberal politicians a pass.

“We have to find a way when Twitter and Facebook make a decision about what’s reliable and what’s not, what to keep up and what to keep down, that there is transparency in the system,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham who chairs the Judiciary Committee. “Section 230 has to be changed because we can’t get there from here without change.”

President Trump tweeted today that Section 230 is a serious threat to American national security and election integrity. If it is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), he will have to unequivocally VETO the bill.

Although there are still different opinions on Section 230, the change or revocation is nevertheless unavoidable, and the Big Tech had it coming.

Sources:

https://nypost.com/2020/10/20/big-techs-speech-squelching-more-dangerous-than-government-censorship/

https://www.ntd.com/the-invisible-influence-of-big-tech-on-politics-and-elections-allum-bokhari_524545.html

https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/facebook-twitter-censorship-hunter-biden-report

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/02/tech-billionaire-2020-election-donations-final-tally.html

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